Gardenhouse in Beverly Hills boasts one of the nations largest green walls

September 4, 2020 by  
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International architectural practice MAD Architects has completed the Gardenhouse, a mixed-use development in Beverly Hills that is the firm’s first project in the U.S. and hosts one of the largest living green walls in the country. Designed to mimic the neighborhood’s lush and hilly landscape, Gardenhouse combines ground-floor commercial space with 18 above-ground residential units that appear to “grow” out of the building’s living green wall. Inspired by a “hillside village,” the residential units appear as a cluster of white gabled structures of varying sizes for an eye-catching and playful look. Located at 8600 Wilshire Boulevard on a prominent corner lot, the 48,000-square-foot Gardenhouse immediately draws the eye with its massive, two-story green wall covered in lush plantings of native , drought-tolerant succulents and vines selected for minimal maintenance and irrigation. True to the design’s image of a “hillside village,” the building offers a variety of housing typologies including two studios, eight condominiums, three townhouses and five villas. Each unit is defined by a pitched-roof volume and comes with an independent entry and exit circulation route as well as access to underground parking. Related: MAD brings a surreal sports campus that mimics a green, martian landscape to China At the heart of the cluster of white gabled “houses” is a private, second-floor landscaped courtyard that the architects have dubbed a surprising “secret garden” in an urban environment. Each home is also equipped with a balcony for overlooking the shared courtyard.  “ Los Angeles and Beverly Hills are highly modernized and developed,” said Ma Yansong, founder of MAD Architects. “Their residences on the hills seemingly coexist with the urban environment. However, they also see enclosed movement at their core. The commune connection between the urban environment and nature is isolated. What new perspectives, and new value, can we bring to Los Angeles? Perhaps, we can create a hill in the urban context, so people can live on it and make it a village. This place will be half urban, half nature. This can offer an interesting response to Beverly Hills: a neighborhood which is often carefully organized and maintained, now with a witty, playful new resident.” + MAD Architects Photography by Nic Lehoux and Darren Bradley via MAD Architects

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Gardenhouse in Beverly Hills boasts one of the nations largest green walls

This timber-clad cabin appears to hover over an idyllic lake landscape

September 3, 2020 by  
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Rye-based architectural practice RX Architects has completed a charming cabin at the edge of a lake in Brabourne, an English village within the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty about a two-hour drive from London. Dubbed the Lake Cabin, the gabled nature retreat is wrapped in natural wood that will develop a patina over time to help blend the building into the landscape. The remote cabin can only be accessed by a woodland trail, which is inaccessible by vehicles and enjoys uninterrupted views across the lake and to the countryside beyond. Positioned to face north, the Lake Cabin sits at the southern edge of the lake against a backdrop of dense forest. Connection with nature was paramount in the design, which features a natural materials palette, large walls of glazing and a wooden deck that cantilevers over the water. The gabled building is clad in a combination of rough sawn, wide English oak planks as well as thin, narrow-planed English oak planks. “This is combined with a concrete datum line to the base of the building, which steps up to create a concrete bench and log store,” the architects added. Related: A homey, floating cabin makes for the ultimate romantic getaway in South Australia The pared-back design approach continues to the interior of the exposed timber-framed structure, which is covered in limed Douglas fir boards. A bronze seamed roof tops the building for a visual contrast with the timber cladding. The roof extends over the southern and western elevations to provide the L-shaped, cantilevered deck some protection from the elements and unwanted solar gain. Two walls of sliding glass along the south and west sides of the home open up to the deck and create a seamless indoor/outdoor experience with the lake. Like the architectural design, the interior layout is also restrained and centers on a large, open-plan living area, dining space and kitchen that connects with the outdoor deck. A wet room is tucked away near the main entrance, and stairs and a ladder lead up to a lofted sleeping area above.  + RX Architects Photography by Ashley Gendek via RX Architects

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This timber-clad cabin appears to hover over an idyllic lake landscape

Architecture students design award-winning Passive House in South Dakota

May 18, 2020 by  
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In Brookings, South Dakota, a group of South Dakota State University architecture students designed and completed the Passive House 01, a home certified under the high-performance Passive House (PHIUS) standard. Funded by a housing grant from the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, the student-designed project was led by architects Robert Arlt and Charles MacBride to serve as a “case study house for the 21st century.” The architects said that the Passivhaus residence is not only 90% more efficient than a similar house built to code but is also the first house in the region to sell energy back to the grid.  Located on a long-vacant infill site, Passive House 01 is within walking distance to both the South Dakota State University campus and Main Street. The airtight home’s gabled form and front porch reference the vernacular, while its clean lines and hidden gutters give the home a contemporary appeal. The 2,000-square-foot residence comprises three bedrooms and two-and-a-half bathrooms as well as a detached garage located behind an exterior courtyard. Related: Imperial War Museum’s Passivhaus-targeted archive breaks world records for airtightness In contrast to the dark, fiber-cement lap siding exterior, the bright interior is dressed in white walls and light-colored timber. The double-height living and dining area in the heart of the home gives the interior an open and airy feel. This openness is emphasized by the open-riser stair, which the architects and students designed and constructed from custom cross-laminated timber and solid glulam with a locally harvested basswood slat railing. To meet net-zero energy targets, the team installed a 3.6 kWh solar system atop the garage. The home is oriented for passive solar — shading is provided along the south side — and quadruple-paned insulating glazing has been used throughout. Energy-efficient fixtures and appliances also help minimize energy use, which, in addition to air quality, is monitored through an online platform in real time. The project won an AIA South Dakota Honor design award in 2019. + South Dakota State University Photography by Peter Vondeline and Robert Arlt via South Dakota State University

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Architecture students design award-winning Passive House in South Dakota

Native Shoes’ Bloom collection is made of repurposed algae

May 18, 2020 by  
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Many conventional shoes are made with materials sourced from petroleum, but conscientious companies, like Native Shoes, have been rethinking that choice, digging for solutions in using readily available and eco-friendly materials instead. For Native Shoes, turning to algae , which naturally occurs in lakes and rivers, presented a benefit that is two-fold. Algae take oxygen from the water, and if oxygen levels deplete too much, they can kill off fish and become toxic to humans. Although algae often serve as food for aquatic life, removing some algae from the water makes it safer for the entire ecosystem. But then what do you do with all of this excess algae that has been removed? Native Shoes’ Bloom collection is made using “Rise by Bloom” technology that repurposes the algae, transforming it into a high-performance material for the shoes. The company stated, “The innovative manufacturing process cleans up to 80L of water and 50 square meters of air per pair, resulting in cleaner lakes and rivers , healthier air and featherlight footwear.” Related: Algae Lamps are a work of art and natural shade in one The newest line builds on Native Shoes’ classic Jefferson model, with designs for women and children in new colors to welcome spring and warmer weather. The collection also includes the new Audrey Bloom, a classic, feminine flat; the Jefferson Bloom Child features a slip-on, slip-off kids’ shoe . The Jefferson Bloom is priced at $45, the Audrey Bloom is $55 and the Jefferson Bloom Child starts at $40. Native Shoes’ mission is to fuse innovation with sustainability to create comfortable, durable shoes that leave a small footprint on the planet. According to Native Shoes, the company hopes to find alternative uses for all of its products by 2023 in a goal to “Live Lightly.” As such, it has created initiatives such as the Native Shoes Remix Project, which recycles the shoes into playground equipment for local kids in Vancouver. Native Shoes is also experimenting with 3D printing and more plant-based designs. + Native Shoes Images via Native Shoes

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Native Shoes’ Bloom collection is made of repurposed algae

Modern farmhouse targets net-zero energy in Vermont

April 27, 2020 by  
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On a hillside meadow in rural Vermont, local architecture firm Birdseye has completed Bank Barn, a new residence that, from afar, might look like any another agricultural building. But it is actually a modern farmhouse strategically engineered to meet future net-zero energy targets. The architects drew inspiration from the regional farm structures built into the banks of hills to create the gabled dwelling, which is clad in weathered cedar and topped with a durable metal roof. An intensive energy consultation and modeling informed all parts of the design. The resulting project features an electricity-based energy system that is expected to achieve net-zero energy operations, pending a future 18 kW solar array. Set into a steep slope, the 4,566-square-foot Bank Barn comprises three levels with the lowest floor — containing the garage, pool room and support spaces — below grade and flanked by two 160-foot linear concrete retaining walls. The long walls support an extended plinth for the floor above that houses an open-plan living area, kitchen and dining room with access to the rear outdoor deck as well as a spacious office that looks out over a green roof atop the garage. A central, freestanding steel staircase leads up to the three en suite bedrooms located on the upper floor. Related: Sublime net-positive energy farmhouse pays homage to the local vernacular Walls of floor-to-ceiling glass surround the home, filling the interior with natural light and uninterrupted views of the outdoors. To keep the focus on the landscape, the architects used a subdued palette of exposed steel, plaster, concrete and wood for the minimalist and modern interiors. “Early in the design process, the house was modeled to assess the design in terms of energy efficiency , thermal comfort and visual comfort,” the architects explained. As a result, the home boasts an airtight envelope with thermally separated r-40 walls, an r-60 roof, closed-cell polyurethane foam cavities and triple-glazing throughout. The house draws power from geothermal heating and cooling through water-to-water and water-to-air systems as well as heat recovery ventilators. + Birdseye Photography by Jim Westphalen Photography via Birdseye

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Modern farmhouse targets net-zero energy in Vermont

Danish-inspired holiday cabin is a dreamy Pacific Northwest hideout

July 19, 2018 by  
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Seattle-based design practice Prentiss + Balance + Wickline Architects is no stranger to creating charming cabins that embrace nature in the Pacific Northwest . So when a local family tapped the firm for a vacation home on a wooded plot overlooking the Hood Canal, the architects delivered with a clean and modern dwelling thoughtfully integrated into the site. Called ‘The Coyle’, the gabled buildings draw inspiration from the owner’s Danish roots and are wrapped in dark-stained cedar siding to recede into the surroundings. Located on a meadow of a long peninsula facing the Hood Canal, The Coyle is backed by a dense Douglas Fir forest and overlooks views of the water. The architects used the classic Danish sommerhus (summer cottage) for the starting point of their design, which emphasizes “clean, economical forms and materials.” Since the clients were on a budget, care was taken to integrate the site’s existing structure, which was repositioned and remodeled. “The angle of the cabins to one another was carefully decided to maximize views while still being aware of the additional burden it might place on the budget,” explain Prentiss + Balance + Wickline Architects. “The clean, minimal finishes selected by the clients — and their hands-on approach that included staining the cedar siding — also helped bring the costs down.” Related: An old 1930s home gets a modern makeover into a cozy beach cabin The clients, a family of outdoor enthusiasts, were also keen to adopt an indoor-outdoor living experience. In response, the architects separated the program into three gabled structures, each of which opens up to generously sized decks through wood-framed glazed doors. Ample glazing brings plenty of natural light to the interior, which is minimally dressed with white-painted walls, beamed ceilings and light timber floors. The holiday home is spacious enough to accommodate the client’s family as well as visiting guests. + Prentiss + Balance + Wickline Architects Images by Alexander Canaria and Taylor Proctor

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Danish-inspired holiday cabin is a dreamy Pacific Northwest hideout

Snarkitectures mind-bending Fun House opens at the National Building Museum

July 6, 2018 by  
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In Washington D.C., a massive, mind-bending Fun House has taken over the National Building Museum to offer an interactive experience that easily lives up to the exhibition’s name. Created by New York-based collaborative design practice Snarkitecture , Fun House is the latest installment in the Museum’s Summer Block Party series of temporary structures. The exhibition also commemorates Snarkitecture’s ten-year history and showcases 42 of the firm’s projects using the framework of a traditional American house. Located in the Museum’s historic Great Hall, Fun House is an all-white interactive installation that comprises a two-story freestanding house with a front and back yard. “A lot of Snarkitecture’s work is about surprise, wonder and disbelief,” explains Italy-based curator Maria Cristina Didero, who worked with the architects to capture the essence of their decade-long work, which has focused on reinterpreting everyday materials in an imaginative new light and challenging people to rethink their surroundings. “We wanted to think back to basics,” continues Didero. “And then, we thought, what is more basic than a house? So, Fun House follows the look of a traditional American house…but if you walk in you’ll see that nothing is as it should be.” Related: Amazing Hive comes alive with sights and sounds in Washington, D.C. Stripped of all color, the all-white Fun House plays with texture and the element of surprise throughout. The installation begins at the front yard, where massive upholstered letter-shaped benches that spell out ‘Fun House’ are scattered in reference to the firm’s 2012 project ‘A Memorial Bowing.’ Behind a white picket fence is the main house, a simple gabled structure which would look fairly normal – that is, if the entrance weren’t completely chiseled away. The doorway, as well as the foyer, is a reinterpretation of Snarkitecture’s 2011 ‘Dig’ project; it explores the architecture of excavation with EPS architectural foam carved away with hammers, picks and chisels to cavernous effect. The EPS foam material will be returned to the manufacturer and recycled at the end of the exhibition. More oddities abound inside the home, which consists of the traditional sequence of rooms including a hallway, playroom, bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, study and living room—each carefully crafted to evoke familiarity and surprise while paying homage to Snarkitecture’s past projects. Highlights include the bedroom’s ‘Light Cavern,’ an ethereal space that comprises 30,000 suspended strips of perforated white fabric to elicit porosity and translucency; ‘The Beach Chair’ bathtub ball pit, a throwback to Snarkitecture’s 2015 ‘The Beach’ installation at the National Building Museum; the study that serves as a showroom for various iconic works like the ‘Fractured’ bench and ‘Bearbrick’ sculpture; and the living room that’s made up of giant inflated tubes bundled together to form a ceiling—a reimagined version of the 2012 ‘Drift’ pavilion for Design Miami —and a playful small-scale version of their 2016 ‘Pillow Fort’ down below. Related: Gigantic swimmable ball pit takes over D.C.’s National Building Museum The most popular space, however, is undoubtedly the backyard, where ‘The Beach’ is reimagined as a circular kiddie pool and a larger kidney-shaped pool. Recyclable balls with anti-microbial coatings fill the pools to serve as ball pits shallow enough for kids yet large enough to entertain adults. White astroturf, lounge seating, umbrellas, and a picket fence surround the pools to finish off the relaxing, beach-like setting. “Fun House represents a unique opportunity for us to bring together a number of different Snarkitecture-designed interiors, installations, and objects into a single, immersive experience, ” said Alex Mustonen, co-founder of Snarkitecture. “Our practice aims to create moments that make architecture accessible and engaging to a wide, diverse audience. With that in mind, we are excited to invite all visitors to the National Building Museum to an exhibition and installation that we hope is both unexpected and memorable.” As with the National Building Museum’s previous Summer Block Party installations—which have included collaborations like ‘Hive’ by Studio Gang (2017) and the BIG Maze by Bjarke Ingels Group (2014)—Fun House will be accompanied by a series of programs and events, from behind-the-scenes construction tours to pop-up talks hosted during “Late Nights” on Wednesdays. Visitors will be given a one-hour timed entry ticket to explore Fun House. The ticket includes access to all of the National Building Museum’s exhibitions, including the not-to-be-missed ‘Secret Cities’ exhibit, which explores the history of the Manhattan Project secret cities from their design and construction to daily life inside them and their lasting influences on the American architectural landscape. Fun House concludes on September 3, 2018. + Snarkitecture + National Building Museum Images by Lucy Wang

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Snarkitectures mind-bending Fun House opens at the National Building Museum

This Swiss straw-bale house is completely self-sufficient

July 6, 2018 by  
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Traditional building techniques and modern technology come together in the House in Berne, a self-sufficient straw bale house in Graben, a Swiss village located less than an hour’s drive north of Bern. Trun-based architecture practice Atelier SCHMIDT GmbH designed the modern home, crafting it to blend in with the rural surroundings by taking on the appearance of an old Bernese farming house. Additionally, the self-sufficient house is powered entirely by rooftop solar panels. Completed this year, the House in Berne is set in the middle of a vast and open farming landscape. The dwelling comprises three floors in addition to a small basement for a total area of 1,970 square feet. In response to the client’s request for a modern, self-sustaining home that would be flooded with natural light , Atelier SCHMIDT GmbH designed a building with large yet carefully placed openings, as well as an energy-efficient envelope to ensure minimal heating energy demands that could be satisfied through a photovoltaic array or passive solar means. “Inside the house, glass ceilings ensure that daylight can penetrate fully into the whole building,” explains Atelier SCHMIDT GmbH in a project statement. “The reduction of inside walls allows the owners to live and work in a big open modern space. The 80 centimeter thick straw-bale walls guarantee minimal heat losses. The electrical and thermic energy gained on the solar roof is stored in a home battery system and in a 5000 [liter] solar tank located in the basement. If needed the house can be heated by the stored thermic energy.” Related: Leaky cottage retrofitted with straw bale sees 80% energy reduction Set on an east-west axis, House in Berne is built primarily from unfinished timber for both the interior and the exterior; the timber façade will develop a patina over time and further blend the building into the landscape. Solar panels top the roof, which features long overhanging eaves to protect the interior from unwanted solar heat gain . + Atelier SCHMIDT GmbH Images by Rasmus Norlander

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This Swiss straw-bale house is completely self-sufficient

Charred timber pavilion slides back and forth to expose rooms to the outdoors

September 30, 2016 by  
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Created as an “experimental shelter” to complement the firm’s existing workshop in nearby Heppeneert, the Hofer pavilion takes on the archetypical shape of a rural gabled home . The self-designed and self-built structure is elevated atop ten pillars and mounted on heavy-duty wheels and a rail. Three of building’s four walls are attached to the roof and can slide back and forth on the rail to open the studio up to the outdoors in summer, or enclose it during winter. Related: Carbon House’s burnt wood facade is a playful reference to the clients’ love of cooking Charred timber crafted using the Shou Sugi Ban technique clad the exterior walls, while the fixed gable wall and floor are fashioned out of sheet metal. The interior is minimally furnished with a long table, stools, hanging lights, as well as shelving and a wood-burning stove built into the fixed gable wall. Large windows let occupants enjoy views of the outdoors and access to natural light even when four walls enclose the interior. The temporary dwelling can be used in all seasons. + Stal Collectief Via Dezeen Images via Stal Collectief

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Charred timber pavilion slides back and forth to expose rooms to the outdoors

Sustainable eyeglass hut demonstrates closed loop recycling in Australia

September 30, 2016 by  
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The Australian architect describes the project as a demonstration of efficient resource use. In a statement on the project’s website, he explains that “sustainable materials in architecture is about thinking how we can most efficiently use the world’s resources in a respectful manner, I believe we need to create closed loop manufacturing systems where no material goes to landfill or pollutes our natural ecosystems, but is rather up-cycled to minimize resource depletion and environmental degradation.” Related: Tiny new flat-packed off-grid homes offer affordable housing breakthrough In the portable shop, Dresden cuts precision prescription lenses right on site. All components of the eyeglasses are interchangeable for eco-friendly repairs, and everything is recyclable as well. Inspired by the tiny house movement, Symes designed the portable workshop to be a sustainable example of portable architecture, while housing a sustainable business. Lens edging equipment is powered by a generator due to its high voltage needs, but most other electrical equipment, including lighting and the point of sale system, are powered by built-in photovoltaics and the accompanying battery storage system. To create a portable workshop that would also be lightweight, Symes called for a polycarbonate facade, which blocks out 70 percent of solar radiation and insulates better than double-glazed materials. Dresden Mobile’s awnings open to allow cross ventilation, so that climate control systems are not necessary. When closed, the polycarbonate sides allow daylight to filter through to the interior, further reducing the need for additional artificial lighting. + Alexander Symes Architect Images via Brett Boardman Photography

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