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

Award-winning Australian winery adds new, sustainable building

December 25, 2019 by  
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Victoria’s Yarra Valley is an idyllic region known for its award-winning vineyards. Now, guests to the  Medhurst Winery  have a new, sustainable tasting area to enjoy the label’s delicious wine selection. The family-run winery has just added the Cellar Door — a contemporary extension that was built with resilient and  sustainable features . Designed by  Folk Architects , the new contemporary space allows visitors to view the entire wine-making process, from the vineyards and production area to the gorgeous tasting facility. The main building of the winery sits in a prestigious location, elevated on a sloped landscape overlooking the vineyards. A low-lying elongated volume, the contemporary building features one section made of heat-reflective, polycarbonate material. The translucent walls allow natural light to illuminate the wine-making area during the day, while at night revealing a picturesque view of wine-making equipment found within. Related: Modern timber winery blends Japanese and Viennese influences The winery’s rooftop features an expansive green roof with a state-of-the-art rainwater collection system. According to the winery, the roof collects around 500,000 liters of rainwater every year. This water is filtered and used in the wine-making process. Now, visitors to the winery will have a sophisticated place to taste the wonderful Medhurst wines. The new Cellar Door sits adjacent to the 250-ton wine-making facility and features a design that mimics its linear volume, while subtly curving around the ends. Located in a bushfire zone, the Cellar Door’s materials were chosen for their durable and sustainable qualities. The building’s main materials include a bold mix of oxidized steel and fire-resistant timber. Additionally, the roof eaves were carefully designed to jut out over the building’s frame to let in the maximum amount of sunlight during winter, while also reducing solar glare during summer. This passive feature allows the building to reduce its mechanical heating and cooling throughout the year. On the inside, visitors are greeted by a warm space designed for taking in the incredible views and tasting the award-winning wine. The entrance-way includes a 40-foot concrete bench that sits under a wall of thin timber slats . Raw steel accents throughout give the interior a modern industrial feel. With the addition of the Cellar Door, visitors can view the entire wine-making process. From the wine tastings offered at the Cellar Door, visitors can follow a winding path through the beautiful landscape to the production area, before making their way out to the vineyards beyond. + Folk Architects + Medhurst Winery Via ArchDaily Photography by Peter Bennetts

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Award-winning Australian winery adds new, sustainable building

Green-roofed sports center adds sculptural appeal to the Augustow riverfront

December 20, 2019 by  
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Polish architecture firms PSBA and INOONI have recently completed a strikingly angular water sports center in the heart of Augustow, Poland that shows how architecture can double as a public sculpture. Topped with a green roof, the facility complements the surrounding park with a facade clad in untreated Siberian larch. The building serves as a canoeing training base and is the first phase completed in a multiphase masterplan. The architects were awarded the bid to design and build the Augustow canoeing training base after winning a 2016 architecture competition for the development of recreational spaces along the Netta River. The project will include a multifunctional sports field, pump track, playground and scenic rest areas. Located on the West Bank of the Netta River, the newly built sports center was placed at a highly visible and picturesque bend of the river that is visited by locals and tourists alike. Related: FAAB reimagines Warsaw’s largest public square as a solar-powered cycle park The single-story facility features a triangular plan with a flat, landscaped green roof with a slight slope. The building is organized in two parts: a water-facing hangar for canoe and motorboat storage with a platform and a “workshop” area for the local canoe club. The “workshop” area includes gathering space for training and meetings, locker rooms, a gym with panoramic water views, a club room, a sports equipment warehouse and public bathrooms. The interiors feature a minimalist aesthetic that matches the exterior appearance. “Its characteristic form has associations with movement and dynamics,” the architects explained. “The sloping walls create distinctive arcades, highlighting the entrances and framing the views. The visual sight of the building is changing depending on where we look from. The dynamic form of the object allows an access from a mini stand into the roof of the hangar, where the observation deck is located.” + PSBA + INOONI Photography by Bartosz Dworski via INOONI

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Green-roofed sports center adds sculptural appeal to the Augustow riverfront

Gift loved ones with classes that teach and build nature skills

December 20, 2019 by  
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Rather than gifting a material object this holiday season, opt to give an “experience” gift. Not only will it help minimize waste and clutter, but an experience gift can also be wonderfully green and intrinsically fulfilling. How so? Experience gifts, for instance, lead to quality bonding time, new skills and shared memories, all of which are priceless. Here are our top suggestions for nature courses and classes for the whole family, and be sure to check locally for nature courses near you. Wilderness survival There are various experience gifts out there, and Inhabitat celebrates those that teach about nature and cultivate an appreciation for the outdoors. Sometimes being in nature calls for wilderness survival skills for better preparedness, adaptability, endurance, resourcefulness and resilience in improvising during unexpected situations. Survival might require knowing how to tie knots and cordage, as well as knowing how to fashion and utilize stone tools. Wilderness survival classes will teach all of that and more. Related: 5 common weeds you can make into healthy (and free) teas Ice climbing and mountaineering The outdoors are best enjoyed year-round; even the winter can be an excellent time to commune with nature. What better way to do so than by partaking in ice climbing or mountaineering? Find a course near you to learn the skills needed to succeed in these athletic activities. Fly-fishing Fly-fishing appeals to many outdoor enthusiasts. This skill isn’t the same as catching fish with a simple fishing pole or net. To learn the angler intricacies of this pastime, check out Blue Quill Angler , Cabela’s Fly Fishing University , Fly Fishing Coach International , Lillard Fly Fishing and Orvis’ Fly Fishing Learning Center . Falconry lessons Falconry has been known as the “sport of emperors,” for it has long been a passion of many monarchs and historical figures. Modern falconry mainly cultivates a bond between falconer and falcon, birder and raptor. In other words, modern falconry is about avian stewardship , especially because one has to be licensed with the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife or a similar local organization, such as a state wildlife department or agency, depending on your location. But the experience is a rewarding one because of the meticulous care that must be given to falcons and raptors. To learn more, contact the North American Falconers Association (NAFA) , which has been protecting and serving North American falconry since 1961. Celestial navigation Seafarers have been known to orient themselves in the open ocean by the night sky. The night sky and its stars are all part of the natural world; hence, learning to identify the constellations and other astronomical wonders will instill a deeper appreciation for nature. You can learn how to orient yourself by stargazing, thanks to resources offered by the American Sailing Association , The Great Courses and U.S. Sailing , just to name a few. Foraging Foraging is all about searching for food and particular plants. One can forage for savory spices, edible mushrooms, herbs and even medicinal plants. Foraging courses abound including at establishments like Backyard Forager , Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine , forageSF , Grow Forage Cook Ferment , Herbal Academy and Wild Plant Guide . A directory of foraging organizations is also available here . Related: Incredible edible landscape map shows you where to find free food Identifying trees and shrubs Woody plants , like trees and shrubs, come in all shapes and sizes. You can expand your knowledge of them by taking courses on identifying their characteristics and learning about the landscapes in which they can be found. Identifying animals and their tracks Besides identifying plants for foraging purposes, there are also courses that assist with identifying mammals, birds and other animals , not just by their appearance but also by their calls and spoor. Some of the best places to learn more about obtaining these skills include Adventure Out (which also offers programs for corporate retreats and team-building events), Earth Skills , Earthwork Programs , Natural Awareness Tracking School , Nature Tracking , Naturalist Ventures , Tracker School and Tracker Certification from CyberTracker North America . Homesteading Homesteading is essentially a lifestyle of self-sufficiency, with reliance on subsistence agriculture and permaculture, preservation of food via canning and drying, a return to simple textiles and an affinity for the traditions of earlier eras. Modern homesteaders also tend to rely on renewable energy, be it solar or wind power. Courses on homesteading include aquaponics, beekeeping, bread and cheese making, organic gardening, permaculture, homemaking and farm management. Images via Shutterstock

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A lush public park grows on the roof of a luxury Wuhan mall

November 20, 2019 by  
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When Los Angeles-based design studio 5+design was tapped to create a high-end mall in Wuhan, China, the firm was also given the opportunity to create a publicly accessible green space — an amenity in decline in the city due to rapid development. As a result, the 164,000-square-meter Wuhan North Pavilion supports a lush public rooftop park that’s accessible from the ground level and provides active and passive spaces for children and adults alike. Designed to foster community and an added sense of identity, the park’s seasonal planting palette references Wuhan’s pastoral landscapes and the region’s agricultural past. Built to span the entire length of the mall, the rooftop public park features a mix of walkways, recreational spaces and children’s play areas. The landscape design helps define a variety of active and passive spaces, while the plant choices create “an ecological haven.” Greenery is also integrated into the street-level landscape and along the other parts of the architecture to soften the appearance of the building and to give the mall a more human scale. Related: Studio NAB wants to rehab parking lots into energy-producing urban gardens “With Wuhan’s steady decline of green space in the face of rapid development, Wuhan North Pavilion preserves a place to observe and absorb nature that goes beyond the standard use of today’s retail spaces,” the designers explained in a project statement. “The addition of careful planting with variety in scale, openness and intimacy creates a new kind of public space within the city that fosters community and an added sense of identity.” In addition to the rooftop park’s benefits in fighting the urban heat island effect , the Wuhan North Pavilion incorporates energy-saving features such as LED lighting, fans, pumps and chillers. Water usage has been reduced thanks to low-flow urinals and bathroom fixtures fitted with sensors. Low-emitting materials, adhesives, sealants, paints and coatings were also selected to help reduce indoor air pollutants. + 5+design Images via 5+design

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BIGs LEED Gold-seeking school in Arlington features a cascade of green terraces

November 14, 2019 by  
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After five years in the making, BIG has completed The Heights, a new public school building in Arlington, Virginia that not only offers a unique and energy-efficient take on school architecture, but also helps maximize density and open space. Located along the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor, The Heights combines two existing secondary schools into a new 180,000-square-foot building that opens like a fan with a cascade of green-roofed terraces to provide an indoor-outdoor learning landscape. An emphasis on natural daylighting, green space, material reuse and energy efficiency has put the building on track to achieve LEED Gold certification . Completed on a $100 million budget, the dynamic new school building houses two programs: the H-B Woodlawn Program that offers visual and performing arts-focused curricula for grades 6 through 12, and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Program that serves students aged 11 to 22 with special needs. The school can accommodate an expected enrollment of up to 775 students. Related: Rammed earth Kopila Valley School is the “greenest school in Nepal” To make the most of a compact urban site bounded by roads on three sides, BIG organized the school as a stack of five rectangular floorplates rotated around a fixed pivot point to create a series of outdoor green-roofed terraces connected with a rotating central staircase. The spacious first terrace can be used for special events while the upper terraces are more suitable as classroom and study areas. The classroom “bars” have also informed the interior layout, which is anchored by a central vertical core containing the elevators, stairs and bathrooms as well as a triple-height lobby with stepped seating on the ground floor. For easy accessibility and to encourage public interaction throughout the school, the lobby is directly adjacent to many of the school’s common spaces, such as the 400-seat auditorium , main gymnasium, library, reception and cafeteria. Intuitive wayfinding is also extended to the classroom spaces in that each classroom “bar” is defined by its own color used to paint the walls and lockers. In contrast to its colorful interior, The Heights’ exterior is clad in white glazed brick to unify its fanned-out massing and to respect the surroundings, including the historic architecture of Old Town Alexandria. Select materials from the former Wilson School, which The Heights was built to replace, have been salvaged and reused in the new build. + BIG Photography by Laurian Ghinitoiu via BIG

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First Smart Forest City in Mexico will be 100% food and energy self-sufficient

November 8, 2019 by  
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Milan-based architecture firm Stefano Boeri Architetti has unveiled innovative designs for a nature-infused smart city in Cancun, Mexico that will serve as a model for resilient and sustainable urban planning. Created for Honduras-based textile conglomerate and property developer Grupo Karim, ‘Smart Forest City – Cancun’ is a proposed alternative to plans for a shopping district in the area. The masterplan would reforest a 557-hectare site — currently used as a sand quarry for hotels — and create mixed-use development that would be completely food and energy self-sufficient. The proposed Smart Forest City – Cancun would house 130,000 residents as well as 7,500,000 plants of 400 different species selected by botanist and landscape architect Lauri Gatti. More than 200,000 trees would be planted to create a ratio of 2.3 trees per inhabitant, while the remainder of the vegetation would be mostly shrubs, bushes, green roofs and vertical gardens. “Thanks to the new public parks and private gardens, thanks to the green roofs and to the green facades, the areas actually occupied will be given back by nature through a perfect balance between the amount of green areas and building footprint,” the press release stated. Related: Stefano Boeri will revitalize Genoa with sustainable energy-producing urban design With help from the German company Transsolar, the mixed-use development would be surrounded by a ring of solar panels that provide enough renewable energy to meet the residents’ needs. The city would also include an agricultural field belt that wraps around the urban area. The fields would be irrigated by a water channel fed by an underwater maritime pipe and treated with a desalination tower. Parking for traditional vehicles would be located on the city periphery; a MIC (Mobility in Chain) system would provide internal electric and semi-automatic vehicles to transport residents and visitors throughout the development. As a testing hub for sustainable urbanism , the Smart Forest City – Cancun proposal includes a center for advanced research large enough to host international organizations, university departments and companies. The center would include research and development facilities dedicated to sustainability issues and green infrastructure. + Stefano Boeri Architetti Images via Stefano Boeri Architetti and The Big Picture

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These glass vases let you grow your own avocado tree no toothpicks required

November 8, 2019 by  
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While most home gardens tend to conceal the roots within decorated pots, Ilex Studio ‘s new collection of glass vases displays one of the most underrated parts of a plant — the roots. The studio’s transparent glass vases, which can be used to grow avocado and oak trees, feature minimalist silhouettes with spherical bases that showcase the plant’s incredible root systems. Recently unveiled at the London Design Festival , Ilex Studio’s collection was designed to let people skip the prickly process of using toothpicks to grow avocado trees. Additionally, the vases can be used to turn a humble acorn into a magnificent oak tree. Related: AvoSeedo makes growing avocado trees easier than ever Unlike most home gardens , where the plants’ roots are buried deep in the soil, these glass vases let you watch the magical powers of sprouting seeds. The hourglass shape has a small neck, where the avocado seed or acorn sits. The strategic shape lets the seed or avocado stay nice and dry up top while the roots begin to sprout below. Did we mention that there’s no need to stick anything with toothpicks? Over time, the roots begin to spread out into the water. Letting the roots hang freely allows them to become stronger until they are eventually ready to be planted in soil . The bulbous shapes of the vases actually magnify what is going on inside, giving you an up-close view of the roots as they grow. The Avocado Vase is slightly larger than the Acorn Vase, but according to the studio, the growing pattern is similar for the acorn and the avocado tree. The oakling can be left in the vase for up to one year, but growing an avocado tree is a bit more complicated. They both come with instruction booklets to guide you through the process of growing your own trees, straight from the seeds. These playful growing vases cost between £22 and £35 (about $28 to $45), with the larger avocado vase costing a bit more and the vases sans acorns costing less. Each order comes with a 20-page handbook of helpful instructions. + Ilex Studio Via Design Milk Images via Ilex Studio

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These glass vases let you grow your own avocado tree no toothpicks required

Green-roofed CLT classrooms immerse children in nature

October 22, 2019 by  
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After transforming a historic castle into a secondary school for the Groenendaal College, Antwerp architectural firm HUB was approached once again by the same client to tackle another inspiring school project — an energy-efficient primary school addition in the middle of leafy Groenendaal Park. Fittingly titled the Park Classrooms, the recently completed project provides four classrooms and a large central gathering space for up to 90 Groenendaal Primary School children aged between 6 to 7 years old. The building opens up on all sides to the park and minimizes its environmental impact with a compact footprint, use of CLT materials and additional energy-efficient features. Opened in September, the Park Classrooms were developed as part of a government-funded effort to create extra school places in Antwerp. The new pavilion replaces four classrooms, previously housed in containers, with a single structure with a compact floor plan and an emphasis on sustainability. To that end, the architects used circular construction techniques, including cross-laminated timber for the main structure and eco-friendly finishing materials and also engineered the building for ease of dismantling for maintenance and replacement. Topped with a sloping moss-sedum roof cantilevered to provide shade, the Park Classrooms is minimalist and modern to keep focus on the outdoors. Large windows, glazed double doors, and skylights flood the interior with natural light and blur the boundary between indoors and out. Natural materials are used throughout the interior to strengthen ties with the outdoors. The four classrooms are each located on a corner of the pavilion and open up to the outdoors and to a central indoor “living room” that can serve as a reception or be used for cross-classroom activities. Related: UK’s first energy positive classroom produces 1.5x the energy it uses “They were created with ‘quality of life’ in mind, which is based on the vision that sustainability is more than just energy efficiency and that architecture departs from building a liveable environment,” explain the architects. “The four classrooms that surround this space all have double external doors that give access to a covered outdoor area in the park. In this way, the children can also work or play outside, in the immediate vicinity of the familiar classroom environment.” + HUB Images © David Jacobs

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