Set sail on these sustainable homes made from old cargo ships

July 27, 2018 by  
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Dutch firm  Studio Komma is working on a ground-breaking circular housing concept that would transform cargo ships into luxury homes. The Marine-doc Estate is an ambitious project that will develop various sustainable communities featuring multiple retired merchant ships converted into luxury eco-homes with expansive green roofs and plenty of outdoor space. The initial phase of the Marine-doc Estate project is kicking off with two communities planned for the Netherlands, with the potential of building more communities internationally. Depending on the building location, each estate would have up to 14 maritime homes spread out over natural landscape with open water connections. Related: Last surviving Ellis Island ferry transformed into a floating home The first step involves lifting the former cargo ships out of their boat yards by crane to be placed into their new locations on land. The estates themselves will be selected according to their landscapes. The eco-communities will be arranged on lush natural terrains in the vicinity of open water in order to strike a balance between providing privacy to the residents and fostering a strong sense of community. Once in place, the original metal structures will then be built out into proper living spaces with sustainability at the forefront of the design. Since the ships vary in shape and size, each home will have a unique aesthetic, but the entire renovation process will focus on retaining the ships’ nautical origins. According to the architects, original features such as the stern, wheelhouse and foredeck will be enhanced with “sleek geometric shapes” on the exterior. Measuring up to 200 feet in length, the elongated volume of the interior will be broken up with flexible partitions that will enable future residents to personalize the layout. To embed the new homes into their landscapes, the firm included a large rooftop garden terrace  on each home that will provide stellar 360° views of the estate grounds. The homes will also have outdoor decks to further connect the new homes with their surroundings. + Studio Komma Via Archdaily Images via Studio Komma / Buro Poelman Reesink

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Set sail on these sustainable homes made from old cargo ships

Solar-powered glass PurePod cabins provide the ultimate connection with nature

July 26, 2018 by  
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For those looking to commune with nature, these sustainable all-glass cabins located in idyllic landscapes around New Zealand are just for you. Powered by solar energy, PurePods are tiny transparent capsules in stunningly beautiful settings far, far away from any type of human activity. This remove from civilization allows guests to sit back, relax, and completely immerse themselves in nature. There are six PurePod locations around New Zealand, all in secluded landscapes outside of Christchurch. The locations are extremely off-grid and guests must hike for 10-15 minutes through natural terrain to reach their destination, enjoying a leisurely walk through lush forest and rolling hills. Related: Sweden is putting stressed-out people in tiny glass ‘chillout cabins’ The cabins are approximately 200 square feet and have large sliding doors that lead out to a wooden deck. However, their transparent facades give off the feeling of camping in the open air. From sunrise to sunset, cabin guests can enjoy 360-degree views of New Zealand’s incredible landscape, and they can drift off to sleep while enjoying stunning views of the Milky Way at night. The cabins operate completely off-grid and are built to minimize impact on the environment. The electricity comes from  solar panels , which generate enough to run the LED lighting , refrigerator and the water system. Bio-fuel heaters are used to keep the cabins warm and toasty even on chilly nights. For extra-sunny days, window blinds and ceiling shades help provide a respite from the heat. As the cabins are designed for disconnecting , they have no internet, TV or phone service, but guests will be able to enjoy what the company calls “sustainable luxury.” Each cabin has a comfortable queen-sized bed with ultra-soft linens, a small kitchen and a glass-enclosed shower with hot water. Guests can cook their own meals on a cooking hob and outdoor grill or take advantage of the cabins’ meal delivery system, which can be set up at the time of reservation. + PurePods Via Dwell Images via PurePods

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Solar-powered glass PurePod cabins provide the ultimate connection with nature

These colorful hexagonal wall tiles are made from sound-absorbing "wood wool"

April 29, 2018 by  
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These colorful hexagonal wall tiles by Form Us With Love strike a brilliant balance between sustainable materials, economy and functionality. The modular tiles are available in a variety of different colors and can be assembled in various patterns to create a gorgeous mural on your wall. The tiles are made from wood fibers mixed with cement and water, and they have sound-absorbing properties that can actually improve the acoustics of a room. Form Us With Love collaborates with different manufacturing companies to create everyday objects, furniture, and lighting products that challenge conventional design initiatives. For the production of these hexagons, they work with the only manufacturer of wood wool in Sweden – a 20-man traditional family business called Traullit . The tiles are made from wood slivers which are known primarily as excelsior or wood wool in North America. The material is mainly used for packaging, cushioning, insulation, and even stuffing teddy bears. The process of making wood wool cement is very simple: wood slivers are cut from local tree logs and then get mixed with some water and cement, which acts as a binder and provides strength. The mixture is then put into a mold and left to dry into shape. The result is a material that is environmentally friendly, moisture and sound absorbent, and fire and water resistant. + Form Us With Love

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These colorful hexagonal wall tiles are made from sound-absorbing "wood wool"

11 inspiring designs we loved at Milan Design Week 2018

April 26, 2018 by  
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Designers awed and inspired attendees at this year’s Milan Design Week with fresh takes on contemporary design. From unexpected uses for wood and recycled materials to advanced lighting technology , we spotted countless incredible projects throughout the event — read on for 11 of our favorite designs from Milan Design Week 2018. Sila lamp by Zsuzsanna Horvath Helsinki-based Hungarian architect Zsuzsanna Horvath developed the Sila lamp – an elegant lamp that emerges from a two-dimensional plane of laser-cut birch plywood. The lamp’s structure is made with thin, delicate slivers of plywood connected by a flexible OLED panel. With its soft light and delicate shape, this lamp is a perfect addition for quiet and cozy interiors. Bread chair by Mika Tsutai This Bread Chair by Japanese designer Mika Tsutai is definitely an object of good taste… and good humor. Inspired by the unpredictable shape of bread, Tsutai kneaded dough — real dough, made from flour — shaped it into a chair, and baked it. The baked piece was scanned, and a digital model was created. The designer used this model to carve the same shape from wood. The unique shape reflects the random swelling of bread after baking. Macaron seat by Kalo Kalo created the Macaron Seat by using locally-recycled bits of rubber. Each seat is crafted by pressing a mold onto a wooden frame. This seat catches the eye using juxtapositions: smooth wooden legs contrast with a textured seat and a shining brass element along the edges of the dark rubber. Halo lamp by Mandalaki Designed by the Milan-based Mandalaki office, the Halo lamp is a bold combination of art and technology. Unlike most lamps, Halo does not provide neutral white illumination. Instead, it dyes space with vivid, unexpected colors. The vivid colors are produced by analog optical decomposition instead of an RGB LED. Mandalaki developed a dichroic filter to divide the pure luminous flux, or the measure of perceived light, into a vast spectrum of colors. Sundial clock by YOY You don’t need sunlight to use this Sundial wall clock by Tokyo-based design studio YOY. Although at first sight it seems to be a real sundial, it is only an illusion. Part of the “Fictionality” collection, this clock has a regular bar as the minute hand and a “shadow” as the hour hand, which is imprinted on the clock’s face. Surprisingly, the entire clock rotates to show the correct time. Plug It by Studio Oberhauser Instead of discarding thousands of small wood scraps from the industrial production of furniture, Studio Oberhauser created Plug It to exemplify the beauty of recycling. The studio suggests that stacking the comb-shaped wood chips to craft pieces of furniture can be a fun and functional game for everyone. Sea of Plastic by EcoBirdy EcoBirdy’s main goal is to reduce the sea of plastic . To do this, the company crafted children’s furniture entirely from recycled plastic. Plus, each item can be easily recycled again. The Antwerp-based designers have also involved children in this socially- and environmentally-responsible act by designing a storybook and a school program that teaches children about sustainable living. D.01 bench by Davide Montanaro Wood appears to be a stiff and rigid material, but it can be made to bend with just the right touch. Dukta is a unique incision process that can make wood into a flexible, manageable material. Davide Montanaro used this process to design the plywood D.01 bench and ensured the piece had character with its smooth shape and distinct pattern. S-Lab clock by 4R 4R made the S-Lab clock using recycled plastic. The entire production process, from collection to melting and molding was completed in-house. The designers were able to control the color, pattern and texture of the clock. With this project, the team hopes to continue working and exploring with plastic in their designs. Woodencap by Rootpecker Rootpecker has made design history by creating the first wooden cap in the world. The hat is handmade in Germany and features a smooth, flexible wood surface and intricate stitching. The company aims to source only eco-friendly materials for their unique products. Paper and Light by Denis Guidone and Tomoko Fuse Designer Denis Guidone and origami artist Tomoko Fuse created Paper and Light to blend classic and contemporary techniques. This project includes a series of lamps made from folded washi, a traditional Japanese paper. The folded light installments illuminate the area and create playful shadows. + Milan Design Week Images via Maria Novozhilova for Inhabitat

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11 inspiring designs we loved at Milan Design Week 2018

Architects convert old Dutch church into a gorgeous library

April 17, 2018 by  
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Dutch firm Molenaar & Bol & van Dillen Architects breathed new life into a 19th-century church by turning the space into a vibrant library and community center. The renovation focused on retaining the original layout of the church, which dates back to 1884. The result is a beautiful, wide-open interior converted into a breathtaking library with sliding bookshelves. The multi-functional space also includes exhibition halls, meeting spaces, and a restaurant. The architects kept the church’s original structural layout intact and lined the massive interior with thousands of books. The church’s original windows work in tandem with the added lighting to create a bright, well-lit space. Bookworms can easily access the library’s inventory, which is kept on sliding bookshelves . The shelves, installed on a rail system, can be moved when more space is needed for large event or to create private areas for smaller conferences or meetings. Related: Gorgeous 15th-Century Church Renovated as a Modern Bookstore in The Netherlands To add more functional space to the interior, the architects created an impressive 5,380 square-foot mezzanine level lined with several study areas and meeting rooms. This curvaceous feature continues through to church ‘s exterior, where it forms the roof of four pavilions connected to the facade. A restaurant was also installed in the garden pavilion on the south side of the building. + Molenaar & Bol & Van Dillen Architects Via Archdaily Photography by Stijn Poelstra

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This "boat" on wheels turns city dwellers into urban adventurers

April 3, 2018 by  
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Urban adventurers, prepare to set sail: A temporary installation in Utrecht, the Netherlands is transforming its site into an unknown land full of discoveries. When city dwellers engage with the project, they become “urbanauts,” contemporary adventurers that sail through the public space. Rome-based design collective  orizzontale  conceived the project as an LED-lit,  modular wooden structure that reimagines the concept of a boat, resulting in a flexible urban space that merges art, design and technology. The Urbanauts project forms part of RAUM, a workshop in Utrecht that hosts the Berlijnplein, a large public exhibition space . Together with local creators, international creators, and the public, RAUM will build a program of festivals, installations, events, and workshops in 2017 and 2018. Related: Dark highway underpass transformed into a brilliant tunnel of light The “urbanauts’ headquarters” includes different urban parcels that can be expanded and personalized. Elevated platforms and a small tower provide vantage points from which to observe the surrounding area. Thanks to the iron cage on top, which holds a red LED sign, the tower also works as an urban landmark. + orizzontale

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How millennials are changing home design

March 16, 2018 by  
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You won’t be hard-pressed to find an article about the next industry Millennials are killing. As more of them become homeowners, it’s no surprise that their tastes are starting to impact home design as well. As a group, Millennials have huge buying power, and the design world is taking notice of their preferences. Take a look at several home design trends that appeal to this generation, including green-focused fashions, small-space living, and dual-purpose furniture trends. 1. Urban and Size-Conscious It’s true; Millennials haven’t been queuing up to buy large suburban houses. They are more concerned with reasonable energy use, efficiency and of course, saving on the dollars. The importance of being within close proximity to necessary social and professional networks and city resources means this generation is generally found in urban areas , and naturally, this goes hand in hand with smaller properties, too. However, just because they choose to live in smaller quarters, doesn’t mean they’ll be cramped. 2. Open Plan Floor plans are more open and efficient than ever before. Simply put: Millennials just don’t have time for hallways! A big kitchen still remains a prerequisite, but it should flow into the other rooms for easy entertaining. For this reason, almost half of Millennials are keen on luxury kitchens with a preference for lounge furniture that serves more than one purpose. Who says a couch can’t have built-in storage or an end table can’t double as a coffee table during parties? 3. Sleek and Simple Baby boomers preferred rustic décor and plenty of accessories. Luckily for us, Millennials are keen on functionality and minimalistic design to keep a clutter -free home. That’s not to say that rustic and natural materials aren’t found in their homes, they are just limited in number. Part of this is due to the smaller spaces they are occupying , but it’s also because the increased use of technology means many accessories that were once physically found in the home can now be condensed into the palms of their hands. 4. Natural Materials and Features There is a hangover of the baby boomer rustic interior, but the youngest generation of homeowners are switching it up. We’re seeing more natural tones in today’s millennial homes such as reclaimed wood, neutral palates and barn doors. Scandinavian design is contributing to the pro-wood feel, but so is the tendency to bring the outdoors inside. 5. Tiles are Back One of the biggest changes identified as Millennial interior décor is a preference for tiles. Subway tiles are dominating the market ; whether they’re used as backsplashes or flooring, it’s the ultimate trend. Since Millennials have now occupied smaller homes , the financially savvy are more likely to have more room in the budget for the designs they want. That means more money is going into kitchen design and spa-like bathrooms. Tiles on floors will tend to be in natural stones or wood effect patterns, while low maintenance backsplashes dominate the kitchen. 6. Statement Appliances Diner-type restaurants with open plan kitchens and cookery shows may have had an impact here. This generation loves fancy kitchen appliances and probably also benefits from saving the cents with home-cooked meals instead of splashing out on dinner. 7. Green Building Materials Millennials are choosing eco-friendly materials such as non-toxic paint, Energy Star appliances and LEED-compliant light fixtures in and around the home. The EPA recently estimated that homeowners save up to $501 every year with eco-friendly windows, for example, so the trend is fitting in well with this cost-conscious generation. Related: These solar-powered tiny homes are designed just for millennials 8. Low Maintenance Since when could this ever be a bad thing? This generation is more and more conscious of the time, energy and expense that goes into the upkeep of living spaces. This means that Millennials are championing the move to high design at low cost which doesn’t require regular maintenance. 9. Smart Technology It’s reported that Millennials today are more inclined to boast about a home with integrated smart-technology than they are about a brand new kitchen. It’s clear that Wi-Fi-connected technology throughout homes is key for more reasons than one. Lighting, heating, smoke detectors, TVs and speakers can all be monitored from phones or tablets. This removes safety hazards as well as inconveniences such as needing to walk into a room to turn on the music. They also are demanding “technology friendly” spaces which mean lots of outlets and charging stations. 10. Sustainability This generation is the most sustainability-focused generation ever. They’re looking for renewable energy sources within apartment blocks, sharing resources, supporting surrounding independent businesses and using green materials. Almost half of Millennials are interested in solar panels for their homes, and show a keen interest in growing their own food. Gardening is good for the environment and works well with recent healthy living trends. Expect to see more small gardens, window-box gardens, or community gardens where this generation takes up residence. Millennials currently account for 83.1 million people in the United States alone. Their influence on demand and popular trends knows no bounds. The home design of today and tomorrow is all about flexibility, sustainability, minimalism and natural effect interiors – easy to live in, yet stylish and unobtrusive. Most importantly, awareness of environmental challenges we face globally is translating into eco-friendly lifestyles. It’s a change worth celebrating.

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Minimalist cabin in the Chilean mountains lets climbers escape the daily grind

March 2, 2018 by  
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Chilean architect Lorena Troncoso-Valencia designed a serene wooden refuge deep in the Chilean mountains. The architect – who specializes in sustainable habitats – created the wooden PV Cabin as a refuge for the many mountain climbers that come to explore the rugged terrain of Las Trancas, Pinto. Built on wooden piles, the 260-square foot cabin is raised almost five feet above the natural terrain to reduce its environmental impact. The design of the beautiful wooden cabin is geared towards the many active travelers that visit the region, known for its variety of extreme sports. Hikers, skiers, and mountain climbers often spend days or weeks exploring the adjacent mountain range. Related: Hike to This Beautiful Rustic Cabin and Take Refuge Deep in the Norwegian Mountains The 260-square foot structure is located on a small lot accessed by a winding road that juts through a deep forestscape. The rugged terrain limited the structure’s potential surface area , so the architect took the design vertical. The interior space was essentially doubled by expanding the space to double height, creating a wooden homage to the natural rock walls found out in the surrounding area. A glazed front wall floods the interior with optimal natural light and provides stunning views of the surroundings. On the inside, the living area, kitchen, bathroom and a small workspace are located on the first floor, with a “floating” sleeping loft on the second floor, reachable by ladder. Designed to be used as a temporary refuge by itinerant visitors exploring the area, the space is minimal but comfortable. Although the cabin design is a beautiful structure, the materials used in the cabin were also chosen for their resilience . A strong wooden shell that would withstand the harsh elements was essential, as was the asymmetrical roof, which allows for snow drainage. + Lorena Troncoso-Valencia Via Archdaily Photography by Cristóbal Caro / Lorena Troncoso-Valencia

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Synthetic Pollenizer uses 3D-printed robotic flowers to help save bees

March 2, 2018 by  
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Over the last 20 years we’ve seen a dramatic decline in bee populations as a result of harmful pesticides and other environmental challenges . So, Brisbane’s Michael Candy proposed a unique solution. The artist’s Synthetic Pollenizer project combines artificial pollination with 3D printing to provide a safe space for bees to continue their important work as pollinators, without some of the inherent risks. The Synthetic Pollenizer is a conceptual project that uses a system of robotic flowers safe for bees to pollinate compared to real plants (potentially contaminated with pesticides). The robotic petals can stand alongside real plants and feature pollen, nectar and a synthetic stamen. “It has taken several years to successfully coax bees into landing on the synthetic pollenisers,” said Candy. “The color and form of the unit are important for attraction as bees have a variety of ways to identify flowers.” Related: Over 700 North American bee species are heading towards extinction The flowers are connected to a network for motor and tubes which push a man-made nectar solution to the petal surface. A pollen trap fits over the hive entrance and collects leftover pollen pellets from the bees’ hind legs which Candy then feeds into the synthetic stamen. Bees pick up the pollen the same way they do from a real flower. “Perhaps in a future where designer crops are no longer able to produce pollen yet still receive it, Candy said, “then the Synthetic Pollenizer could rehabilitate the reproductive cycle of these genetically modified crops”. + Michael Candy Via Dezeen

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Synthetic Pollenizer uses 3D-printed robotic flowers to help save bees

Green walls are great, but they need to work efficiently

March 1, 2018 by  
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You may have heard about green walls or even seen a few. Also called living walls , live walls, eco-walls and vertical gardens , these structures are essentially walls covered in vertically grown plants, and they can appear either inside or outside. The idea has been around for a while, and it’s really caught on lately due to their environmental and health benefits, as well as appealing aesthetics. But not all green walls are made equal. Read on to learn how a green wall should be designed in order to be useful and friendly to the environment. How Do They Work? There are several types of green walls. Some might consider regular walls covered in ivy as a green wall, while others would limit the definition to walls specifically designed to hold vegetation. The latter type can be constructed in various ways . They might consist of panels with pre-planted vegetation, or replaceable trays that fit into slots in the wall, enabling easy removal if necessary. Vertical gardens also vary in terms of how they function. The simpler models require hand watering, while others have self-watering pipe systems. Many green walls rely on hydroponic systems that use drip irrigation. Based on the desired aesthetics and effects, you might choose different types of plants. You can include many varieties of plants, including groundcover, ferns, shrubs, flowers and more. Benefits Green walls have become popular in urban areas where people want to make their space greener but don’t have a lot of room to do so. Vertical gardens ensure the benefits of green space without taking up too much space. They also improve air quality, which is advantageous for people as well as animals and the overall environment. Plants remove carbon dioxide from the air and produce oxygen. They also filter out various contaminants, creating cleaner air, and can remove up 87 percent of airborne toxins inside a home within just 24 hours. This helps people breathe easier, especially indoors where air quality is notoriously bad. Ecowalls can reduce the urban heat-island effect and improve thermal insulation, reducing a building’s energy costs. They can also absorb noise and provide mental health benefits. Research has shown that having plants around can reduce stress and increase productivity by up to 15 percent. Challenges Critics have identified several potential issues with green walls. If the designer doesn’t adequately plan for their project, they say, the costs might outweigh the benefits. Maintaining a green wall requires more work and resources than a regular wall, especially if it doesn’t have a self-watering system. You’ll have to manually water the plants, and even with a self-watering system, the plants will need care at some point. Green walls typically require large amounts of water, which can be unsustainable if supplies are low and the wall isn’t equipped with water recycling equipment. Operating a living wall also requires energy. Producing this energy can have a negative impact on the environment if derived from fossil fuels. How to Make a Green Wall More Efficient A green wall’s efficacy depends on how it’s constructed, operated and maintained. Drip irrigation systems appear in walls that use panels and hydroponic systems, while walls with replaceable trays use tank systems. Drip irrigation tubing is typically about 85 percent more efficient than tank systems. They connect to the building’s plumbing system, while tray systems require manual watering. Drip irrigation systems can also automatically recycle water. You could use recycled water in a tank system from an air conditioning system or another source, but you’d have to do so manually. Because tray systems require more water and use soil, they can attract bugs and form mold, fungus and even introduce pathogens. Due to this possibility, they don’t comply with strict health, safety and hygiene codes in places such as healthcare facilities. These buildings would need to use a hydroponic system. For these reasons, the soil in tray systems must be replaced about every month, which can be costly. Panel systems don’t require this and therefore don’t need as much maintenance. Another factor that can impact a green wall’s efficiency is the type of vegetation with which it is populated. Drought-resistant and local plants need less water than other types of vegetation, so they’re more water-efficient. Plants also, of course, require sunlight. Placing a living wall in an area with a lot of natural light will reduce the amount of artificial light needed and, therefore, the amount of energy it requires. The Importance of Truly Green Green Walls For a green wall to be truly beneficial, you need to use an efficient watering system, put it in the proper place (with ample natural light), and plant vegetation that’s easy to maintain and requires minimal irrigation. Anyone interested to install a green wall, as well as the architects and engineers in charge of designing them, ought to consider the efficiency of the system in addition to their benefits and aesthetics. Photos via Depositphotos , Scott Webb on Unsplash , Mike.dixon.design  via Wikimedia Commons , Kaldari via Wikimedia Commons , AlejandroOrmad via Wikimedia Commons , and Terry Robinson via Wikimedia Commons

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