This solar-powered, off-grid California guesthouse is 100% self-sustaining

August 16, 2018 by  
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Set in one of the last remaining undeveloped coastal areas in California, the Off-Grid Guest House, designed by architect Dan Weber of Anacapa and designer Steven Willson of Willson Design , is a stunning showcase of sustainable and low-impact design. The contemporary home is nestled into a steep hillside in a wildlife preserve and perfectly perched to offer breathtaking, nearly 360-degree views of the Pacific Ocean and the surrounding landscape of rolling hills and rocky outcroppings. Due to its remote location, the guest house—and the owner’s nearby main residence—are completely self-sufficient by necessity and powered with a rooftop solar panel system. Topped with a lush green roof planted with native grasses, the Off-Grid Guest House is built from durable and resilient materials including steel, concrete and glass. Full-height glazing surrounds the home, as does a wraparound outdoor balcony that’s cantilevered over the landscape and is partly sheltered by overhanging eaves. The abundance of glazing—including the glass balustrades—blurs the boundaries between inside and out and welcomes sweeping panoramic landscape views into the living spaces. “At the heart of the Owner’s objectives for this project, is preservation and protection of the natural environment,” reads the project statement on Anacapa’s website. “As such, this modern guest house is nestled into the hillside and situated on a spectacular site with ocean views. This healthy home is the pinnacle of environmentally-conscious, low-impact design and construction.” Related: A net-zero modern farmhouse kicks off a sustainable community in Texas The home operates off the grid with a photovoltaic energy system, on-site water supply and sewage treatment system that directs wastewater to a septic tank and dry well. The interior is fitted out with LEDs and low-energy appliances. Jessica Helgerson Interior Design furnished the interior with rich walnut accents and custom fixtures and furnishings. The house also includes a detached garage discreetly built into the hillside. + Anacapa + Willson Design Images via Erin Feinblatt

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This solar-powered, off-grid California guesthouse is 100% self-sustaining

A striking timber home with a green roof disappears into a Mexican forest

August 15, 2018 by  
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Barcelona- and Mexico City-based firm  Cadaval Sola-Morales has just unveiled Casa de la Roca, a beautiful, dark timber home topped with a green roof  and located in a remote forest in Mexico. The single-story structure features a jet-black facade crafted from felled trees and finished with a living roof to help camouflage the home into the peaceful, secluded forestscape. When designing Casa de la Roca, the architects were focused on one objective: to create a home that would easily blend into the landscape for years to come. Acting accordingly, the architects chose materials based on durability. The structure, which sits on a low-maintenance concrete foundation, is clad in reclaimed timber from local felled or dead trees. Related: Living trees grow through the ceiling of Cadaval & Sola-Morales’ Tepoztlan Lounge in Mexico The exterior walls were then coated in black paint to add longevity to the structure. “We used paint (and not dye), to add another layer of material protection; dye tends to lose its qualities over the years,” the architects explained. “It is black, responding to the desire to blend in with the landscape, seeking a certain anonymity in front of the vegetation and exuberant views.” The dark exterior essentially allows the home to hide deep within the forest , but that wasn’t enough for the architects. Once the dwelling was constructed, the team finished the entire roof with vegetation, creating an even stronger connection between the man-made and natural. According to the architects, the home’s layout of three long hallways that converge into the main living space was also inspired by the landscape. The team wanted the house to have three private lookouts at each end to provide distinct views of the forest. The three “arms” of the home come together at a central point, which is also where people can come together and socialize . The interior space is both elegant and welcoming. A minimal amount of furniture is spread out over the open-plan living room, so the main focus is always on the incredible nature that surrounds the home. Extra large floor-to-ceiling windows and doors allow optimal natural light into the home, while also creating a seamless connection to the forest. + Cadaval Sola-Morales Via Wallpaper Photography by Sandra Pereznieto

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Casas Melhoradas explores sustainable and affordable housing in Mozambique

August 1, 2018 by  
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Mozambique is one of the poorest countries in the world—and its capital, Maputo, suffers from infrastructural challenges and urban sprawl. In hopes of initiating sustainable urban development in the city’s informal settlements, Johan Mottelson and Jørgen Eskemose of the Institute of Architecture, Urbanism & Landscape at KADK , the Mozambican NGO Estamos, and Architects without Borders – Denmark have teamed up to develop Casas Melhoradas , an affordable housing research project. Designed with urban density and sustainable practices in mind, the groups’ latest housing prototype features a low-rise high-density development sensitive to cultural and site context. Completed in 2018, the Casas Melhoradas housing prototype takes on a row-housing typology that fits six dwellings on a plot that normally would have been used for single-family housing, thereby combating urban sprawl and the capital’s “growing infrastructure deficit” through example. The primary building materials are concrete and compressed bricks made from local soil, which gives the earth blocks their reddish tone. The project was completed in collaboration with local builders, with whom the housing models, building techniques and production methods—including experiments with prefabrication—were tested. According to the project partners, “Casas Melhoradas is an applied research project on housing for low-income groups in the informal settlements of Maputo, Mozambique with a three-fold focus: 1) developing alternative construction methods to improve the quality and decrease the cost of housing; 2) developing housing typologies that utilize space and infrastructure more economically to initiate a more sustainable urban development; 3) engaging in construction of affordable rental housing through public and private partnerships to scale up the impact of the project.” Related: Awe-Inspiring Thatched Mozambique Home is Draped in Solar Panels The housing units, which are rented out through a local nonprofit housing organization that reinvests income into new housing projects, feature private outdoor kitchens (a necessity due to the predominate use of charcoal) equipped with gas stoves in an effort to reduce air pollution. Common courtyards offer shared bathrooms and laundry facilities. A green roof has also been installed to improve the microclimate. Casas Melhoradas is currently seeking donors and investors for future collaboration. + Casas Melhoradas

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Confluence Park’s new solar-powered pavilions collect rainwater and provide shade from the summer sun

July 12, 2018 by  
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San Antonio’s idyllic Confluence Park just became a little greener and more scenic, thanks to a collaboration between firms Lake Flato and Matsys Design with the support of landscape architect Rialto Studio . The riverfront park now boasts sweeping sculptural pavilions that provide shade from the fierce Texas sun as well as an elegant method for collecting rainwater. Confluence Park is located where the San Pedro Creek merges into the San Antonio River. Covering just over three acres, the public park now features a main pavilion , three smaller pavilions and a classroom. Flowing water and confluence served as strong influences these new structures, which imitate the sculptural atmosphere of the surrounding landscape. The team strategically designed these additions for minimal site impact . The focal point of the park is the main pavilion. This structure is constructed from 22 concrete pieces resembling petals, which were made on site and lifted into place. The pieces form giant archways that are illuminated at night with subtle accent lighting that merges seamlessly into the swooping petal formations. The main pavilion as well as the smaller pavilions are both beautiful and functional. The petal shapes help to funnel rainwater that is collected in the park’s catchment system. This system serves as the park’s main water source. In addition to collecting water, the pavilions provide a cool respite from the fierce summer heat that often plagues southern Texas . The Estella Avery Education Center stands near the main pavilion. This structure generates 100 percent of the energy it uses through solar panels while offering a space for the city’s residents to learn more about the San Antonio River watershed and surrounding environment. The green roof that tops the classroom is planted with native grasses and allows for passive heating and cooling through thermal mass. Thanks to the new classroom and pavilions, Confluence Park now offers more opportunities for park-goers to learn and explore the local environment . “Confluence Park is a living laboratory that allows visitors to gain a greater understanding of the ecotypes of the South Texas region and the function of the San Antonio River watershed,” Lake Flato architects said. “Throughout the park, visitors learn through observation, engagement and active participation.” + Lake Flato + Matsys + Rialto Studio Via Dezeen Images via Casey Dunn

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Confluence Park’s new solar-powered pavilions collect rainwater and provide shade from the summer sun

Delightfully surprising green-roofed island home cascades down a rocky slope

June 25, 2018 by  
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Anchored to a pine-studded slope, the Bailer Hill house is designed to evoke a natural rock outcropping. Seattle-based Prentiss Balance Wickline Architects completed this cascading stack of timber-clad boxes in the San Juan Islands for a retired couple who wanted to feel at one with the surroundings. Faced with glazed sliding doors and topped with feathery green roof patios, the home blends in with the landscape and embraces it through panoramic views. Inspired by Prentiss Balance Wickline Architects’ previous projects, the clients sought out the firm to help replace the existing converted garage on their San Juan Islands property with a “delightfully surprising” home. The clients worked closely with the architects in a highly collaborative process that led to an unconventional and site-sensitive design carefully sited to mitigate the steep slope and to capture the incredible views. The 3,228-square-foot home, which is spread out across four levels, comprises an open living area, dining room and kitchen on the ground floor that is also linked to a reading room and rear office. The master suite is located on the basement level, while the guest room and studio are placed in the upper two volumes. “Looking out over expansive water views, this house is the expression of the clients’ desire to connect to both the immediate landscape and the view beyond,” the architects explained. “Cascading organically down the hill, the house remains firmly rooted to the earth even as it rises high above the ground. It is a complex form with a simple goal: capturing the beauty of this spectacular site.” Related: Green-roofed vacation home embraces old-growth trees in the San Juan Islands The stacked formation allowed the architects to create a series of grass-roofed patios accessible from large lift-slide doors. Each volume is carefully rotated to capture select views. Natural light pours into the interior through these large doors as well as through the clusters of small rectangular windows. + Prentiss Balance Wickline Architects Images by Eirik Johnson

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Delightfully surprising green-roofed island home cascades down a rocky slope

Solar-powered mountain home is a sustainable prototype for Aspen development

June 22, 2018 by  
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Like in many places across the U.S., the real estate market is booming in Aspen , Colorado. And, as companies move in to replenish the dwindling housing inventory, one real estate developer hopes to provide a more sustainable alternative to the inevitable onslaught of cookie-cutter homes. Working in collaboration with San Francisco-based Aidlin Darling Design , the developer has completed a solar-powered dwelling that serves as a new energy-efficient prototype for speculative real estate in Aspen. Located on the steep slopes of Red Mountain, the Aspen Residence boasts spectacular panoramic views that overlook Aspen to the west and an undeveloped landscape to the south. The spacious home covers an area of 9,618 square feet and is oriented on a north-south axis to maximize views, preserve privacy, and optimize passive solar strategies. To tie the contemporary design to the landscape, the architects used local materials and long stone walls that anchor the space into the hillside and frame outdoor spaces that function as extensions of indoor living areas. “The client, a developer with an earnest desire to change the real estate paradigm in Aspen, desired a more sustainable, site-sensitive , and modern alternative to the usual developments,” explains Aidlin Darling Design. “The design challenges conventional notions of interior and exterior, absorbing the surrounding landscape.” Related: Solar-powered Colorado school houses a sun-soaked learning environment Sustainability is key to the design. The Aspen Residence’s rooftop is integrated with a 12.6 kW solar photovoltaic array as well as a green roof and solar hot water panels. The roof is also designed to slow and reduce stormwater runoff in conjunction with the on-site bio-retention pond. To reduce energy demands, the home is wrapped in closed cell spray foam insulation and punctuated with glazed windows and doors that let in natural light and promote natural ventilation. Moreover, energy-efficient radiant heating is built into the floor slabs and a heat recovery ventilation system recaptures heat from exhausted indoor air. + Aidlin Darling Design Images via Aidlin Darling Design

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Solar-powered mountain home is a sustainable prototype for Aspen development

Abandoned NYC warehouse is reinvented as LEED Gold-certified apartments

June 21, 2018 by  
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A new apartment complex infused with nature has taken root in New York City’s concrete jungle. Local design firm COOKFOX Architects completed 150 Charles Street, a residence that takes over the abandoned Whitehall warehouse on the Hudson River waterfront. Designed to blend in with the existing urban fabric, the modern building also boasts a low environmental footprint and LEED Gold certification. Located in the West Village, 150 Charles Street offers 91 residential units — including 10 individual three-story townhouses — on an approximately one-acre lot. Built to incorporate a pre-1960 warehouse , the building preserves the warehouse streetwall and the original material palette of concrete, brick and glass. Greenery is embedded throughout the building from the lush central courtyard to the cascading planted terraces and green rooftops that overlook waterfront views for a total of 30,000 square feet of landscaped space. Dirtworks, PC led 150 Charles Street’s landscape design. “Incorporating ideas of biophilia  — our inherent connection to the environment — access to nature throughout the building is related to themes of prospect (wide, open views) and refuge (safe and protected interior spaces),” COOKFOX Architects wrote. “150 Charles combines the best of the West Village townhouse garden view and the waterfront high-rise river view with cascading terraces designed as a ‘fifth façade.’” Related: Sneak a peek inside Pacific Park’s first greenery-enveloped residences in COOKFOX’s new video In addition to abundant greenery that features native and adaptive species, the apartment complex earned its LEED Gold certification with a variety of energy-efficient and resource-saving features. The team reduced construction waste and used locally sourced, recyclable and recycled building materials. The building is wrapped in a highly insulated envelope and fitted with smart building systems to optimize energy use. The units are equipped with Energy Star appliances. Rainwater is harvested and is reused as landscape irrigation. The outdoor air is also filtered for 95 percent particulates. + COOKFOX Architects Images by Frank Oudeman

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Abandoned NYC warehouse is reinvented as LEED Gold-certified apartments

This modern solar-powered retreat is topped with a massive green roof

June 18, 2018 by  
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Outside the concrete jungle of São Paulo , Brazil is a solar-powered holiday retreat that fully embraces nature. Brazilian architecture firm Studio MK27 designed the striking home, called the Planar House, for a couple and their three children. Despite the rather spacious size of 10,763 square feet, the dwelling projects lightness thanks to its concrete slab green roof that appears to float above the landscape. Topped with a grassy green roof , the Planar House was crafted to blend in with the surrounding lawn and rolling hills. The building was constructed almost entirely of reinforced, poured in-situ concrete. Slender metallic pillars on both side of the home hold up the concrete slab roof. The home, which was designed for entertaining, consists of five en-suite bedrooms, the staff quarters, kitchen, kid’s playroom and expansive living and dining areas with indoor-outdoor access thanks to sliding glass doors. A hallway that runs north to south divides the programming. “Planar House is a radical exercise in horizontality, [an] aspect commonly explored in the projects of the studio,”  Studio MK27 explained. “Discreetly inserted in the highest point of the plot and favoring the existing topography, its presence is most strongly felt in the footprint rather than volumetrically. [The home is] an extensive line in an open landscape.” Related: Flat green roof helps Casa Guarujá integrate with the forest in Brazil The holiday home’s design was strongly influenced by Miesian architecture. The home is sandwiched between two concrete slabs with the upper slab serving as a structural platform. The interiors feature board-formed concrete ceilings and a mostly timber material palette that lends warmth throughout. In contrast to the home’s rigid geometry, the architects added a sinuous brick wall — punctuated by voids to let in light and views — that wraps around part of the home. The architects said, “The wall, which is usually a symbol of division and isolation, in this project, is at times concave and at others convex, embracing the entrance garden and creating transparencies as well as offering protection from the street.” + Studio MK27 Images by Fernando Guerra

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This modern solar-powered retreat is topped with a massive green roof

Old Greyhound bus converted into gorgeous tiny house on wheels

June 18, 2018 by  
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For most people traveling on a Greyhound bus, the journey usually involves squeezing into cracked polyurethane seating for uncomfortably long periods of time. But that’s not the case for Jessie Lipskin , who transformed an old 1966 Greyhound bus into a shockingly sophisticated and spacious tiny home on wheels . Now, in this new space, the name Greyhound has become synonymous with tiny home living in comfort and style. Lipskin revealed to Apartment Therapy that years of living in New York City inspired her to commit to the tiny home lifestyle . Little by little, she began to get rid of superfluous possessions, until everything she owned could fit in a suitcase. Related: Traveling family renovates old school bus as both solar-powered home and hostel The next step was finding her perfect tiny home, which turned out to be a 1966 GMC Commuter Greyhound bus she found on eBay. According to Lipskin, she chose the bus because “The Greyhound’s classic body style and great condition made the perfect fit for a beautiful tiny home conversion.” After gutting the interior, she installed beautiful new hardwood flooring throughout the space. The interior of the bus was painted all white, which opens up the tiny house tremendously. Additionally, the bus’s original windows were left in place to flood the interior with natural light. LED lighting with dimmers was installed throughout the interior to provide a serene ambiance. Lipskin mapped out a new floor plan for the tiny home that includes a large living area and a full-sized bath, as well as two sleeping areas that comfortably sleep up to four people. Additionally, three large closets were installed – a rarity in such a compact space. The tiny home’s kitchen is equipped with ample wooden counter space, as well as an oven and stove top. An energy-efficient washing machine and dryer also fit into the kitchen, along with an instant hot-water heater and propane tank. There is ample storage to keep the space clutter-free. It took Lipskin three years to create her custom tiny home on wheels , and the result is incredible. However, she has since decided to put the bus up for sale in order to travel internationally. The tiny house is currently listed on Craigslist for $149,000 . + Bus Tiny Home Via Apartment Therapy Photos via Jessie Lipskin

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Old Greyhound bus converted into gorgeous tiny house on wheels

Steven Holl Architects LEED Gold-seeking museum is a beacon for sustainability

May 22, 2018 by  
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Environmental design and contemporary art go hand-in-hand in Steven Holl Architects’ recently completed The Markel Center , the home of the Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA) at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). Located at the busiest intersection in Richmond, The Markel Center embodies VCU and the ICA’s commitment to sustainability with its LEED Gold-seeking design and energy-efficient technologies. Filled with natural light to reduce electricity demands, the museum draws energy from geothermal wells and features over 8,000 square feet of green roofs for extra insulation. Opened last month, VCU’s new Institute for Contemporary Art is free to the public and marks Richmond’s first art institution dedicated exclusively to exhibiting contemporary art . Sandwiched between VCU’s Monroe Park campus and the city’s art district, the ICA is a sculptural, 41,000-square-foot structure spread out across three floors and flooded with natural light from large glass walls, windows and skylights. The glass, which ranges in transparency from clear to opaque, filters out UV rays and, when backlit, gives the titanium-zinc-clad building a light, box-like appearance. The lobby, offices, cafe, bar, 240-seat auditorium , and concept shop, along with a 4,000-square-foot gallery, occupy the first floor and connect to the ICA’s central forum and outdoor garden, dubbed the “Thinking Field.” The second floor houses two forking galleries, an interactive “learning lab,” and a publicly accessible landscaped terrace . The top floor features a gallery with 33-foot-tall walls in addition to administrative suites and the boardroom. “We designed the ICA to be a flexible, forward-looking instrument that will both illuminate and serve as a catalyst for the transformative possibilities of contemporary art,” said architect Steven Holl. “Like many contemporary artists working today, the ICA’s design does not draw distinctions between the visual and performing arts. The fluidity of the design allows for experimentation and will encourage new ways to display and present art that will capitalize on the ingenuity and creativity apparent throughout the VCU campus.” Related: Steven Holl Architects unveils designs for geothermal-powered Angers Collectors Museum Clad in 100% recyclable titanium-zinc exterior paneling, the LEED Gold -seeking building draws energy from 43 geothermal wells for its radiant floor system. Native plants are used in the permeable landscape design as well as on the green roofs that cover three of the four gallery roofs. Nearly a third of materials used during construction were recyclable and nearly a quarter of the materials were regionally sourced. + Steven Holl Architects Images by Iwan Baan

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