Dvele prefab, off-grid homes are dedicated to the environment

January 3, 2022 by  
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Sustainable architecture takes many forms. From  minimal site impact  to material selection to energy-efficient systems, homeowners have a lot to consider. One California-based builder has placed sustainable, technological and health considerations at the forefront of every design. The result is environmentally-friendly homes that serve fire-prone areas and cater to the needs of off-grid living.  One of Dvele’s most recent projects is a privately-owned home located in the gated community of the Point Dume Club in Malibu, California . After the previous structure was lost to fire, the homeowner looked to Dvele to prefabricate a home that would be self-powered and fire resistant in the case of a future wildfire threat.  Related: DveleIQ software results in smart homes powered by solar The newly-completed home joins a menu of other homes developed by the company, which announced in early December plans to build and scale multi-home developments across California, Colorado, Montana and New Mexico. Dvele uses high-tech systems to prefab home panels out of light-gauge steel. Not only does this reduce the risk of supply chain issues related to lumber, but it allows precise manufacturing with little  waste . The steel is highly fire-resistant, and homes can be constructed quickly with minimal site impact.  For energy efficiency, Dvele homes are constructed with a tight envelope that includes triple-pane windows and doors, along with lighting, appliances and electronics that minimize energy usage. Furthermore, each home is equipped with rooftop  solar panels  and a battery storage system, which will provide backup power in the case of a fire-related or other natural disaster-caused power outage. Homes can also be equipped to function completely off-grid.  The health of inhabitants is addressed with a clean air delivery system that relies on sensors to monitor air quality and make changes to provide fresh, filtered air throughout the entire house. The smart system filters out contaminants as they enter the home and as they are produced by activities such as cooking.  Dvele is also innovating systems that eliminate reliance on natural gas with green design steam ovens, induction cooktops and heat pumps for air and  water  that minimize environmental impacts.   + Dvele Images via Dvele

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Dvele prefab, off-grid homes are dedicated to the environment

Stadler electric trains are on their way to Germany

January 3, 2022 by  
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Germany will use 44 more battery-electric trains after purchase from train manufacturer Stadler. The order came from three regional German railway operators and will be coordinated by DB Regio, a subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn, operator of commuter and regional trains in Germany. The electric trains will draw power from their battery packs or overhead lines and be 55 meters long, which is an extra length to allow for “the highest possible passenger capacity for the heavily frequented routes.” Stadler says the two-part vehicles will go into service on 8 Southern and Western Palatinate railway lines starting December 2025. They will take the place of current diesel engines on those lines. Related: DMAA designs Residential Greenhouse in Germany Max range for the new electric trains’ batteries is 80 km up to a possible 180 km demonstrated in testing. The train tracks on these routes have overhead wires for recharging at least every 48 km or less, and these overhead lines have enough power to both power the train and recharge batteries at the same time. This provides the trains ample power to make their routes. Maik Dreser, the head of regional management for DB Regio, said of the new train order, “We are already the most climate-friendly mobility company in Germany . And by 2040, we at Deutsche Bahn want to be climate neutral. Alternative drives and fuels are an essential part of achieving this goal. We are therefore absolutely delighted that the commissioning authorities responsible for the Palatinate network have opted for environmentally-friendly technology and that we will be able to put this technology into operation in the new transport contract.” This is Stadler’s second major order for electric trains in Germany. Other locations running similar technology include Berlin. Stadler offers diesel hybrid train models as well. In the United States, San Bernardino, California, runs hydrogen fuel cell trains. + Stadler Rail Images via Stadler

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Innovative biophilic design planned for new village in Portugal

October 18, 2021 by  
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A new development is in the works, designed to sit on a Portuguese hillside and provide a community with unique characteristics and a focus on sustainable design, function, well-being and innovation. The project is dubbed Fuse Valley. It’s a collaboration between Farfetch, the leading global technology platform for luxury fashion , and Portuguese real estate developer Castro Group. The duo brought in notable sustainability-focused architectural firm Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) to design the plan for the site. Related: The High Performance Surfing Center honors nature inside and out Located along the slopes of the Leça River in Porto, the site was chosen for its proximity to convenient transportation and the river. The overall blueprint of Fuse Valley will include 24 buildings for a mixture of tech companies, a hotel , small start-ups, and services. Farfetch HQ will encompass 12 interconnected buildings that open the doors to creativity and idea exchange between employees and visitors. “The individual buildings that constitute the various elements of the organization are connected to form large contiguous work environments – physically consolidated, but spatially varied to create a human-scale experience,“ said João Albuquerque, Partner in Charge at BIG . The BIG design places the buildings around plazas, parks and courtyards meant to blur the lines between the outdoors and indoor spaces while promoting a healthy work and community  environment . The Farfetch buildings include lobbies, an academy, an auditorium, a canteen and wellness facilities that flow together as an extension of the surrounding hillside and emphasize biophilic design throughout the spaces. The location and the focus on health are seen through the plans to cater to mobility to, from, and onsite with electric vehicle charging stations and infrastructure to support the use of bicycles and electric scooters. Fuse Valley will also connect to the main public transport via shuttles. According to Paulo Castro, CEO of Castro Group, “Fuse Valley is the perfect interpretation of our golden rule, applied to all our projects: location, innovation, sustainability, and technology . What we are going to do in Matosinhos is something unique and that puts this space on the international map of what is best done both in terms of sustainability and in terms of innovation. With this project, we intend to develop a smart city, or in this case, a smart valley.” In both construction and scheduled use of the buildings, Farfetch and Fuse Valley are leaning into  green building practices  and low environmental impact with the hope of being one of the most sustainable building developments in Portugal and Europe. Fuse Valley is scheduled to break ground by early 2023 and open its doors in 2025. + Farfetch Via BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group Visualizations by Lucian R, courtesy of BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group

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Innovative biophilic design planned for new village in Portugal

Carrboro Hillside House looks like a giant black snake

October 14, 2021 by  
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The location is tucked into a protected forested area covered in trees with a creek nearby. It’s an odd-shaped lot with a hillside and boulders, surrounded by nature. It was a huge challenge for architect Doug Pierson and designer Youn Choi, but the end result is absolutely stunning. Carrboro Hillside House is tucked into the terrain like a slumbering black snake, which is how it got its name. The submerged design helps regulate the home’s interior temperature, as does the triple-pane glazing throughout that prevents energy loss through the windows. There’s also a tankless water heater, a solar-ready roof , Energy Star appliances and low-flow sinks and toilets. Related: YEZO is a nature retreat perched on a Japanese hillside The house is made up of three sections that create a z-shape, and, interestingly, all wrapped in black corrugated metal . The foundation and retaining walls are made of polished concrete. Natural light enters the space through glazed windows. The interior temperature is regulated with thermal mass and radiant flooring. Every one of the pine trees that were felled to build this home went to a local lumber company and then returned as the pine wood seen throughout the interior of the house. The black walls were made from repurposed liner material for poured concrete forms. Perforated metal or glass railings were used for the stairs and balcony. All of the floors in the living area are polished concrete. The upper-level floors are made from milled pine just like the walls . Found in Carrboro, North Carolina, Hillside House’s innovative design and eco-friendly materials used to create it (with extra care and attention given to energy efficiency) makes this a stunning example how even a difficult and unsavory lot can be the inspiration for a real dream home. Drawing inspiration from the exterior environment is often the best way to honor nature. + Doug Pierson and Youn Choi Images via Blue Plate PR

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Carrboro Hillside House looks like a giant black snake

First fully solar-powered compost facility opens in California

October 14, 2021 by  
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California state law (SB 1383) takes effect January 1, 2022, requiring the majority of homes and businesses in the area to recycle all food and yard waste in their yard debris carts. In response to the increased demands of processing the compostable materials, Republic Services spent the past three years building the Otay Compost Facility and hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony earlier in October.  The facility is the first in the state to be powered entirely by solar energy . It promises to churn 100 tons of yard and food waste from Chula Vista and nearby San Diego communities into nutrient-rich compost. Republic Services claims production is expected to double output to 200 tons daily by the end of the year.  Related: Clark Street Composts sets example for Chicago and beyond From household to compost, the infrastructure of the entire process will require a shift in mindset. However, the efforts aim to offer significant benefits to the environment . As any gardener knows, there’s a distinct difference between dirt and soil, so converting organic material into an amendment that improves soil quality is essential for farmers, backyard gardeners and urban planning divisions.  To accomplish the circular economy, residents and businesses will place organic foods into their yard waste bin instead of the garbage, which will reduce waste disposal costs and slow the progression of landfill heaps. Some experts estimate as much as 40% of landfill mass is made up of food waste. Instead of taking up space and contributing to methane gas emissions from landfills, the food debris is trucked to the processing plant where the zero-energy method turn it into compost. It is then returned to the neighborhoods and public spaces in the same community the materials came from.  The process is nothing new to Republic Services. According to the company, “which was recognized as the industry’s 2020 Organics Recycler of the Year, operates 12 compost facilities in five states, and recycled more than 2.15 billion pounds of food and yard waste last year.” + Republic Services  Images via Republic Services  

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First fully solar-powered compost facility opens in California

WOHA’s final design for Singapore Pavilion nears completion

September 10, 2021 by  
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The net-zero energy Singapore Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai advocates green architecture and showcases the possibilities of integrating nature within urban environments. Displaying lush greenery, digital solutions and art, the Pavilion exemplifies Singapore’s vision of sustainable development to become a “City in Nature.” The Pavilion features extensive, multi-layered greenery, achieved by the careful planting of more than 170 plant varieties and large mature trees. Constructed by  WOHA , the building is titled “Nature. Nurture. Future.” It’s set to debut on October 1. Related: WOHA to transform polluted swamp into green university WOHA has designed a striking pavilion with hanging gardens . The building is orientated around three central cones on three levels. At the top is a solar canopy. Vertical walls of plants envelop visitors in an inviting three-dimensional green space that provides a cool respite from the buzz and excitement of the Expo grounds. Landscape design and digital and art elements are helmed by Singapore landscape architecture firm  Salad Dressing , in close partnership with WOHA. The planting strategy for the Pavilion includes plants from diverse, unique habitats from the natural heritage of Singapore, including varieties found in the tropical rainforest , freshwater forest streams and mangrove habitats.  Dubai’s desert environment poses a significant challenge to installing such a biodiverse human-designed habitat. The Pavilion’s perimeter is protected by trees and palms that thrive well in the Dubai climate, mimicking natural forest layers to shade and shield the interior. Sun-loving plants such as Singapore’s national flower, the Vanda Miss Joaquim, frame the Pavilion’s entrance, where they receive the most direct sunlight. As part of water conservation efforts, potable water produced through the on-site solar desalination process is deployed through drip irrigation to minimize water wastage. Leaf litter is also used to replace water-consuming ground cover and retain water in the soil . Together with misting, the greenery helps to increase humidity and thermal comfort within the Pavilion.  Measuring about 70 centimeters in diameter, three climbing robots weighing 40 kilograms each will be deployed to traverse the vertical green walls of the Pavilion’s thematic cones. These prototypes from  Oceania Robotics  work in service of plant health. In addition to inspecting the health of the plants, they will also capture data for the calibration of irrigation and grow-light settings to help the plants thrive. The robots can recognize plants in poor health that need to be replaced. The customized planting palette and innovative technological applications used in water and energy management are design strategies that enable the Singapore Pavilion to achieve its net-zero energy target. Visitors are invited to participate in a generative artwork at the Galleria that allows them to visualize the performance of the Pavilion’s integrated ecosystem and how it impacts the environment. This generative artwork is a result of interactive mobile gameplay using the Pavilion’s data collected through the climbing robots and sensors. Players “collect sunlight” using solar panels to power the desalination process that will produce potable water for the virtual saplings, which then grow into trees to remove pollutants in the air. The gameboard is unique for each player and determined by real-time data from the Pavilion. Through this game, visitors can learn more about the Pavilion’s sustainable strategies. This playful interaction is also a reminder for visitors of how their actions impact collective environmental outcomes.  + Singapore 2020 Expo Images © Singapore Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai and Arthur Ng/National Parks Board

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House Lhotka brings energy-efficient home design to the Czech Republic

August 11, 2021 by  
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Sustainable construction is on the mind of builders, architects, engineers, residential homeowners and businesses around the world. A project by SOA architekti in collaboration with Richter Design reflects this mindset with  green design  elements and privacy in an open and well-lit home.  Located at Lhotka Prague 4 in the Czech Republic , House Lhotka is unique in the creation of a large home with an easily identifiable and functional central space. The house is purposely divided into four volumes with the dining room at the heart of it and a corridor that connects them all. Related: Minimalist House in Minohshinmachi focuses on nature Designers selected  natural materials  where possible with a reliance on wood and sand-lime bricks. These elements also work to connect the outdoors with the indoors, such as the wooden ceiling in the dining room that flows through to a terrace, garden and pool areas. Large windows and moveable glass partitions marry the central part of the home with the outdoor living space while inviting in copious  natural light  and ventilation. With attention to energy efficiency, heating is provided through a heat pump and a gas boiler for additional support. Radiant cooling is built into the ceiling to help control interior temperatures. Likewise, efficient underfloor heating makes the space more comfortable.  A statement by the development team explains, “Air exchange is provided by a pressure-controlled ventilation system with passive heat recuperation with high efficiency. The intensity of ventilation is controlled automatically using CO2. In the summertime, the system is used for night pre-cooling of the building operating at a higher intensity.” To keep all this in check, a smart system monitors activities and makes adjustments as needed.   From the northeast entrance, the central corridor leads to a garage and study with views of the  plants outside. The basement and second floor of the home provide plenty of space for the family with a master bedroom and three kid’s bedrooms.  For security, the home is mostly shielded from view from the street side, yet the large windows open the space up to the garden for a connection with the surrounding landscape without the need to hide from passersby. + SOA architekti Via ArchiScene Images via BoysPlayNice 

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House Lhotka brings energy-efficient home design to the Czech Republic

Minimalist House in Minohshinmachi focuses on nature

August 3, 2021 by  
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The clients for this home in the northernmost part of Minoh City, Osaka Prefecture, wanted the architecture to represent local history and culture while also developing a modern aesthetic in a space that closes the gap between indoors and outdoors. Architect Yasuyuki Kitamura honored the clients’ wishes for a sustainable home that spoke to nature with thin beams on the interior and large windows to invite in natural light and open up the views of the nearby Mount Aogai. Known as the House in Minohshinmachi, the home was situated with the south side facing the road, east and west sides meeting other residential homes and the north side opening up to a buffer zone for the landslide disaster warning area. Related: Cloudy Courtyard is crystal clear in its historical inspiration The one-story house was kept low-lying in order to merge into the landscape without being obtrusive as well as to keep material and construction costs low. Builders used conventional construction methods, relying on wood and structural metals, which came together quickly for a short building period. House in Minohshinmachi was designed to ensure high seismic performance, resulting in the achievement of earthquake-resistance grade three standards. The designer brought elements of nature into the interior design with large pillars that resemble trees standing in the forest. Natural light floods the space with the entire center of the roof acting as skylights. Modern and minimalistic , the home also achieves excellent insulation performance standards while adhering to a modest budget. The project won the prestigious AZ Award and has been selected as the 2021 Architizer A+ Awards Finalist for Architecture + Living Small/Low Cost Design. “We have been searching for the future of environmental architecture, and our goal was to reconstruct the forgotten relationship between local character and the surrounding natural environment,” the architect explained. “The result is a new type of building that, in addition to its high residential performance, feels more like a part of nature than a landscape.” + Yasuyuki Kitamura Photography by Masashige Akeda via v2com

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Minimalist House in Minohshinmachi focuses on nature

Colorful Peoples Pavilion in Eindhoven is made from 100% borrowed materials

November 3, 2017 by  
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All the materials needed to build this temporary pavilion in the Netherlands are borrowed. bureau SLA and Overtreders W built the People’s Pavilion – a centerpiece of the Dutch Design Week (DDW) taking place in Eindhoven – using materials from suppliers and Eindhoven residents which will be returned after the event closes. The only exception is the faceted upper façade, which is made of plastic household waste materials collected by Eindhoven residents. The People’s Pavilion will function as the main pavilion of the World Design Event in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, which provides a platform for future makers from all over the world. It will also be used as a meeting place and hang-out for visitors and serves as a venue for music and theater. Related: Spectacular origami pavilion made of recycled plastic pops up in Columbus, Indiana The 269-square-foot (25-square-meter) building can accommodate 200 seated or 600 standing people. Its structure is based on 12 concrete foundation piles and 19 wooden frames, designed in collaboration with Arup. Steel straps hold together wooden beams , while concrete piles and frames are connected with 350 tensioning straps. The glass roof resembles those used in the greenhouse industry. Related: The Folkets House is an inclusive space where refugees can learn skills and find jobs Colorful plastic tiles cover the upper façade of the building and are made from recycled plastic household waste . Leftovers from a refurbishment of BOL.com’s headquarters were used for the glass portion of the façade on the ground floor and will be reused for a new office space after the Dutch Design Week concludes. All the materials, including concrete slabs used for the podium, lighting, heating and bar are borrowed. + bureau SLA + Overtreders W + Dutch Design Week 

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Colorful Peoples Pavilion in Eindhoven is made from 100% borrowed materials

This beautiful home in Portugal was inspired by a child’s drawing

October 31, 2017 by  
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This gorgeous monolithic house in Portugal , designed by Filipe Saraiva Arquitectos , uses modular design to stay true to the simplicity of a child’s drawing of a house. Its geometry and materials not only reflect the archetypal image of a home– they also allow for optimal energy performance and lower maintenance costs . The house sits on a sloping piece of farmland in Ourém, Portugal, with a difference in height of approximately 15 feet (4.5 meters) from one end to the other. It is surrounded by natural landscape and overlooks the historic Castle of Ourém. Related: This charming home in Portugal is insulated with soil The design of the residence mimics a child’s drawing of a house, composed of five lines that represent walls and roof, while rectangular shapes represent doors and windows. In line with this simplicity, the main approach to the construction is based on prefabricated elements such as black concrete panels . The black concrete panels not only help the project blend into the surroundings, but it also reduce maintenance costs. + Filipe Saraiva Arquitectos Photos by Joao Morgado

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This beautiful home in Portugal was inspired by a child’s drawing

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