Off-grid shipping container cabin has a warm wooden interior

March 31, 2017 by  
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Shipping container residences can be elaborate and complex, but sometimes bringing it back to basics is the key to good living. At the request of their client, San Francisco-based architects  YAMAMAR  created a simple, off-grid container cabin getaway out of two  repurposed shipping containers tucked into a pristine natural forest in North California’s Mount Lassen area. The container cabin is located on 1,000 acres of pristine wilderness. The idyllic location is next to an old creek bed with amazing sunset views of the surroundings. At the request of the property owner, who had been previously using an old Fleetwood trailer to sleep on site, the new structure had to fit into this natural area by operating completely off-grid . Working within the restrictions set by the local nature conservancy for permanent structures, the team began by customizing two shipping containers off site. This reduced the project’s overall footprint and production costs. Related: A glazed container cabin that reflects the Colorado sky Once fused together, the new cabin was built out with simple materials such as  reclaimed Douglas fir panels on the flooring and walls. To generate power, a solar array was installed on the roof, but the home uses propane for most of its lighting and heating needs. The adjacent creek is the home’s natural source for fresh water. In contrast to some luxury dwellings found in the world of shipping container design, this off-grid cabin was meant to offer the basics and keep the focus on the amazing setting. The compact interior is equipped with a small kitchen and one bedroom with a large window that offers incredible views. Two sliding doors on either side of the home roll open on castors and can be locked up tight when not in use. + YAMAMAR Design Via  Dwell Photography by Bruce Damonte

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Off-grid shipping container cabin has a warm wooden interior

Students collaborate with starchitect Daniel Libeskind to design university building

March 28, 2017 by  
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Dramatic interlocking volumes and sharp angles define the new green-roofed Central Building at Leuphana University in Germany. Studio Libeskind designed the project in collaboration with students at the university, where Libeskind works as a part-time professor. The result is a distinct zinc-clad building that will serve as an incubator for new ideas, innovation and research. The 139,930-square-foot building, located on the university’s main campus in the southern part of Lüneburg, integrates a Research Center, a Student Center, spaces for seminars and an auditorium into a single structure. Interlocking volumes facilitate cross-disciplinary interaction and collaborative learning. Related: Daniel Libeskind unveils spectacularly green physics center at Durham University Upon entering the building, visitors are greeted by a swooping triple-height atrium awash in natural light coming through a half dozen skylights . Stairs and bridges puncture the volume and communicate the complexity of the space. The cafeteria and workshops are located on the ground floor, labs and offices occupy the upper floors, and the three-story Seminar Center with a curved roof forms the main entry. Exposed concrete and canted walls are combined with smoked oak parquet throughout the building, and red-painted walls provide way-finding and orientation. Related: Daniel Libeskind unveils design for the new green-roofed Lithuanian Modern Art Center in Vilnius The building will operate at zero emissions thanks to its remarkably efficient design and the use of renewable energy sources. Sustainable design features include a green roof, a grey water system and an innovative Cobiax structural system. + Studio Libeskind + Leuphana University

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Students collaborate with starchitect Daniel Libeskind to design university building

Renovated Beijing factory gets new life with an elegantly-integrated Zen garden

March 27, 2017 by  
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After several renovations since the original construction of this Beijing factory, an extensive overhaul has breathed new life into the building – literally.  He Wei Studio / 3andwich Design renovated the building with a beautiful Zen garden gracefully integrated into the structure in order to convey the essence of the traditional Chinese private garden. Modern office workers can immerse themselves in a calming, natural environment, no matter how stressful the day gets. The original factory, built in 1970, went through several renovations before He Wei undertook the challenge of turning it into a modern office space that keeps the spirit of ancient building practices. The team restructured the circulation and created longer routes to allow people to calm down when entering the main space. Related: Former Panasonic factory building in China converted into a modern events space A zigzagging path leads visitors from the entrance on the west side through a long, narrow semi-outdoor corridor. This way people have to walk through the entire garden, called Zen Chamber. A folded stair, located between the long ramp and paralleled stairs, offer views of the inner courtyard and big tearoom through grating racks. The second floor, which serves as the main public space, is narrow and long and houses a music room, small tearooms, meditation room and a large tearoom. + He Wei Studio / 3andwich Design Via Sunshine PR Photos by Zou Bin

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Renovated Beijing factory gets new life with an elegantly-integrated Zen garden

EarthCraft-certified Organic Life House teaches Atlanta agrihood residents about healthy living

March 27, 2017 by  
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An American agrihood making waves with its sustainable living movement turned heads again with the completion of the first Organic Life House early this year. Located on the outskirts of Atlanta, Ga., the Serenbe community teamed up with Rodale’s Organic Life Magazine to build an EarthCraft-certified demonstration home to teach residents and visitors about healthy living and eco-friendly building practices. Constructed from natural materials, the 6,000-square-foot dwelling draws energy from renewable geothermal and solar sources and features a variety of wellness-promoting spaces. Designed by architect J.P. Curran and built by Bobby Webb, the Organic Life House is a four-bedroom, four-and-a-half bath home that promotes wellness and connection with the outdoors. In addition to the use of natural materials throughout the home, the stone-clad Serenbe house reinforces its ties with nature with views of the preserved woods, edible and medicinal gardens, and a series of outdoor spaces like the labyrinth and multiple porches. Thoughtful choices for the neutral-toned interior, from the flooring to window treatments, create a healthy indoor environment promoting wellness and relaxation. Tall ceilings, ample natural light, and warm textures create a homey feel. “The partnership between Serenbe and Organic Life is the perfect collaboration,” says Steve Nygren, founder of Serenbe. “We are both dedicated to helping people enjoy well-balanced lives that are in tune with their environment and community. The Organic Life House will be an exciting opportunity to introduce the Serenbe lifestyle to the Rodale audience and show how they can apply these practices in their own homes.” Related: America’s first urban ‘agrihood’ feeds 2,000 households for free The Organic Life House expands on the Serenbe mission to serve as an inspiring leader for agrihoods and wellness communities, and was the first home to break ground in the 1,000-acre community’s newest neighborhood, Mado. Like Serenbe’s other energy-efficient homes, the Organic Life House features renewable energy systems like geothermal heating and cooling as well as energy-saving appliances. The home also includes a yoga and meditation studio, saltwater lap pool, and hot tub. + Organic Life House Images by J. Ashley Photography

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EarthCraft-certified Organic Life House teaches Atlanta agrihood residents about healthy living

Colorado appeals court sides with teenagers fighting oil and gas industry

March 27, 2017 by  
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Teenagers fighting environmental destruction at the hands of the oil and gas industry in Colorado just celebrated a victory. Last week the Colorado Court of Appeals sided with teenage activist and Earth Guardians director Xiuhtezcatl Martinez , who filed suit, and reversed a lower court ruling so the state could have to prioritize environmental protection before the interests of the fossil fuel industry . Back in 2013 Martinez and other teenagers approached the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC), a state organization that according to their website is charged with promoting responsible development of fossil fuel resources in Colorado “in a manner consistent with the protection of public health , safety, and welfare, including the environment and wildlife resources.” But apparently the kids didn’t think they were doing such a great job with that mission – and they weren’t alone. According to The Denver Post, COGCC officials for over 10 years have interpreted their mission to balance fossil fuel industry interests against public health. Since the commission’s formation, over 50,000 oil wells have been drilled. Related: 16-year-old activist demands US gov end fossil fuel use by 2026 The kids asked the organization to not issue any new drilling permits “unless the best available science demonstrates, and an independent third party organization confirms, that drilling can occur in a manner that does not cumulatively, with other actions, impair Colorado’s atmosphere, water, wildlife, and land resources, does not adversely impact human health, and does not contribute to climate change .” COGCC refused after holding a hearing. The teenagers appealed, with the support of over a dozen advocacy groups. But the Denver District Court backed the COGCC. So the teenagers appealed again, and last week a three-judge appeals court panel sided with the teenagers. The fight isn’t over. The COGCC doesn’t have to now implement the teenagers’ rule. Instead the ruling means the organization illegally rejected the rule, and the case returns to district court. Via Business Insider and The Denver Post Images via Xiuhtezcatl Martinez on Facebook and Teja Jonnalagadda on Facebook

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Colorado appeals court sides with teenagers fighting oil and gas industry

Circular home boasts 360-degree views so owners can watch their dogs

March 27, 2017 by  
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The biggest motivation behind this circular home’s 360-degree views isn’t the beautiful landscape—it’s the homeowners’ dogs. Dutch architecture firm 123DV designed 360 Villa, a contemporary dwelling in the Netherlands that shows how architecture can be inclusive of humans and animals. Commissioned by a couple who own a pair of beautiful Alaskan Malamutes, the custom home is wrapped in glazing to allow the couple to stay in constant contact with their dogs both in and outside the home. Surrounded by a sloped lawn, the 85-square-meter 360 Villa offers ample space for the homeowners’ two Alaskan Malamutes to play and release their high energy. To give the dogs space and the constant contact they need with their owners, 123DV designed the home with a circular plan and wrapped it in a “continuous window” to provide visual contact between the dogs and couple. The roof extends over the edge of the home to create a wraparound canopy that provides shelter from the rain and sun. Related: This house has a special staircase designed just for dogs To preserve privacy, the architects built up the land into a hill on the street-facing side of the villa so that the owners can see their dogs without needing a full-height window . Despite the small footprint, the 360 Villa feels spacious thanks to the large windows and the open floor plan. The open-plan kitchen, dining room, and living area take up around two-thirds of the interior and open to an outdoor deck. The bedroom and bathroom can be closed off from the living room by sliding doors. A large circular skylight in the middle of the home lets in additional natural light. + 123DV Via ArchDaily Images © Hannah Anthonysz

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Circular home boasts 360-degree views so owners can watch their dogs

Trump administration could open door to geoengineering

March 27, 2017 by  
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President Donald Trump’s main stance on climate change is usually denial, but if he does take action it could be with the controversial approach of geoengineering . Large-scale climate engineering didn’t receive much support under President Barack Obama, but now environmental organizations are saying in the new administration interest may be building for solar geoengineering, or spraying sulphate particles in the air with the hope of reflecting the sun’s radiation back into outer space to lower Earth’s temperature. Harvard University scientists David Keith and Frank Keutsch, who started the largest solar geoengineering research program in the world, may find support in the new administration. The two engineers hope to test spraying in 2018 in Arizona via a high-altitude balloon to obtain information of the practice’s impacts at a large scale. At a geoengineering forum last week, Keith seemed to indicate now might be the time to carry the research forward, saying he is ready for field testing. A briefing paper for the form stated the context for talking about solar geoengineering research “has changed substantially since we planned and funded this forum nearly one year ago.” Related: US Congress could fund geoengineering research for the first time Rex Tillerson , current Secretary of State, might also support geoengineering. The Guardian reported ExxonMobil scientists worked on geoengineering techniques like carbon dioxide removal while Tillerson was CEO, and at a 2015 ExxonMobil shareholder meeting Tillerson said “plan B has always been grounded in our beliefs around the continued evolution of technology and engineered solutions.” And one of the Trump Environmental Protection Agency transition architects, David Schnare, has lobbied American lawmakers and testified to the Senate in support of the controversial approach to climate change. Silvia Riberio of watchdog organization ETC Group told The Guardian, “Clearly parts of the Trump administration are very willing to open the door to reckless schemes like David Keith’s, and may well have quietly given the nod to open-air experiments. Worryingly, geoengineering may emerge as this administration’s preferred approach to global warming . In their view, building a big beautiful wall of sulphate in the sky could be a perfect excuse to allow uncontrolled fossil fuel extraction. We need to be focusing on radical emissions cuts, not dangerous and unjust technofixes.” Via The Guardian Images via Pixabay and Wikimedia Commons

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Trump administration could open door to geoengineering

Ancient green building technique helps ease West Africa housing crisis

March 24, 2017 by  
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Semi-arid regions of Africa face unique obstacles in their efforts to address a growing housing crisis . For years people built roofs with bush timber, but thanks to climate change and deforestation , those building methods are no longer feasible. And sheet metal is simply too expensive for most rural families. So the Nubian Vault Association is bringing back an ages-old sustainable building material: mud bricks . Back in 2000, Burkina Faso farmer Seri Youlou and Frenchman Thomas Granier started the association, which is also known by its French name Association La Voûte Nubienne (AVN). They resurrected what they call the Nubian Vault technique, or the process of constructing sturdy vaulted roofs with mud bricks similar to processes employed centuries ago in ancient Egypt. The brings are simply formed with earth and water and then dried in the sun. Houses with these vaulted roofs last for at least 50 years, or even more if they are well maintained. They’re also cheaper than tin or timber, and stay warm in cold weather and cool in warm weather. Related: Bioclimatic Preschool Built with Rammed Earth and Mud Bricks Keeps Cool in the Moroccan Heat The association also works for economic growth by training local apprentices and supporting village masons in multiple West African countries. They aim for a self-sustaining Nubian Vault market, and according to Curbed, their A Roof, A Skill, A Market program has made a $22 million economic impact. They’ve trained over 380 masons, with hundreds more learning as apprentices. The group has now helped homeowners build over 1,800 homes across Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, and Senegal. A Nubian Vault home costs around $1,000, and families can lower costs by making their own mud bricks. Not only has the technique helped put a roof over families’ heads and driven economic development, it’s benefited the environment as well. According to AVN , since September 2015 Nubian Vault homes have saved around 55,000 tons of carbon dioxide from going into the atmosphere. + The Nubian Vault Association Via Curbed Images via The Nubian Vault Facebook

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Rammed earth school in Vietnam blooms like a colorful jungle flower

March 20, 2017 by  
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The far reaches of northern Vietnam are beautiful but heartbreakingly poor. Children of the Hmong ethnic minority who live in the villages routinely suffer from lack of access to healthcare and education. Vietnamese architecture firm 1+1> 2 has provided a ray of hope for those in Lung Luong village in the remote Thai Nguyen Province with the construction of a beautiful new school made from local materials including rammed earth and bamboo. The school’s beautiful swooping and colorful form is an inspiration to the village and serves as a welcoming haven protected from the harsh elements. The Lung Luong elementary school is sited on a mountain peak and constructed to replace a poorly insulated structure that was piercingly cold in days of heavy rain and draught. Under the leadership of architect Hoang Thuc Hao, the villagers excavated part of the peak to create an even foundation. The excavated soil was recycled into rammed earth bricks used to build the school’s structure. The soil bricks’ thermal properties help maintain a temperate indoor climate year round. Locally sourced timber and bamboo were also used in construction and existing trees were protected during the building process. The elementary school is spread out across the mountaintop, covering an area of over 1,400 square meters. The orientation and placement of the buildings and the swooping colorful bamboo canopy above optimize natural lighting, ventilation, and sound insulation. The school comprises classrooms, playgrounds, gardens, multipurpose rooms, a medical room, library, kitchen, toilets, and dormitory. Related: Rammed earth house blends traditional materials with modern techniques in Vietnam’s last frontier “The goal of this project is to create a school with conveniences striving against the harsh nature,” write the architects. “The classrooms are compatible with the mountain, spaces between them are slots which makes everything appears like an architectural picture pasted on the terrain. The corridor connects all functional areas. The foundation of the buildings respects the natural terrain which means that they wind up and down as the mountain path.” + 1+1> 2 Via ArchDaily Images © Son Vu

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Rammed earth school in Vietnam blooms like a colorful jungle flower

Breezy addition keeps cool in Melbournes summers with smart passive design

March 16, 2017 by  
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Sustainability and a tight budget were the driving features for this bright and airy lean-to extension to a detached 1960s home. Designed by Warc Studio , the timber-and-glass addition houses a spacious open-plan living area, dining space, and kitchen that connect to a rear garden. To meet sustainability requirements, the architects used locally and sustainably sourced timber, stressed resource efficiency , and promoted natural cooling with operable window openings and solar shading fins. Located in the Melbourne suburb of Oakleigh, Australia, the new addition was inspired by the mono-pitched lean-to structures prevalent to the homes in the area. The architects put a modern twist on the seemingly ubiquitous building structure by combining two gabled roofs with differing gradients. “The design program was driven by resource efficiency which was essential to delivering both economic and sustainable objectives,” wrote the architects. “The resulting roof form provides a compact building envelope: the surface area of the additions are around 12% less than if a flat roof / flat ceiling solution had been employed with the same built volume. This in turn translates to increased efficiency of the thermal envelope and reduced capital material consumption.” Related: Old bungalow transformed into a light-filled dwelling with recycled brick Large windows open the new addition up to views and natural light , reducing reliance on artificial lighting. To mitigate solar heat gain, the architects strategically placed window openings and an automated operable roof window for cross-ventilation . Laminated timber fins jut out from the glass panes to provide shade. The roof is lined with white steel sheet lining to minimize solar heat gain. + Warc Studio Via ArchDaily Images © Aaron Pocock

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