BREEAM-certified renovation for 70s modernist icon in Amsterdam

January 28, 2020 by  
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MVSA Architects has dramatically breathed new life into Amsterdam’s iconic Rivierstaete — a monolithic 1973 modernist office building on the Amstel — with a sustainable and architecturally sensitive makeover that connects the building to the riverfront and surrounding community in a way unlike ever before. Completed last year, the renovation has earned a BREEAM Very Good distinction for its future-proof design that emphasizes flexibility as well as energy-saving technologies. The addition of green roofs and terraces help absorb stormwater runoff to make the building “Amsterdam Rainproof.” Located in the south of Amsterdam , the eight-story Rivierstaete was originally designed by architect Hugh Maaskant as Europe’s largest office building in the early 1970s. In recent years, the massive modernist building has struggled to attract tenants and, in 2013, international real estate company Vastint purchased the structure in a public sale and tapped MVSA Architects to lead the redesign. Instead of taking the easier option of demolishing and constructing a new building on site, the team decided to embrace the original design with a renovation. Critical to the redesign was opening up the building to the surroundings, which necessitated replacing the original pinched band of windows on the white-tiled facade with floor-to-ceiling glass . The new glazed facade, along with planted roof terraces added at different levels, gives the building a more open and inviting feel. The roof terraces, roof gardens, and green roofs also help provide water buffering and retention. Related: Amsterdam’s new circular archives building sustainably generates all of its own energy The glazed facade helps bring a greater amount of natural light indoors, which have now been rendered completely asbestos free to contribute to a cleaner and healthier working environment. Daylight control and motion sensors as well as solar shades provide optimized and energy-efficient climate control. The interior layout has also been reconfigured for flexibility to ensure a future-proof design.  + MVSA Architects Images via MVSA, Barwerd van der Plas, and Philip Lyaruu

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BREEAM-certified renovation for 70s modernist icon in Amsterdam

Sherpa Light for indoor farming wins CES 2020 Innovation Award

January 27, 2020 by  
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Developed with the tagline “Grow whatever your heart desires, wherever you are,” Sherpa Light is a tunable artificial light source with the potential to replicate the exact sunlight conditions needed to grow any plant from around the world. Using tunable, full-spectrum LEDs , the device was created to emit different lighting intensities depending on the plant’s cellular structure to optimize growth. Korea-based design studio  Sherpa Space  developed the Sherpa Light and recently showcased their prototype product at CES 2020, where it was named an honoree of the event’s Innovation Award. Sherpa Space was founded to enhance plant growth through technology. The designers say that sunlight falls short of producing the optimal light settings that different plants need at different growth stages. They believe that their artificial lights, which use an adjustable combination of narrow-band LEDs, are best suited to generating the right light conditions — such as intensity, photoperiod, and quality — needed to optimize plant health, from growth and flowering to the enhancement of leaf quality and the concentration of desired chemicals in plants. “Much like how a baby first needs breastfeeding and later switches to solid foods, plants also need different lights and nutrition at different growth stages for maximum growth,” the designers said in a project statement. “For instance, flowering can be promoted in many crops by changing the wavelength given to a plant. Sherpa Space’s unique competitive advantage lies in our ability to convert light wavelengths with minimal energy loss. Using the quantum dot technology, we can provide lights of specific wavelengths optimized not only for each plant but also for each growth stage. As a result, we maximize crops’ nutrient compositions and productivity.” Related: This self-sustaining planter doesn’t require sunlight for plants to thrive The designers also say that Sherpa Light could be the key to recreating the desired flavor components of certain fruits and vegetables that are typically only enjoyed in the region where they’re grown. For instance, they claim that mangos grown with Sherpa Light in Canada could taste just as good as those in India. There is no word yet of when this product will be made available for sale or testing.  + Sherpa Space Images via Sherpa Space and Inhabitat

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Sherpa Light for indoor farming wins CES 2020 Innovation Award

Zero-carbon home uses hemp fiber for innovative design

January 27, 2020 by  
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As designers and architects continue searching for innovative, sustainable building materials, hemp is becoming a front runner in the world of green design. In fact, London-based firm  Practice Architecture  collaborated with local hemp farmers in Cambridgeshire for the Flat House — a zero-carbon home built using  hemp  grown on-site. To create the amazing home, Practice Architecture’s team headed to Margent Farm, a massive 53-acre farming facility in rural Cambridgeshire that cultivates its own hemp supply. The innovative farm also has an on-site facility that produces bio-plastics made of hemp and flax . Related: “Cannabis walls” add warmth to this eco-friendly home in Israel Working with the farm’s experts, Practice’s team went about designing a home prototype to showcase how the eco-friendly material could be used on a large scale. Although hemp is now a fairly common material used to manufacture everything from clothing to biofuel , its potential for creating sustainable buildings is still being explored. Adding to the home’s innovative construction is the team’s use of prefabricated panels made from  hempcrete  — a mixture of hemp and lime. Built off-site, the panels were transported back to the farm and assembled in just two days. The studio explained to Dezeen, “Developing an offsite system allowed us to build efficiently, at speed and to build through the colder months of the year — something that can be difficult with standard hemp construction.” The resulting Flat House is an example of hemp construction’s potential. The roughly 1,000-square-foot home is not only carbon neutral , but also operates completely off-grid. Thanks to a large photovoltaic array on the roof and heating and power provided by a biomass boiler, the home generates all of its own energy. And for those who may doubt that hemp construction can be contemporary and fresh, the home’s aesthetic is also gorgeous. While creating the home’s frame, the architecture studio worked with experts at the farm to develop hemp-fiber tiles, which were used to clad the home. Each tile was secured into place with a sugar-based resin sourced from agricultural waste. Throughout the interior, the hemp panels have been left exposed, giving the living space a unique earthy look that is complemented by several timber accents. A tall ceiling and ample windows  enhance the home’s healthy atmosphere. + Practice Architecture Via Dezeen Images via Oskar Proctor

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Zero-carbon home uses hemp fiber for innovative design

This sustainable lodge is in the worlds oldest living desert

January 24, 2020 by  
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It’s not often that hotels located in stunning landscapes come close to matching that natural beauty, but the &Beyond Sossuvlei Desert Lodge is no ordinary hotel. Located in the surreal desert landscape of the Namib Desert, the eco-hotel, which was designed by South African–based Fox Browne Creative , is the epitome of luxurious design mixed with innovative sustainability . Deep in the Namib, the world’s oldest living desert, the &Beyond’s Sossusvlei Desert Lodge is located in one of the world’s most surreal landscapes. Surrounded by miles and miles of rolling dunes, the surrounding terrain is otherworldly. And now, for those who’d like to explore this incredible area, the Sossusvlei lodge, which was originally built in the 1990’s, has been renovated to offer not only the perfect base to explore this stunning part of the world, but do it all while staying in a modern sustainable hotel that was designed to reduce its impact on its environment. Related: Gorgeous Belize eco-resort will offer 100% carbon neutral villas The hotel is comprised of ten individual stone and glass suites, which were laid out to provide each suite with a stunning view. There are various sizes on offer, but each unit offers a spacious living area with a fireplace, as well as a kitchen and dining room. In the bedroom, guests will enjoy the large retractable skylight above the bed for some prime stargazing before drifting off to sleep. Additionally, the master bedroom has a dreamy ensuite bathroom with a glass-encased rain shower that provides 180º desert views. From the living area, large floor-to-glass doors open out to a shaded veranda, some installed with a private plunge pool. Guests at the hotel will have the option of splitting their time enjoying their private suites, as well as taking time to explore the hotel grounds. The common area includes a comfortable sitting room with bar and interactive kitchen as well as another pool. There are numerous shaded lounges to enjoy, along with a gym and wellness center with full spa treatments. To top off the luxury, the hotel boasts a strong sustainable profile . From the beginning of the renovation process, the architecture and design team focused on three objectives, “to create an extraordinary experience for the visitor; design structures that are in harmony with their natural setting and minimize the human impact on this sensitive environment.” The first step was the repurposing of the original buildings to fit into a more sustainable model. The renovation process included using as many natural materials as possible, such as natural stone and locally-sourced furnishings. Throughout the hotel as a recycling program as well as an integral water recollection system to reuse rainwater. And finally, a massive amount of rooftop solar panels allows the hotel to generate all its energy, making the lodge 100% self-sustained. + Fox Browne Creative + &Beyond Sossuvlei Desert Lodge Via Wallpaper Photography via Dook Photography

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This sustainable lodge is in the worlds oldest living desert

Award-winning Owl Woods Passive House playfully mimics birdhouses in Australia

January 24, 2020 by  
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Australian design studio Talina Edwards Architecture recently completed the Owl Woods Passive House — the first certified Passivhaus project designed by a woman architect in Australia. Located in the Victorian town of Trentham, the sustainable home not only follows Passivhaus standards for an extremely energy-efficient build, but it also adheres to biophilic principles with its pitched roofs in the shape of unique “bird beaks” for solar shading. The project also won the Sustainability Medal at the 2019 Architeam Awards and was an official finalist in the New Home Category at the 2019 Sustainability Awards. As the 20th certified Passive House project in all of Australia, the Owl Woods Passive House is designed and constructed to meet strict Passivhaus standards that translate to an airtight building envelope for comfortable indoor temperatures year-round, energy efficiency, durability, controlled ventilation and adherence to passive solar design principles. Due to the building envelope specified for the site, the high-performance home is oriented slightly northwest but includes extended roofs along the western sides to protect the interiors from the afternoon summer sunlight. Related: This student housing is the largest Passive House-certified building in the Southern Hemisphere Inspired by the farmhouses of a Scottish village, where the clients previously lived, the home is organized into four interconnected gable-roofed pavilions. The easternmost wing houses two bedrooms and a shared bath. The central wing, which is topped with two pitched roofs, contains the open-plan living area and service rooms. The wing to the west comprises the master en suite with a sitting room. The home also includes an outdoor deck on the north side and is punctuated with large windows and glazed doors throughout for a constant visual and physical connection to nature and natural light. In addition to Passive House certification, the timber-framed project has also earned a NATHERS 7.4-star rating and is solar -ready. The interiors continue the exterior’s palette of natural materials and are finished with low-VOC paints for a healthy home environment. “The Owl Woods Passive House is a unique blend of biophilic design and Passivhaus standards of construction — a balance of creative design outcomes, which focus on how the occupants will feel in their home, along with the integration of building science, which delivers a high-performance home,” the architects explained. “In this aspect, it really is a pioneer project for Passivhaus homes in Australia.” + Talina Edwards Architecture Photography by Tatjana Plitt via Talina Edwards Architecture

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Award-winning Owl Woods Passive House playfully mimics birdhouses in Australia

Stunning House on the Rocks uses geothermal power

January 23, 2020 by  
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On Finland’s windswept Turku archipelago, Helsinki-based design practice and log house kit purveyor Pluspuu has completed yet another ecological wood house — fittingly named the House on the Rocks. Designed to embrace landscape views in multiple directions, the three-bedroom, two-bath residence is a custom design based on Pluspuu’s pre-designed house models Isokari and Kustavi. As with all Pluspuu projects, the geothermal-powered log house is built primarily from timber and boasts a relatively small carbon footprint. Completed last summer, the 150-square-meter House on the Rocks was constructed from 202 x 195-millimeter non-settling logs that are supposedly superior to the cheaper lamella log due to its flexibility of use without the need for post-construction adjustment. The solid log walls also mean that the house doesn’t need additional insulation aside from the eco-friendly wood fiber that insulates the sheet metal roof.  “The carbon footprint of the construction of a log house is extremely small, and the timber will act as a carbon sink for the house’s entire lifespan – this truly is eco-friendly construction,” the architects explained, noting that over 20% of all detached homes are log houses in Finland. “In addition to its environmental friendliness, a log house also has extremely healthy indoor air.” The home is also heated with geothermal heat distributed via underfloor heating. Related: Super-insulated modern log cabin withstands frigid Finnish winters in style Using Pluspuu’s pre-designed housing models as a starting point, the client worked with the architects to craft a site-specific dwelling that embraces outdoor views through large windows and a sea-facing terrace that’s over 100 square meters in size. The property also includes a freestanding Pluspuu Luoto 25 sauna as well as a two-room guesthouse on the shore; both structures are built from smaller 134 x 195-millimeter laminated timber.  + Pluspuu Images via Samuli Miettinen

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Stunning House on the Rocks uses geothermal power

The Union Flats is a LEED Platinum-certified housing community

January 22, 2020 by  
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Prefab architecture and energy efficiency go hand-in-hand at The Union Flats, one of the largest completed modular housing developments in Northern California. Located in Union City directly across from a new public plaza and the local BART station, the transit-oriented community celebrates walkability and the outdoors with its amenities and proximity to green space. Completed in August 2018 by David Baker Architects , the solar-powered project has earned LEED Platinum certification and includes 40 flexible live-work lofts — a new housing type for Union City. Spanning an area of nearly 290,000 square feet, The Union Flats is a high-density community with 243 modern, practical rental homes. The project was developed as part of a transit-oriented masterplan that includes the adjacent Station Center Family Housing, an award-winning affordable housing development completed by DBA in 2012. As with Station Center Family Housing, The Union Flats emphasizes an active and vibrant streetscape — a landscaped promenade is shared between the two developments — with features that include raised stoops connecting directly to the sidewalk, widened sidewalks and ground-level patios. A sense of community is fostered by the large central courtyard that features a large swimming pool along with freestanding green-roofed pavilions housing wellness, co-working, residential lounge, and dog-washing spaces, as well as a leasing office. At the rear of the site is an embedded garage with 244 parking spaces for 1:1 parking and 184 bicycle parking slots. The garage is strategically placed to buffer units from the sound of the adjacent rail tracks. The building design has also been informed by solar studies to mitigate unwanted solar gain. Related: Prefab housing pods pop up with speed at Dyson Institute’s modular village The Union Flats was constructed with a variety of prefabricated construction types: modular set on a foundation, modular atop a Type I podium and modular wrapping the Type 1 concrete garage. Guerdon Enterprises fabricated the 388 modular components in Boise, Idaho while foundations were being poured in Union City. A giant crane was used to assemble the components at a rate of about 12 a day. + David Baker Architects Images by Bruce Damonte

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The Union Flats is a LEED Platinum-certified housing community

Rolls-Royce unveils prototype for world’s fastest electric plane

January 15, 2020 by  
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Innovation is the name of the game for luxury industry leaders like Rolls-Royce, so it’s no surprise they have a variety of sustainable travel projects in the works. Last month, Rolls-Royce released its newest project — an all-electric plane set to take flight later this spring. Dubbed ACCEL (Accelerating the Electrification of Flight), the initiative is aimed at not only using electrification, but setting records in the industry, including a top speed of over 300 miles per hour. The current record for an all-electric plane is 210 miles per hour, so the goal is a leap in both power and performance. Plus, the plane is set to bring an  eco-friendly option  to a traditionally high-polluting industry. With the densest battery pack ever used in an electric plane, ACCEL should be able to travel around 200 miles per charge. For reference, that’s the distance between London and Paris. The three electric engines are expected to produce a constant 500 horsepower with a quiet ride and zero emissions. Related: AeroMobil reveals flying taxi that transforms from car to electric airplane Rob Watson, Director of Rolls-Royce Electrical said: “Building the world’s fastest all-electric aircraft is nothing less than a revolutionary step change in aviation and we are delighted to unveil the ACCEL project plane. This is not only an important step towards the world-record attempt but will also help to develop Rolls-Royce’s capabilities and ensure that we are at the forefront of developing technology that can play a fundamental role in enabling the transition to a  low carbon global economy .” Rolls-Royce has undertaken this endeavor with a host of partners. YASA brings a history of electric motor manufacturing, and an eager start-up, Electroflight, provides technology and research. The team also includes the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) and Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and Innovate UK. Funding for the plane is subsidized by the government of the United Kingdom where the blue and white one-seater prototype was unveiled in December. Business Minister Nadhim Zahawi said: “The UK has a proud heritage and enviable worldwide reputation for advances in aviation technology. The electrification of flight has the potential to revolutionise the way we travel and transform aviation for decades to come – ensuring we can travel worldwide while maintaining a low carbon footprint . Backed by Government funding, Rolls-Royce is pushing the boundaries even further, and this new innovation could become the fastest electric plane ever.” Continued testing is underway with the goal of making an initial run for the speed record in the spring of 2020. + Rolls-Royce Images via Rolls-Royce

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Rolls-Royce unveils prototype for world’s fastest electric plane

This dynamic parking garage doubles as a public sculpture

January 13, 2020 by  
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In Denmark’s fourth-largest city of Aalborg, Copenhagen-based architecture firm Sangberg has designed a deceptively simple parking garage that offers much more than parking spaces. Dubbed the Parking House G2, the monolithic building features a dynamic and lightweight facade of extruded aluminum slats that “animates itself” in different ways depending on how and from where it’s viewed. The aluminum slats of the playful graphic facade were also engineered with reusability in mind and to encourage the growth of habitat for birds and insects.  Located in a part of Aalborg that’s currently being transformed from an industrial harbor to a new multi-use neighborhood, the Parking House G2 references the industrial heritage of its surroundings with its monolithic aluminum construction, while injecting new life with its sculptural appearance. “Whether you’re driving by in a car or you’re passing by as a pedestrian, your experience will differ as the facade animates itself in accordance to the speed travelled,” the architects said on the Sangberg blog . “The expression also changes whether it is viewed nearby or far away, from straight on or from the side – and with the light conditions and seasons.” The building’s facade gets its dynamic characteristics from the subtle variations in the profiles of the light gray aluminum slats that surround the concrete frame like a piece of cloth. In addition to creating a textural expression, the angled slats are spaced apart to let natural light and ventilation into the building. The facade also provides opportunities for greenery to take hold, a feature that was inspired by the master plan for the area that includes a green buffer zone along Nyhavnsgade, a major thoroughfare near the harbor. Related: Denmark’s first timber parking garage will be enveloped in greenery Completed over two years, the 15,200-square-meter building includes 590 parking spaces. The aluminum facade can be easily disassembled and recycled for use in other building projects. Its compact build, sustainable design, and its playful facade earned the project an Aalborg Municipality building award.  + Sangberg Images by Ramus Hjortshøj – COAST Studio

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This dynamic parking garage doubles as a public sculpture

Passive House principles inspire this sustainable home

January 13, 2020 by  
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Australian architecture firm  POLYstudio has recently completed A House for All Seasons, a contemporary family home with an emphasis on energy efficiency. Designed for a young family, the sustainable new dwelling has a flexible layout to accommodate the clients’ evolving needs within a relatively compact footprint. The project’s adherence to the principles of the Passive House standard along with native, drought -tolerant landscaping helps reduce the home’s carbon footprint. Located in an inner-city  Melbourne  neighborhood, A House for All Seasons is defined by a contemporary aesthetic that’s respectful of its heritage streetscape context. Spanning two floors across 230 square meters, the home breaks up its monolithic massing with a dynamic facade constructed with a varied material palette ranging from brick to metal cladding. In contrast to its cool-toned exterior, the inside of the home exudes warmth thanks to timber accents and select pops of color that punctuate the minimalist interior.  “The design and planning of the house continues our exploration of spatial organisation that is legible but flexible and layered, incorporating devices such as partition curtains and permeable screening to create spaces that are intimate but also bleed into adjoining spaces,” Daniel Wolkenberg, founder of POLYstudio, noted. “The use of polished concrete, blackbutt plywood and a mix of feature colours contributes to a warm and engaging interior.” Related: A Melbourne worker’s cottage gets revamped into a solar-powered family home Informed by  passive solar  design principles, the home provides year-round thermal comfort with minimal dependence on mechanical heating and cooling. Carefully selected durable materials, low-flow fixtures, and drought-tolerant vegetation contribute to the sustainability of the home. The home’s compact footprint allows for lawn space and an outdoor patio in the backyard that seamlessly connects with the open-plan living area, kitchen, and dining area indoors. The first floor comprises three bedrooms, two-and-a-half baths, a playroom, study and an outdoor balcony. + POLYstudio Images by Tatjana Plitt

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