Low-impact Thai home uses modular design to harmonize with nature

December 10, 2019 by  
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Thai architectural firm TA-CHA Design has recently completed the Binary Wood House, a second home for a Bangkokian family of five that emphasizes environmentally friendly design. Located on a hill in Pak Chong in northeastern Thailand, the home was carefully sited to preserve existing Siamese Rosewood trees and is elevated to reduce site impact. To create a seamless indoor-outdoor living experience, the architects employed a modular design, designating each 3.4-meter module as either a “0 (unoccupied/open space)” or a “1 (occupied/close space)” in a binary system that also gave rise to the project’s name.  Spread out across 600 square meters, the Binary Wood House was initially meant to serve as an Airbnb or private resort but later morphed into a second home for the clients with room for their soon-to-retire parents. To lessen site impact, the architects opted to design the home with a metal structure clad in wood paneling instead of concrete. Approximately 80 percent of the wood used in construction was reclaimed . Local craftsmen were hired for the woodworking, which takes inspiration from the region’s traditional “Korat” houses. Related: Reclaimed materials star in this surf villa with ocean views in Bali “Throughout the entire design project of the house, there has been one and only core value on which the owner and the designers agree — to always hold the predecessors in high regard,” the architects said. “In other words, the house exists to respect those who came before, whether they be neighbors, local people, local animals and local trees.” In addition to elevating the home off the ground, the property reduces its environmental footprint by relying on natural cooling instead of air conditioning. Surrounded by covered terraces, the indoor-outdoor living areas feature operable shutters that let in cooling winds, while the preserved trees help mitigate unwanted solar gain. A reflecting pond was also added to increase moisture in the house. + TA-CHA Studio Photography by Beersingnoi via TA-CHA Studio

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Low-impact Thai home uses modular design to harmonize with nature

Study reveals "ugly sweaters" add to the plastic pollution problem

December 10, 2019 by  
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Many Americans attend ugly Christmas sweater parties. But in Britain, there’s even an annual Christmas Jumper [another term for “sweater”] Day that fuels the trade in hideous holiday garb. Now, research by the environmental charity Hubbub blames ugly sweaters as yet another contributor to the plastic pollution crisis. The study found that one in three adults under 35 buys a new holiday sweater every year, but two in five of these sweaters are worn only once over the holiday season. Three-quarters of the sweaters Hubbub tested revealed at least some plastic in the material, with 44 percent being entirely made of acrylic, a plastic fiber. A study by Plymouth University concluded that acrylic releases nearly 730,000 microfibers per wash, which is five times more than poly-cotton blends. Related: 17 easy ways to upcycle worn out sweaters “We don’t want to stop people dressing up and having a great time at Christmas, but there are so many ways to do this without buying new,” Sarah Divall, the project coordinator at Hubbub, told The Guardian. “ Fast fashion is a major threat to the natural world, and Christmas jumpers are problematic as so many contain plastic. We’d urge people to swap, buy secondhand or rewear, and remember a jumper is for life, not just for Christmas.” Hubbub estimates that retailers will sell 12 million new holiday sweaters this year, even though 65 million Christmas jumpers are already stowed in U.K. wardrobes. Why not swap with family, friends, housemates or workmates? Host a craft night with friends to refurbish an old sweater using pompoms, sequins, strings of lights or bits recycled from other clothes to create your own look. Christmas Jumper Day is not only a tradition that many Brits enjoy; it’s also a fundraiser for Save the Children, which fights child poverty and hunger. Luckily, participants can still donate to the cause and also upcycle an old sweater rather than buying a new one to fight plastic pollution. + Hubbub Via The Guardian Image via Shutterstock

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Study reveals "ugly sweaters" add to the plastic pollution problem

These DIY backyard saunas are just what you need to stay warm and toasty this winter

December 4, 2019 by  
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Are you dreading the dark, frigid months of winter? Thankfully, you can set up a steamy sauna right in your own backyard to stay warm. New Jersey company BZB Cabins and Outdoors has unveiled a collection of ready-to-assemble outdoor sauna kits that can be set up by two people in just a few days. The BZB saunas are the ultimate DIY project for those needing to unthaw during the freezing winter months. Costing between $5,000 and $14,950, the ready-to-assemble sauna kits come in a variety of styles, such as barrel, oval and igloo-shaped. The kits also come in different sizes, from a tiny, two-person sauna to a larger structure that fits up to eight people. Related: The Grandview Barrel Sauna is a backyard oasis for the entire family The single-room, oval-shaped Barrel Sauna W2, which accommodates up to five people and comes with a price tag of approximately $8,000, comes with two-level steam room seating and the option of either electric or wood-fired heating systems. The window styles, water tank size, sauna oil and headrests can all be customized. Those looking for a high-end sauna might go for the Viking, a three-room sauna with a loft. Additionally, there is the Barrel Sauna Igloo, which can accommodate up to eight adults. For those nomads who like to stay toasty while they are on the road, there is even an amazing mobile sauna, which is built on a wheeled trailer for easy transportation. In addition to the wide variety of DIY sauna styles available, buyers can also rest assured that they are purchasing an eco-friendly product to enjoy. The BZB sauna kits are manufactured in Europe and are built with high-quality Nordic Spruce that allows for ample insulation. + BZB Cabins and Outdoors Via Apartment Therapy Images via BZB Cabins and Outdoors

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These DIY backyard saunas are just what you need to stay warm and toasty this winter

Striking, sinuous home outside of So Paulo is inspired by the shape of native pine trees

December 3, 2019 by  
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Rio de Janeiro-based Mareines Arquitetura has unveiled a striking home tucked into the mountainous region near São Paulo. The Pinhão House boasts a unique, elliptical volume with various levels and a leaf-shaped roof that juts out over a covered swimming pool, which is also integrated into the home’s curved shape. Located in Campos do Jordão, the Pinhão House is a gorgeous design with a curvaceous volume surrounded by nature, and it was also built by local craftsmen using locally sourced, natural materials . The massive home spans four levels, with a garage and wine cellar on the ground floor and the main living area on the first floor. Related: Eco-friendly guesthouse in Brazil sports a green roof and rammed earth walls The main floor comprises a large social area that is enclosed by a wall of floor-to-ceiling glass panels to provide stunning views of the nature that surrounds the home. Various glass doors open up to a wrap-around, open-air porch. Below the main living space, a winding ramp leads to an indoor spa area with a massive swimming pool and sauna. Four bedroom suites and a home office with 180-degree views of the mountains and native Araucaria trees are located on the highest level. These trees were essential to the design , because they inspired the structure’s unique, curving volume. According to the architects, “The building shape sprouted like a fallen Pinhão, one of the many particles that form the fruit of the local Araucaria trees. An organic, sinuous form that seems to weave through the trees and winds. Instead of stairs, ramps. Instead of corridors, compressions and expansions of the internal sculptural contiguous spaces. This manipulation of the spaces together with the use of ramps enhances the importance of the sensorial experience of the architecture.” Bold curved walls, windows and cabinetry flow throughout the space, creating fluid connections between each level, which are joined via a long, winding ramp. Natural materials, such as wood walls and stone accents, create a cozy and warm atmosphere. These materials were all crafted by local artisans of Campos do Jordão. + Mareines Arquitetura Via ArchDaily Photography by Leonardo Finotti via Mareines Arquitectura

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Striking, sinuous home outside of So Paulo is inspired by the shape of native pine trees

Cedar Haven is a forest retreat made with reclaimed logs

December 3, 2019 by  
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Blending contemporary design with natural materials, Washington-based residential architecture firm Gelotte Hommas Drivdahl Architecture completed a stunning timber home that feels like an extension of its alpine forest environment. Created for a homeowner who wanted a residence that echoed the tranquility of its mountain surroundings, the aptly named Cedar Haven was built mainly from timber and stone — much of which was reclaimed from the site itself. Several salvaged logs and other found objects from the surroundings were deliberately left in their natural state to emphasize the organic beauty of the design. Located on a site where a previous log home once stood, Cedar Haven was created in response to the client’s desire for a more contemporary house that still exuded the warm, rustic feel of a traditional log cabin . The result is a stunning, custom home that features a dramatic, light-filled great room with a massive stone fireplace, a sculptural spiral staircase and custom, handcrafted details throughout. The natural materials palette and large windows — particularly those in the double-height great room — blur the boundary between indoors and out. Related: A traditional log cabin in Colorado is the perfect winter wonderland retreat “The Cedar Haven project draws inspiration from the surrounding natural beauty,” the architects explained in a project statement. “Inside, vertical lines and artful asymmetry mimic the forest outside the soaring great room window. A staircase of spiraling posts echoes a grove of trees , and a colorful petrified stump captures the attention of all who enter.” In addition to the petrified stump, reclaimed wood is used for statement design pieces in the home. Cedar trunks act as eye-catching pillars inside and outside of the house, while a twisted tree trunk frames one of the three stone fireplaces. Reclaimed stones were also used to build the fireplaces and chimneys. + Gelotte Hommas Drivdahl Architecture Photography by Benjamin Benschneider via Gelotte Hommas Drivdahl Architecture

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Cedar Haven is a forest retreat made with reclaimed logs

Decrepit barn in Quebec was converted into stunning modern design by salvaging all of its old materials

November 1, 2019 by  
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We’ve seen quite a few amazing barn conversions over the years, but this new design by La Firme is simply breathtaking. Located in a rural area in Quebec, the old barn was in near ruins until the Montreal-based firm was hired to convert it into a secondary family home. Thankfully, instead of bulldozing the beautiful old building to the ground, the studio managed to salvage nearly every single material to reuse in the new design. Referred to simply as The Barn, the building has sat at the foot of the Owl’s Head Mountain for decades. Sitting majestically over the idyllic setting, the barn is elevated up on a small hill with expansive rolling hills on one side and forest on the other. Related: 6 barns converted into beautiful new homes Despite its pristine landscape, the old barn had fallen into dire disrepair. However, the owner had a strong attachment to the building and wished to see it’s life extended. Accordingly, when he approached the La Firme team about converting the barn into a cozy modern home for his children, his primary request was that they do what they could to retain its original character. The architects took his request seriously, approaching the conversion with a strategy of adaptive reuse . According to the team, the project began by numbering and recording each and every single piece of the hemlock structure. As they were rebuilding the new family home, they managed to reuse every every part of the old barn. With the original materials given a second chance, some new elements were added to create a contemporary home. For example, a new standing seam metal roof creates a nice contrast with the barn’s weathered facade. And although the exterior retained its rustic, agrarian roots, the interior of the home is a beautifully contemporary design . With massive 30-foot ceilings with exposed beams and all-white walls, the living space is fresh and modern. Large steel-framed windows and an entire glazed front wall provide breathtaking views of the landscape. + La Firme Via Uncrate Photography via Ulysse Lemerise

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Decrepit barn in Quebec was converted into stunning modern design by salvaging all of its old materials

New biofabricated clothing made from algae goes through photosynthesis just like plants

October 25, 2019 by  
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There are a products that completely revolutionize the fashion industry for their eco-friendly approach and innovative vision. Although the fashion industry has made strides over the past few years in terms of sustainable clothing production, there is still a long ways to go. Thankfully, a handful of designers are coming up with incredibly innovative solutions to really change the concept of eco-fashion . One such visionary is Canadian-Iranian designer Roya Aghighi , whose new line of clothing, Biogarmentry, is made from algae that turns carbon dioxide into oxygen via photosynthesis. Made in collaboration with University of British Colombia (UBC) and Emily Carr Univeristy, the Biogarmentry line is a revolutionary design within the world of eco-fashion . While most sustainable designers are searching for fabrics that don’t harm the environment, Aghighi went straight to the environment for her unique fabric, using living, photosynthetic cells in its design. Related: SAOLA offers sustainable sneakers sourced from algae and recycled plastic The biofabricated textiles are made with a type of single-cell green algae called clothichlamydomonas reinhardtii. To create a solid textile, the algae is spun together with nano polymers. The result is a light, woven eco-textile akin to linen that photosynthesizes like plants. Currently a designer in residence at Material Experience Lab in the Netherlands, Aghighi explains that her inspiration for the design was to cut out the search for high-quality fabrics that don’t harm the planet, instead opting to create what could be the fabric of the future. “Biogarmentry suggests a complete overhaul rather than tinkering at the edges,” she said. “The living aspect of the textile will transform users’ relationship to their clothing, shifting collective behaviors around our consumption-oriented habits towards forming a sustainable future.” In addition to its sustainable design , the textile is also easy-to-maintain. To keep it clean, the garments just need to be watered once in a while, just like real live plants. When the garment has reached the end of its life cycle, which, for the moment, is just a month, it can be used for composting. + Roya Aghighi Via Dezeen Images via Roya Aghighi

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New biofabricated clothing made from algae goes through photosynthesis just like plants

Research finds heart attacks and strokes surge on high pollution days in England

October 25, 2019 by  
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A new study published by King’s College London (KCL) reports that elevated levels of air pollution contribute to increased spikes in cardiac arrests, stroke admissions and asthma hospitalizations. The sobering news has been described as a health emergency, prompting calls for the British government to commit to more enforceable sustainability targets and improved air quality standards. The research team surveyed data across nine cities: London, Birmingham, Bristol, Derby, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham, Oxford and Southampton. London had the largest uptick of health incidents because it experienced more high pollution days. For the English capital city, an additional 124 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests, 231 stroke admissions and 193 asthma hospitalizations occurred on days registering higher pollution levels. The collated data clearly revealed a cause-and-effect correlation. Thus, increased air pollution from wind direction and wind strength conclusively affected people’s health in just a short period of time while similarly having implications on life expectancy. Related: For 2019, the 10 worst cities for air quality are in California and Arizona Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, said, “London’s lethal air is a public health crisis — it leads to thousands of premature deaths in the capital every year, as well as stunting the development of young lungs and increasing cases of respiratory illness.” The research results were published ahead of the British National Clean Air Summit , which was hosted by UK100 , a British network of local government leaders. In response to the study findings, the British National Health Service (NHS) tweeted that almost a third of preventable deaths in England “are due to non-communicable diseases specifically attributed to air pollution .” Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS, further explained, “Since these avoidable deaths are happening now — not in 2025 or 2050 — together we need to act now. For the NHS, that is going to mean further comprehensive action building on the reduction of our carbon footprint of one-fifth in the past decade. So our NHS energy use, supply chain, building adaptations and our transport will all need to change substantially.” + King’s College London Via EcoWatch Image via Matt Buck

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Research finds heart attacks and strokes surge on high pollution days in England

Stefano Boeri will revitalize Genoa with sustainable energy-producing urban design

October 15, 2019 by  
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A Stefano Boeri Architetti -led design team has won a competition to design a new urban project to transform the Polcevera valley in Genoa, Italy into a beacon of sustainability. Titled “The Polcevera Park and The Red Circle,” the urban regeneration scheme will include a series of parks beneath the new Renzo Piano-designed bridge that will replace the Morandi Bridge that collapsed on August 14, 2018 — a tragedy that killed 43 people. In addition to revitalizing the area and memorializing the recent tragedy, the project will promote sustainable design through renewable technologies, green space and an emphasis on non-motorized transport. Designed in collaboration with architecture firm Metrogramma Milano and Dutch landscape design firm Inside Outside, The Polcevera Park and The Red Circle will include a sustainable mobility grid, a system of parks, and solar-powered buildings that will serve as hubs of productivity and innovation to lead the area’s economic revitalization. The Red Steel Circle refers to the circular elevated pedestrian/ cyclist pathway that will visually and physically knit together the two sides of the valley. This “relationship-building structure” measures 1,570 meters in length, 6 meters in width and 250 meters in diameter, and will be equipped with a 120-meter-tall Wind Tower for generating and producing renewable energy. The new series of parks will also be designed with sustainability in mind and include rainwater harvesting systems and an emphasis on biodiversity . A planting palette of species native to the Mediterranean basin area as well as a rich diversity of spaces — including recreational, educational and social areas — will define the landscape. A memorial to the victims of the collapsed Morandi bridge will be located at the heart of the park. Titled Genova in the wood, the art installation will feature 43 trees, one for each victim lost. Related: Stefano Boeri Architetti’s iridescent tower breaks ground in Tirana “The Red Circle, the Tower, the World Buildings, and the Polcevera Park with its vital chromatic and botanical variety will act as Genoa’s welcome to the passers-by of the future,” says Stefano Boeri. “A welcome to the world that crosses it and reaches Genoa from a network of infrastructure that stretches from east to west connecting Italy to Europe, parks perched on vertical walls, workers and noblewomen, singers- poets and naval engineers. A Superb City, even though it is afflicted by poignant melancholy; beautiful, even if in the harshness of its everlasting contradictions. A city of steel and sea, sculpted by wind and tragedy, but always able to stand tall.” + Stefano Boeri Architetti Images via The Big Picture, Renovatio design, 46xy via Stefano Boeri Architetti

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Stefano Boeri will revitalize Genoa with sustainable energy-producing urban design

A striking new gateway to Copenhagen celebrates green transit and Danish design

October 14, 2019 by  
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Earlier this summer, Copenhagen officially opened Køge Nord Station, a stunning new transportation landmark that raises the bar for beautiful urban infrastructure. Designed by COBE and DISSING+WEITLING architecture , the transit hub features a futuristic 225-meter-long covered footbridge that connects the new double-track high-speed rail line between Copenhagen and the city of Ringsted with the existing commuter urban-suburban S-train line. The 9-meter-wide footbridge spans the width of the Køge Bugt Highway and is punctuated with multiple windows to provide 180-degree panoramic views of the highway and the cultural landscape. Completed in less than three years after its groundbreaking, the Køge Nord Station is the result of an international competition that drew 38 submissions from around the world. Described by COBE and DISSING+WEITLING architecture as a “unique example of Danish architecture and engineering,” the firms’ winning design includes a vision plan, a train station, parking and transit facilities and the project’s crown jewel — the eye-catching covered footbridge . Installed in six sections, the footbridge is clad in 48,000 square meters of anodized aluminum panels and can carry up to 1,800 people. Related: Curvaceous bicycle bridge brings new life to Copenhagen’s harbor To provide a comfortable and attractive commuter experience for the 8,000 passengers expected to use the station daily, the interior of the covered bridge is lined with cozy timber and emphasizes a sense of continuous flow with curvaceous lines and open views to the north as well as with smaller south-facing apertures in the interior wood panels.  ”People spend many hours of their life in transit ,” said Jesper B. Henriksen, architect and partner at DISSING+WEITLING architecture. “That’s why we sought to give the footbridge a quality that goes beyond the purely functional and practical. The interior space is covered with wooden slats that provide a warm, tactile experience in transit and waiting situations. It is, quite simply, a welcoming and inviting space, unlike what you often see in stations and transport facilities. The interior space is contrasted by the smooth, cool aluminum exterior that enters into a dialogue with the infrastructural expression of the place.” + COBE + DISSING+WEITLING architecture Photography by Rasmus Hjortshøj – COAST via COBE

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