Solar-powered Austin home can save owners nearly $100K in energy costs

August 23, 2018 by  
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This sculptural home in Austin is a scene-stealer, for more reasons than just its good looks. For starters, the dwelling—named the Vista Residence—is powered with a 15.4-kiloWatt rooftop photovoltaic system that not only covers an estimated 90% of the home’s annual energy needs, but is expected to help save homeowners more than $94,000 in energy costs over the next 30 years. Miró Rivera Architects designed the abode with many energy-efficient features for long-term cost savings that include both low-tech and high-tech elements from deep overhangs to a variable refrigerant flow (VRF) mechanical system. Nestled into a steep slope in West Austin, the Vista Residence lives up to its name with full-height glazing that frames sweeping views of the hill country landscape and downtown Austin. The large windows, found throughout the home, let in ample natural light. A material palette dominated by exposed concrete, metal and concrete panel cladding emphasize low maintenance and a contemporary aesthetic. Inside, the 8,660-square-foot house is split into three floors and organized around a dramatic staircase made from over 200 individual pieces of steel and white oak treads. Flooded with light from above, the dramatic central stair branches off to the various rooms of the home defined by white walls and white oak floors. The first floor, which is partially buried into the hillside, houses two bedrooms, a shared bath, a game room, a storage / mechanical room as well as access to a small courtyard. The floor above is far more spacious and consists of the main living areas as well as the master suite. A small third floor contains an office with a sitting area, kitchenette, bath and outdoor balcony. Related: A net-zero modern farmhouse kicks off a sustainable community in Texas The architects installed a 15.4-kiloWatt rooftop photovoltaic system that covers an estimated 90% of the Vista Residence’s annual energy, an amount the architects say is equivalent to offsetting 18.5 tons of carbon dioxide emissions a year (equal to the annual energy use of 1.8 average homes). The payback period for solar will take an estimated eight years. High-performance materials and energy-saving fixtures were installed throughout. + Miró Rivera Architects Images by Paul Finkel | Piston Design>

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Solar-powered Austin home can save owners nearly $100K in energy costs

This modular family home has its own indoor pond

August 13, 2018 by  
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When a young family shops for a home , they often want a simple floor plan and open spaces for kids to play and for parents to relax and entertain. This low-profile home, designed by Adolfo Mondejar Arquitectos and located in an outer neighborhood of Cordoba, Spain , is logically configured and easily adaptable to the ever-evolving requirements of a family over the years. The design caters to the natural sunlight and cool breezes of the area, with windows all around and a spacious yard, decks, and balconies for fun and play. The home connects to the surrounding outdoor spaces, which are are wide open and ideal for residents who want to experience the environment, whether through bike riding, picnicking or simply taking a stroll. Related: This striking, bright-red modular home connects to its surroundings through contrast The interior flows from one space to the next, with long hallways flanked with bedrooms and bathrooms. Playful colors and names on the bathroom doors add whimsy and and a personal touch to the atmosphere. Rich brown paneling in the hallways gives the interior a warm, inviting feeling. A large terrace at the top of the staircase, built from two concrete walls and topped with a rustic slab of exposed concrete , provides an ideal venue for large parties as well as small family gatherings. Walls covered with quebracho wood add warmth to bathrooms and pivotal use spaces. All the rooms are comprised of an aesthetically balanced combination of wood , concrete and glass, with smooth, finished concrete floors. The home relies on sunlight for natural heat and daily breezes to cool it down . In a unique twist, the minimalist home includes a pond in the master bedroom, which further brings the outdoors in and promotes feelings of peace and tranquility. A particularly sunny spot in the living room has vines sprawling in all directions, another feature that gives the home a feel of nature, energy, life and sustenance. + Adolfo Mondejar – Estudio de Arquitectos Images by Gonzalo Viramonte

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Breezy Ecuadorian brick home on stilts embraces cool tropical winds

August 7, 2018 by  
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Ecuadorian architecture firm Natura Futura Arquitectura has completed the Stilts House, an elevated brick home that opens up to the outdoors with a perforated facade. Located in General Villamil, a coastal canton of the province of Guayas, the Stilts House celebrates the UNESCO-recognized region’s superb climate and culture of great craftsmanship through its site-specific design. Built of local natural materials and concrete, the home spans 1,722 square feet across two floors. Named after its system of teak pillars, the Stilts House includes three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a kitchenette, dining area, an enclosed outdoor courtyard , hammock space and two living areas, one on each floor. The main living spaces of the brick home, including the hammock area, are placed on the first floor, and the secondary living area and the bedrooms are located above. To tie the residence into its surroundings, the architects used locally sourced materials including traditional baked bricks laid in a pattern that allows ventilation; no glass was used. Related: This weekend home in Mexico blends in with the forest landscape “On the ground floor, and integrated with the outside and their day-to-day activities, there is a social area that closes in on itself, and opens toward the interior of the house as a rest area with hammocks ,” said Natura Futura Arquitectura in its project statement. “This will generate micro-climates, through the material and its new features.” Timber shutters and sliding doors provide additional privacy and can be easily opened up to connect the interior with the outdoors. + Natura Futura Arquitectura Images via JAG Studio

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Breezy Ecuadorian brick home on stilts embraces cool tropical winds

The net-zero Lightbox 23 boasts sustainable features and stunning views

August 7, 2018 by  
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Portland residents in search of an energy-efficient home need look no further than Lightbox 23, the new net-zero project from Lightbox Portland and Steelhead Architecture . A speculative development project in northeast Portland, Lightbox 23 has two units and numerous sustainable features, including super-insulated walls, high-performance ventilation systems, and two 10-kW solar arrays. But sustainablity isn’t the project’s only draw – it also boasts beautiful design and stunning views of Mt. St. Helens’ and Mt. Adams’ snow-capped peaks. A set of floating stairs, which provides access from each floor to the half-levels above and below, serves as the duplex’s backbone. A deck on the building’s north side can be accessed from the exterior. From this deck, residents can enjoy the open air and, on a clear day, the distant peaks of the two mountains. Related: Net-zero Acacia Avenue House saves up to 90% of heating and cooling costs While the solar array on top of the building provides the building with its energy, part of making the project net-zero included finding ways to reduce the energy load overall. To tackle this problem, Steelhead Architecture turned to affordable super-insulation. Each unit has two-by-eight walls filled with blown-in cellulose, along with two inches of rigid insulation affixed to the exterior of the plywood. The concrete slabs have 3 more inches of rigid insulation. The roof construction has a similar mix of insulation, which eliminates the need for any vents. The home’s mechanical system further supports the unit’s net-zero goals. All-electric ducted heat pumps, which are much more efficient than gas systems, provide heat for the apartments. Furthermore, nothing on the project uses gas at all. A heat recovery ventilator with its own ducts effectively controls air exchanges with zero energy loss. To ensure a low heat/cooling loss, the architects sought out leaks and used repetitive joint sealing, further reducing the project’s energy use. Lightbox 23 is an exploratory project of Lightbox Portland, which is devoted to high performance, high-density modern progress. There are three additional Lightbox Portland/Steelhead Architecture projects presently underway. + Steelhead Architecture Images via Josh Partee Photography

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The net-zero Lightbox 23 boasts sustainable features and stunning views

An award-winning winery in British Columbia elegantly steps down a hillside

August 2, 2018 by  
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After having completed the Mission Hill Winery in the heart of British Columbia, Seattle-based architecture practice Olson Kundig Architects was tapped yet again for the design of Mission Hill’s sister winery, Martin’s Lane. Set into a steep hillside in the picturesque Canadian city of Kelowna, the newest von Mandl Family Estates winery features a design that follows the existing topography to facilitate a gravity-flow winemaking process. In addition to production facilities, the winery—which has won awards for both its wines and architecture—includes a visitor’s center and tasting room with sweeping views of the surrounding vineyards and terrain. Completed in the summer of 2016, the Martin’s Lake Winery is largely built from a striking combination of glass, obsidian-painted structural steel, weathered corrugated steel and concrete. The massive rectangular volume—spanning 34,800 square feet—is defined by a “central daylighting ‘fracture’” that splits the building down the middle, separating the production side from the visitor area. That “fracture” is fitted with clerestory windows to pull natural light deep into the interior. The production side of the winery  stair-steps down the landscape, making use of the natural slope for the gravity-flow winemaking process. The grape-receiving area is located at the top, followed by the fermentation and settling room, then the bottling room on the aboveground level and, finally, the underground barrel storage area. The cantilevered visitor’s area includes an office, wine lab, tasting room, dining room and a variety of publicly accessible areas that offer glimpses into the production process. Large windows frame views of nearby Okanagan Lake, the iconic winery bell tower, and the vineyards. Related: Elegant LEED Gold winery mimics Napa Valley’s curves “The idea of the building is to embrace both the landscape and the nature of gravity-fed wineries,” explains principal architect Tom Kundig. “Because it’s on a hillside, it was an ideal location amongst the vineyards of the area. The building falls along the topography of the land where production happens, while the hospitality portion of the program cantilevers out over the landscape, opening the space to the lake, the vineyards, and the mountains beyond.” + Olson Kundig Images by Nic Lehoux and James O’Mara

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An award-winning winery in British Columbia elegantly steps down a hillside

A striking modernist home in Joshua Tree can be yours for $498K

July 27, 2018 by  
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If you’re a fan of multidisciplinary American artist Fritz Haeg , here’s your chance to own and live inside one of his unique works. Located in Joshua Tree , this eye-catching, Haeg-designed home has hit the market for $498,000. Sandwiched between two large five-acre Bureau of Land Management (BLM) parcels, this Joshua Tree home offers spectacular views in every direction. Located on a 45-acre lot at 2373 Arizona Road , this Fritz Haeg Joshua Tree home is a one-of-a-kind design spanning 721 square feet with one bedroom and one bathroom. Given its desert surroundings, the residence was built with high-efficiency heating and cooling as well and insulated glass to lower the energy footprint. The custom-build house sits on a concrete slab foundation. Concrete has also been used for the flooring throughout the interior and on the outdoor patio. The glazed entrance to the home is recessed behind an arched overhang, and transom windows and sidelights let in additional natural light. Instead of a foyer, the interior immediately opens up to the dining room with a compact kitchen area behind it. A low dividing wall separates the eat-in kitchen from the living area bathed in daylight. Large windows frame panoramic views of the outdoors. Related: These tiny steel cabins in Joshua Tree epitomize off-grid design Located on the opposite side of the home from the dining area, the bedroom is similarly cocooned in an arched room with curved timber walls that extend seamlessly to form a barrel ceiling. This bedroom is also separated from the central living area by a top-mounted patterned sliding door. The custom bathroom is tucked into the rear of the house in a cylindrical volume made of corrugated metal . The house also opens up to a covered back patio, where residents can truly embrace the desert landscape. + 2373 Arizona Road Images via Paul Karr

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Ancient rural hamlet reinterpreted as a solar-powered modern home

July 13, 2018 by  
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Rimini-based GGA Gardini Gibertini Architects  has renovated a cluster of historic buildings into a modernist dwelling set in the lush Italian countryside. Named the AP House, the project comprises three structures with a more streamlined farmhouse aesthetic on the exterior and a light-filled contemporary interior. The striking renovation is located on one of the highest hills in Urbino atop ancient remains that date back to the Medieval Communes. Clad in rustic stonework, AP House consists of three floors constructed with reinforced concrete walls and red concrete floors. To lend the interiors a sense of warmth, GGA Gardini Gibertini Architects inserted custom walnut wall furnishings throughout, from the kitchen storage and dining table to the walnut-lined office and double-height statement wall that rises from the living room. Large openings let in plenty of natural light and views of the picturesque Urbino countryside. “Linked to each other on the hypogeum level, the structures rest on a red concrete platform (38 X 20 mt) dominating the surrounding landscape,” wrote GGA Gardini Gibertini Architects. “The core of the houses, which forms a single housing unit, reestablishes a central role to this site in the landscape, restoring a direct and empathic dialogue between new buildings and historical stratification.” Related: Historic stone stable in Tuscany hides a beautiful contemporary interior To prevent views of any vehicles on the first floor, the architects tucked the main entrance and parking in the basement level. The lower level also comprises a movie room, an exhibition gallery, and a gym with a spa. The ground floor houses the primary living areas including the living room, dining room, kitchen and private studio, while the upper level contains the master suite along with two en-suite bedrooms. All of the systems in the house run on electricity and are powered by a hidden photovoltaic solar system onsite. + GGA Gardini Gibertini Architects Images by Ezio Manciucca

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Ancient rural hamlet reinterpreted as a solar-powered modern home

The 1970s brick Upside-Down House gets an eco-friendly refresh

July 5, 2018 by  
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Melbourne-based Inbetween Architecture has breathed new life into a dark and tired 1970s double brick home in Kew, Australia. Nicknamed the Upside-Down House, the gut-renovation includes a dramatically transformed interior with a focus on natural daylight and energy efficiency . In addition to increased daylighting with skylights and adherence to passive solar principles, the remodeled home was fitted with energy-saving LED lighting, hydronic heating, improved insulation and solar-powered ventilators. When Inbetween Architecture was tapped for the project, the team debated between renovating and knocking the structure down to start anew. After weighing the environmental and cost benefits, however, the architects decided to retain the existing house, which was structurally sound but extremely dated and depressingly dark. As a result, they focused on bringing natural light into the home. Since the ground floor receives less access to daylight , the team decided to flip the ground floor and the first floor programming by placing the bedrooms on the ground floor and the communal living areas in the light-filled first floor — thus giving rise to the home’s nickname, the “Upside-Down House.” “The favorite part of our renovations is without question the soaring cathedral-like skylights that not only brought light in, but created space above without impacting on the roofline,” said the client, a young family of four. “Visually, our house flowed from room to room with the feature stair-case leading directly to the open tallow-wood living areas lit up by the northern sun. This flow continued to the outdoors with the clever relocation of an outdoor balcony to link to the previously isolated pool-area allowing for an expansive out-door entertaining area second to none.” Related: Smart Home targets affordability and eco-friendly design in Australia The architects replaced the home’s original seven “closet”-sized bedrooms with four spacious bedrooms. The interior design follows a minimalist aesthetic with hidden storage to avoid clutter. Created to meet a six-star energy rating, the home takes advantage of thermal mass from the existing concrete slabs on both floors and the externally insulated double brick walls. Long roof eaves and new dual shading help mitigate solar gain . + Inbetween Architecture Images by Tatjana Plitt and Nick Stephenson

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A striking concrete home in Ontario targets minimal environment impact

June 21, 2018 by  
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Toronto-based Teeple Architects has paired a beautiful but unusual site in Ontario with the sculptural Port Hope House, an award-winning residence that boasts a wide array of sustainable features. Located east of Toronto , the single-family rural home takes inspiration from the client’s 75-acre property that consists of a woodlot, a fallow field, an abandoned Grand Trunk railway cut and a steep cliff that falls into Lake Ontario. Built with long concrete walls, the Port Hope House appears like a rock outcropping lifting upwards. Teeple Architects carefully sited the Port Hope House to reap the advantages of the property’s four distinctive site conditions — the quiet and dark woods to the north, the open fallow field, the rail cut that hints at man’s intervention and the dramatic lake embankment to the south. The project was rendered as a “tectonic expression” that rises from the earth as a single, curving volume and then splits into two framed volumes so natural light can penetrate deep inside the home. “As an architectural composition, the project offers a unique interpretation of the domestic space — a fundamental object of architectural inquiry — based on the particular experiences and opportunities of a site,” Teeple Architects explained. “Expressed as a small handful of sculptural but restrained moves, the project breaks the mold of contemporary home design in imagining the house as a natural form, an organic but certainly not pre-ordained result of creative exchange between architect, client and environment.” Related: Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum is sustainably built from CNC-milled beetle-kill timber To minimize its environmental footprint, the light-filled house features a high-performance envelope with heat-mirror film glazing and follows passive solar principles. The long concrete walls offer high thermal mass and are clad with charcoal zinc siding. Water and sewage are treated on site to reduce reliance on the grid. Rainwater is harvested for irrigation, and geothermal energy has been tapped for heating. + Teeple Architects Images by Scott Norsworthy

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This modern solar-powered retreat is topped with a massive green roof

June 18, 2018 by  
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Outside the concrete jungle of São Paulo , Brazil is a solar-powered holiday retreat that fully embraces nature. Brazilian architecture firm Studio MK27 designed the striking home, called the Planar House, for a couple and their three children. Despite the rather spacious size of 10,763 square feet, the dwelling projects lightness thanks to its concrete slab green roof that appears to float above the landscape. Topped with a grassy green roof , the Planar House was crafted to blend in with the surrounding lawn and rolling hills. The building was constructed almost entirely of reinforced, poured in-situ concrete. Slender metallic pillars on both side of the home hold up the concrete slab roof. The home, which was designed for entertaining, consists of five en-suite bedrooms, the staff quarters, kitchen, kid’s playroom and expansive living and dining areas with indoor-outdoor access thanks to sliding glass doors. A hallway that runs north to south divides the programming. “Planar House is a radical exercise in horizontality, [an] aspect commonly explored in the projects of the studio,”  Studio MK27 explained. “Discreetly inserted in the highest point of the plot and favoring the existing topography, its presence is most strongly felt in the footprint rather than volumetrically. [The home is] an extensive line in an open landscape.” Related: Flat green roof helps Casa Guarujá integrate with the forest in Brazil The holiday home’s design was strongly influenced by Miesian architecture. The home is sandwiched between two concrete slabs with the upper slab serving as a structural platform. The interiors feature board-formed concrete ceilings and a mostly timber material palette that lends warmth throughout. In contrast to the home’s rigid geometry, the architects added a sinuous brick wall — punctuated by voids to let in light and views — that wraps around part of the home. The architects said, “The wall, which is usually a symbol of division and isolation, in this project, is at times concave and at others convex, embracing the entrance garden and creating transparencies as well as offering protection from the street.” + Studio MK27 Images by Fernando Guerra

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