A dark, damp house becomes a sustainable, sun-soaked abode

November 9, 2018 by  
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Formerly cold, dim and damp, a terrace house in Northcote, Victoria has been reborn into a vibrant and welcoming dwelling with an emphasis on gardening. Designed by Green Sheep Collective for a client named Jill, the compact project, named Jill’s House, saw a modest expansion of just 22 square meters of space yet gained its bright and spacious feel thanks to a thorough renovation. Created to meet the client’s aspirations for a “very healthy home,” Jill’s House embraces recycled materials, low VOC finishes and passive solar principles for a minimal energy footprint. Having developed deep ties with her local community, the homeowner wanted the renovated house to be suitable for long-term living and retirement. As a result, the redesign prioritized accessibility, low maintenance and durability. Tapping into its extensive experience in eco-friendly retrofits, Green Sheep Collective opened the home to greater amounts of natural light while improving energy efficiency with the reorientation of the living areas to the north and the installation of high-performance materials, such as improved insulation and low-e double glazing. The open-plan living area also enjoys a seamless connection with the outdoors to support the client’s hobby of gardening. “The comfort, energy efficiency and longevity of the house have been improved immeasurably,” the designers noted. “Despite an existing north wall along the boundary, sunlight is brought deep into the house via a raked ceiling paired with electric-operated clerestory windows that soar above the kitchen and dining areas, doubling to encourage the ‘stack effect’ for ventilation and distinguish the extension from the original Victorian home.” Related: Smart Home targets affordability and eco-friendly design in Australia Adding to the overall sense of vibrancy, bright pops of color woven throughout were inspired by the client’s favorite Derwent pencils from childhood. A natural materials palette  — including plantation timber flooring and recycled red bricks — lend additional warmth and complement the restored furnishings that include the dining table, dining chairs and lounge suite. + Green Sheep Collective Photography by Emma Cross via Green Sheep Collective

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A dark, damp house becomes a sustainable, sun-soaked abode

A curved tunnel provides an unexpected connection in a renovated, mid-century home

October 24, 2018 by  
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When a well-traveled couple tapped Australian design practice Nic Owen Architects to renovate and expand their modest 1940s home in Hampton, the architecture firm channeled the clients’ love of adventure into a design that boasts elements of mystery and surprise. Connecting the original clicker brick structure to a new extension is a dark tunnel that’s curved to obscure views of either end and to create what the architects call a “surprising adventure,” giving rise to the project’s name, the Journey House. The project brief called for greater living spaces, updated amenities and a strong connection with the outdoors to complement a more tranquil and relaxing home environment. To respect the neighborhood’s character, the architects preserved the existing building and tucked the contemporary extension into the rear away from view of the street. Obscuring the extension creates a “voyage of discovery” for visitors who enter the mid-century home and then travel through the black timber-clad, curved tunnel that opens up to the surprisingly bright and airy destination: the new timber-framed extension housing the open-plan living spaces. Large,  double-glazed windows and sliding doors provide the close connection to nature that the homeowners wanted. “Filled with natural light, vaulted ceilings and the abundance of space, this new extension adds modern life to a tired mid-century classic,” the architects said in a project statement. “The project was a great opportunity to explore the idea of journey, the path one takes exploring the environment, to create an enticing, stimulating, workable space. I enjoyed challenging the perception of a typical family renovation/extension.” Related: A modular extension boasts a seamless indoor-outdoor living experience Updated to 166 square meters, the renovated and expanded house also boasts improved energy efficiency. In addition to the double-pane glass windows and doors oriented to the north to capitalize on solar gain, the architects installed custom CFC solar shades and used recycled materials and LED lighting throughout. + Nic Owen Architects Photography by  Christine Francis via Nic Owen Architects

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A curved tunnel provides an unexpected connection in a renovated, mid-century home

The Screen House comfortably and sustainably connects with the outdoors

October 23, 2018 by  
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When Camberwell-based design practice Warc Studio Architects was tapped to renovate and extend an existing Edwardian residence in Victoria, the Australian firm also wanted to open the house to greater connection with the outdoors. To mitigate the site’s potentially harsh western aspect and hot summers, the architects strategically constructed an externally operable screen that inspired the project’s name, the Screen House. Passive solar principles were also applied to keep the home comfortable year-round as were other sustainably minded design decisions, such as low-VOC finishes, formaldehyde-free plywood and the inclusion of a compost and vegetable garden. Completed in 2016, the Screen House began with the renovation of an existing detached weatherboard Edwardian residence. The architects upgraded the bathrooms and private areas while simultaneously improving internal circulation and making room for greater landscaping and a new swimming pool. To make the most of the newly added gardens and swimming pool, the firm designed an addition to house a new open-plan living room, kitchen and dining area overlooking the landscape. The main corridor that connects the extension to the existing house provides immediate views to the rear garden from the front entrance. “Windows, cabinetry, walls and ceilings were strategically placed to unveil views and openings to the outside,” the architecture firm explained. “As the the occupants proceed toward the rear, a series of views unfold: the North garden framed by cabinetry; glimpses of the sky through a strip skylight ; views of trees through high level windows; screened views to the western outdoor areas.” Related: An energy-efficient extension in Melbourne captures the owners’ adventurous spirits Timber hardwood screens envelop the rear additions to mitigate unwanted solar gain without compromising views and can be manipulated to maximize seasonal variation in passive solar radiation. To minimize energy needs and waste, the Screen House has also been equipped with high-performance insulation, double glazing, rainwater harvesting and hydronic heating underfoot. + Warc Studio Architects Images by Aaron Pocock

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The Screen House comfortably and sustainably connects with the outdoors

This ivy-covered writers studio camouflages into a leafy backyard

July 26, 2018 by  
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Here at Inhabitat, we love the trend of creative backyard studios , including the gorgeous Writer’s Shed that seamlessly blends into the verdant suburban surroundings of Melbourne. Designed by Australian practice Matt Gibson Architecture + Design in collaboration with landscape garden designer Ben Scott , the Writer’s Studio is a compact dwelling that uses a blanket of Boston Ivy for camouflage. Sustainability also played a large part in the energy-efficient design, which is based on passive solar principles and largely incorporated the use of renewable and sustainably sourced timber. Conceived as “a living part of the garden rather than an imposition on it,” the Writer’s Shed spans a modest 107 square feet. Despite its small footprint, the interior feels spacious thanks to a minimalist design and the abundance of glass that includes a large window, skylight and glazed door, all of which are fitted with double-glazed low-E glass and bathe the workspace in natural light. In contrast to its Boston Ivy-covered exterior that’s sealed with a rolled Butynol “wet-suit,” the light-filled interior is lined with Hoop Pine plywood panels (AFS- and FSC-Certified ). The engineered timber floor sits atop a concrete slab. Related: Elegant cork-clad artists’ studio slots into a bijou London garden “As the ways we work and live continue to adapt and change to our environment and technology, traditional notions are challenged and new opportunities appear,” the architects explained in their project statement. “An antidote is often needed to balance the overstimulating, populous and constantly-contactable workplaces where we spend much of our modern lives. More people are opting to work from a variety of locations, sometimes rejecting the rigid and sealed open plan office for the benefits of more natural surroundings. As a detached and flexible workspace, the Writer’s Shed provides an intimate private space to recoup, reflect and recharge the imagination.” + Matt Gibson Architecture + Design Images via Matt Gibson Architecture + Design

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This ivy-covered writers studio camouflages into a leafy backyard

Modern gabled guesthouse embraces passive solar in Australia

May 4, 2018 by  
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A sleek and modern take on the Australian farm building has popped up in the coastal town of Gerringong. Atelier Andy Carson designed Escarpment House as a two-bed guesthouse on an east-west axis to make the most of ocean views to the south and pastoral views to the north. The building orientation and material choice were also guided by passive solar principles. Set on nearly 150 acres of pasture with dairy cows, the Escarpment House maintains a relatively low profile with a simple gabled form created in the likeness of the traditional metal shed dairy structures of the region. “The project utilizes north and south decks as ‘winter’ and ‘summer’ outdoor space to enable the occupants to use the building mass as sun or wind protection moving to each side as favored,” wrote the architects. “The site positioning offered a significant view towards the nearby dairy with the setting sun over the escarpment offering a unique user experience.” The two bedrooms are located on the home’s east end, while the open-plan kitchen, dining area, and living space face the west. Related: Passive solar home stays naturally cool without AC in Australia Energy consumption is minimized through the regulation of light and views thanks to the west façade’s large operable panels that open or close with the touch of a button. Escarpment House also features extra-thick insulated walls and double-glazing . Supplementary solar power, rainwater harvesting with UV filtration and treatment, as well as on-site sewage treatment further reduce the home’s environmental impact. + Atelier Andy Carson Via ArchDaily Images © Michael Nicholson

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Modern gabled guesthouse embraces passive solar in Australia

Solar-powered home embraces sustainable design in Chihuahua

January 11, 2018 by  
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Sustainability and stunning views go hand-in-hand at the Cima House, a striking residence in Chihuahua , Mexico. Garza Iga Arquitectos designed the spacious solar-powered home rising three stories to overlook panoramic city views. Built with a concrete shell, the home’s appearance is softened by the layering of textiles and timber. The architects describe the 465-square-meter Cima House as a building “of opposites” from the way it was constructed to its current appearance. “Built with concrete, steel I beams, and wood; it resembles the classic architecture styles of Louis Kahn and Mies Van der Rohe but at the same time it incorporates a range of technological systems not available in their time,” wrote the architects. “Water collection, treatment and reuse, and solar power technology are only some of those mentioned systems.” Related: Zaha Hadid Architects breaks ground on Mexico’s City tallest residential tower In addition, the street-facing facade is dramatically different from the opposite end. For privacy and security, the architects constructed a windowless exterior to face the street, whereas the north-facing side is completely open to take in panoramic city views. The giant windows are double-glazed with argon gas sandwiched in between to protect from harsh solar gain. Thick concrete walls contain high thermal mass. The residence is also equipped with home automation that can be controlled remotely via smartphone. + Garza Iga Arquitectos Via ArchDaily Images via Garza Iga Arquitectos

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Solar-powered home embraces sustainable design in Chihuahua

Affordable DublDom prefab home pops up in just one week

October 4, 2016 by  
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Completed for a budget of $42,500, this particular DublDom 2.65 model offers 65 square meters of space with enough room for two spacious bedrooms, a veranda, and common areas. Like all of BIO Architects’ modular homes , the EcoPark home was built mostly from wood for a cozy and welcoming feel. Large double-glazed windows let in natural light and frame panoramic views of the outdoors. “Our task was to organically enter the house in the natural surroundings, produce it in a short period time and cause minimum damage to the environment during the installation,” write the architects. “The architecture of the house is as much as possible open to the environment and interact with it. From the large living room you can see the endless fields and small river, two bedrooms behind the house are made for sleep. Layout of the house provides maximum exposure to the nature and to spend time with friends in the living room or on the veranda.” Related: Tiny and Affordable Russian DublDom Home Can Be Assembled in Just One Day The light-filled gabled home is minimally decorated with black metal and unpainted larch that line the exterior and parts of the interior. BIO Architects offers five different configurations of the DublDom 2.65; the Eco-Park client chose DublDom 2.65-01, which includes a spacious front veranda that wraps around the sides of the home and includes a small terrace in the rear; an open-plan kitchen, living, and dining area; a bathroom; and two equal-sized bedrooms. The house is elevated on stilts and was installed on site in seven days. + DublDom Images via DublDom , by Bokaeva Louise and Ivan Ovchinnikov

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Affordable DublDom prefab home pops up in just one week

This new rocket thruster is powered by space junk

October 4, 2016 by  
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What do Australia, space junk, and the journey to Mars have in common? Well, that sort of remains to be seen. Over the next year, the International Space Station will be testing rocket propulsion technology developed by an Australian team that is fueled by space debris and could—someday—help us get to Mars. This new innovation centers on an ion thruster that could replace current chemical-based rocket propulsion technology. Since it is designed to make use of abundant space junk as a fuel source, it is not only efficient but potentially cost effective (with the handy side effect of cleaning up of some of that celestial garbage in the process). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4TVipU98g9s Dr Patrick “Paddy” Neumann is a graduate of the University of Sydney and he partnered with two professors from the college to develop an ion thruster (aptly dubbed the Neumann Drive) that aims to give current rocket propulsion technology a run for its money. The invention led to his founding of Neumann Space , a start-up working to further develop and advance the technology. The Neumann Drive uses solid fuel and electricity to produce thrust, in “a ‘wire-triggered pulsed cathodic arc system’ that works kind of like an arc welder,” according to the company’s website. Related: Elon Musk reveals his big plans for colonizing Mars This addresses one of the key issues SpaceX CEO Elon Musk mentioned last week during his detailed unveiling of his Mars plan: the need to refill while in orbit. Chemical-based rockets require enormous amounts of fuel to travel the long distance to Mars, so it isn’t logistically possible for a rocket to carry all its own fuel, which predicates the need to refuel in space. On the contrary, the ion thruster developed by Neumann and his team eliminates the fuel capacity need, since it utilizes space junk as a fuel source. Among the “junk” the Neumann Drive can use for its propulsion are a number of materials common on Earth, as well as in space. The team touts magnesium as their most efficient fuel, best for longer cargo transport journeys. Aluminum, sourced mainly from space junk, is their best recycled fuel. Carbon, derived from recycled human waste, has also been tested. But the material that tops the list is a more unusual one: Molybdenum . It’s a heavy metal with a high melting point that would have to be sourced from Earth, but a small amount of fuel would last a very long time. “Moly,” as it’s known for short, is the fastest fuel tested so far in the Neumann Drive, and it’s the current favorite for fueling a passenger ship to Mars. Via ABC Australia Images via Neumann Space and Wikipedia

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This new rocket thruster is powered by space junk

$20K studio in Virginia demonstrates straw bale can be viable in humid environments

October 4, 2016 by  
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Straw bale building offers an affordable, sustainable solution to materials like concrete. Sigi Koko of Down to Earth Design demonstrated straw bale building will work even in wet climates with the Zeljo Studio , a 300-square-foot cottage in Arlington, Virginia . Built with reclaimed and scavenged materials, the studio cost less than $20K to build . The Zeljo Studio is comprised of a ” timber frame structure ,” with straw bales providing insulation . Wood siding provides an elegant exterior and the interior is finished with clay plaster locally sourced with soil from the building site. The foundation was already in place. Atop the dormers is a green roof to absorb rainwater and help a loft remain cool in warm summer weather. Due to the straw insulation, the studio stays warm in the winter without needing much heat. Related: Super-efficient straw-bale houses hit the market in the UK – piglets need not apply The owners of the studio found salvaged bathroom fixtures, kitchen cabinets, a kitchen sink, doors, and flooring for the loft. According to Koko, they obtained many of the materials for free. They even found new energy efficient windows that were “misordered” so were sold for a hefty discount. Koko wrote in an article , “By far, the biggest concern with strawbale walls, as with most materials in a wet or humid climate, is moisture.” She designed the straw bale studio in humid Virginia to help show straw bale buildings are still viable in wet climates. By targeting areas where water can sneak in, like at the wall base, windows, or roof eaves, straw bale homes work in places heavily exposed to moisture. Koko wrote an article outlining what steps home owners can take to protect their straw bale homes that can be read in detail here . + Down to Earth Design Images courtesy of Sigi Koko, Down to Earth Design

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$20K studio in Virginia demonstrates straw bale can be viable in humid environments

Beautiful solar-powered soccer facility stays naturally cool in Australias heat

September 2, 2016 by  
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As with all k20 Architecture’s works on Inhabitat, sustainability is at the heart of BSRF. Solar panels power low-energy light fittings, while rainwater is collected and reused in the toilets. Extended eaves and double-glazing protect the building from harsh glare and natural ventilation is maximized with operable windows and thermal chimneys that provide stack effect cooling. Locally sourced and manufactured material components are used wherever possible, such as the carpets made of 40% recycled content and grandstand seating constructed of recycled plastic. Low VOC paints and durable finishes can be found throughout. BSRF’s most eye-catching element is the sculptural Eureka Stockade wall, the curved west-facing timber facade that protects the playing field from the winds and sun. The wall references the makeshift wooden barricade erected in the Battle of the Eureka Stockade fought between miners and the Colonial forces of Australia in 1854. The architect’s modern interpretation of the wall features a jagged roofline with a handsome mosaic of grey ironbark, spotted gum , and stringy bark. Related: Solar-powered civic center in Australia repurposes over 80% of its original building materials “The facility is unique in that it has been designed specifically for the soccer community of regional Victoria,” write the architects. “As a result, k20 Architecture was able to customize the design to emulate the experience of a world standard soccer stadium. This is illustrated in the alignment of the primary player’s race to the centre line of the playing pitch, which enables players of all ages and standards to experience key aspects of playing on the ‘big stage.’” The BSRF is part of the first stage for a still-developing master plan for the site. The facility was recently selected as a finalist in the 2016 Sport, Recreation and Play Industry Innovation, Facility Design and Development Awards and a finalist in the 2016 Australian Timber Design Awards Fitout Featuring Timber Cladding Category. + k20 Architecture Images via k20 Architecture

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