Prefab open-air theater pops up with speed in a London park

August 6, 2018 by  
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Completed in just seven months, the Regent’s Park Open Air Theater in central London is yet another example of how prefabrication can be a fantastic solution for site-sensitive projects strapped for time. Local architecture firm Reed Watts Architects designed the theater using a lightweight cross-laminated timber (CLT) panel system. Set amidst protected Royal Parks trees, the cultural institution houses new rehearsal studios and a catering kitchen, marking the first time in the theater’s 86-year history that its operations have been brought together onto one site. Spanning an area of over 5,000 square feet on the far corner of the site, the Regent’s Park Open Air Theater is designed to host over 1,200 people every night during the summer season. The architects installed the building during the winter season, when the Theater was closed, atop relatively small foundations to minimize site impact. The building exterior is clad in dark-stained larch at its base with more textured cladding higher up; the overall effect helps the structure recede into the landscape and makes it look like a natural extension of the existing Theater buildings. “Reed Watts have succeeded in delivering a significant new rehearsal facility for the theatre, as well as a state of the art kitchen to support the commercial catering arm of our business,” said William Village, Executive Director of Regent’s Park Open Air Theater. “Efficiently utilising every inch of the available footprint, the sense of scale when entering the building is impressive, and yet the design is sympathetic to the magical ambience of the Open Air Theatre. Realised with an acute understanding of the natural environment and the importance of our location in the heart of Regent’s Park, one might be forgiven for assuming that these new buildings have always been a feature of the theatre’s infrastructure.” Related: A prefab chapel’s sculptural form amplifies the landscape in Uruguay Most of the programs are located on the first floor; however, a floor above provides extra room for rehearsal spaces and a green room. The new studio is double-height to provide added flexibility for dancers, actors and acrobats. The space is illuminated by roof lights and tall windows, heated with underfloor heating and mechanically ventilated (and cooled) from upper-level ductwork. + Reed Watts Architects Via ArchDaily Images by Simone Kennedy and David Jensen

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Prefab open-air theater pops up with speed in a London park

Yale architecture students designed and built this handsome home for the homeless

May 17, 2018 by  
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Since 1967, first-year Yale architecture students have designed and built buildings to better the community — and last year’s project was a stellar showing in affordable housing. For the 2017 Jim Vlock First Year Building Project , students completed a 1,000-square-foot home that explores cost-efficient and flexible design. Constructed in New Haven’s Upper Hill neighborhood, the dwelling was created to provide shelter for the homeless. The 1,000-square-foot house for the homeless is a handsome prefabricated structure clad in cedar and topped with a standing-seam metal gable roof. According to the project statement, students were “challenged to develop a cost-efficient, flexible design that tackles replicability in material, means, and method of construction.” The house comprises two separate dwellings: one is a studio, while the other is a two-bedroom apartment with built-in storage. Related: Washington D.C. architect wants to shelter the homeless in decommissioned subway cars The project also marked the first partnership between the Yale School of Architecture and the non-profit Columbus House , an organization that has been providing solutions to homelessness in the New Haven area since 1982. The house was the 50th Jim Vlock First Year Building. For the 2018 Jim Vlock First Year Building Project, the Yale School of Architecture will partner with SmartLam , the first manufacturer of cross-laminated timber in the U.S., which will provide CLT panels for the construction of a two-family home for the homeless. + Jim Vlock First Year Building Project Images by Haylie Chan and Zelig Fok

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Yale architecture students designed and built this handsome home for the homeless

This prefab cabin is designed to take you off grid in the Scottish Highlands

March 30, 2018 by  
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A new piece of prefab architecture will soon bring artists, researchers, and travelers closer to the spectacular Scottish Highlands. Artist Bobby Niven and architect Iain MacLeod designed the Artist Bothy, a multipurpose cabin prefabricated in Scotland from sustainable materials . Conceived as an artist residency space, the gabled hut promises a low-impact and off-grid immersion in nature. The Artist Bothy was born from the Bothy Project , a network of off-grid artist residency spaces that aims to support artist mobility and access to the Scottish landscape. To withstand the elements, the 178-square-foot cabin was constructed from cross-laminated timber panels clad in Corten corrugated metal and Scottish larch. Insulated with 100 millimeters of wood-fiber insulation, the gabled structure frames views through double-glazed windows. Surface water drainage is handled by concealed downpipes. Related: Solar-powered seaside cabin blends prefab design with traditional building techniques Each Artist Bothy can be installed on site in less than a day. While the structures were envisioned for off-grid use, they can also be connected to electricity and water services. The compact interior features a mostly wooden interior and a mezzanine level for sleeping. Optional extras for added functionality include a kitchenette, bench bed, shelving units, tables, a wood-burning stove , and outer decking. The Artist Bothy is available to purchase starting from £39,000 ($54,731 USD) . + Bothy Project Images by Johnny Barrington

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This prefab cabin is designed to take you off grid in the Scottish Highlands

Sprawling nets suspended mid-air turn a forest into a climbing wonderland

March 30, 2018 by  
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You don’t need to know how to climb a tree to enjoy this marvelous climbing maze suspended in a Guangdong forest. When the school affiliated to the Luofu Mountain Chinese Classics Institute wanted to encourage children to pursue more physical activity, the school tapped Chinese design studio unarchitecte to design a place conducive to play in the forested valley. Taking inspiration from nature, the designers created the Climbing Park of Luofu Mountain, a system of white nets and climbing areas elevated into the air that promotes a closer connection with nature. Careful consideration was taken to protect existing healthy trees during the construction process, while precautions were also taken to avoid damaging tree growth. Metal posts were installed to provide extra support. Hundreds of white triangular nets were pieced together to form an undulating surface with dips and rises evoking the surrounding topography. Related: Green Treehouse Provides an Incredible Learning Playground Children can explore the Climbing Park from multiple entrances, while adults (who are also invited to play up above) can supervise down below. In addition to the nets surface, the designers also included other net structures like spiral tubes and hemispherical tents . “A forest can become a place for children to return to nature, to explore and to think, to sweat and to sit still alone. In the nature, they can forget themselves and can also search for their inner selves,” wrote the architects. “Building a climbing system, architects connect all the trees in the valley by hundreds of diverse white triangle nets to constitute a combination of various topological folding surfaces like a “white sea” for children to swim carefree.” + unarchitecte Via gooood Images by Zhang Hetian

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Sprawling nets suspended mid-air turn a forest into a climbing wonderland

The brilliant folding M.A.Di Home can be assembled in hours

November 15, 2017 by  
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The M.A.Di Home is an ingenious a-frame home that can be easily assembled in just a few hours. The foldable design, created by Italian architect, Renato Vidal, , is earthquake-resilient and can be equipped with rooftop solar panels LED lighting, and grey water systems to take it totally off-grid. The modular, flat-pack design of the M.A.Di Home is meant to create a streamlined, sustainable process between manufacturing and assembly. Thanks to their unique folding ability, the homes are prefabricated off site, flat-packed and easily transported via truck or container to virtually any location. Once onsite, the construction process includes unfolding each module before adding the roof pitches, interior flooring, and walls to the home. The company estimates that each structure takes a team of three just six or seven hours to assemble. Related: Affordable flat-pack Surf Shack shelter operates completely off the grid Made out of CLT (Cross Laminated Timber) with a galvanized steel frame, the foldable homes are designed to last, even through earthquakes. The walls are insulated with a high-density rockwool and a polyurethane foam is used to waterproof the home, increasing its thermal insulation as a result. The structures can be built to go completely off grid by adding solar panels , grey water systems, and LED lighting. Additionally, the homes don’t necessarily need to be built on a concrete foundation, allowing the structure to have zero impact on the environment. For living space, the modules come in a variety of layouts and sizes, starting at a 290-square-feet tiny home to a larger 904-square-feet family home. Each model is two stories and comes with a kitchen, dining area and bathroom on the first floor, with the bedrooms on the upper floor. The A-frame design allows for an all-glass facade that lets in optimal amounts of natural light. They can also be equipped with an upper floor balcony off the bedrooms and a deck space on the ground floor. + M.A.Di Home Via New Atlas Images via M.A.Di Home

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The brilliant folding M.A.Di Home can be assembled in hours

7 global megatrends that could beat climate change

November 15, 2017 by  
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Is it too late for us to avert disastrous impacts of global warming ? Maybe not, thanks to megatrends changing the way humans live on a global scale. The Guardian’s environment editor Damian Carrington laid out trends that could turn the tide: renewable energy , electric cars , plant-based meat , energy efficiency , batteries , coal dying, and planting new forests . It’s clear we haven’t yet won the battle – but there could be reason for hope. Even as our world is warming, we haven’t yet lost the fight against climate change . Christiana Figueres, former United Nations climate chief and Mission 2020 convener, told The Guardian humanity still faces serious challenges as the climate turning point is just three years away. She said, “But the fact is we are seeing progress that is growing exponentially, and that is what gives me the most reason for hope.” Related: Here’s some climate hope: global CO2 emissions stayed static last year The seven megatrends outlined by Carrington suggest we could win humanity’s most complex global struggle. First? The development of lab-grown or plant-based meat products. Cows are responsible for emitting methane , a powerful greenhouse gas that traps heat on Earth. And people’s appetite for meat is increasing. But investors from Bill Gates to the Chinese government are starting to back tasty, environmentally friendly alternatives. Then there’s renewable energy: production costs have plummeted and installations have soared. According to The Guardian, renewables comprised two-thirds of new power last year. On the other hand, coal’s grip on the world is slipping: production could have peaked back in 2013. The International Renewable Energy Agency expects a large battery storage increase, as batteries are connected to smart and efficient grids . Meanwhile, if current growth rates keep going, by 2030 80 percent of new cars will be electric, according to The Guardian, which would reduce carbon emissions. Home energy efficiency is also making progress. In the European Union, for example, since 2000, efficiency in houses, industry, and transportation has improved by around 20 percent. The creation of new forests is another megatrend “not yet pointing in the right direction,” according to The Guardian, as deforestation continues apace. But tree-planting in South Korea, China, and India has already scrubbed over 12 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Bloomberg New Energy Finance founder Michael Liebreich told The Guardian, “We are not going to get through this without damage. But we can avoid the worst.” Via The Guardian Images via Depositphotos

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7 global megatrends that could beat climate change

Bright blue trekking tents are designed to pop up with speed in Iceland

November 13, 2017 by  
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As if Iceland’s gorgeous waterfall-studded landscape wasn’t enough to draw the eye, Stockholm-based Utopia Arkitekter has designed a bright blue cabin for installation along the country’s most famous trekking trails. Created for a competition, the Skýli (“shelter” in Icelandic) is a rugged yet beautiful structure that takes after the classic tent shape. These off-grid shelters are designed for minimal landscape impact and are estimated to take two to three days for on-site assembly. Skýli was designed for high visibility with its four triangular gables and steel cladding painted bright blue, a hue reminiscent of Reykjavik’s colorful urban architecture. Each structure comprises four rooms: two bedrooms; a multipurpose kitchen area and first aid room; and a dining room with storage space. The cabin accommodates 15 people. Four triangular triple-glazed windows let in natural light and frame views, while the inner shell and furnishings are made from light-colored cross-laminated timber . Utopia Arkitekter designed Skýli for quick and easy installation anywhere on the landscape with efficient delivery via helicopter. A system of plinths would serve as stable foundation for the cabin’s weather-resistant steel shell painted with GreenCoat® , the only product on the market using Swedish rapeseed oil instead of fossil fuel-based oils. “Skýli is designed for pristine environments where sustainable development is of the highest importance. Materials need to be eco-conscious, while also resistant to extreme weather, which is one of the reasons we decided to choose GreenCoat steel for the roof,” said Mattias Litström, from Utopia Arkitekter. Related: Compact floating cabin pops up in extreme remote locations Each cabin would be equipped with a solar panel and battery for limited energy storage. Rainwater can be collected from the roof and can be purified for potable use. Liquified petroleum gas powers the kitchen appliances and can be used for heating when necessary. The Skýli trekking cabin was recently nominated for the World Architecture Festival Award 2017 in the category “Leisure-led Development – Future Projects.” + Utopia Arkitekter

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Bright blue trekking tents are designed to pop up with speed in Iceland

Cozy egg-shaped treehouses offer stunning views of the Italian Alps

October 10, 2017 by  
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A pair of adorable egg-shaped treehouses is hidden away in one of Italy’s oldest forests. Architetto Beltrame Claudio designed these dreamy retreats, called Pigna, that overlook stunning views of the Italian Alps. Inspired by the shape and texture of pinecones, these shingled dwellings are carefully designed to blend into the landscape while serving as a cozy and elegant getaway. Pigna was originally conceived for an architecture competition in 2014 but was only recently completed this year in Malborghetto Valbruna, Italy. The 70-square-meter project comprises two treehouses and both are elevated ten meters off the ground with three stories each. The egg-shaped buildings were constructed from cross-laminated timber with wood fiber insulation. Larch shingles clad the curved exterior punctuated by two covered balconies framing views of the outdoors. Related: Egg-Shaped HemLoft Treehouse is Nestled in the Forests of Whistler “The project started from the desire to create a structure that is not only a refuge for man, but also a natural element of its environment, a mimesis of its surrounding,” wrote the architects. “From the tree, for the tree.” The treehouses are anchored to nearby trees. Both the first and second floors can be reached via outdoor stairs or a walkway. The first floor serves as panoramic covered terrace, whereas the second houses the main living areas with a small kitchen, bathroom, and living room. The bedroom with a double bed placed beneath a circular skylight is located on the third floor. Wooden stairs connect all three floors. + Architetto Beltrame Claudio Via ArchDaily Images via Architetto Beltrame Claudio , interior shots by Laura Tessaro

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Cozy egg-shaped treehouses offer stunning views of the Italian Alps

Salvaged materials from devastating fire take new life in a British pier

July 26, 2017 by  
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A British seaside pier destroyed by a devastating fire in 2010 has made an incredible comeback in the hands of dRMM Architects . After a seven-year process, the century-old pier in Hastings, England was transformed from its decrepit and dangerous state to a vibrant new public space clad in reclaimed materials. Crafted in collaboration with the community, the Hastings Pier is an inspiring story of sustainable restoration and craft, earning it a place on the shortlist for the 2017 RIBA Stirling Prize , UK’s top architecture award. Originally constructed in 1872 and later topped with a pavilion that survived until the fire, the Hastings Pier enjoyed its heyday as an entertainment destination in the 1930s but later fell into disrepair and ultimately closed in recent decades due to neglect. Rather than restore the Victorian pier to its original design, drMM wanted to craft a pier better suited to the 21st century and focused on designing an attractive multipurpose space with few buildings. The architects not only redesigned the pier, but also wrote the brief and helped raise funds with the Heritage Lottery Fund that paid for structural repairs below deck and partially covered the costs of rebuilding the pier above deck. The most defining building on the new pier is the new visitor center , that’s not positioned at the end of the pier but rather on top of the damaged pier’s weakest section. The cross-laminated timber structure is clad in reclaimed timber salvaged from the fire and is topped with an accessible viewpoint rooftop that doubles as an events space. The only other structures are a pair of circular extensions that house a kitchen, staff facility, and toilet; a group of hut-like trading stalls; and deck furniture built from reclaimed materials as part of a local employment initiative. The 266-meter-long deck was rebuilt with sustainably sourced African Ekki hardwood. Related: Light-filled cancer center harnesses the healing power of nature RIBA wrote: “From a conservation perspective, this project has reinvigorated a fire-damaged historic structure and facilitated a contemporary and appropriate new 21st century use. The project has been mindful to integrate material from the original pier in the new design, and the process of restoration was used to help train a new generation of craft specialists.” + dRMM Via Dezeen Images © Alex de Rijke

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Salvaged materials from devastating fire take new life in a British pier

Provocative timber horn explores the hypnotic pull of the unknown

July 24, 2017 by  
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Digital fabrication and traditional woodworking fuse together in Y, a modern sculpture with a provocative and pixelated appearance. A team of international architects and carpenters comprising &’ [Emmi Keskisarja & Janne Teräsvirta & Company Architects] collaborated with the Finnish National Museum to create the funnel-shaped art piece in Helsinki’s Seurasaari open-air museum. The intriguing artwork is built from horizontal prefabricated cross-laminated timber elements interlocked by 568 timber wedges. The temporary Y was built in the historical Niemelä Tenant Farm courtyard , creating a new social space on museum grounds. “Y is an equation of temporality, time and provocative use of wood in the museum milieu,” wrote the architects. “As Y is the mathematical symbol for the unknown, the installation Y points to the future and the possible outcomes of Nordic built heritage. In Niemelä, Y is a variable within the parameter of time.” The funnels-shaped sculpture is large enough to climb into and explore like a cave, and its hypnotic effect encourages meditative practice. Related: Palestinian architects give the ancient stone vault a modern twist in Jericho Architecturally, the most interesting aspect of Y is its combination of digital fabrication with traditional woodworking . The project’s carpenters used traditional handicraft methods to help develop the project, while the architects brought their set of digital design and production tools to the table. The result is a sculpture that functions like a giant wooden joint that’s built from prefabricated cross-laminated timber elements. The use of timber gives the artwork a feeling of familiarity, however the pixelated appearance adds a touch of the futuristic and unknown. + &’ [Emmi Keskisarja & Janne Teräsvirta & Company Architects] Images by SWANG

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Provocative timber horn explores the hypnotic pull of the unknown

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