Breezy home in Mexico uses strategic cross ventilation and natural light to reduce its energy use

May 20, 2019 by  
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RDLP Arquitectos have unveiled Casa Puebla, a beautiful family home that incorporates traditional Mexican design with modern passive features . The stunning project features a contemporary shell over two rectangular volumes clad in raw concrete, paying homage to the tilework found in traditional Mexican constructions. The design features several passive design elements, including cross ventilation, natural light and sun shades, all of which reduce the home’s energy needs. According to the architects, one of the principle inspirations behind Casa Puebla’s beautiful,  nature-inspired design was the Popocatépetl volcano, one of the most beloved natural icons in central Mexico. Using the fiery landmark as a pillar of the design, architects then blended a series of natural elements with an avant-garde aesthetic. Related: The Nogal House saves energy with smart site-specific design The structure was built with two interconnecting rectangular volumes that form an L-shape. To add a bit of “visual contradiction,” the heavier concrete block was set on top of the lower glass-enclosed block. This unusual feature was instrumental in creating a double-height formation that ensures continual vertical ventilation throughout the interior. In addition, the design was strategic in creating multiple outdoor nooks that are shaded by the roof of the upper level. These outdoor areas, used for reading, entertaining and dining, forge a strong connection between the interior and the outdoors. As an implicit tribute to the local vernacular, the home was built with locally sourced, natural materials, primarily concrete and wood. The exposed concrete cladding , which provides a strong thermal envelope, pays homage to the use of tiles in traditional Mexican architecture. Vertical wooden shutters provide shade from the harsh summer sun while diffusing natural light throughout the interior. The use of concrete continues inside, where board-formed concrete makes up the walls and the pillars that frame the floor-to-ceiling glass panels . On the ground floor, an open floor plan houses the kitchen, dining and living rooms, and sliding glass doors lead to the exterior spaces. Contemporary furniture and elements run throughout the home, including a “floating” staircase that leads to the upper level. + RDLP Arquitectos Via Archdaily Images via RDLP Arquitectos

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Breezy home in Mexico uses strategic cross ventilation and natural light to reduce its energy use

Solar-powered home stays naturally cool in Keralas tropical heat

April 2, 2019 by  
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In the South Indian city of Kochi, local architectural practice Meister Varma Architects recently completed Maison Kochi, a contemporary home for a family of four that mitigates the region’s intense tropical heat with energy-efficient and cost-effective techniques. Inspired by the concept of chiaroscuro, a Renaissance artistic technique named after the strong contrasts between light and dark, Maison Kochi features a solid white exterior and a dark interior finished in polished concrete to create a cool indoor environment. The interior layout is also arranged to buffer the heat, while the roof is equipped with solar panels and a rainwater collection system. Slotted on a tight, 1,830-square-foot lot, Maison Kochi was commissioned for a family of four who also sought a studio and office space in the home. As a result, the west-facing building is split into two volumes — the volume on the south side is slightly taller to provide shade on the second volume throughout the day — for a clear division of space between the work areas and the primary living spaces. An open-plan layout and large windows allow for cross ventilation, while a vent in the roof access hatch lets hot air escape for natural cooling. On the ground floor, the work areas (a studio, tool shed and flex meeting room that can be used as a guest bedroom) are located on the south side of the house, while an open-plan living and dining room are located opposite; the two volumes are joined by the entry foyer and a compact kitchen. The master bedroom with a terrace, a children’s bedroom, a TV room and a study are upstairs. To soften the polished concrete walls and black oxide floors, the interior is dressed with Kerala sari-inspired fabrics and multicolored baskets that mimic traditional urban crafts. Almost all of the interior furnishings are custom-made. Related: This rammed earth home in India uses recycled materials throughout “ Rainwater channels are integrated in the roof design as are solar panels,” the architects added. “Collected water is used to recharge the groundwater through an injection system. Flat roofs are insulated with hollow clay blocks and sloping roofs with polyurethane sandwich panels.” + Meister Varma Architects Photography by Praveen Mohandas and Govind Nair (drone photography) via Meister Varma Architects

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These sustainable headphones are making a debut just in time for Earth Day

April 2, 2019 by  
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The Exodus headphones are The House of Marley’s first release in its new 2019 line of eco-friendly audio products, and trust us when we say they are everything you’d want in a pair of headphones. Made from materials like FSC-certified wood, stainless steel, recyclable aluminum and soft natural leather, the Exodus headphones allow you feel good about your purchase while having a comfortable listening experience. The House of Marley doesn’t stop at headphones, either — the company also creates turntables built from natural bamboo and outdoor speakers made using organic cork. Not to mention all of its packaging is produced from 100 percent recycled paper. Inhabitat recently had a chance to try out the new Exodus headphones and interview The House of Marley’s Director of Product Development, Josh Poulsen. Eco-friendly and sustainable materials The headphone casing is made from wood that is FSC-certified, meaning that the trees cut down to produce the wood are guaranteed to be replaced and regenerated sustainably. The stainless steel making up the headphone architecture and fasteners creates less environmental impact and is more durable; it can even be recycled. Not only is aluminum (used for the headphone housing) one of the most eco-consciously produced metals, there’s no limit to how many times it can be recycled. Lastly, natural leather adds a sense of warmth and style while remaining a biodegradable option. Related: This eco-friendly wooden laptop is designed to curb e-waste Inhabitat: “What was the inspiration behind building the Exodus headphones with such eco-friendly and sustainable materials?” Poulsen: “We strive to build all House of Marley products with eco-friendly and sustainable materials, not as an inspiration but as our mission. With the Exodus, we aimed to design an over-ear headphone that can be listened to for long periods without discomfort or acoustic fatigue, offers premium construction and incorporates  sustainable materials while focusing on heritage and retro-inspired design elements. In the case of the Exodus, sustainability means more than just the materials from which the headphone is constructed. The quality craftsmanship means product life is extended and the emphasis on comfort allows the user to sustain longer listening sessions.” Sound quality The media website CNET called these the “Best new headphones of CES [Consumer Electronics Show] 2019.” The Bluetooth LE technology was fast while pairing with our devices, meaning less time waiting for a connection and more time enjoying music. 50mm hi-def drivers ensure quality sound, regardless of unconventional materials. Inhabitat: “What steps does the company make to ensure that these non-traditional materials don’t compromise the sound quality?” Poulsen: “Sound quality isn’t negatively affected by the sustainable materials we choose to use. In fact, often times the choice of wood can enhance and add to the warmth in acoustic we strive for. Wood is a premier choice for materials in many musical instruments for thousands of years, so it seemed logical that it be incorporated into audio listening products as well. We take it one step further by ensuring the non-traditional materials such as bamboo , cork and FSC-certified woods not only contribute the sound quality of our products, but are a sustainable design choice in the manner in which they are harvested and incorporated.” Long-lasting Not only is the sound long-lasting (the headphones boast a 30-hour lithium polymer battery life, the longest-lasting in the company’s history), USB-C charging makes it easy to plug into any USB-compliant outlet. The company doesn’t just exercise sustainable materials but also helps ensure that its products last longer than other audio makers. Related: Artist upcycles discarded cassette tapes into eco-friendly MusicCloth® Inhabitat: “We covered The House of Marley earbuds a few years back. Has anything changed about your products since then?” Poulsen: “It is important to produce timeless designs and high-quality products. The House of Marley intends for products to last longer without the need for replacement — meaning less products being sent to landfills . In the past five years, The House of Marley has increased durability and quality, while the product return rate has been brought down significantly.” Helping to save the planet As if it could get any better than a product that’s both high-quality and eco-friendly, The House of Marley has also been working with One Tree Planted since 2017 to fight global deforestation. One Tree Planted is a non-profit organization that has been planting trees in North America, Latin America, Asia and Africa since 2014. To celebrate Earth Day, The House of Marley will be contributing to tree plantings in Colorado, Kenya and Rwanda. Inhabitat: “How did your partnership with One Tree Planted come about?” Poulsen: “The House of Marley was conceived around carrying on Bob Marley’s legacy, which includes the charitable philosophy of giving back to the Earth what we take from it. Given our history of using FSC-certified woods, bamboo and cork in the sustainable construction of our products, in 2017 we were introduced to One Tree Planted to contribute to tree plantings around the world. Since then, we have planted 168,000 trees in an effort to bring awareness to the consumption and waste of the plastics-driven consumer electronics market. Reforestation contributes to positive environmental, social and economic impact through carbon offsets, cleaner air , water filtration and greater biodiversity within the world’s forests. By donating to the planting of trees, we hope to encourage growth and begin changing the minds of consumers and our industry.” Bottom line The House of Marley is not kidding when it says 30-hour battery life; these headphones can be enjoyed all day and then some. Over-ear headphones can get clunky or uncomfortable, and plenty of music-lovers out there prefer the smaller earbuds for these reasons, but the memory foam ear cushions combined with the natural leather definitely squash those excuses. The over-ear speakers are super comfortable and can be used for hours without getting painful. Related: Dimension Plus turned Oreo cookies into edible records that play music One of the best parts is the hinge allowing the headphones to fold into each other to easily fit into the premium stash bag (included) made from the company’s signature REWIND organic cotton fabric, helping to take up less space while traveling. We loved the option for plugging the headphones directly into your device with the included aux cable (because let’s face it, sometimes we forget to charge things), but even if you do forget to charge, it only takes two hours to get fully juiced. Any outdoor-lover will enjoy how the Exodus headphones look. The certified wood is a light, natural color, which pairs really nicely against the black color of the plastic and ear cushions. The charging and aux cables are designed with the same sturdy, braided design (a godsend for those of us prone to breaking those skinny plastic cables on other headphones). You can also control the volume and playback from the headphones themselves rather than fumbling for your device. Finally, we couldn’t help but pump some Bob Marley through these headphones, and unsurprisingly, it did not disappoint. + The House of Marley Images via Katherine Gallagher / Inhabitat Editor’s Note: This product review is not sponsored by The House of Marley. All opinions on the products and company are the author’s own.

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These sustainable headphones are making a debut just in time for Earth Day

Heritage Melbourne home is reborn as a modern dwelling filled with light and views

January 8, 2019 by  
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Fitzroy-based design studio Field Office Architecture has given a small 19th-century Victorian terrace a contemporary facelift with walls of double-glazed glass and crisp, clean lines throughout. Dubbed the Clifton Hill House after the suburb in which it resides, the compact home sits at the end of a row of similar heritage houses and had been given many ad-hoc renovations over the years. The architects stripped back all of the additions to bring in light and views, while improving the home’s energy efficiency. Commissioned by clients seeking a contemporary light-filled home with a new dining area, kitchen and master bedroom, the Clifton Hill House has been updated to 180 square meters with three bedrooms and two baths. On the ground floor, the entrance opens up to a long hallway that branches off to two bedrooms and leads to an L-shaped, open-plan dining area, kitchen and living room that wrap around a north-facing courtyard and also open up to a spacious backyard. Stairs at the rear of the property lead up to the study and master suite. The light-filled home was also reinforced with high-performance insulation and features double glazing throughout. To minimize the use of air conditioning, the architects strategically placed operable windows to promote cross ventilation across both floors, while retractable insect screens protect against invasions of unwanted critters. Energy-efficiency is further achieved with in-slab hydronic heating in the living and dining areas. The landscaping, which was designed by the architects, is lined with seat-height recycled brick planters. Related: A gloomy house is revived as a modern solar home built of recycled materials “A combination of dark feature timber framing along with marine grade ply and rendered recycled brickwork make up the primary material palette externally, a simple, affordable and yet robust series of selections that juxtapose elegantly against the heritage nature of the existing part of the dwelling,” the architects explain. “Internally, the selections were similarly made to provide a soft understatedness that allows for the artwork and the natural light to take centre stage.” + Field Office Architecture Via ArchDaily Photography by Kristoffer Paulsen via Field Office Architecture

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Eco-friendly guesthouse in Brazil sports a green roof and rammed earth walls

January 2, 2019 by  
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In continuation of its work on the eco-conscious Camburi community center , Sao Paulo-based architecture firm CRU! architects recently completed the Guesthouse Paraty, a sustainable social building project that provided construction jobs and training to the local community. To minimize the environmental impact of the building, the architects used natural materials sourced locally, from red earth excavated on site to the tree trunks and bamboo cut from the surrounding forest. The guesthouse was also built to follow passive solar principles to keep naturally cool in Brazil’s tropical climate. Designed with flexible usage in mind, the nearly 37-square-meter Guesthouse Paraty can be used as short-term lodging, a workspace or a play space for children. The compact, single-story building includes three beds — the bedroom consists of a double bed and a lofted single bed, while a convertible futon sofa is located in the living area. The open-plan living space also includes a small cooking area and dining table. To keep the guesthouse from feeling cramped, the architects installed expansive walls of glass that usher in daylight and frame views of the outdoors; the glazed entrance on one end of the building also opens up to a sheltered outdoor living space. Because the project location is far from the town center, the architects wanted to use materials sourced from the site. As a result, the building was constructed with rammed earth walls and topped with a green roof finished with locally sourced black earth and plant matter. The formwork used for the rammed earth walls was recycled to build the roof structure. The columns supporting the weight of the roof were built from bamboo. Further tying the building in with the site is the inclusion of the existing massive granite rock that now forms part of the bedroom wall. Related: Bamboo community center empowers the local Brazilian community The overhanging roof eaves and the green roof mitigate unwanted solar heat gain. All windows are operable and strategically positioned to optimize cross-ventilation . Insect screens were installed to protect against mosquitoes. + CRU! architects Photography by Nelson Kon via CRU! architects

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Eco-friendly guesthouse in Brazil sports a green roof and rammed earth walls

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 affordable, carbon-positive CORE 9 house generates more energy than it uses

April 3, 2018 by  
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With its CORE 9 home, architecture firm Beaumont Concepts aims to redefine how affordable sustainable housing is designed and built. The compact, low-maintenance house can be adapted for energy ratings from 6 to 10-star, which allows it to accommodate a range of budgets. The architects collaborated with a team of building designers and thermal performance professionals in order to develop affordable homes that respond to Australia’s climate. The resulting design, named CORE, is a carbon-positive home that relies on renewable energy sources and feeds surplus energy back to the grid. Related: Passive Erpingham House in Australia is affordable, light-filled and easily replicable The team used a selection of recycled and sustainable materials with a low embodied energy . These materials themselves can be up-cycled or re-processed after use. Cross-ventilation and maximum use of northern light help to reduce heating and cooling loads. In order to keep costs as low as possible, the designers also incorporated an inverted roof truss, which allows more light into the building but doesn’t require any specialist construction methods or additional costs. + Beaumont Concepts Via Archdaily Photos by Warren Reed and Leo Edwards

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The affordable, carbon-positive CORE 9 house generates more energy than it uses

This tiny house on wheels can expand to meet the owner’s needs

March 30, 2018 by  
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Owning a house no longer means you have to stay in place. This tiny house on wheels, built to withstand extreme climates, can both change locations at a moment’s notice and expand in order to adjust to specific user needs. The Tiny House Company’s newest design, named Swallowtail, can be used as a primary home, weekender, studio, extended living space, or anything in between. Post-war homes inspired the tiny house’s design – it features a butterfly roof , timber screen, plywood cladding and corrugated sheeting. The butterfly roof has an integrated box gutter and downpipe for easy connection and rainwater collection , all hidden from view beside a paulownia timber screen. Related: This huge ‘tiny house’ on wheels can fit a family of five! The location of the doors and windows maximizes  cross-ventilation , and the walls and roof are well insulated. Durable and low-maintenance cladding and flashing ensure that the house retains a watertight seal at all times. The minimal floor plan keeps the interior looking uncluttered and clean, accommodating a range of optional extras and different furniture arrangements. Owners can add storage, shelving, optional window/door upgrades and additions, awnings, a planter box, higher-end fixtures, and additional cabinetry. Basic models of the home start at around $62,500. + The Tiny House Company Via Apartment Therapy

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This tiny house on wheels can expand to meet the owner’s needs

This passively cooled house in Australia features a green roof, recycled brick, and ocean views

March 22, 2018 by  
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The residents of Greenacres,  Austin Maynard Architects ‘ first completed project in New South Wales, originally asked for a light-filled home and a room with a view. The architects decided to take it a step further, building a house that not only affords ocean views from almost every interior space, but also incorporates the existing landscape and uses sustainable design to maximize energy efficiency. Perched on a steep block in Newcastle, the house utilizes the existing topography to create different spaces across three levels and provide expansive views of its surroundings. The garage lies hidden at the base of the property, with the entry path and garden weaving along the structure and through the green roof . A landscaped driveway reduces the visual impact of the hard surfaces in front of the house. Propped on three steel “legs” above this section, the building’s main level houses the kitchen, living and dining areas. And finally, two bedrooms and a bathroom are tucked in beneath this rectangular space. Related: Eco-Friendly Tinbeerwah House Rises on Steel Stilts in the Australian Bush Austin Maynard Architects also made sure Greenacres didn’t get in the way of its own view. Whether in the living space, the rear of the building, or any space in between, you have a clear view of the ocean, the Merewether Ocean Baths, and the city.   Related: Australia’s first carbon-positive prefab house produces more energy than it consumes In addition to these main design considerations, the architects included sustainable features to help save energy. They used locally sourced recycled brick throughout the house. The orientation, window shading, attention to cross ventilation, and central fish pond aid passive cooling and reduce reliance on mechanical ventilation. All windows are double glazed and protected from the northern and western sun. Water tanks, buried in the garden, provide ample water for the gardens and the toilets. The result is the best of both worlds: a house with stunning ocean views that also manages to be energy-efficient. + Austin Maynard Architects Via World Architecture News Photos by Tess Kelly  

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This passively cooled house in Australia features a green roof, recycled brick, and ocean views

20% of US population produces 46% of food-based emissions

March 22, 2018 by  
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A monumental new study demonstrates that one-fifth of the American population is responsible for nearly half of all food-based emissions. Popsci reports that people who eat a lot of animal protein, especially beef, account for a larger share of greenhouse gas emissions — although, author Sara Chodosh also illustrates the extreme complexity behind the study’s potentially groundbreaking conclusions. Read on for a closer look. Published in Environmental Research Letters specifically sought to understand how diet and associated emissions varies among the American population. Martin Heller, an engineer at the University of Michigan’s Center for Sustainable Systems and study contributor, told Popsci it was surprising to realize just how varied they are. “I don’t think any of us really had a strong sense of how distributed the greenhouse gas emissions would be,” he says. “That was perhaps the most striking result.” Getting to the meat of the matter (sorry, I couldn’t resist) involved consulting several different databases and picking apart the life-cycle analysis of every morsel. Chodosh writes : “The NHANES survey results can tell you what a broad spectrum of American plates look like on any given day, but tells you nothing about the environmental impact of those foods. To do that, you have to go to the Food Commodities Intake Database, run by the EPA, and figure out how much meat might be in that meat lasagna, or how many tomatoes are in a generic salad. From there, you have to link the quantities of each type of food to the emissions associated with producing it.” Related: Garlic may be the key to slashing methane emissions from cows When evaluating the emissions of a single tomato, it was necessary to know how much fertilizer was used in its production, and then how much fuel was used to transport that tomato. With poultry, the researchers had to also consider feed production, and when analyzing the greenhouse gas emissions associated with eating beef, they had to calculate the amount of methane released by cow burps. I urge you to head over to Popsci to read the full details , because this short synthesis doesn’t do their reporting justice, but here’s the bottom line that we found so interesting: What next? Now that we know one-fifth of the American population is producing nearly half of food-based emissions — which in their turn are helping to melt glaciers and unleash devastating wildfires, not to mention the numerous adverse health hazards attributed to climate change — what do we do with that information? Heller tells Popsci, “Clearly we’ve not been very good at encouraging people to shift their diets for their own health. Relative to what our recommended healthy diet is, Americans do pretty poorly,” he says, “But I’ve started to try to think about it as the secondhand smoke of diet choice.” Fascinating. If you understood that your dietary choices directly hurt your neighbor, would you make a switch? + Environmental Research Letters Via Popsci Images via DepositPhotos 1 , 2

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