Modern rammed earth home embraces the desert landscape

November 30, 2018 by  
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Named after the way light bounces off of its angled walls and ceilings, Dancing Light is an award-winning dwelling nestled in the desert town of Paradise Valley, Arizona. Local architecture practice Kendle Design Collaborative crafted the custom residence, giving it a sense of drama with pointy pavilion-like rooflines, yet grounded the design through indigenous materials and a desert-inspired color palette. Full-height walls of glass also embrace the landscape and the home is also set up to optimize indoor-outdoor living. Spread out across 6,200 square feet on a single story, the Dancing Light Home organizes the master suite, open-plan living spaces, and a four-car garage as seemingly separate structures around a central atrium—landscaped with rocks, succulents, and an ironwood tree—and linked with glass-walled corridors to allow daylight and cross-breezes to penetrate deep into the house. Key to the design is the dramatic floating roof canopy that lifts upwards at the outer edges of the home to draw the eye up and out towards panoramic mountain views. The angled, tectonic-like surfaces were inspired by the local geology and monsoon cloud formations; the “fissures” conceal the lighting and mechanical systems. “ Natural light brings this home to life, seeping in through carefully articulated crevices or reflecting off the strategically located pool, constantly transforming the mood of this home,” explains Kendle Design Collaborative in a project statement. “At times water-reflected light dances across the fractured planes of earth and wood while at other times it provides a Zen-like sense of calm.” Related: Rammed-Earth Quartz Mountain Residence Captures Beauty of Arizona Desert ` The cast-in-situ concrete walls and the rammed earth walls tie the building into the desert landscape and create a rustic feel. The materials also have the added benefit of absorbing heat during the day and dissipating it at night to reduce reliance on mechanical heating and cooling systems. + Kendle Design Collaborative Images by Alexander Vertikoff

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Modern rammed earth home embraces the desert landscape

Magical rainbow swamp goes viral

November 30, 2018 by  
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Earlier this week, Brent Rossen posted a photo on Reddit that his girlfriend took of a rainbow swamp, and within 24 hours the photo received more than 120,000 upvotes. The couple was enjoying a walk at First Landing State Park in Virginia when they came upon the unusual phenomenon. “Me and my girlfriend were walking in the woods the other week and saw a rainbow pool for the first time,” Rossen wrote in his post. Related: Magical artworks place lamps, books and chairs in the middle of nature So how does this happen? Jeff Ripple, a former Florida swamp walk leader, told the BBC that the rainbow effect occurs because of the natural oils released by decaying vegetation. The decomposing leaves in the water release tannic acid and a thin film forms on top of pooled water in swamps and marshes. When the sunlight hits it at a certain angle, you can see the gorgeous colors. However, if you look at the water in a shadow, it appears to be normal swamp water. But, on a sunny day, you can see the rainbow when you look at it from an angle. The water also needs to be still for a long period of time for the rainbows to appear. Ripple says that any movement from sheet flow, wind disturbances, or current will “destroy the fragile rainbow film.” This phenomenon reportedly happens at various swamps and marshes along the Eastern seaboard. Retired engineer Michael Hussey posted a pic on Facebook of a rainbow pool in Tallahassee, Florida. Swamp walk leader Sandra Friend has also blogged about her experience with rainbow swamps, and Annie from Not Just Abroad has also posted about a rainbow swamp in Caw Caw County Park in Charleston, South Carolina. Hussey says that he sees this happen every three to four years, and it is “beautiful to see.” Thomas Thornton, facility manager at Caw Caw swamp, says that it must be the result of some kind of perfect storm, and it seems like you have to be lucky to see it in person. Via BBC Images via Shutterstock

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Zigzagging green terraces make up a luxury residential block in Mexico City

October 24, 2018 by  
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A challenging hillside site in Mexico City has given rise to Alcázar de Toledo, a luxury residential development designed by Sordo Madaleno Arquitectos to look like an extension of its lush landscape. Embedded into the rugged terrain, the five-unit apartment block is made up of a series of green terraces that zigzag up the slope and provide deep roof overhangs to the bands of glass that wrap around the residences. In addition to its striking and sculptural form, the 5,471-square-meter building also affords spectacular panoramic views of the city. Completed in 2018, Alcázar de Toledo consists of four levels. The parking spaces are located on the topmost floor that descends via ramp down 5 meters to the reception and lobby with views of a large wooded area as well a water focal point with fountains. The five apartment units are spread out across the remaining floors, with two 500-square-meter properties on the level below parking; a 700-square-meter unit on the floor below; and two more 500-square-meter apartments placed on the lowest level. The different sizes of each unit translate to different programming and range from two to four bedrooms. A pool , spa, gym, terrace, dressing rooms and bathrooms are located on the second level from the bottom. “The architectural concept is based on a linear element, which folds itself over the topography in a right-angled zigzag shape,” the architects explained. “Each fold responds to different needs and contains the spaces for the five departments, with large terraces , amenities and parking. This resulting piece of four levels, as it adapts to the ground, is transformed into a structure element (like a wall or slab) or an open plaza or terrace. A solution that creates an elegant and subtle shape with a clear horizontality between the native vegetation of the context.” Related: A lush rooftop oasis flourishes on this renovated Art Deco townhouse in Mexico City Natural light and ventilation are maximized through the interiors, which all feature tall ceilings, open-plan common areas and full-height glazing shaded by the overhanging green roofs. Rainwater is also harvested, treated and reused on site for irrigation. The rainwater cistern is located beneath the building. + Sordo Madaleno Arquitectos Photography by Jaime Navarro via Sordo Madaleno Arquitectos

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BIG completes low-income Homes for All project in Copenhagen

October 22, 2018 by  
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Beautiful yet affordable design-led apartments have been quickly completed in the northwest part of Copenhagen thanks to the power of prefabrication . Designed by Bjarke Ingels Group as part of the non-profit affordable housing association Lejerbo’s “Homes for All” mission, the Dortheavej Residence is a 6,800-square-meter curved building with 66 new homes for low-income clients. Clad in long wooden planks and stacked to create an attractive checkered pattern, the apartment modules feature soaring 3.5-meter ceilings and full-height glazing to let in plenty of natural light. Completed on a strict affordable housing budget of $9.8 million, the five-story Dortheavej Residence consists of apartments that range in size from 60 to 115 square meters. To keep costs low, a simple materials palette of concrete and wood was used. Since the new building is located in one of the city’s most diverse, low-income neighborhoods, the architects wanted to stress transparency and community. The full-height glazing, balconies and public spaces help achieve those goals. “Affordable housing is an architectural challenge due to the necessary budget restrictions,” said Bjarke Ingels, founding partner at BIG. “We have attempted to mobilize modular construction with modest materials to create generous living spaces at the urban as well as the residential scale. The prefabricated elements are stacked in a way that allows every second module an extra meter of room height, making the kitchen-living areas unusually spacious. By gently adjusting the modules , the living areas open more toward the courtyard while curving the linear block away from the street to expand the sidewalk into a public square. Economical constraints often lead to scarcity — at Dortheavej, we have managed to create added value for the individual as well as the community.” Related: Peek inside the BIG-designed garden village for one of the world’s best restaurants The curve of the building frames a street-facing public plaza on the south side that will be landscaped with cherry trees and bicycle parking spaces, while an enclosed green courtyard for recreational activities is located on the northern end. + Bjarke Ingels Group Images by Rasmus Hjortshoj

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Solar-powered cork house pursues healthy, sustainable living

October 10, 2018 by  
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Berlin-based architecture office rundzwei Architekten recently completed a light-filled home that showcases the many material benefits of cork . Named the Cork Screw House, the sustainably minded abode boasts a facade and roof clad in natural cork, a material that not only gives the building a highly textured appearance, but also contributes significantly to the home’s energy efficiency thanks to high insulation values. The cork home is set on a base of rammed concrete and comprises a series of split-levels for flexibility. The decision to clad the home in cork emerged from the client’s desire for a house with good acoustic performance. Initially drawn by the acoustic insulation properties of cork, the architects were ultimately convinced by the sustainable benefits of the material, which is made from granulated cork waste that has been pressed into naturally weather- and mold-resistant panels without any artificial additives. In addition to insulating cork panels, the architects carefully chose a natural materials palette and steered clear of chemical adhesives. Wood fiber and cellulose were used as additional insulation, while timber and gypsum fiberboards were selected for their ability to absorb humidity and create a comfortable indoor environment. Created for a family of three, the Cork Screw House is organized around a central, atrium -like staircase illuminated by a skylight. To side-step planning regulations that mandated a maximum floor size of 100 square meters, the architects lowered the base floors and designed the timber-framed upper floors as a series of split-levels, bringing the gross floor area to over 320 square meters. On the ground floor, full-height glazing floods the interior with natural light. The home also includes an exterior sunken pool that’s surrounded by rammed concrete walls for privacy. Related: Elegant cork-clad artists’ studio slots into a bijou London garden Due to the selection of natural materials and ample daylighting, the building “doesn’t need an active ventilation system despite the very low energy standard,” the architects explained in a project statement. “Through a stratified heat storage system supplemented by roof integrated solar panels, the heating supply is almost self-sufficient adding to the efficiency of the building’s overall performance.” + rundzwei Architekten Photography by Gui Rebelo

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Solar-powered cork house pursues healthy, sustainable living

This gorgeous converted bus hotel in Scotland pulls out all the stops

October 10, 2018 by  
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The world is full of cookie-cutter lodgings, but for those looking for a bit of character on their next vacation, The Bus Stop is now taking reservations. Located on a working farm in northeast Scotland, this old,  converted bus has been renovated to provide a peaceful retreat where guests can enjoy the beautiful, panoramic views of the rolling green hills for which the country is famous. There are two restored old buses tucked into the East Lothian countryside. Both have been renovated with everything needed for a glamping-style getaway . The interiors sleep up to four, with a king-size bed in the back as well as two bunk beds. The large bedroom has a glass skylight on the ceiling to allow guests to enjoy a bit of stargazing as they drift off to sleep. Related: Vintage red double decker bus is converted into a cool, retro hotel The living room is light and airy with a wood-burning stove to keep guests warm and toasty on chilly evenings. Natural light brightens the interior thanks to an abundance of windows. Guests can enjoy a fully-functional kitchen with a small refrigerator, a stovetop, a microwave and all of the essential utensils. The bathroom has a rainfall shower and is stocked with complimentary luxury toiletries. Of course, the best part of the bus hotel is its peaceful surroundings. Guests can enjoy the expansive views from open-air decks with ample seating for dining, socializing or simply taking in the landscape. The outdoor space is the heart of the hotel and comes complete with a charcoal barbecue and fire pit. As an extra bonus, there is also a wood-fired hot tub for relaxing with a nice glass of wine. When they are not soaking in the warm suds, guests can enjoy a stroll around the working farm, which is home to alpacas, horses, sheep and chickens. + The Bus Stop Via Tiny House Talk Images via The Bus Stop

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LEED-targeted condos bring Scandinavian design to a Quebec forest

September 19, 2018 by  
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Montreal-based real estate developer KnightsBridge has recently unveiled Arborescence, an eco-friendly condominium project on Quebec’s Bromont Mountain that will likely be the latest addition to its line of LEED-certified properties. Quebec design practice ABCP Architecture designed the residential development, which will comprise approximately 260 units, all for four-season use. The gabled structures are inspired heavily by Scandinavian design both inside and out and will embrace the outdoors with a natural materials palette and full-height glazing. Located just an hour from Montreal and a mere 40 minutes from the U.S. border, Arborescence will be sited in an area of natural beauty that’s also close to local services and attractions. The development was conceived as a “retreat in the heart of the forest.” Residents will have easy access to year-round outdoor activities, from ski-in/ski-out access to the slopes, snowshoeing, mountain biking, hiking and swimming at the nearby water park. Even at home, the residents will take in nature through expansive glass windows that offer unobstructed views of the Eastern Townships. In addition to ample glazing, each unit will be built using natural materials and outfitted with a gas fireplace. Tall ceilings from nine to 15 feet in height give the homes an airy feel, while superior soundproofing and insulation ensure peace and comfort. Residents will also have access to a heated outdoor pool, pond with a dock, tennis and beach volleyball courts and an outdoor fireplace. Related: Twisting tree-like sculptures redefine a public space in Montreal “If Quebec and Scandinavia were neighbors, Arborescence would be located right at the border,” said Simon Boyer, co-founder of KnightsBridge. “The development offers the best of both worlds, with sleek, modern architecture that integrates the warm feel of wood. The development is renewed with every season and is sure to please any epicurean!” The first phase of the $100 million project is slated to launch September 19 with 48 units to be delivered toward the end of 2019. + ABCP Architecture Images via KnightsBridge

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LEED-targeted condos bring Scandinavian design to a Quebec forest

Sustainable desert home has a small water footprint in Nevada

September 19, 2018 by  
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Las Vegas-based Hoogland Architecture designed the Arroyo House, a forever home for a couple with a penchant for the outdoors and sustainable design. Located in the tiny town of Blue Diamond just outside Las Vegas in the Mojave Desert, the Arroyo House enjoys panoramic views of the landscape with nary a neighbor in sight. The 3,875-square-foot dwelling takes advantage of the views with full-height glazing that’s protected from the sun by large overhangs, while the water conservation and recycling system helps keep water usage to a minimum. Designed for a Las Vegas couple nearing retirement age, the Arroyo House was conceived as a forever home with a design conducive to aging in place. Examples include an ADA compliant roll-in shower and a single-story layout for the main living spaces. Currently, the house is used as a launch pad for hiking and exploring the desert landscape as well as nearby Red Rock Canyon. To ensure the longevity of the building, the architects relied on low-maintenance concrete and weathering steel for the external walls. Large roof overhangs protect full-height, low-E glazing and sliding doors that flood the modern interiors with natural light while framing views of the outdoors. Inside, the rooms are minimally dressed with polished concrete floors, white walls and light timber furnishings. The living room, dining area and kitchen are located in an open-plan, L-shaped layout next to the deck on one side of the home. The master suite is located on the opposite side of the entry and connects to a guesthouse via a shaded outdoor walkway. Related: Geothermal-powered forever home targets environmental and social sustainability In addition to ample daylighting and passive cooling measures, energy efficiency was reinforced with radiant in-slab heating and low-flow fixtures. The drought-tolerant landscape is irrigated with recycled gray water, while black water is treated on site with a septic system. The house has also been engineered to accommodate the photovoltaic solar array that the homeowners plan to install in the future. + Hoogland Architecture Via Dezeen Images via Stephen Morgan

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Solar-powered Austin home can save owners nearly $100K in energy costs

August 23, 2018 by  
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This sculptural home in Austin is a scene-stealer, for more reasons than just its good looks. For starters, the dwelling—named the Vista Residence—is powered with a 15.4-kiloWatt rooftop photovoltaic system that not only covers an estimated 90% of the home’s annual energy needs, but is expected to help save homeowners more than $94,000 in energy costs over the next 30 years. Miró Rivera Architects designed the abode with many energy-efficient features for long-term cost savings that include both low-tech and high-tech elements from deep overhangs to a variable refrigerant flow (VRF) mechanical system. Nestled into a steep slope in West Austin, the Vista Residence lives up to its name with full-height glazing that frames sweeping views of the hill country landscape and downtown Austin. The large windows, found throughout the home, let in ample natural light. A material palette dominated by exposed concrete, metal and concrete panel cladding emphasize low maintenance and a contemporary aesthetic. Inside, the 8,660-square-foot house is split into three floors and organized around a dramatic staircase made from over 200 individual pieces of steel and white oak treads. Flooded with light from above, the dramatic central stair branches off to the various rooms of the home defined by white walls and white oak floors. The first floor, which is partially buried into the hillside, houses two bedrooms, a shared bath, a game room, a storage / mechanical room as well as access to a small courtyard. The floor above is far more spacious and consists of the main living areas as well as the master suite. A small third floor contains an office with a sitting area, kitchenette, bath and outdoor balcony. Related: A net-zero modern farmhouse kicks off a sustainable community in Texas The architects installed a 15.4-kiloWatt rooftop photovoltaic system that covers an estimated 90% of the Vista Residence’s annual energy, an amount the architects say is equivalent to offsetting 18.5 tons of carbon dioxide emissions a year (equal to the annual energy use of 1.8 average homes). The payback period for solar will take an estimated eight years. High-performance materials and energy-saving fixtures were installed throughout. + Miró Rivera Architects Images by Paul Finkel | Piston Design>

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Solar-powered Austin home can save owners nearly $100K in energy costs

Prefab holiday cabins boast spectacular coastal views in Tasmania

August 10, 2018 by  
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If you’ve ever dreamed of visiting Tasmania , you’ll want to put Freycinet’s newest additions on your bucket list. Nestled inside one of the country’s oldest national parks, this unique hotel recently saw the completion of its nine Coastal Pavilions, a series of prefabricated one-bedroom cabins designed by Liminal Studio that blur the lines between inside and out. Inspired by the spectacular surroundings, the pavilions are fitted out with a natural material palette, full-height glazing and rounded, sinuous surfaces that evoke an organic feel. Located on a wind-blown pink granite outcropping on the Freycinet Peninsula in Freycinet National Park, the new Coastal Pavilions at Freycinet Lodge were prefabricated offsite for minimal site impact. Each pavilion was carefully placed to provide privacy and an immersive experience while maximizing views. As a result, not all of the pavilions have water views as some are nestled into the coastal bushland; the pavilions comprise two types, Coastal Pavilions and Coastal Pavilions – Bay View. All of the contemporary pavilions are wrapped in charred ironbark that helps recede the buildings into the landscape, as well as full-height double-glazing. Netted, hammock-like balustrades surround the timber deck complete with an outdoor soaking tub. Inside, local Tasmanian timbers are used throughout to create the highly textured walls, ceilings and floors, which flow together with sinuous lines devoid of hard corners. In addition to a large bedroom, the pavilion is equipped with a living area and walk-in shower. Related: Stellar views and a small footprint define this Tasmanian timber cabin “We have drawn inspiration from this unique setting to influence the architecture and interiors of the pavilions,” said Peta Heffernan, Design Director at Liminal Studio. “The design has taken its cue from the fluidity and layers of the coastal rock formations, the coloring of the rich orange lichen and forms of the nearby bays. The exteriors are treated in a recessive way so as not to compete with this beautiful landscape.” + Liminal Studio Images by Dianna Snape

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