Solar-powered cube home in Australia hovers over the landscape

June 21, 2018 by  
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Optical illusions go hand-in-hand with architecture, but this tiny cube structure by  Matt Thitchener Architect  truly hovers over the landscape — with some help from embedded supports. Cantilevered on a hill, the North Avoca Studio is completely powered by the large array of  solar panels  on its roof. Located just southeast of New South Wales, North Avoca is an idyllic coastal neighborhood. Architect Matt Thitchener designed the 645-square-foot cube to be both an office and entertainment space for a family who primarily works from home. The studio is merely steps away from the family’s main residence. Related: Tiny Space-Age LoftCube Prefab Can Pop up Just About Anywhere The structural design of the studio was primarily influenced by the challenging landscape. Very steep terrain as well as limited building space required the team to embed 20-foot pillars into the bedrock to create a cantilevered design . Also due to the complexity of the location, building materials for the project had to be craned in piece by piece. The result, however, is a gorgeous multi-use space that looks out over the Pacific Ocean. Clad in dark corrugated Spandek panels, the exterior is modern and sleek. The otherwise monolithic structure is only interrupted by an entire glazed wall that provides the interior with natural light and breathtaking ocean views. The studio’s roof is covered in solar panels , which provide 100 percent of its energy. It’s also equipped with a rain harvesting system that is used to irrigate the garden planted under the structure. The interior of the home counts on an open floor plan to provide ultimate flexibility for different uses. The design is contemporary and airy, also providing an appropriate feel for any occasion. The space can be used as a work studio during the day, but can be easily be converted into an entertainment area for friends and family at night. + Matt Thitchener Architect Via Apartment Therapy Photography by Matt Thitchener Architect and Keith McInnes Photography

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Solar-powered cube home in Australia hovers over the landscape

The Science Place becomes Australias first new LEED Gold-rated educational building

April 24, 2018 by  
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James Cook University’s The Science Place recently earned the distinction of becoming Australia’s first educational building to achieve a prestigious LEED Gold rating. Designed by HASSELL , the sustainable building with state-of-the-art facilities brings together the university’s chemistry, biochemistry and biology research cohorts under one roof. The Science Place also recovered and recycled 96% of all the previous building materials—a new record for a Townsville development of its size. The nearly 130,000-square-foot The Science Place building serves as the iconic “home of science” and central hub on the university campus. The four-story structure stacks two floors of dedicated scientific research areas atop research-led learning spaces on the lower two floors, all linked by light-filled atrium spaces and a central open stair. “We’ve seen a surge in the desire to house STEM activities under the one roof as a way to increase cross-disciplinary education and knowledge sharing, and The Science Place is a prime example of achieving this goal,” said HASSELL Principal Mark Roehrs. “This not only makes sense from a building and asset point of view, but also for student experience as it increases interaction.” Related: The Global Change Institute Operates in a Net Zero, Carbon Neutral Research Center in Brisbane In addition to the recovery and recycling of previous building materials, the LEED Gold -certified university building keeps power consumption to a minimum thanks to natural daylight, daylight-sensitive lighting, water-saving taps, and a light-colored reflective roof that reduces solar heat gain. A 25kW solar rooftop area also generates 125kWh of renewable energy a day. For improved health and comfort, the building is also equipped with superior indoor air quality management and testing, multiple low-emitting materials, and performance-optimized smart metering. + HASSELL Images © Andrew Rankin

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The Science Place becomes Australias first new LEED Gold-rated educational building

Glowing glass lantern turns this energy-efficient office into a beacon

March 13, 2018 by  
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Abscis Architecten completed Notary Office, a new office building that exudes simplicity and tranquility with a environmentally conscious footprint. Located along Ghent’s Kortrijksesteenweg in Sint-Denijs-Westrem, the well-insulated brick building harnesses renewable energy and makes careful use of resources, including rainwater that’s partly absorbed by green roofs and partly recovered for toilets and irrigation. While these sustainable features are modestly tucked away from view, there is one feature that catches the eye: a large glazed wall at the top of the building that glows like a glass “lantern” and beacon at night. Minimalism, transparency, and a minimal environmental impact were key drivers in the design of Notary Office. In contrast to the dark facade, the interiors are dominated by white and awash in natural light that streams in through full-height glazing. The ground floor is centered on a glass-enclosed atrium that’s exposed to the outdoors and landscaped with ground cover and stepping-stones. The connection to the outdoors is further emphasized in the rear of the building where sliding glass doors open up to a landscaped garden with old trees that were carefully preserved during the construction process. Related: Green-roofed office is the first large-scale CLT structure in southeast Europe Natural light is also let in at the top of the stairs through a large glass window dubbed the glass “lantern” that the architects say “forms a minimalist light beacon along the busy road.” To mitigate unwanted solar gain, the architects installed electronically controlled aluminum solar shades . An air-water heat pump heats and cools the building. Warm LEDs and sustainable insulation is used throughout the office. + Abscis Architecten Via ArchDaily Images © Jeroen Verrecht

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Glowing glass lantern turns this energy-efficient office into a beacon

Beautiful Northcote Solar Home shows off modern energy-efficient family living

November 20, 2017 by  
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Sustainable design principles are embedded throughout the Northcote Solar Home, a beautiful Melbourne home that shows how energy efficiency can go hand-in-hand with contemporary design. Local architecture studio Green Sheep Collective designed the light-filled home for a family who wanted flexible spaces and an emphasis on indoor-outdoor living. The sustainable, passive solar home is strategically positioned for thermal mass, while elements like double-glazing and rainwater harvesting reduce its energy footprint. Topped by an eye-catching raked corrugated zincalume roof, the Northcote Solar Home’s pitched roofline and clerestory windows help to modulate solar gain, while allowing for stack ventilation. North-facing living areas take advantage of passive heating and cooling, and high levels of insulation helps lock in desired temperatures. Large low-e, double-glazed windows frame the outdoors and bring in ample natural light. Views to the central courtyard and garden can be enjoyed throughout the home. Related: Swanky laneway house in Melbourne is built from recycled red brick The airy interior features white plaster walls and wormy chestnut flooring that flow from the inside to the outside decking and also tie into the silvertop ash exterior cladding. Large sliding doors delineate the three bedrooms from the living and dining areas, and are set up so for easy adaptation into different uses. “In addition, the courtyard affords great connectivity between spaces within the home, so while inhabitants might be undertaking separate activities, they may still be ‘together’,” wrote the architects. + Green Sheep Collective Images via Emma Cross

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Beautiful Northcote Solar Home shows off modern energy-efficient family living

Budapests tallest tower to follow the highest standards of sustainability

October 5, 2017 by  
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Foster + Partners designed a tower for Budapest that will not only be the city’s tallest—it’ll also be a beacon for sustainability. Designed as the new headquarters for the oil and gas company MOL Group , the mixed-use building named MOL Campus is wrapped in glazing to maximize natural daylight, views, and connection with the outdoors and urban fabric. MOL Campus will be powered by low and zero-carbon energy sources, such as photovoltaics, and saves on energy costs with cutting-edge technology that controls light levels and temperatures. Located in southern Budapest , MOL Campus is set to be the tallest building in the city and will comprise a 28-story tower with an integrated podium. In addition to offices, the campus will include a restaurant, gym, conference center, public sky garden, and other facilities. Glass clads the unified, curved volume to provide daylight and views. Greenery, including mature trees, travels through the heart of the building from the central atrium on the ground floor to the public garden at the top of the tower. The architects see the green spaces as a “social catalyst” that encourages collaboration, relaxation, and inspiration in the workplace. Related: New Budapest museum will feature a sweeping green roof resembling a skateboard ramp “As we see the nature of the workplace changing to a more collaborative vision, we have combined two buildings – a tower and a podium – into a singular form, bound by nature,” said Nigel Dancey, Head of Studio, Foster + Partners. “As the tower and the podium start to become one element, there is a sense of connectivity throughout the office spaces, with garden spaces linking each of the floors together.” The building’s location in a dense urban environment allows employees to walk or cycle to work. In addition to use of photovoltaics and energy-saving technologies, MOL Campus will also feature rainwater harvesting and storage facilities. + Foster + Partners Images via Foster + Partners

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Budapests tallest tower to follow the highest standards of sustainability

Geothermal-powered Lake Austin Home is tuned in to nature

September 22, 2017 by  
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Local studio A Parallel Architecture designed the award-winning Lake Austin Residence, a beautiful luxury home that derives inspiration from nature. Despite its large 6,750-square-foot size and horizontal footprint, the contemporary house achieves a sense of lightness thanks to ample full-height glazing and limestone massing. The energy-efficient dwelling offers geothermal climate control, as well as onsite waste treatment and water collection. Spread out across two stories, the Lake Austin Residence comprises a series of stacked and staggered rectangular volumes clad in limestone brickwork and white stucco. Nearly flat roofs top the volumes, which are punctuated by large sections of glazing to let in natural light and views of the landscape. “Like a butterfly specimen pinned to its mounting, this sinuous lake-front home’s light floating roofs are anchored to its site by heavy rusticated limestone masses, while its horizontal footprint is spread out and sewn through the vertical punctuation of mature sycamore, cypress and pecan trees,” wrote the architects. Related: Dreamy summer retreat built of salvaged materials sends eclectic vibes in Austin To lend a sense of warmth to the glass and stone palette, the architects added a warm interior palette of oak, mahogany, and cedar as well as splashes of turquoise to reference the lake. The heart of the light-filled interior is a nearly double-height living room separated from the dining room and kitchen by a fireplace. The master suite is located on the right side of the house, while the three bedrooms are placed in the left wing. Sliding glass doors open the back of the property up to the outdoor stone patio, infinity pool, and Lake Austin . + A Parallel Architecture Via Dezeen Images via A Parallel Architecture

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Geothermal-powered Lake Austin Home is tuned in to nature

Every home in this UK neighborhood is its own power plant

August 29, 2017 by  
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An experimental neighborhood in the U.K. is on a mission to show that smart design can make a big difference when it comes to energy efficiency . 16 homes in Neath, Wales will be outfitted with cutting-edge technology that enables them to generate and store enough clean energy for 100% of their electricity needs. The entire neighborhood will be connected to serve as one autonomous unit of clean energy production. The “buildings as power stations” program is a collaboration between Specific , a U.K. energy innovation center based at Swansea University in Wales and the Pobl Group , which provides social housing. The project will test the feasibility of replacing local power plants with autonomous energy-producing neighborhoods . Related: Amazing solar house generates enough energy to share with its neighbors The innovative project will scale existing clean energy technologies to create a large, cost-effective energy-producing community. The new development will have 16 homes, including two- and three-bedroom houses as well as one-bedroom apartments. The layout will maximize the amount of solar power that can be generated by solar roofs and collectors, which will be shared between the homes. Shared battery storage will hold excess electricity to be distributed in the homes or used for charging electric cars. Various technologies will make the homes ultra-efficient . For example, each building will be wrapped in a perforated steel skin that generates a pocket of hot air when heated by the sun. This air will be distributed through the homes for heat. Elfed Roberts, head of projects at Pobl Group, hailed the pilot as an affordable option for providing energy efficient housing to meet urban housing demands, “The project would enable us for the first time to demonstrate the benefits that the latest technologies can bring to affordable housing developments, and to drastically reduce fuel poverty and carbon emissions. We are aiming to achieve homes that feel homely and pleasant to live in, but that also generate most of their energy needs from the roof and wall coverings, thus dramatically reducing the bills for our tenants.” If the pilot program is successful, the next step is to build another 1,200 energy-positive houses in the Swansea Bay City Deal area. + Specific + Pobl Group Via Fast Company

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Every home in this UK neighborhood is its own power plant

New self-driving electric RoboBuses are launching in Finland this year

June 14, 2017 by  
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The world is becoming increasingly automated, and a new self-driving bus in Finland is evidence of this. Beginning in the fall of 2017, the Finnish capital will launch a new autonomous electric “RoboBusLine.” According to the City of Helsinki the line “represents a shift from an experimental phase to regular, scheduled public transit service with self-driving buses.” Not only will the self-driving vehicles reduce the costs of transportation and improve access to public transit – they will also reduce the amount of cars that are on the road and slash emissions. In August of 2016, the Sohjoa project (an EU-financed initiative by the six largest cities in Finland, Finnish universities and transportation authorities) launched two EasyMile EZ10 electric minibuses in Helsinki. Reportedly, the initiative is part of the EU-financed mySMARTLife program, in which European cities are encouraged to develop energy-efficient mobility to reduce energy consumption in cities by 10-15 percent. So far, the electric minibuses have been tested in real traffic conditions – and they will continue to be monitored in urban areas until August 2017. Each bus has an operator on board in case of an emergency and travels at about 7 mph (11 km per hour), learning the route and accruing knowledge as it transits . Said Sohjoa project manager, Oscar Nissin of Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, “We focus on a number of aspects including sensor technology, user experience, and how to complement overall public transit services with self-driving buses.” Once the self-driving trials are complete, the Finnish cities of Espoo and Tampere will launch the buses to shuttle passengers from Helsinki’s Mustikkamaa recreational Island to Helsinki Zoo. Project leader and Metropolia’s smart mobility program director, Harri Santamala, explained that the “RoboBus will allow us to test operation in everyday public transit conditions. It will be used to study the long-term operability of self-driving buses and customer behavior. Related: The world’s first self-driving grocery store just hit the streets of Shanghai Finland is an ideal location for a self-driving bus to launch, as the country’s law does not state that a vehicle has to have a driver. Additionally, autonomous buses could offer a solution to a persistent problem in Helsinki: transporting riders from a regular public transit stop to their homes. A press release says, “Automated, remote-controlled bus service could markedly reduce the costs of the last-mile service and improve access to public transit . The ultimate goal is to increase public transit use and so to reduce cars and needs to drive in the city.” Because the electric minus is in a competitive bid process, the route, its launch date, and schedule will be announced at a later time. + Helsinkin RoboBusLine Image via Helsinkin RoboBusLine

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New self-driving electric RoboBuses are launching in Finland this year

Oakland fire-damaged home transformed into a magnificent naturally-cooled residence

June 14, 2017 by  
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California-based Terry & Terry Architecture rebuilt an existing home damaged in a 1991 Oakland fire as a beautiful residence offering staggering views of San Francisco Bay. The architects designed Skyline House for a young family who wanted an open-plan home with ample ventilation to provide natural cooling. The house sits on a property dominated by large redwood trees, which inspired the use of timber cladding and other natural materials. The designers started off by working with the existing floor plan. They transformed the kitchen area to open out and lead to the front yard garden with an outdoor dining area. Related: Beautiful cliffside home ‘split in half’ by landslide rebuilt with wooden pods The home is situated to take advantage of the bay breezes and the interior roofline flows to both convey the breezes through the home and to recreate the appearance of undulating fog. A wooden tube-like envelope hugs the open common space and visually connects the garden to the front viewing deck at the rear. This form takes advantage of the winds to facilitate natural ventilation , with the main living space acting as a connection between two contrasting outdoor spaces. + Terry & Terry Architecture Via v2com Photos by Bruce Damonte Photography

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Oakland fire-damaged home transformed into a magnificent naturally-cooled residence

LeapHome unveils sustainable, super-efficient Frame prefab

June 12, 2017 by  
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LEAPfactory , the Italy -based company known for building gorgeous prefabricated structures in extreme locations , just unveiled their very first LeapHome . Frame is a two-story, 1,400 square foot house built with minimal impact on the environment . The home’s design is super energy efficient , so it can easily go off-grid . LEAPfactory was inspired by the idea of living in harmony with nature to create Frame. The home can be customized and configured according to a buyer’s desires and budget, and includes two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a study area, a kitchen, dining area, an outdoor terrace, and a double height living room. Forest Stewardship Council certified wood , metal sheet cladding, and finishes made with ecological materials comprise the home that includes prefabricated components. Related: LEAPfactory unveils prefab snowboard school at the foot of Mont Blanc The outdoor shell of the home was designed with energy efficiency in mind, so the home doesn’t consume as much power as others do. Solar energy powers the home, which heats water with a solar thermal system. LED lighting and radiant technology electric systems recycle heat in Frame. According to the company’s website , “The structure is designed to maximize air circulation and distribute heat and humidity.” LEAPfactory says the home could potentially be set up in off-grid configurations – sewage can be independently managed thanks to a biological liquid waste treatment system and other sanitation systems. Panoramic openings in the home also serve to connect an inhabitant with nature. Large sliding glass doors, a bay window , a skylight, and a vertical ribbon window can all be part of the design . LEAPfactory co-founders Stefano Testa and Luca Gentilcore said in a statement, “Living immersed in nature represents one of the most important choices to embrace a new style of life. We like to think that we can combine the comforts of a modern home with the profound freedom and the pioneering spirit of a life in perfect harmony with the environment that surrounds us.” LEAPfactory’s process allows them to go from a design to a fully furnished and functioning house “within weeks” according to their website . + LEAPfactory + LeapHome Images courtesy of LEAPfactory

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