A 1920 Swiss barn is reborn as a modern home for a family of five

June 11, 2018 by  
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Swiss design studio Ralph Germann architectes  has overhauled an old drafty barn into a beautiful contemporary home with a new timber annex. Located in the rural village of Orsières in southeast Switzerland, the barn renovation and expansion project was commissioned by a family of five who sought a modern and light-filled abode. The adaptive reuse project—named the House EKC—was built with locally sourced materials and is equipped with an air-water heat pump, solar thermal panels, and dimmable LEDs. The House EKC covers an area of 2,153 square feet and includes a 108-square-feet outdoor terrace . The old barn had originally been used for hay storage in the upper loft while the lower volume was used as a stable for goats or sheep. Ralph Germann completely gutted the barn and rebuilt a reinforced concrete structure, including the walls and slabs, to meet seismic code. Thermal insulation was applied in the interior in order to preserve the barn’s “‘vernacular’ aesthetics.” “The insertion of large windows into the masonry respected “the principle of origin”,” said the architects. “The glass simply took the place where wood has originally been and supplies light and passive heat. A balcony-loggia made out of concrete and wood took the place of the old balcony which was used to sun-dry the hay.” The new wooden annex mimics the proportions and low gabled roofline of the historic barn. The timber, which includes larch and spruce wood, were sourced locally from the Val Ferret region. Related: The rustic exterior of this abandoned barn hides a surprising space to get away from it all The light-filled interior features plaster walls and ceilings finished in mineral paint “white RAL 9010” that reflect light and helps create the illusion of more space. Oiled-brush larch wood lines the floors. The main staircase is built of solid larch and serves as the backbone of the house. The solid larch furniture was designed by Ralph Germann to ensure a cohesive interior design. The custom design also presented the opportunity to create a high-back bench in the dining area that doubles as a guardrail for the staircase. The kitchen features white laminate with “Dekton gray concrete” countertops. + Ralph Germann architectes Images by Lionel Henriod

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A 1920 Swiss barn is reborn as a modern home for a family of five

A historic Shanghai mansion hides a spectacular modern bookstore

June 7, 2018 by  
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Although Shanghai doesn’t have the historic cachet that Beijing does, the ultra-modern Pearl of the Orient has its fair share of adaptive reuse projects. Case in point is the recent transformation of an old mansion into a modern bookstore in the city’s Huangpu District. The multi-story Sinan Bookshop, designed by local architecture firm WUtopia Lab , combines multiple functions with an artistic and contemporary design that’s rich in a variety of hues and textures. Commissioned by the Shanghai Century Publishing Group and the Yongye Group, the new Sinan Bookshop is housed in Building 25, one of the Sinan Mansions built in the 1920s and 1930s for the city’s elite. Today, the Sinan Mansions are undergoing massive redevelopment in a somewhat controversial process. Many of the historic buildings will be knocked down and rebuilt with faux-renovations for high-end retail or apartments that cater almost exclusively to the rich. However, the Sinan Bookshop — which the architects say is housed in the original building — is thankfully accessible to all and will offer educational spaces for the general public. “The goal was to provide a space for learning and thinking for the general public living in the city,” the architecture firm wrote. “Considering one’s mind, thoughts, perception and sub-consciousness, Sinan books is seen as a person with a system of acquiring knowledge while discovering oneself and the surrounding.” Related: Architects squeeze an ethereal art gallery into a narrow Shanghai alleyway The bookshop is entered through the second floor, which also houses a cafe, cashier and books on literature and Shanghai. The first floor contains books on history and philosophy, as well as an outpost of the London Review Bookshop. An exhibition hall and books on art can be found on the third floor. A multipurpose events space is located on the fourth floor and is designed to host cultural saloons or debates. A rich mixture of colors and textures — from herringbone parquet floors to forest-green hues to shades of salmon — is woven throughout each floor. + WUtopia Lab Images by CreatAR Images

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A historic Shanghai mansion hides a spectacular modern bookstore

A Victorian cottage transforms into a light-filled passive solar abode

May 29, 2018 by  
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Australian modular design and build firm Habitech Systems has breathed new life and improved sustainable standards into an original Victorian cottage in Hawthorn, Australia. In addition to the renovation of the existing home, the designers replaced the existing rear addition with a modern extension that boasts a strengthened connection with the rear garden. The energy efficiency of the new home—named Lawes St Extension – Hawthorn—was vastly increased through improved insulation, energy-saving heating and cooling systems, and the integration of passive solar principles. The existing home had been clad in brown brick in the 1980s, creating a dated look that Habitech Systems rectified with a new street facade made from naturally oiled Cypress timber battening. They also gave the front veranda a modern refresh with a new porch entry, while adding black metal-clad box-bay windows to provide a visual pop of contrast. Inside, the floor plan of the original cottage was kept largely intact; it includes a long entrance hall, two secondary bedrooms, a study and bathroom. After the previous extension was torn down, the designers grappled with height restrictions and the challenging terrain, which slopes down to the north and east at a point lower than the existing floor level. “The two primary challenges were leveraged together to produce the connected but varied arrangement of spaces designed,” wrote Habitech Systems. “The stepped floor level provided an opening up of the space to the northern sun and daylight, while the roof of the addition slopes up to the light.” Related: The United States’ first Passive Plus House generates nearly all the energy it needs A lowered laundry room and lobby roof occupies the transitional zone between the existing structure and the extension. Just beyond are the master suite and an open-plan living area, dining room, and kitchen awash in natural light. The extension receives direct north solar access and was built with highly insulated Habitech SIPS walls and roof. Double-glazed and thermally broken aluminum-framed windows flood the interior with natural light without letting in unwanted solar gain. Heat reclamation ventilation and floor- and wall-based hydronic heating and cooling also reduce energy demands. Materials from the existing house were reused wherever possible. + Habitech Systems Images via Nic Granleese

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A Victorian cottage transforms into a light-filled passive solar abode

Foster + Partners turn an office tower into Hong Kongs newest luxury hotel

May 25, 2018 by  
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Foster + Partners transformed a former government headquarters tower into a luxury hotel in Hong Kong , and it has just opened its doors to the public. Located on the southern edge of Central with sweeping views of The Peak, the 336-room hotel — named The Murray — not only includes a striking interior overhaul, but also features new street frontage and green space to reconnect the 25-story tower with the urban fabric. The adaptive reuse project preserved the existing self-shading facade to maximize daylight penetration while reducing solar gain. The office tower, known as the Murray Building, was designed in the 1970s during an era that primarily catered to the automobile. To make the site more pedestrian friendly , Foster + Partners created new street frontage and added landscaped parks on the ground level to remove the site’s road-dominated appearance. Inside the building, the architects replaced the former car park with hotel lobbies and restaurants; transformed the plant room spaces into banquet halls, pools and spas; and turned the upper-floor office spaces into guest rooms. Though dramatic, the transformation from office to luxury hotel was sensitively executed in order to preserve the building’s architectural integrity. The architects also took care to retain the original facade, which earned the structure an Energy Efficient Building Award in 1994. The exterior features deeply recessed windows that are carefully positioned to avoid harsh tropical sunlight. Enlarged insulated glazing units improve energy efficiency , while a new suite of luxury materials create the hotel’s sense of grandeur. Related: Foster + Partners unveils sustainable masterplan for India’s new state capital Luke Fox, the Head of Studio for Foster + Partners, said, “Our design for The Murray creates a dialogue between the old and the new – giving the building a new lease of life and a renewed purpose, with a unique sense of character that is embedded within the fabric of the building.” + Foster + Partners Images via Foster + Partners , by Nigel Young and Michael Weber

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Foster + Partners turn an office tower into Hong Kongs newest luxury hotel

Couple builds an ‘Earthship’ tiny home for less than $10K

May 25, 2018 by  
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DIY home builds are never easy, and rarely cheap, but one ambitious couple managed to create a beautiful tiny home for under $10,000. Taylor and Steph Bode from Nomadic Roots created their sustainable 560-square-foot ‘Earthship’ mainly using reclaimed and repurposed materials. Inspired by the design principles of visionary architect Mike Reynolds and his company, Earthship Biotecture , the couple focused on creating a sustainable home that would employ passive and sustainable features to stay comfortable throughout the seasons, without air conditioning or heat sources. Related: Firefighter’s self-built tiny house is an earthship on wheels Once they found the perfect lot, the couple moved into a 14′ yurt while they slowly started the building process. To begin the project, they planned the home’s perimeters to maximize its potential thermal mass. Built into a south-sloping hill, the east, west, and north walls are buried underground , insulating the home and providing stable indoor temperatures. According to the owners, “The stylistic elements were secondary to creating a functionally competent structure that was well-suited for its environment.” To create the frame for the house, the couple cut down two young redwood trees from an adjacent grove. The siding and trim is crafted from old redwood fence boards. For the rest of the construction materials, Taylor and Steph scoured various sites to find discarded materials that could be reclaimed . They found new uses for countless thrown-away items such as automobile tires, glass bottles and aluminum cans. All of the home’s windows and doors were salvaged or found for free on Craigslist. Although the majority of the walls are buried, the many repurposed windows help flood the interior with an abundance of natural light . The couple created an earthen floor with a mixture of sand, clay, straw and water. After laying the mixture, they finished it with a hemp oil to create a warm, soft look. The Bodes used reclaimed barn wood for the interior walls, and they made or salvaged all their furnishings. + Nomadic Roots Via Apartment Therapy Photography by Taylor Bode via Nomadic Roots

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Couple builds an ‘Earthship’ tiny home for less than $10K

Man plans to swim the Pacific Ocean to raise awareness for plastic pollution

May 25, 2018 by  
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You’ve heard a lot about the ocean plastic crisis, and may even know a fair amount about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch . But for many of us, the issue can still seem far away when we drink out of a plastic bottle or tote groceries in a plastic bag. Professional distance swimmer Ben Lecomte aims to offer a fresh, personal perspective on ocean health as he swims 5,500 miles across the Pacific Ocean . Inhabitat caught up with Lecomte just days before he plans to leave for the potentially record-setting trek. Lecomte could be the first man to swim across the Pacific Ocean, but that’s not his goal for this venture. “My goal is to do something a little bit out there, a little bit extreme, to get the attention on an issue very important to everybody: the state of the ocean ,” he told Inhabitat. He’ll leave from Tokyo and swim to San Francisco, across thousands of miles, in a journey that could take around six months. Related: The Ocean Cleanup is about to send a giant plastic collector to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch Lecomte’s father taught him how to swim in the Atlantic Ocean . “I remember spending a lot of summers on the beach and never seeing plastic. Within my lifetime, now it has suddenly changed. I cannot walk on a beach where I don’t see any plastic,” he said. “I have children, and I ask myself, how is it going to be for them when they are older and they walk with their kids, is it going to be worse, is it going to be better? The only way to make it better is first of all, we have to be aware of the problem, and second of all, we have to start taking action. And it’s something that we can do. We have a solution, but it means we change our habit, we change our behavior, and then by our collective action, we can make a difference.” A volunteer-staffed, wind – and solar -powered sailboat will accompany Lecomte as he swims for around eight hours a day. He’ll need to consume about 8,000 calories daily, but he said he won’t take breaks on the boat and so won’t each much during those eight hours, just liquids like soup. He’ll eat two large meals in the morning and at night, and eat if he wakes up in the middle of the night. Will the sailboat inadvertently cover some of the distance? Lecomte says they’ll try to keep the boat in the place where he stops, but if they move, they will travel back so he can pick up where he left off. Along the way, they’ll gather over 1,000 samples for 27 scientific partners with two main research focuses: ocean health and human health . Lecomte said that in the past, scientists typically haven’t been able to gather samples from across an entire ocean — that would take too long. But his journey offers a perfect opportunity to do so. Plastic is a primary emphasis; Lecomte will swim right through the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Radiation from Fukushima and phytoplankton are among other ocean research areas. To delve into human health, Lecomte will be working with NASA . “Since I’m going to be in low gravity, there are a few things they would like to find out how it’s going to affect me or not. My bone density is going to change; pressure on my eyes is also something that affects astronauts, [and they want] to find out if that’s going to change for me,” he said. The wealth of information Lecomte could collect, and awareness he could raise, has the potential to be immense. But will such a voyage leave its own impact on the Pacific Ocean? Lecomte told Inhabitat renewable energy will generate the power they need. They won’t throw out trash, keeping everything on the boat, and will limit plastic packaging . The team has partnered with several organizations, including Mission Blue , the Ocean Voyages Institute , and the Ocean Institute . “They already have initiatives in place we want to reinforce,” said Lecomte. “For example, the Ocean Institute has 2,500 kids that go to their activities and learn about the plastic problem in the ocean, and that will do some of the data and collect some of the samples we’ve collected, and replicate some of what we do. We’ll try to be in connection with them and interact with those kids so they know what they are doing is being done in the middle of the ocean as well.” Lecomte is scheduled to leave on Wednesday, May 30. Seeker and Discovery are partnering for a project to cover Lecomte’s journey called The Swim , and they’ll produce content with Nomadica Films . Live coverage, mid-form and short-form videos, weekly Instagram stories, and weekly Discovery updates will all be part of The Swim, and the groups plan to release a feature-length documentary next year. You can also see where Lecomte is via The Longest Swim’s live tracker . + The Longest Swim + The Swim Images courtesy of Ben Lecomte

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Man plans to swim the Pacific Ocean to raise awareness for plastic pollution

MVRDV will transform the Tirana Pyramid, a former communist monument, into an education center

May 24, 2018 by  
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Albania’s controversial Tirana Pyramid—a former monument to the country’s communist leader—will finally be repurposed after years of decay. MVRDV  has officially unveiled designs to transform the pyramidal structure into a large green technology education center. The pyramid will be opened up to the surroundings and filled with natural light and greenery, ultimately making the interior more welcoming to the public. Set in the center of the city, the Tirana Pyramid originally served as a museum honoring the legacy of Enver Hoxha, the long-time leader of communist Albania. Following the collapse of Communism in 1991, the concrete communist monument was repurposed for a variety of uses, from a nightclub to a NATO base, during the Kosovo War. In recent years, developers have called for the Tirana Pyramid’s demolition, which stirred controversy among its architects and the greater populace, many of whom had developed an attachment to the monument despite its increasingly decrepit and vandalized appearance. Rather than demolish the unique structure, MVRDV aims to preserve the silhouette while making the 127,000-square-foot building more accessible. “Though in the past, there were plans to transform this monumental building into a national theatre, this never materialised which left this fantastic building in ruin for more than a decade,” says Winy Maas , co-founder of MVRDV. “It is a symbol for many Albanians. For the older generation, it is a memory to the cultural events during communist times, for the recent generation it became the place to celebrate the new era. We will open it up to its surroundings as a structure in the park, that can be populated by people, trees, and containers for co-working. We will make the beams accessible and safe so that we can all climb to the top and celebrate the structure, with views of the city of Tirana. We create an inhabited monument.” Related: BIG unveils designs for bow tie-shaped National Theater of Albania In addition to natural light , the architects will introduce greenery to the building atrium. The team will also make the facade roof—a popular hangout spot for young people—officially available to all visitors, populating it with pavilions and other pop-up structures conducive to temporary events and sightseeing. The project is slated for completion in 2019. + MVRDV Renderings by MVRDV, Exterior image by Gent Onuzi and Wikimedia

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MVRDV will transform the Tirana Pyramid, a former communist monument, into an education center

Curvaceous pair of towers mimics Malaysia’s dramatic topography

May 24, 2018 by  
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International design firm SPARK Architects  recently completed a pair of condominium towers with rippling facades that pay homage to the dramatic surrounding landscape on Malaysia’s Penang Island. Located at Jalan Bukit Gambier near the state’s UNESCO-designated capital of George Town, the Arte S twin residential towers stand in sculptural contrast to its more staid neighbors. Designed to embrace the tropical environment, the units are optimized for natural light, views and cross-ventilation without the need for air conditioning. Commissioned by Malaysian property developer Nusmetro, the Arte S residential development includes 460 apartments. The taller of the two towers soars to a height of 590 feet, making the buildings the island’s tallest “twin tower” development. The apartments are designed to be flexible with large open spaces free of columns and beams. All the common areas are naturally ventilated and filled with natural light . The architects drew inspiration from the existing site, from the undulating verdant hills of Bukit Gambier to the waters of the Penang Strait. The curvilinear forms found in nature are echoed in the towers’ balconies, terraces and pools. To achieve the twisted appearance, a waveform brise-soleil is subtly rotated at each elliptical floor plate. “The mountain landscape has been interpreted as a series of layered flat surfaces that resemble steps, a graduated terracing of the building podium and its twisting towers is the signature of the Arte S project,” the architects explained. Related: Colorful bamboo pavilion champions sustainable design in Kuala Lumpur The taller tower sits closer to a mountain to the west and rises to a height of 50 stories, overlooking spectacular views of the ocean. The shorter 32-story tower sits atop a layered podium. Both towers step back at the upper levels to create three-story penthouses . The taller tower also includes a sky garden on the 35th floor with “resident club” pods that accommodate events. + SPARK Architects Via ArchDaily Images via SPARK Architects

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Curvaceous pair of towers mimics Malaysia’s dramatic topography

St. Louis to transform abandoned landscape into a vibrant new greenway

May 21, 2018 by  
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Stoss Landscape Urbanism has won a design competition for the Chouteau Greenway , with a proposal that will soon transform an uninhabited stretch of land into a thriving, nature-filled space connecting St. Louis ’ Foster Park and the Gateway Arch. The winning proposal, titled “The Loop + The Stitch,” envisions an “east-west Loop” that traverses the city’s downtown and connects to a “north-south Stitch” uniting Fairgrounds Park and Tower Grove Park. The greenway will be part of an overall network of greenways commissioned by the non-profit Great Rivers Greenway and partners. Nearly 20 years in the making, the Chouteau Greenway project recently concluded a 10-month competition process, with invited submissions from top firms that included the likes of James Corner Field Operations , W Architecture & Landscape Architecture  and TLS Landscape Architecture . A nine-person jury unanimously selected Stoss Landscape Urbanism’s vision, praising the team members for their clear framework and consideration of different stakeholder needs. “Our concept begins with a recognition of the multiple narratives of St. Louis that shape its identity, both good and not so good,” explained Stoss. “An iconic landmark, a beloved park , nationally recognized universities, biotech and innovation – these identities are present and strong. But there are others – hidden stories, a neighborhood erasure, histories of racial tensions. This proposal acknowledges these icons and lost histories, gives voice to the myriad of amazing voices and places that make St. Louis what it is and assembles and reconciles them into the Chouteau Greenway.” Related: Winding “boulevard in the sky” to snake through Shenzhen The Loop + The Stitch will be open to a variety of non-motorized activities. In the next phase, Stoss Landscape Urbanism will work together with project partners to fine-tune the greenway , a process that could wrap up as soon as mid-July. + Stoss Landscape Urbanism Via ArchDaily Images via Stoss Landscape Urbanism

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St. Louis to transform abandoned landscape into a vibrant new greenway

Zero Waste Bistro offers four days of sustainable food and design in NYC

May 21, 2018 by  
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Sustainability is on the menu at Zero Waste Bistro , a pop-up dining experience and installation that’s exploring how great design can drastically reduce the problem of restaurant food waste. Launched as part of NYCxDESIGN’s marquee event, WantedDesign Manhattan, the four-day Zero Waste Bistro — open May 19 through May 22, 2018 — is presented by the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York. The bistro introduces the philosophy behind Nolla, Finland’s first zero-waste restaurant in Helsinki. Recycled and recyclable elements are featured throughout the laboratory of food and design, from the construction materials to the tasting menu. Co-curated by Finnish designers Harri Koskinen and Linda Bergroth, the Zero Waste Food Bistro is helmed by Nolla chefs who have created a thought-provoking tasting menu. They use local and organic ingredients as well as commonly overlooked food byproducts, such as oyster mushrooms with doenjang miso and spent grain crumble. In addition to a dining experience, the pop-up event also includes workshops and talks centered on healthy materials, the circular economy and zero-waste fashion. “It’s time to rethink the way we live, the way we eat and the materials we use,” said Kaarina Gould, Executive Director of the Finnish Cultural Institute . “With Zero Waste Bistro, we’re proposing a future that reduces waste and helps to regenerate our natural environment, making it livable for generations to come; a future that’s already here if we make the right choices.” Zero Waste Bistro is constructed from high-performance recyclable components, including Durat surfaces and ReWall building materials, made entirely from upcycled packaging and industrial waste. All packaging is plastic-free, from Kotkamills’ takeaway cups made from plastic-free repulpable cartonboard to Sulapac packaging products constructed with sustainably sourced wood from Nordic forests. The bistro also prominently showcases iconic Nordic design with Alvar Aalto stools and lamps and Iittala tableware sourced from the Finnish Design Shop , the world’s largest online store for Nordic design. Related: Britain’s first zero-waste store is packaging-free and only sells ethical goods The Zero Waste Bistro’s tasting menu will be served at brunch, lunch and breakfast during the four-day event, which ends Tuesday. You can see a full listing of talks and workshops here . Reservations for the dining experience must be made in advance. + Zero Waste Bistro Images by Nicholas Calcott

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