Luxury home in Kerala produces all of its own energy

July 30, 2020 by  
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Thrissur-based design studio LIJO RENY Architects has taken full advantage of Kerala’s sunny, tropical climate with its design of The House Within the Grid, a luxury residence that produces all of its own energy via rooftop solar panels. Commissioned by a doctor couple with four children, the solar-powered home is currently used as a holiday escape from the clients’ primary residence in Sharjah; however, the house will eventually serve as the family’s permanent home in the future. Located on a slightly elevated half-acre lot in the coastal neighborhood of Andathode, the House Within the Grid encompasses nearly 9,000 square feet of living space to accommodate the primary family of six and the clients’ extended family and friends on holiday visits. To provide privacy to the main sleeping wing, the architects divided the home into two connected yet distinct parallel bays — a single-story bay housing the public and semi-private areas on the east side and a double-story bay on the western side that comprises six en suite bedrooms and a compact office space. Two large courtyards are located in between the bays. Related: Mud and recycled materials make up this sustainable Kerala home “A mix of primary and secondary functions, with its two different room widths, creates a visible repetitive spatial pattern throughout the house,” the architects explained of the layout. “This project was an exercise in exploiting the spatial possibilities offered by the surprisingly flexible modular grid. Juxtaposing the rigorous but serene geometry of the house with the incoherent landscape of its site, a distinct spatial language evolved to become a subtle stage for the contemplative daily activities.” In addition to adding rooftop solar panels that meet all of the home’s electricity needs, the architects have strategically placed windows to tap into cross ventilation for natural cooling. Extended roof slabs also help protect against unwanted solar gain from Kerala’s intense sunlight. A rainwater collection system has been installed along the floating roofs as well to further reduce the home’s resource footprint. + LIJO RENY Architects Photography by Praveen Mohandas via LIJO RENY Architects

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Luxury home in Kerala produces all of its own energy

Wood lattice walls ventilate this beautiful Costa Rica home

July 10, 2020 by  
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Perched in the mountains of Nosara, a surfing paradise on the Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica , Casa Guayacán boasts a beautiful ocean view and a tranquil setting. A stunning example of sustainable architecture in a tropical setting, this home being designed by two talented professional architects comes as no surprise. Evangelina Quesada and Lucca Spendlingwimmer, architects who moved to the remote mountain location with their two daughters, built the home based on their mutual love for contemporary tropical architecture. The home takes advantage of the ocean breeze with ventilating lattice walls and is equipped with a rooftop solar panel system that provides 100% battery autonomy throughout the day and night. Related: Stunning Costa Rican beach home uses passive features to stay cool The facade incorporates a design that combines spacious floor-to-ceiling windows and wood lattice walls for natural cross ventilation . Elongated from north to south, most of the space faces the sea, with the west side facing the sunset in the evening. Half-open wood slats help emphasize airflow, while also creating a unique light pattern that changes during different times of the day. To move the house as far from the public street as possible and address the site’s uneven terrain, the design was developed over two levels. A shorter lower level allows for entrance access below the main structure, room for parking, a studio and service area. The upper level contains common areas, bedrooms and the property’s best ocean views. The home’s modular floor plan allowed for a faster construction time and less material waste. The home uses materials such as stone, polished cement, metal, wood and glass. The wood , taken from controlled teak plantations, was treated with linseed oil to maintain natural texture and color. Incorporating traditional building methods and talent from local artisans in the woodwork helps make Casa Guayacán a captivating addition to the tropical Costa Rican foothills. + Salagnac Arquitectos Images via Salagnac Arquitectos

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Wood lattice walls ventilate this beautiful Costa Rica home

Green-roofed beachfront home fully embraces its coastal surroundings

June 17, 2019 by  
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Topped with green roofs and surrounded by walls of glass, the Beach Front Gardens homes in Costa Rica were designed by Tamarindo-based architectural firm Laboratory Sustaining Design (LSD) to embrace the coastal landscape. The complex, which spans a little over 8,000 square feet, comprises two homes — Casa Sare and Casa Caracali — on beachfront property in an exclusive area of the Nicoya Peninsula facing the Pacific Ocean. Approximately 65 percent of the roof surfaces are covered with vegetation to blend the building into the surroundings and to help reduce energy demands for cooling. To minimize maintenance and ensure structural longevity, the architects designed Casa Sare and Casa Caracali with durable materials and finishes to withstand the corrosive powers of the ocean air and harsh tropical elements. The flat, turf-topped roofs also include long overhangs to protect the interiors from unwanted solar gain . The desire to blend both homes into the environment drove the design of simple architectural shapes, a minimalist material palette and walls of operable glass that open up to completely blur the boundaries between indoor and outdoor living. “Each house was designed for users to experience the tropical weather and beautiful nature, and every single space of both houses has a great relation with the exterior, bringing in the natural light to all the interior areas and looking for cross ventilation using the sea breeze year-round,” the architects explained. “Around 65 percent of the interior areas are covered by green roofs , reducing the footprint of the project in this protected environment.” Related: This Costa Rican treehouse is built entirely out of locally sourced teak wood Organized into a V-shaped layout, Casa Sare was placed closest to the beach on the flattest part of the property. The private areas are separated from the communal areas with an exterior terrace accessible from all rooms. In contrast, Casa Caracali was placed on higher elevation and is segmented to step down on the slightly sloped terrain. The social areas are located near the rear at the higher elevations to take advantage of ocean views, while the bedrooms are placed closer to the beach. + LSD Photography by Fernando Alda via LSD

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Green-roofed beachfront home fully embraces its coastal surroundings

A Melbourne workers cottage gets revamped into a solar-powered family home

May 30, 2019 by  
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When a young family with two children approached Melbourne-based practice Gardiner Architects for a renovation and extension of their existing worker’s cottage, sustainable design was at the forefront of their minds. Not only would a small footprint ease the building’s environmental impact, but it would also help the family stick to their modest budget. Consequently, the architects combined passive solar principles with energy-efficient technologies to create the Allan Street House, a solar-powered home full of daylight and contemporary character. Located on a quiet side street in the Melbourne inner suburb of Brunswick, Allan Street House was transformed from a “pokey terrace house” into an open, light-filled house that embraces both indoor and outdoor living. In renovating the property, the architects retained the existing worker’s cottage and added a single-story extension to the rear. In order to ensure the thermal performance of both the new and old structures, the architects compartmentalized the two sections with operable doors, which also offers the added benefit of noise separation. “A tight budget demands lateral thinking to optimise the amount of space, or amount of function, that can be inserted within the least amount of building,” explain the architects. “We employed a few design tricks, such as having the corridor into the new extension expand out to become part of the dining and living room. There is also a study nook at the end of the living area, which is within the same building form, the roof of which continues to the rear boundary to create an external storage area– a cheap, efficient way to gain extra space.” Related: Green-roofed Ruckers Hill House gives curated views of nearby Melbourne Also key to the design was maximizing natural light and creating connections to the outdoors, whether with full-height glazed sliding doors that open up to the backyard or sight lines that bring the eye up and out beyond the cottage. Moreover, the large windows were oriented toward the north for warmth and light, while a large overhang and pergola helps block out the harsh summer sun. For energy efficiency , all the walls and ceilings have high levels of insulation, cross-ventilation is optimized and exposed concrete was used for the floor and equipped with an in-slab hydronic system that provides heating in the communal areas. The home is also topped with solar panels on the roof. + Gardiner Architects Images by Rory Gardiner

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A Melbourne workers cottage gets revamped into a solar-powered family home

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

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

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