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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Should you make sourdough starter?

April 27, 2020 by  
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Because the pandemic has ushered in a back-to-the-kitchen movement, social media is filled with gorgeous, professional-looking loaves of sourdough bread. Is it easy to make a sourdough starter? Should you jump on the sourdough bandwagon? Here’s what you need to know about making a sourdough starter. Initial reservations Making sourdough starter has one big advantage. It only requires two ingredients: flour and water. It’s like magic, how these two ingredients , plus time, can produce yeast. Really, it’s more like science. As it says on the King Arthur Flour website, “Wild yeast is in the air around us. It settles on kitchen work surfaces and in your ingredients, including flour. Add liquid to flour, and this wild yeast is activated and starts to produce carbon dioxide bubbles. This growing army of gas bubbles, effectively trapped by gluten within the dough, are what ultimately make sourdough bread rise.” Related: How to bake bread Together, the yeast and lactobacilli form a harmonious symbiotic relationship right on your countertop. Making your own yeast out of thin air is especially popular now, since the yeast supply chain has dried up as the pandemic turns us into a nation of home bakers. But as I read online guidance about how to create my starter, I had some reservations. First, I don’t have filtered water. I drink good ol’ Oregon tap water that has some small amount of chlorine , which isn’t good for sourdough starter. Second, my online sources advised keeping the starter at room temperature, which they claimed was 70 degrees. Not in my house, which currently ranges between the upper 50s and low 60s. My third reservation was that you must constantly “feed” the starter with flour, each time discarding much of the starter. In the name of science (and this article), I endeavored to persevere. The starter would just have to deal with my water. Next, the temperature. The King Arthur Flour website advised those living in cooler houses to “try setting the starter atop your water heater, refrigerator or another appliance that might generate ambient heat. Your turned-off oven — with the light turned on — is also a good choice.” It was just too creepy to put the starter on the water heater in my dungeon-like basement, and no way am I leaving my oven light on for a week. We’re also trying to conserve energy , here! So the fridge it was. Unfortunately, the top of my fridge doesn’t seem any warmer than the rest of the house. How to make your own sourdough starter The process for making sourdough starter is quite simple. It is also perfect for sheltering in place, because starter likes a regular schedule. Though I consulted many websites, I decided to go with King Arthur as my guru. It has a five-day program to turn your flour and water into sourdough starter. On day one, you combine one cup of pumpernickel or whole wheat flour with one-half cup water in a non-reactive container with at least one-quart capacity. This means crockery, glass, stainless steel or food-grade plastic. I used a blue plastic mixing bowl. Unfortunately, I only had all-purpose flour, so I used that. This isn’t the time to be running out to the shop for one ingredient, right? You mix your flour and water until you can’t see any flour. Use cool water if your house is warm or warm water if your house is cool. Cover loosely with a kitchen cloth and set the starter somewhere warm. On day two, discard half the starter (or save that for a recipe to reduce food waste). Add a cup of all-purpose flour and one-half cup of water to the remainder. Stir well, re-cover and return the starter to its warm spot. By day three, your starter is supposed to start bubbling and increasing in size. Its appetite soars, and it demands two flour feedings a day, spaced 12 hours apart. Each time you feed, you must reduce the starter to about one-half cup before adding the new flour and water. Sometime after day five, the starter is supposed to be very lively and will have doubled in size. “You’ll see lots of bubbles; there may be some little ‘rivulets’ on the surface, full of finer bubbles. Also, the starter should have a tangy aroma — pleasingly acidic, but not overpowering,” according to King Arthur. Now, your starter is ready to become sourdough bread. You’ll use some in the bread recipe and keep the rest in your fridge, where it needs to be fed once a week and used for future loaves. You might want to name your starter — it could be around for a long time. The famous Boudin Bakery in San Francisco is still using the yeast Isidore Boudin collected in 1849. Hardcore bread lover Seamus Blackley, with the help of an Egyptologist and a microbiologist, managed to collect 4,500-year-old yeast off ancient Egyptian pottery for his loaves. So treat your starter well. Cooking with sourdough starter discard What is the reality of joining this long line of sourdough bakers ? Is it as romantic as it sounds? You might spend a lot of time asking yourself if your sourdough is really bubbling yet, whether it’s supposed to smell this way and what on earth are you going to do with all the discarded starter, especially as you move onto feeding and discarding twice a day. Related: Bakers yeast and sourdough starter — it looks alive to me! The first day, I added some starter discard to a regular cornbread recipe, pretending it was just more flour. It was a little hard to stir in, but for the most part, it worked out okay. My most successful dish was vegan sourdough pancakes, which involved following this recipe from Food52 and stirring in a ripe banana. They tasted more like delicious flat donuts than pancakes. My low point came when I tried to fashion a flatbread out of starter. The stomachache-inducing flatbreads wouldn’t cook all the way through. As I made my fifth attempt, my back aching, smoke alarm screeching and my husband and quarantine-mate sniping at my starter — “That (bleep) is like (bleeping) glue!” — I realized it was not the lifestyle moment those Instagram bakers had promised. The main event: sourdough bread All this feeding the starter eventually leads to making delicious sourdough bread. Theoretically. “When your starter has doubled in size, you see bubbles breaking on the surface, and it feels somewhat elastic to the touch, it’s ready to bake with,” King Arthur explained. But woe to us in cold houses. As I read down to the comments section, another cool-home dweller said his took two weeks to bubble sufficiently! Meanwhile, my starter has eaten nearly all of my flour, so there won’t even be enough to bake a loaf with. At press time, I’m trying to decide between A) trying my luck with my prepubescent starter and remaining flour to make a mini loaf, B) aborting the mission and turning all the starter into pancakes or C) throwing it all in the compost . A more persistent soul could add option D) going to the store and buying more flour to see the process through. Another option? Try making a “mini starter” , which requires much less flour but also takes longer to yield enough discard to make anything. But let’s assume you’re in a warmer house and have a bubbly, delightful starter. Now you’re in for a long process of kneading, folding, autolyzing (letting your dough rest), watching like a hawk for sufficient rising and eventually baking a delicious loaf. Best of luck to you. Here’s the Clever Carrot’s guide to that multistep process. The verdict I was not sufficiently committed to sacrificing all my flour to the voracious starter, nor did I have the right container. I thought all those upright glass vessels that look like vases were just for show on social media. As it turns out, they help you watch the starter. Maybe mine doubled in size and dropped back down when I wasn’t looking. Who knows? It’s in an opaque bowl atop the fridge covered with a tea towel. This experiment will also tell you more about what kind of person you are, if you don’t already know. Good candidates for making starter include people who love being in the kitchen, who take pride in their cooking or who have kids at home that enjoy culinary science experiments. If you cannot commit to your sourdough starter, it could just lead to a lot of food waste . Some of us lack the patience and interest. For the last 15 years, whenever I wanted a quick bread fix, I’ve made baking powder biscuits from a recipe in PETA’s The Compassionate Cook. The whole process takes about 20 minutes. My slightly more ambitious bread-making friend swears by this no-knead bread recipe . These might be better options if you don’t feel confident in working on a sourdough starter. The biggest thing I learned from making my own starter is how lucky I am that Trader Joe’s sells sourdough loaves for $3.99. Even my neighborhood boutique bakery that charges $7 or $8 a loaf seems like a bargain now. If you’re like me, you can consider making sourdough starter an exercise in bread appreciation. Images via Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat, Tommaso Urli , Thomas Bock , Oscar S , Richard Klasovsky

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Wedge-shaped Sideyard champions CLT construction

April 21, 2020 by  
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When Portland, Oregon reconfigured the roadways in the Central Eastside community, a 20,000-square-foot berm space was leftover from the move. To make the most of the small and oddly shaped site, Key Development teamed up with local architecture firm Skylab and Andersen Construction to use cross laminated timber (CLT) in the construction of Sideyard, a mixed-use development. The CLT components were prefabricated in a factory and then transported on-site for final assembly, a modular process that streamlined the building process and boasts environmental benefits. Located on a busy intersection next to the YARD apartments, the 23,202-square-foot Sideyard comprises a mix of retail and offices across five floors with retail located on the ground floor and workspaces placed on the top levels. Conceived as a “working class” building and gateway to the Portland Eastside community, Sideyard also emphasizes public transportation connectivity as well as pedestrian and bicycle accessibility, which has been enhanced with the addition of a ground-floor bike bar and pedestrian-friendly plaza extended from the city sidewalk. A pedestrian stair has also been integrated down from the Burnside Bridge level to Third Avenue. Related: First CLT Passive House project in Boston breaks ground The use of cross-laminated timber was critical to the project’s success. Because of the site’s tight footprint, construction materials could not be stored on-site for long; the modularity of the CLT panels and glulam members allowed for quick assembly of the building atop a post-tensioned concrete foundation. The interior features an industrial feel thanks to exposed concrete and timber throughout, while floor-to-ceiling glazing creates a constant connection with the surrounding neighborhood. “Cross-laminated timber is a new and sustainable building material that celebrates the inherent structural qualities of wood,” said Jill Asselineau, project director for Skylab Architecture. “This material was championed by the general contractor for its regional relevance, availability and simplicity of assemblage. Employing this mass timber system saved on both time and labor expenses. The project also used mass plywood for the interior stair structure, landings and treads. This project is one of the first to employ and elegantly demonstrate the potential of this wood product.” + Skylab Architecture Photography by Stephen Miller via Skylab Architecture

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Built on a budget, this elegant Dock Building glows like a lantern in Vancouver

June 20, 2018 by  
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Tight budgets typically pose one of the biggest challenges in design projects. But as Michael Green, CEO and President of Michael Green Architecture , shows in his firm’s recently completed Dock Building, beautiful architecture is “always possible regardless of budget.” Built for the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club, the building melds modern and industrial influences in a sleek and sculptural volume that appears to glow like a lantern at night. Located on Jericho Beach in Vancouver , British Columbia, the Dock Building for the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club serves a large marine of sailboats. The facility consists of offices for the Harbor Master; educational spaces for children; a variety of workshops for maintaining boats, sails and gear; as well as bathrooms and showers. The modern yet simple design is made up of two intersecting wedge-shaped volumes created in reference to the cannery and the industrial waterfront building that once defined the site. “The design team at MGA aimed to demonstrate that all projects, from working industrial buildings to boutique museums , can and should be realized with grace and architectural dignity. Throughout, the details are modest and practical to work with the limited project budget,” said the Vancouver-based architecture firm in a project statement, adding that nearly half of the budget went to the foundation and piles. “The Dock Building exemplifies what a creative team, an ambitious client and a big vision can produce.” Related: Aperture-like windows maximize shading in this stunning Vancouver residence The Dock Building’s lantern-like effect can be enjoyed from the land and the sea. A glulam and translucent polycarbonate wall was installed on the side facing the land. The translucent facade glows at night and lets natural light into the workshop spaces during the day. On the side facing the sea and the marina are a row of garage doors and a glazed office frontage. The structure was built from glulam posts and beams with light timber infill decking and walls. White standing seam panels clad the exterior to mimic the color of nearby boats. The interior is predominately finished in construction-grade plywood. + Michael Green Architecture Images by Ema Peter

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New timber office building will be among the tallest of its kind in London

March 24, 2016 by  
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Architecture firm Waugh Thistleton designed an office block in London’s Shoreditch district meant to be built entirely out of wood . Five vertical slices separated by deep voids within the floor plates will be constructed using glulam and cross-laminated timber. When its completed, the nine-story office building will be among the tallest modern timber-framed structures in the British capital. Read the rest of New timber office building will be among the tallest of its kind in London

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Starbucks brews up new program to donate unsold food to local charities

March 24, 2016 by  
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The love-hate relationship between environmentalists and Starbucks gets a new twist this week, as the monster coffee chain unveils a new policy to donate unsold food to charity. The Seattle-based company has been researching ways to rescue its prepared foods from the trash when they aren’t sold by the expiration date. The new food donation program is starting small, but Starbucks has big plans to expand the program over the next several years until every last bit of unsold food ends up in the hands and mouths of people who need it. Read the rest of Starbucks brews up new program to donate unsold food to local charities

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Your cat may be giving you road rage

March 24, 2016 by  
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Could cats be to blame for road rage? A new study has discovered a potential link between Toxoplasma gondii , a parasite carried by cats, and intermittent explosive disorder (IED) in humans. But don’t give up your cats for adoption just yet. Read the rest of Your cat may be giving you road rage

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6 foods you can easily grow from kitchen scraps

March 24, 2016 by  
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Gorgeous prefab alpine restaurant tops a Swedish ski slope

March 15, 2016 by  
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Mirrored Borden Park Pavilion glows like a lantern in Edmonton

April 8, 2015 by  
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Read the rest of Mirrored Borden Park Pavilion glows like a lantern in Edmonton Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Borden Park , Borden Park pavilion , douglas fir , Edmonton , GH3 , glowing pavilion , glulam , laminated douglas fir , pavilion

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