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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Sustainable eyeglass hut demonstrates closed loop recycling in Australia

Beautiful modern barn produces food sustainably in Utah

August 31, 2016 by  
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Located in Pleasant Grove on a narrow three-acre lot, the land belonging to Snuck Farm—also known as the Fugal Farm—was first settled in the late 1800s by the Fugal family, who continues to farm the land today. To make the most of the limited acreage, the farm uses hydroponic farming methods in addition to organic farming practices. Lloyd Architects’ design puts those practices on display with three glass greenhouses located in the north. Related: Black Barn is a self-sustaining, off-grid version of historical English architecture The main barn building is organized along a central north-south breezeway that divides the building into two halves. On the west is a community kitchen and lounge that receives visitors, while the opposite side contains office space and the animal living quarters. While its gabled form, fieldstone walls, and exposed timber beams offer a rustic appearance, the interior uses minimal and modern materials and textures to create a contemporary feel. “The main structure’s simple agrarian form and raw materials reflect the simplicity of function and the character of the family that inhabits this place,” said the architects. + Lloyd Architects Via Dezeen Images via Lloyd Architects

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Largest US wind project will power 800,000 homes in Iowa

August 31, 2016 by  
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According to the American Wind Energy Association, Iowa ranks second in the nation for wind power with 6,365 megawatts of installed capacity. That’s enough wind energy to power 1.6 million homes. Now Iowa is about to add more wind power. A lot more. The Iowa Utilities Board just approved the largest wind project in the country that, when completed in 2019, will generate up to 2,000 MW of clean, renewable electricity — enough to power 800,000 homes. “Wind energy helps us keep prices stable and more affordable for customers, provides jobs and economic benefits for communities and the state, and contributes to a cleaner environment for everyone,” said Bill Fehrman, CEO and president of the utility behind the project, Des Moines-based MidAmerican Energy. Related: The world’s largest floating wind farm is planned for the California coast The $3.6 billion Wind XI project will include 1,000 wind turbines. The wind farm’s location is still to be determined. The project is expected to meet the energy needs of 85 percent of the company’s customers by 2020. “This is an amazing example of how the unstoppable transition towards a 100% clean energy economy is moving faster than many expected,” said Bruce Nilles, senior director for Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign. “This is a landmark moment not only for the burgeoning wind energy industry in Iowa, a state which already runs on more than one-third wind energy and employs thousands of hard-working Iowans, but for the entire nation, as the largest wind project ever approved in the country.” + MidAmerican Energy Via EcoWatch Images via Wikimedia

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Largest US wind project will power 800,000 homes in Iowa

Historic Belgian farmhouse is renovated into a modern solar-powered home

August 19, 2016 by  
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The architects preserved the brick from the original farmhouse, where it can be seen in both the facade and interior, however the two stepped additions are clad in timber for a contemporary touch. “Old and new work remain visible,” said architect Tom Vanhee, according to Dezeen. “The new volumes are clad in wood, and the old brick exterior can be seen inside the entrance.” The original building and the extensions are united under a pre-weathered zinc roof. The original brick structure comprises the main living spaces, including an open-plan living room, kitchen, and dining area in a spacious double-height room, as well as four bedrooms and bathrooms on the upper level. The smaller timber-clad additions house the entryway, hallways, storage, utility spaces, and a garage. White walls and surfaces dominate the minimally but stylishly decorated interior and are broken up by remnants of salvaged brick and timber beams. Large windows punctuate all three interconnected structures, filling the home with natural light and framing views of the surrounding countryside. In addition to expanding the building footprint and updating the appearance, the architects added energy-efficient features. The air-source heat pump was installed to warm water and power underfloor heating . Solar energy satisfies the bulk of the home’s electricity needs. The windows and insulation are constructed for airtightness. + Atelier Tom Vanhee Via Dezeen Images via Atelier Tom Vanhee

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Historic Belgian farmhouse is renovated into a modern solar-powered home

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