Restored Georgian townhouse has rainwater-fed green roof

January 23, 2020 by  
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The Sun Rain Room is an extension and restoration of a two-story Grade-II listed townhouse designed and constructed by Tonkin Liu. Partnering with local craftspeople to complete the project, the London-based architecture firm was able to create an extension of the existing structure through a landscape that feeds off of the sun and rain . The house, which was built as a home and studio for the owner, features a green roof , garden room and reflecting pool that are all designed to uniquely celebrate nature. The garden room on the ground floor is encased in a wall of curved glass that works as both a living space for occupants and as a meeting area for the owner’s professional studio. The covered outdoor area connected to the garden room contains a studio workshop, kitchen, potting shed, recycling bay and a store. Another wall of sliding mirrors conceals the planter for a collection of small trees that grow through the green roof overhead. The neighboring open patio covers a basement refurbished with a new bedroom, two bathrooms and a utility area. The courtyard garden’s perimeter walls support a roof made of plywood cut to allow the most possible light into the site. Between the patio (which frames the terrace) and the house sits an etched glass staircase to bridge the two spaces. The true meaning of “Sun Rain Room” comes to play with the 110-millimeter structural shell roof that is perforated with coffered skylights made to mimic raindrops that land onto the pool . This creates an ethereal, organic environment inside the home. To make the townhouse more sustainable, heat loss from the ground floor is decreased through double-glazed, double-laminated glass with low-e coatings. Waterproof concrete was used in the construction of the basement, which removed the need for a backup waterproofing system. What’s more, the light-well from the plywood roof around the courtyard has improved the affecting passive ventilation strategy for the home. The green roof not only contributes to sustainable drainage, but is also planted with local trees and plants that suit the natural habitat to improve the site’s biodiversity . The reflecting pool is filled naturally with harvested rainwater, also used to irrigate the green roof. + Tonkin Liu Images via Alex Peacock, Greg Storrar, Tonkin Liu, and Alexander James Photography

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Restored Georgian townhouse has rainwater-fed green roof

Henning Larsen unveils plans for Copenhagens first all-timber community

January 23, 2020 by  
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A sustainable, nature-filled neighborhood unlike any other in Denmark could soon take root just beyond Copenhagen’s city center. Scandinavian architecture firm Henning Larsen has collaborated with biologists and environmental engineers from MOE to design the Fælledby community, a proposal for Copenhagen’s first all-timber neighborhood. Proposed for a former dumping ground site, the development promotes sustainable living, a reduced carbon footprint and a harmonious relationship with nature. Designed to accommodate 7,000 residents on an 18.1-hectare project site, the Fælledby community features a hybrid architectural design that merges traditional Danish urban design with rural typologies and includes a mix of housing types. The development, which would be about the size of Billund, would be built in phases and comprise three radial village-like “cores” that accommodate about 2,300 people each. These cores are connected via a series of native-planted green corridors, thereby maximizing access to nature and ensuring free movement for local wildlife . For any given residence, nature will be less than a 2-minute walk away. Related: Henning Larsen completes award-winning Wave apartments in Denmark The green corridors will be part of the undeveloped habitat for local flora and fauna, which make up 40% of the development. Nature will also be integrated into the built environment with nests for songbirds and bats built into the walls of the houses. A pond that occupies the center of each of the three Fælledby “villages” will offer a habitat for frogs and salamanders, while community gardens would attract other local species and encourage neighborly relations. “Deciding to build the natural landscape around Fælledby comes with a commitment to balance people with nature,” said Signe Kongebro, partner at Henning Larsen. “Specifically, this means that our new district will be Copenhagen’s first built fully in wood and incorporating natural habitats that encourage richer growth for plants and animals. With the rural village as an archetype, we’re creating a city where biodiversity and active recreation define a sustainable pact between people and nature.” + Henning Larsen Images via Henning Larsen

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Henning Larsen unveils plans for Copenhagens first all-timber community

A 1980s Madrid home gets a modern and energy-efficient facelift

January 3, 2020 by  
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In Madrid’s affluent residential district of La Moraleja, local architectural practice CSO Arquitectura has given a dated 1980s home a modern makeover with a focus on energy efficiency. Dubbed the Levitt House, the two-story home features a complete retrofit of the interiors as well as an entirely new energy-saving rear facade. To preserve continuity between the old home’s character and the new design, the architects used the building’s existing material palette — concrete tiles, timber and face brick — while bringing in a minimalist aesthetic. The renovation of the Levitt House also included an expansion to bring the total area to 4,600 square feet. To expand the home, the architects demolished the rear facade as well as a quarter of the deck and the first floor slab. The building footprint was extended toward the interior garden and the pool; the reworked rear facade embraces the backyard with full-height glazing, covered outdoor terraces and a series of folding timber shutters. Related: A 17th-century Spanish hospital gets transformed into a cozy library “Regarding the sustainability criteria, the new facade of the expansion is built with energy savings in mind,” noted the architects, who also strengthened the building’s insulation and added solar water heaters to the roof. “The windows capture the warmth during the winter, but also allow cross ventilation during the summer. To achieve a complete solar control, wooden shutters have been installed to guarantee privacy and safety for the inhabitants. Lastly, both the structure and this facade — and the carpentry — have been built with wood, a sustainable material.” Daylight floods the interiors, which feel bright and spacious thanks to tall ceilings, white walls and pale-toned woods that are complemented by bright pops of color from the client’s art collection and contemporary furnishings. At the center of the building is a minimalist staircase built with floating treads to maintain sight lines throughout the home. + CSO Arquitectura Photography by David Frutos via CSO Arquitectura

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A 1980s Madrid home gets a modern and energy-efficient facelift

A midcentury barn is thoughtfully reclaimed for a family retreat in California

January 2, 2020 by  
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In California wine country, north of San Francisco, Faulkner Architects repurposed a 1950s tack barn as part of a Glen Ellen retreat for a family of four. In addition to salvaging original construction materials and retaining the shape and atmosphere of the agricultural building, the architects minimized the accessory dwelling’s energy footprint with the optimization of cross ventilation as well as with the installation of a new radiant concrete slab for heating, which is complemented with a 10,000 BTU propane-fired boiler. Inspired by Glen Ellen’s strong agricultural roots and beautiful rural views, the clients sought a weekend retreat from the city that would pay homage to the landscape’s history. The family’s multi-acre property includes a main residence, a lawn, a pool, a car shed and the repurposed barn that sits close to the main road. The original tack barn had comprised a single interior tool and workspace with a crushed gravel floor in addition to an upper-level sleeping attic and a lean-to shed roof for horses. Related: Weathering steel wraps around a solar-powered California home In repurposing the barn into a habitable space, the architects retained the original wood frame structure and removed the attic to maximize usable interior space while staying within the 850-square-foot permitted size for accessory dwellings. The minimalist interior includes an open-plan kitchen, living room and dining area that opens up to a new terrace on the west side. Meanwhile, the existing stable was turned into an unconditioned porch to house four beds, bump up the usable area to 1,530 square feet and take advantage of prevailing southwest winds . Along with the preserved Douglas fir elements of the barn, an insulated, locally reclaimed redwood rain screen was added to the exterior. “The reuse of an old barn to house people on weekend getaways from urban life presents a conflict in identity for the built form,” the architects noted. “Uses change over time; the intention here was to maintain and use the embodied energy of the familiar barn in the neighborhood while allowing the signs of human inhabitation to be subtle, but evident.” + Faulkner Architects Photography by Joe Fletcher Photography via Faulkner Architects

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A midcentury barn is thoughtfully reclaimed for a family retreat in California

Historic schoolhouse is reborn into a contemporary hotel in the Columbia River Gorge

December 4, 2019 by  
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Historic preservation meets modern hospitality design in The Society Hotel in the Columbia River Gorge, a new 20,000-square-foot lodging and recreation destination in Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Following in the footsteps of the first Society Hotel, the boutique hotel is an adaptive reuse project with a minimalist aesthetic and one-of-a-kind amenities. Portland-based architectural firm Waechter Architecture led the design of the hotel, which includes a retrofitted former schoolhouse, 20 individual hotel cabins , a covered pathway, a spa and bathhouse building and a subterranean sanctuary. Set near the riverfront, The Society Hotel Bingen is named after the adaptive reuse of the 80-year-old Bingen Schoolhouse, which anchors the 2.57-acre hotel campus. The renovated schoolhouse building is now home to 10 private, standard rooms and two 24-bed hostels as well as a library in the reception area, lockers in the hallway and a refurbished gym for guests. Portland-based design firm BLOSSOM led the interior and landscape design. Related: These adaptive reuse hotel suites in Amsterdam are built inside old bridge houses On the school’s former playfields, the architects inserted 20 individual cabins that form a ring. At the center of the ring is a new spa and bathhouse building with a shared saltwater soaking pool, sauna , hot tub, cold plunge pool and a cafe. On the corner of the property, the architects have placed the Sanctuary, a unique, subterranean building specially built for events and retreats. “One of our primary goals was to design a hotel that not only felt connected to the Gorge but amplified people’s experience of it,” Ben Waechter, firm principal, said. “It’s exciting to stand within the hotel and cabins today and feel the complementary dialogue between the two.” Strategically framed views emphasize that connection to the Gorge as does the material palette, which includes premature aged cedar cladding on the exterior and 8-inch tongue and groove knotty pine for the cabin interior headboard walls. + Waechter Architecture Photography by Lara Swimmer via Waechter Architecture

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A rundown 1960s structure is converted into a stunning home that operates almost entirely off the grid

November 22, 2019 by  
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Los Angeles-based AUX Architecture has unveiled an amazing transformation of a 1960s home in Calabasas, California. Once a tract home, the Saddle Peak Residence is now a contemporary, light-filled space that has been equipped with several energy-efficient features, such as solar power , that allow the home to largely function off the grid. Located on a one-acre property, the former home sat on a protected area of the Santa Monica Mountains. Local restrictions prohibit new construction, so the architectural firm was forced to work within the parameters of the existing house. Although modernizing the older home was challenging, the renovation process resulted in reduced construction costs, less landfill waste and a minimized carbon footprint. Related: Anderson Architecture revamps a dim heritage home into a modern sun-soaked abode Using the surrounding natural landscape as a guide, the home was clad in a sleek combination of dark standing seam metal siding and grain cedar panels . As a central theme of the design, the architects wanted to create a seamless connection between the interior and the exterior. Accordingly, they used cedar siding inside as well to bring a little warmth to the interior design. Large expanses of glass also create unobstructed views of the surrounding countryside. In addition to serving as a stunning living space for the owners, the home boasts several energy-efficient features. Because of frequent power outages in the area, it was important to provide the home with an off-grid system. Solar panels generate enough energy to power the home throughout the year. A hydronic heat-pump system utilizes water heated by the sun to heat the home in the winter months as well as to heat water for the adjacent swimming pool. + AUX Architecture Via Dwell Photography by Grant Mudford via AUX Architecture

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A rundown 1960s structure is converted into a stunning home that operates almost entirely off the grid

LEED Gold-seeking wildlife center emphasizes energy conservation in Quebec

October 1, 2019 by  
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The Canadian city of Laval in southwestern Quebec has recently gained a new wildlife interpretation center with an impressive, energy-efficient design. It’s the first of its kind in the city and is targeting LEED NC v3 Gold certification . Designed by Montreal-based architecture firm Cardin Julien , the $11.5 million project provides a new community and educational resource for visitors to Parc de la Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, an urban wildlife sanctuary that spans 26 hectares rich with recreational opportunities including kayaking, canoeing and island hiking. Completed October 2018, the Parc de la Rivière-des-Mille-Îles exploration center features a main building with three floors. The ground floor houses a large multipurpose hall with a cafe and reception area framing views of the river through full-height glazing as well as museum programming and a monitoring room for conferences and events. The equipment rental space, locker room, ecology laboratory, researchers’ offices and day camp facilities are placed on the lower “river” level. The uppermost floor comprises an employee relaxation area and a flexible multipurpose room that can be partitioned into three sections. Related: Minimalist TRIPTYCH house pulls the Quebec outdoors in “In order for the project to integrate seamlessly into its environment, the use of wood was recommended for the building’s exterior,” reads the press release. “This material, which can also be found inside the building, fosters a warm environment and allows a connection between visitors and the nature around them. In addition, the structure was built in such a way that it preserves the mature trees growing onsite.” The project also includes a new parking pad, bike path, pedestrian walkways and landscaping as well as a new workshop and equipment distribution kiosk housed in a renovated stable. The main building is topped with a green roof as part of the project’s water conservation strategy that includes rainwater recycling. A high-performance building envelope and strategically placed windows and roof overhangs help contribute to energy savings and visitor comfort. + Cardin Julien Photography by David Boyer via Cardin Julien

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LEED Gold-seeking wildlife center emphasizes energy conservation in Quebec

MVRDV unveils pro-bono vision to reopen the lost canals of The Hague

September 27, 2019 by  
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In a bid to restore a lost part of nature to The Hague, MVRDV has unveiled a proposal to reopen the city’s 17th-century canals that were filled in between 1910 and 1970. Created in partnership with the local community, the “Grachten Open” (Canals Open) initiative would restore access to the waterways and would revitalize a run-down part of the historic center by introducing new programming from swimming canals to a gastronomy route with a new market hall. The urban revitalization project would also bring ecological benefits by bringing natural habitat back into the city center. As the seat of government for the Netherlands, The Hague has placed less emphasis on its canal system compared to other Dutch cities historically more reliant on trade. While many of the canals have been drained and filled in, a local grassroots movement to preserve the canal area in the historic city center began to take root in the late 20th century. In recent years, the movement has seen greater community action for revitalizing the area and reopening the lost canals. One of the most notable contributors to the cause is local resident Shireen Poyck, who co-founded the ‘Grachten Open’ and, in 2018, invited her neighbor, MVRDV partner Jan Knikker, to participate. Related: Curvaceous bicycle bridge brings new life to Copenhagen’s harbor Working together with local neighborhood organizations, MVRDV recently presented a plan to reopen the canals to the city of The Hague. The design proposes restoring the main canals and creating plans for the minor canals, which can be remade into “urban activators” and used as swimming canals, koi carp canals or even surf canals. The main canals would be defined by themed “routes,” that include a green route, creative route, shopping route, culinary route and sport route. “All over the world, neighborhoods like the old center of The Hague form the backbone of tourism and provide an identity to a city, but in The Hague, somehow this ancient and incredibly charming area was forgotten,” said Winy Maas, architect and co-founder of MVRDV. “The area offers the unique chance for an urban regeneration that will improve the local economy and make a leap forward in the city’s energy transition.” + MVRDV Images via MVRDV

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MVRDV unveils pro-bono vision to reopen the lost canals of The Hague

Central Park to undergo $150M LEED Gold-targeted redesign

September 25, 2019 by  
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To cap the Central Park Conservancy’s 40-year renewal of Central Park, the nonprofit has unveiled designs to update the park’s north end with a LEED Gold -targeted recreational facility, a new pool, skating rink and other amenities. The $150 million project also aims to repair the site’s damaged ecology and hydrology using environmentally responsible practices. The groundbreaking for the transformative project will take place in spring 2021 and construction is expected to reach completion in 2024. Designed with input from more than a year of extensive community engagement, the redesign for Central Park’s north end will replace the Lasker Rink and Pool that were built in 1966. The position of the rink and pool will also be changed; the facilities currently obstruct access between the Harlem Meer and the scenic Ravine to the south. In repositioning the pool and the rink building, the waterway will be reestablished and will once again flow overland through the Ravine into the Meer. To reconnect visitors to the water, a curvilinear boardwalk will be installed across a series of small islands and the new freshwater marsh. Related: Sustainable Central Park with energy-producing trees unveiled for Ho Chi Minh City In addition to improved biodiversity and landscape integration, the project will feature a new facility built into the topography of the site. The LEED Gold-seeking building will be built with locally sourced, natural materials of stone, wood and glass. Demolition debris will be recycled and reused on site wherever possible. Walls of floor-to-ceiling glass punctuated by slender wood columns will let in natural daylight to reduce reliance on artificial lighting and will create a seamless visual connection to the outdoor recreation areas. The roof will be landscaped to offer additional public gathering space and mitigate the urban heat island effect. “The fundamental premise of the design derives from the restoration’s leading objective: repairing the damaged ecology and hydrology of the site, a goal that filters through every aspect of the project’s commitment to sustainability and the highest standards of environmentally responsible construction practices,” reads the Central Park Conservancy press release. “By building into the slope to insulate the interior of the pool house, orienting the structure and its overhangs to shade the interior in summer and admit sunlight in winter and providing ‘ stack ventilation ‘ through the operable glass facade, the design’s passive climate control minimizes the use of energy for heating and cooling.” + Central Park Conservancy Images via Central Park Conservancy

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Pacific heat wave threatens coral reefs in Hawaii and other regions

September 25, 2019 by  
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Researchers predict a major marine heat wave in the Pacific Ocean could prove disastrous to the fragile coral reefs along Hawaii’s Papa Bay and similar coastlines. Warmer water conditions often trigger coral bleaching, a condition that leaves coral reefs susceptible to mortality. Coral reefs play a very significant environmental and ecological role. As a habitat, for instance, they support many species in the marine environment. Coral reefs likewise serve as a protective barrier, buffering shorelines against deleterious wave action, especially during typhoon season, to minimize coastal damage and to prevent erosion. Healthy reefs contribute to local economies, particularly through tourism as well as commercial and recreational fishing. Related: ‘The Blob’ returns — marine heatwave settles over Pacific Unfortunately, when water is too warm, coral become stressed. They consequently expel the algae , or zooxanthellae, that live in their tissues. In doing so, coral turn white, a condition known as bleaching. Prolonged loss of the algae eventually leads to the coral’s demise. When coral reefs are compromised, the loss cascades, often causing far-reaching ecosystem repercussions. Back in 2015, a prominent marine heat wave eliminated half of the Papa Bay coastline’s coral reefs that surround Hawaii’s Big Island. This year, marine scientists associated with NOAA similarly predict that another round of very warm water will occur in the region once again. “In 2015, we hit temperatures that we’ve never recorded ever in Hawaii ,” NOAA oceanographer Jamison Gove said. “What is really important — or alarming, probably more appropriately — about this event is that we’ve been tracking above where we were this time in 2015.” Earlier this September, NOAA researchers warned of the Blob’s return. The Blob — the moniker coined by Washington state climatologist Nick Bond during the 2015 heat wave — describes the vast expanse of unusually warm water that occurred in the Pacific Ocean from 2014 to 2016. It adversely impacted coral reefs, causing global bleaching and diminished coastal fisheries’ yields throughout the Pacific. To date, this year’s Blob is reportedly the second-largest marine heat wave ever recorded in the past 40 years, just behind the 2014 – 2016 Blob. As a result, forecasts anticipate an even warmer October, which could critically undermine the coral that are still recovering from the first Blob. “Temperatures have been warm for quite a long time,” Gove continued.  “It’s not just how hot it is — it’s how long those ocean temperatures stay warm.” While scientists are not yet able to pinpoint the exact causes for ocean temperatures warming, it is believed human-influenced climate change is a salient factor. Restoration efforts are in the works. Research suggests coral can be conditioned to withstand future onslaught of warmer water. Both scientists and coral hobbyists are on a mission to breed “super corals” resilient enough to avoid bleaching. It is hoped the introduction of these “super corals” into the environment will fortify reefs to better evolve amidst global warming conditions. Via Associated Press Images via Terri Stewart and NOAA

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Pacific heat wave threatens coral reefs in Hawaii and other regions

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