ODonnellBrown designs affordable, modular outdoor classroom

April 1, 2020 by  
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In a bid to support creative and independent learning in the outdoors, Glasgow-based architectural practice  O’DonnellBrown  has designed and built a prototype for a Community Classroom that can be assembled, adapted and dismounted in a cinch. Completed for just £10,000 (roughly $11,278), the entirely self-initiated project is based on a kit of parts that was developed using standard structural timber section sizes that make up the skeletal frame. The use of plywood modules empowers the classroom’s users to easily reconfigure the space to suit a diverse range of activities. Stripped down to a simple plywood skeletal frame, the minimalist Community Classroom combines function with beautiful architectural expression. The prototype, which was completed in September 2019 in Glasgow, measures 24 square meters of gross internal space but can be easily expanded thanks to its  modular  system. The Community Classroom kit comes with an easy-to-follow construction manual and can also be equipped with modules for seating, shelving, worktops and presentation surfaces. “The  classroom  is intended to promote and support creative and independent learning in a healthy, versatile and fun environment,” a Community Classroom press release stated. “It has been designed in line with the Curriculum for Excellence and the National Improvement Framework, to facilitate inclusive learning and mental wellbeing.” Sponsors and stakeholders, including the RIAS and Saint-Gobain, have provided material and technical support for the project.  Related: A modular classroom for environmental education pops up in a Barcelona park True to its name, the Community Classroom was developed alongside the  community , including the national children’s charity Barnado’s Works, which helped connect young volunteers to the project. The Community Classroom has hosted community-based workshops and events, including a craft workshop by local community center Nan McKay Hall. This project will continue to host events by a diverse range of users in the future as part of its mission to raise the bar for outdoor learning opportunities. + O’DonnellBrown Images © Ross Campbell

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Rooftop farm grows on award-winning Denizen Bushwick building

February 28, 2020 by  
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After five years of design and construction,  ODA New York  has completed Denizen Bushwick, a 1.2-million-square-foot rental development centered around community, art and green space. Set on the former site of Brooklyn’s historic Rheingold Brewery, Denizen offers 911 apartments — 20 percent of which are designated affordable housing — along with 15 mega-murals created by local artists and 100,000 square feet of outdoor space. Residents also have access to a rooftop farm with hydroponic gardens along with a variety of lush courtyards and corridors, many of which are open to the neighborhood. To create “a city within a city,” ODA New York broke up Denizen’s massive size with a 17,850-square-foot public park that bisects the development to create a green promenade. ODA’s in-house landscape team designed the parks, interior courtyards, and two roof gardens for a total of 100,000 square feet of outdoor space with rooftop amenities such as a dining area with four kitchens, and a mini-golf course, hammock garden, dog park and a fully staffed rooftop farm with garden plots available to residents. Over 250 native New York trees and over 1,200 species of shrubs and perennials have been planted atop the roof. The impressive collection of amenities continues inside the building, which offers a coffee shop, game rooms, a bowling alley, a rock-climbing wall, a boxing ring, a movie theater and more. Fifteen large-scale  murals  made by local artists punctuate the development and can be viewed from multiple courtyards; five murals are visible from publicly accessible parks.  Related: Awesome Airbnb Rental Lets You Go “Camping” in an Indoor Micro-Cabin in Brooklyn “We are proud of what has taken shape at  Bushwick ,” Eran Chen, Founding Principal of ODA, said. “Not only were we able to transform a dilapidated industrial building and turn it into a magnate for community, but we’re influencing how people connect, how cities are developed, and paving the way for architecture to be part of the solution.” Denizen Bushwick has received the ULI New York Award for Excellent in Development — Market-Rate Housing along with the 2019 SARA NY Design Award.  + ODA New York Images via ODA New York, Eric Laigne and Imagen Subliminal

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Rundown lodge near the Nile River is now a solar-powered eco-resort

February 28, 2020 by  
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Once known as one of Uganda’s most popular hotels, the Nile Safari Lodge had fallen into disrepair over the years. When it was tasked to breathe new life into the property, Kampala-based studio Localworks decided to pay homage to the building’s history by respectfully and carefully rebuilding the existing facilities instead of tearing them down and starting from scratch. Now, the fully refurbished accommodation is an incredible, solar-powered eco-retreat offering guests a direct connection to the nature surrounding the property. Located on the southern bank of the Nile River, the Nile River Lodge is enveloped in wilderness. Looking over the famed river, the lodge offers guests a chance to recharge their batteries while taking in the views. This calm atmosphere became the focal point of the green renovation process. Related: Two abandoned 1960s buildings in the middle of a desert become a chic eco-retreat Starting with the main building, the architects wanted to break open the communal spaces as much as possible. They did this by covering the existing building with a series of thick, grass-thatched roofs . The design strategy also aimed to implement new openings around the property to allow for indoor-outdoor living. The Ugandan climate is typically very hot and humid, so passive cooling strategies , such as natural light and ventilation, were used whenever possible. The wide, triangular openings and curved walkways found throughout the hotel allow guests to enjoy framed views of the river and surrounding Murchison Falls National Park from nearly anywhere onsite. At the heart of the eco-retreat is a soothing infinity pool that looks out over the river. A covered pavilion opens up to the pool and serves as the perfect spot to take in both the sunrise and the sunset. Guests will be able to enjoy down time in one of the eight cottages, all of which face the river. Although distinct in size and amenities, the cottages, referred to as bandas , are raised on stilts to reduce their impact on the landscape and generate air flow under the buildings. Made of natural materials such as wood, grass and stone, the buildings were all positioned to protect the interiors from the harsh equatorial sunlight. While passive strategies were used throughout the eco-resort, several modern features were also implemented to reduce the project’s environmental impact. Completely free of mechanical cooling systems, the lodge runs solely on solar power . + Localworks + Nile Safari Lodge Via ArchDaily Photography by Will Boase via Localworks

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LEED Gold-targeted Ottawa library will honor local history

February 13, 2020 by  
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After nearly a year of public input by Canadians from coast to coast, Toronto-based Diamond Schmitt Architects has finally revealed renderings for the new Ottawa library and archives. Designed in collaboration with KWC Architects , the Ottawa Public Library and Library and Archives Canada Joint Facility will be an innovative landmark representative of all Canadians. The building will target, at minimum, LEED Gold certification and will reflect the region’s rich history and natural beauty with its organic and dynamic design oriented for unparalleled views of the Ottawa River and Gatineau Hills in Quebec. The recently unveiled designs for the Ottawa library are the result of an unprecedented public co-design process called the “Inspire555 Series” after the building’s address at 555 Albert Street, on the western edge of downtown Ottawa . The process, which began in February last year, asked residents, indigenous communities and Canadians from across the country to participate in a series of design workshops, pop-up events, expert lectures and online activities to shape the design and direction of the public institution. More than 4,000 people contributed to the library’s major design themes, which include accessibility, a sense of welcoming for diverse groups and needs, site-specific elements and a connection to nature.  Related: Henning Larsen’s energy-efficient Kiruna Town Hall opens to the public As a result, the final design takes cues from Ottawa’s environment with an undulating form that references the nearby Ottawa River. The stone and wood exterior grounds the building into the nearby escarpment landscape, while the top floors, rooftop and abundance of glazing frame views of the Ottawa River and Gatineau Hills. The five-story building will be organized around a large town hall at its heart and will include exhibition and collections spaces, reading rooms, a creative center, a children’s area, a genealogy center and a cafe. “The location at a cultural crossroads of a route that traces the three founding peoples — French, English and Indigenous — underscores the spirit of confluence in the building’s design and the possibilities for these memory institutions in a modern facility to advance the Canadian story,” said Donald Schmitt, principal of Diamond Schmitt Architects. The joint facility has a CA $193 million ($145 million) budget and is scheduled to open in 2024. + Diamond Schmitt Architects Images via Diamond Schmitt Architects

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MVRDV unveils pro-bono vision to reopen the lost canals of The Hague

September 27, 2019 by  
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In a bid to restore a lost part of nature to The Hague, MVRDV has unveiled a proposal to reopen the city’s 17th-century canals that were filled in between 1910 and 1970. Created in partnership with the local community, the “Grachten Open” (Canals Open) initiative would restore access to the waterways and would revitalize a run-down part of the historic center by introducing new programming from swimming canals to a gastronomy route with a new market hall. The urban revitalization project would also bring ecological benefits by bringing natural habitat back into the city center. As the seat of government for the Netherlands, The Hague has placed less emphasis on its canal system compared to other Dutch cities historically more reliant on trade. While many of the canals have been drained and filled in, a local grassroots movement to preserve the canal area in the historic city center began to take root in the late 20th century. In recent years, the movement has seen greater community action for revitalizing the area and reopening the lost canals. One of the most notable contributors to the cause is local resident Shireen Poyck, who co-founded the ‘Grachten Open’ and, in 2018, invited her neighbor, MVRDV partner Jan Knikker, to participate. Related: Curvaceous bicycle bridge brings new life to Copenhagen’s harbor Working together with local neighborhood organizations, MVRDV recently presented a plan to reopen the canals to the city of The Hague. The design proposes restoring the main canals and creating plans for the minor canals, which can be remade into “urban activators” and used as swimming canals, koi carp canals or even surf canals. The main canals would be defined by themed “routes,” that include a green route, creative route, shopping route, culinary route and sport route. “All over the world, neighborhoods like the old center of The Hague form the backbone of tourism and provide an identity to a city, but in The Hague, somehow this ancient and incredibly charming area was forgotten,” said Winy Maas, architect and co-founder of MVRDV. “The area offers the unique chance for an urban regeneration that will improve the local economy and make a leap forward in the city’s energy transition.” + MVRDV Images via MVRDV

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COBE unveils LEED Gold-seeking affordable housing units in Toronto

March 11, 2019 by  
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Danish architectural firm COBE has unveiled a new mixed-use residential development in Toronto designed for LEED Gold certification. Created in collaboration with Toronto-based architectural firm architectsAlliance , the project will comprise three buildings — two designed by COBE — set in West Don Lands, a former industrial area on Toronto’s waterfront. The housing development will consist of 761 market rental apartments, including 30 percent affordable rental units indistinguishable in design from the others. Designed to celebrate the area’s different building typologies, the mixed-use residential buildings are made up of three architectural styles stacked one atop of another. The first layer at the street level will be a contemporary take on the redbrick warehouses found in the neighboring Distillery District; the middle layer is an interpretation of the Canary District warehouses north of the site; and the uppermost section is built of light concrete in reference to the existing industrial silos found on the harbor front. The resulting towers will be an “urban ensemble of unique structures,” the architects said. These three architecturally distinct layers are stacked and staggered to make way for large landscaped terraces to serve as shared outdoor amenity spaces, where residents can enjoy urban farming  and al fresco dining as well as landscape gardens, a playground and a pool area. This strong sense of community is strengthened in the center-most building containing additional amenities such as a cinema, fitness center, spa and music and childcare facilities; the other two buildings will also have local resident lounges and dining areas. Publicly accessible retail and restaurants will be located on the ground floor. Related: Former concrete factory is reborn as a unique music-inspired high school in Denmark “We want to create attractive homes that appeal to many different types of people,” said Dan Stubbergaard, architect and founder of COBE. “We have been working alongside the client team to develop a concept of radical mixed-use that provides all residents with a generous apartment, flooded with light through floor-to-ceiling windows  and access to attractive amenity spaces.” The project is expected to begin construction in mid-2019 with completion scheduled for early 2022. + COBE Images by COBE

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Remote holiday home champions raw materials and minimal environmental impact

March 11, 2019 by  
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Built to embrace the outdoors and radiate a sense of warmth, the Aculco project is an idyllic holiday home set in a pristine and remote landscape in Aculco, Mexico. Mexico City-based architectural firm PPAA designed the dwelling for two outdoors-loving brothers who had discovered the site on a rock climbing trip. Given the property’s isolated location and natural beauty, the project challenged the architects to use locally sourced materials and to minimize the visual and physical impact of the home on the surroundings. After the two brothers discovered the site years ago, they first purchased the plot and reforested the lands before reaching out to PPAA to design a holiday home where they could recharge and rest from the stresses of modern living. Not only did the property enjoy close proximity to impressive cliffs for rock climbing, but it was also blessed with untouched panoramic views. As a result, the clients and architects turned to nature as the primary source of inspiration and settled on a simple, low-maintenance design that would complement and pay deference to the landscape. “The architectural project was mainly guided by the qualities of the environment, so we sought to establish a reciprocal dialogue between the construction and its natural surrounding,” the architects explained of the house, which sports a rectangular floor plan and a simple one-pitch roof. Occupying an area of 969 square feet, the light-filled interior is centered on an open-plan living room, dining area and kitchenette. A bedroom on one end and a bathroom on the other flank the living spaces; a lofted bedroom is located above the bathroom unit. Related: This modern solar-powered retreat is topped with a massive green roof The property’s remote location also posed a major challenge in the construction phase, when the architects grappled with finding locally available labor and materials. As a result, the simple and low-maintenance design of the building was also born largely out of necessity. Locally quarried stone makes up the block walls of the house, while the clay for the floors, the timber and the glass were also procured locally . “We left every material in its raw state without covering it,” the architects noted. “The construction’s clear spaces become almost solely a container of views.” + PPAA Photography by Rafael Gamo via PPAA

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Energy-efficient ‘tiny tower’ home is organized like a full-scale skyscraper

March 11, 2019 by  
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Philadelphia-based firm ISA Architects has unveiled a stunning, 1,250-square-foot home that spans over a six-level steel tower. Located in the booming neighborhood of Brewerytown, the tiny tower, which is built to EnergyStar performance standards, is just 38 feet high but designed to operate like a full-scale skyscraper. The innovative, energy-efficient home was designed to demonstrate that going vertical could be the solution to the many urban design issues that are plaguing growing cities around the world. According to the architects, the tiny tower is a concept that could serve as a prototype for flexible-use buildings on underused urban lots with minimal building space. Built on a very compact 12’ by 29’ lot, the six-floor structure is a wooden frame covered in recycled steel paneling. Related: This staggered, residential tower is draped with greenery in Quito Going vertical enables each floor to define its own use. The interior living spaces are linked by a vertical circulation, the staircase, providing the design with optimal flexibility. Although the tower design could be used as retail or office space, this layout also works perfectly for any family  home . The lower levels of the tiny tower are dedicated to social areas, such as a window garden and open-air terrace, while the remaining upper levels are free to be used for individual purposes according to the family’s lifestyle. Connected to the main living volume is the staircase, which was strategically designed to be an integral part of the home. It provides a light-filled center that offers views of the exterior from every floor. According to the architects, the tower home could just be the next new thing for modern couples looking to live in urban areas. “Urban dwellers are increasingly willing to trade quantity of space for quality,” the firm said. “Living in a small unit in a vibrant, walkable neighborhood is more desirable than a larger home in a far-flung location. Tiny Tower demonstrates how small in scale can feel large in amenity and experience.” In addition to its potential to provide a viable solution for affordable urban housing, the home was also designed to be incredibly energy-efficient . Built to EnergyStar performance standards, the tiny tower uses a number of passive and active techniques to insulate the home. For starters, the white roof membrane significantly reduces summer heat gain. Ductless mini-split units on each level create individually controlled micro-zones throughout the interior; this also reduces energy use. + ISA Architects Via World Architecture Photography by Sam Oberter Photography via ISA Architects

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Energy-efficient ‘tiny tower’ home is organized like a full-scale skyscraper

Bamboo community center empowers the local Brazilian community

December 11, 2018 by  
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The beautiful beach town of Camburi, Brazil, has gained a new community center that not only serves as a communal gathering space, but is also an inspiring social development project that was built for and by the local low-income community. Belgium and Brazil-based design practice CRU! architects provided the design as well as technical assistance and financial support, however, it was the community that decided all of the programming. The project started in 2004 and its first completed building is the community center, a low-impact building primarily built of bamboo and rammed earth. Located on the Brazilian coast not far from Sao Paulo , the community center at Camburi is a multi-phase project that includes a computer room, library, preschool, office space, assorted storage space and a bakery that is currently undergoing construction. CRU! architects was careful not to interfere in all of the decision making behind the programming and scope of the project beyond the design and technical details. The firm’s final design was shaped by the local association of Camburi’s brief for a centrally located communal space with space for classrooms and storage that would be visually integrated with the surrounding landscape and the neighboring school. “The entire Bamboostic project was foreseen as an educative training for this cooperative to perfect their techniques, whilst building community infrastructure,” explains the firm of the project, which spans 175 square meters. “The community decided all of the content and program of the building and its different parts built in different times over the last 10 years.” Related: Community hub built of recycled materials spotlights exploitation of nature in Vietnam Set 50 meters in land from the beach, the community center is oriented towards the sea to take advantage of cooling cross breezes that flow unimpeded through the building thanks to the raised roof and minimized perpendicular walls. The rammed earth bricks provide natural insulation and thermal mass, while bamboo was used for the structural frame and on the exterior doors and windows to help shield the interiors from harsh sunlight. + CRU! architects Images by Nelson Kon

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This contaminated, post-industrial site will become a massive park in Florida

October 16, 2018 by  
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New images have been unveiled of international design firm Sasaki’s proposal for transforming a 180-acre, post-industrial site in Lakeland, Florida into a privately funded park with aims of becoming “one of the greatest urban landscapes in the country,” according to the firm. Billed as a future “Central Park” for Lakeland, Bonnet Springs Park will begin with a comprehensive remediation process to heal the damaged and contaminated landscape. Spearheaded by Lakeland realtor David Bunch and his wife Jean with the backing of philanthropists Barney and Carol Barnett, the sprawling park will be a vibrant new destination for residents. It is slated for completion by 2020. Located near downtown Lakeland, the land for Bonnet Springs Park is currently underutilized and has accumulated tons of trash. More than 80 acres of land are contaminated with arsenic and petroleum hydrocarbons. With the help of a 20-person advisory committee that has helped remove 37 tons of trash from the site, the 180-acre landscape is now entering its environmental remediation phase, which includes stockpiling contaminated materials into safely capped hills, constructing  wetlands for filtering pollutants and creating stormwater management strategies. Although the park is privately funded, hundreds of Lakeland community members have been invited to add their feedback and input on the design. Sasaki’s masterplan includes heritage gardens, a canopy walk, a welcome center, nature center, event lawn, walking and biking trails, non-motorized boating activities and a sculpture garden . The new buildings in the park will be designed to harmonize with the landscape, with some of them partially buried into the terrain. A plan will also be put in place to ensure the economic sustainability and continued maintenance of Bonnet Springs Park. Related: Solar-powered POP-UP Park takes over underused Budapest square “Bonnet Springs Park, from a planning and design perspective, presents a rare opportunity to transform a significantly challenged urban plot of land in an effort to improve Central Florida’s quality of life for generations to come,” noted the architecture firm. “Sasaki’s designs will improve the site’s ecological health, foster unique harmonious architectural design and set the park up for self-sustaining , economic success.” + Sasaki

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