Kengo Kuma unveils bold timber museum in Turkey that pays homage to the region’s Ottoman heritage

September 17, 2019 by  
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The world-renowned architects of Kengo Kuma and Associates have just unveiled a stunning museum in Turkey. Located in Eskisehir, the Odunpazari Modern Museum features several stacked timber boxes that seemingly rise out of the ground at various angles, paying homage to the city’s Ottoman heritage. Featuring a design led by Kengo Kuma partner Yuki Ikeguchi, the new 48,400-square-foot museum is a light-filled, multilevel space that holds a collection of 1,000 pieces of contemporary art . Although the artworks inside the museum are decidedly modern, the building’s design was heavily influenced by the city’s history. Related: Kengo Kuma suspends a cocoon-like timber dwelling for minimal site impact According to Kengo Kuma and Associates , the timber and stacked volumes of the Odunpazari Modern Museum were implemented into the design to reconnect the area with its heritage. For example, the word “Odunpazari” means “wood market” in Turkish. Using bold, square-edged timber logs as the building’s principle construction material pays homage to the region’s long history of wood trading. In addition to its timber materials , which feature strongly on the exterior and throughout the interior, the museum’s volume is also a nod to the city’s Ottoman history. Most of the homes in the city that date back to the Ottoman empire were built with an upper level cantilevering over a base. Using this design as inspiration, the museum features several stacked boxes that cantilever out over the ground floor base at various angles. Inside the museum, these interlocked boxes create distinct spaces of varying sizes. The larger exhibition rooms on the bottom floor house large-scale art works and installations, while the smaller boxes at the upper levels exhibit smaller artworks. A reception area and atrium are found in the middle of the museum. Clad in timber slats, a massive, central skylight leads up through the floors, welcoming natural light into the interiors of each level. + Kengo Kuma + Odunpazari Modern Museum Images via Kengo Kuma and Associates

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Kengo Kuma unveils bold timber museum in Turkey that pays homage to the region’s Ottoman heritage

This prefab tower was built using net-zero design principles

September 10, 2019 by  
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Located 100 kilometers from Beijing, the Lakeside Plugin Tower was developed as a model prototype for a city concept using sustainable, net-zero design principles. The tower serves as an important model for a low-carbon eco city concept, called “Xiong’an New Area,” being advanced by the central government. The urban design will use 100 percent clean electricity, and 10 percent of the area will be protected as permanent farmland. The structure creates 480 square meters of living and working space and was developed by People’s Architecture Office in partnership with the Shenzhen Institute of Building Research, a China-based engineering company helping to lead the country in both green design and urban development. Related: The prefab Plugin House turns ruins into livable dwellings in just one day Once completed, the Xiong’an New Area will become a congestion-free, sustainable housing region that will serve as an alternative to the capital. The government hopes to keep the new area affordable by making all housing state-owned and subsidized. Built on a foundation made of distributed concrete piers and raised one story above the ground to lessen environmental impact on the building site, the tower adheres to China’s “sponge city concept,” the idea of building structures above the ground to allow stormwater to permeate the earth below to reduce extreme flooding and surface pollution , especially in metropolitan areas. The elevated-building concept also allows for sunlight to better access the site and produce more greenery. The prefabricated process serves to both reduce costs and make construction more efficient. Panels can be installed manually through a locking system using a single tool, so entire sections of the tower can be removed or added without affecting the main structure. Solar panels cover the roof of the building, which also serve as a way to heat the floors. The windows are designed to allow for natural ventilation, and an off-grid sewer system creates on-site sustainable wastewater treatment. + People’s Architecture Office Via ArchDaily Photography by Jin Weiqi and People’s Architecture Office

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This prefab tower was built using net-zero design principles

A shipping container is recycled into a chic nature retreat in Brazil

September 2, 2019 by  
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When a client approached Bruno Zaitter with a request for a minimalist and sustainable getaway in Brazil’s Balsa Nova, the Brazilian architect and professor decided that cargotecture would be the perfect fit for the brief. Proving that less can be more, the architect upcycled a secondhand shipping container into a relatively compact 538-square-foot abode with a bedroom, bathroom, living and dining area, kitchen and an outdoor terrace. Most importantly, the structure, named the Purunã Refuge, immerses the client in nature with its large glazed walls that embrace panoramic views in all directions. Protected on the west side by a lush native forest, the Purunã Refuge is set at the foot of a geographical fault called Escarpa Denoviana and enjoys privacy, immersion in nature and views of the city skyline beyond. The project, completed in 2016, draws on Zaitter’s experience with recycling shipping containers into contemporary structures. As with its predecessors, the Purunã Refuge is elevated off the ground for reduced site impact. Related: A modern farmstay suite minimizes site impact in Brazil Raised 3 meters off the ground and accessible by outdoor stairs, the dwelling features a 12-meter-long container — comprising the sleeping area, a portion of the kitchen, the entrance and the bathroom with a soaking tub — that has been extended by two glass-enclosed volumes on either side. The larger of the two boxes houses the living and dining area as well as office space; the smaller box is a bump out of the kitchen that extends into the forest. Stretching northwest to southeast, the Purunã Refuge is accessed from the north side, which leads up to an outdoor terrace . “The project’s concept was to group the essential universes of human life — eating, sleeping, sanitizing, working and socializing — in a space of about 50 square meters with the greatest possible contact with the surrounding natural landscape,” Zaitter explained. “The biggest challenge was convincing people who still believe that large space equals comfortable space, and that small space is uncomfortable space. The refuge proved that less is more.” + Bruno Zaitter Photography by Sergio Mendonça Jr. via Bruno Zaitter

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A shipping container is recycled into a chic nature retreat in Brazil

U.S. agriculture needs a 21st-century New Deal

July 10, 2019 by  
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How can we give power back to farmers — and out carbon back into the ground?

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U.S. agriculture needs a 21st-century New Deal

U.S. agriculture needs a 21st-century New Deal

July 10, 2019 by  
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How can we give power back to farmers — and out carbon back into the ground?

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U.S. agriculture needs a 21st-century New Deal

This multigenerational smart home boasts energy savings

July 3, 2019 by  
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When a family approached international design practice ONG&ONG to design a home for accommodating multigenerational needs, the firm responded with a contemporary abode that not only caters to residents of different ages, but also boasts a reduced carbon footprint. Located in Singapore, the 37FC House is carefully laid out to make the most of its long and linear plot and to optimize exposure for its rooftop solar panels. In addition to other energy saving systems such as home automation , the multigenerational home is estimated to save 30 percent on energy costs as compared to similarly sized homes. The strikingly contemporary 37FC House stands out from its neighbors with its boxy form spread out across four levels to maximize living space on a narrow lot. Deep overhangs protect the interior from Singapore’s intense heat, while an abundance of greenery planted around the perimeter and on every floor of the house help cultivate a cooling microclimate and provide a sense of privacy for the residents. Retractable full-height glazing creates a seamless indoor/outdoor living experience, while the generous use of teak throughout the home further emphasizes the connection with nature. Related: Singapore’s energy-efficient green heart center Spanning an area of 5,800 square feet, the 37FC House includes four bedrooms across four floors, including the basement and attic. The main service areas and communal spaces are located on the ground floor that opens up to a lushly planted rear garden, where a Sukabumi-tiled lap pool is located. With approximately 1.5 times more floor space than the ground volume, the second floor cantilevers over the ground floor and contains two junior suites in the rear and the master bedroom that opens up to views of the street and garden. The attic houses a guest bedroom, while the basement includes an additional living room. A sky-lit black steel staircase and an elevator join the home’s four floors.  To reduce energy consumption, the home is powered with solar energy. Home automation that can be remotely controlled with a smartphone — such as the EIB system for controlling lighting — also helps with energy savings. + ONG&ONG Images by Derek Swalwell

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This multigenerational smart home boasts energy savings

A potato field is transformed into an award-winning communal home in the Netherlands

May 8, 2019 by  
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Amsterdam-based architectural firm bureau SLA and Utrecht-based ZakenMaker have transformed a one-hectare potato field in the rural area of Oosterwold Almere, the Netherlands into nine connected homes for a group of pioneers seeking a sustainable communal lifestyle. Initially, Frode Bolhuis had approached the architects to construct his dream home, but the very limited budget prompted him to ask eight of his like-minded friends to join to make the project possible. The nine homes—each 1,722 square feet in size—are all located under one roof in the Oosterwold Co-living Complex, a long rectangular building with a shared porch, landscape and vegetable garden. The client’s tight budget largely drove the design decisions behind Oosterwold Co-living Complex. Not only did the project morph into a co-living complex as a result of limited funds, but the architects also decided that only the exterior would be designed and left the design of the interiors up to families. Elevated off the ground for a reduced footprint and to allow residents to choose the location of the sewage system and water pipes, the rectilinear building extends nearly 330 feet in length and appears to float above the landscape. “The façade is designed to give maximum freedom of choice within an efficient building system,” explain the architects. “Each family received a plan for seven windows and doors, which can be placed in the façade. The space between the frames is vitrified with solid parts of glass without a frame. This creates an uncluttered but diverse façade. Oosterwold Co-living Complex demonstrates that it’s possible to achieve a convincing design within a tight budget and which, most importantly, manages to meet the expectations of nine different clients.” Related: How shared space makes four micro apartments in Japan seem much larger For a cost-effective solution to insulation, the architects built the floor, roof and adjoining walls out of hollow wooden cassettes that were then filled with insulating cellulose. Floor-to-ceiling windows open up to a long, communal porch that overlooks the shared landscape and vegetable garden. The windows also bring ample amounts of natural light indoors while the roof overhang helps block unwanted solar gain. The Oosterwold Co-living Complex won the Frame Awards 2019 in the category Co-living Complex of the Year. + bureau SLA + ZakenMaker Images by Filip Dujardin

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A potato field is transformed into an award-winning communal home in the Netherlands

A solar-powered home in Maine rises above the sand dunes on wooden stilts

March 20, 2019 by  
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Portland-based firm  Caleb Johnson Studio has unveiled a beautiful cedar-clad home elevated off the ground on stilts so that the natural “landscape is allowed to flow under the house.” The solar-powered home, named “In the Dunes,” was designed to not only protect the natural dune terrain, but the resilient design also reduces the risk of damage caused by potential coastal flooding. Located in the coastal town of Wells in southern Maine, the three-story home is built on sand dunes overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Due to instability of the dune landscape, the architects decided to elevate the home off the ground by large wooden stilts  built into a concrete plinth. According to the firm, this was a strategic decision to allow the landscape to continue in its natural state under the home. It is also a resilient feature to protect the home from coastal flooding. Related: Stormwaters sweep beneath this coastal beach house raised above dunes The design was meant to fit into the local vernacular, comprised mainly of charming beach houses . “This home was influenced by the vernacular coastal structures that can be found dotting the Maine coast,” Caleb Johnson Studio said in a project description. “The building was simplified to pure geometric forms and then manipulated and modernized to take advantage of the sea and marsh views.” With its cedar cladding, pitched roofs (installed with solar panels ) and multiple large windows, the home certainly manages to blend in with its natural surroundings. On the interior, the space is also focused on the incredible views. The ground floor is marked by the large wooden stilts that form a pleasant, open-air space, which wraps around the home with a wooden pathway leading the way to the glass-enclosed entryway. From the front door, a large window surrounded by natural stones leads up to the upper floors. Once inside, an abundance of strategically placed windows provide panoramic views from nearly any angle. An interior design comprised of a neutral color palette and minimal furnishings creates an incredibly welcoming home. + Caleb Johnson Studio Via Dezeen Photography by Trent Bell via Caleb Johnson Studio

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Are bioenergy facilities the solution to the growing garbage problem?

March 20, 2019 by  
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Have you ever heard of bioenergy? Or, have you ever wondered where your garbage goes once you throw it out? For many people — especially Americans — once their trash leaves the house, there is no more thought about where it goes or what happens to it. As soon as a sanitation worker picks up your garbage , there is no reason to think about the serious problems that massive amounts of waste can cause. Every year, Americans discard about 250 million tons of resources, making them the largest generator of waste on Earth. Approximately 136 million tons are buried, 89 million tons are composted or recycled  and 33 million tons are burned. Yet, have you ever thought about how those methods of trash disposal impact communities and the environment ? In an effort to dispose of trash in a more eco-friendly way, many countries have started increasing the disposal method of waste-to-energy, or bioenergy , because when the garbage is burned, it generates energy. Some countries have even switched to bioenergy completely, like Sweden, who has actually run out of its own trash and imports 700,000 tons annually to meet the capacity of their waste-to-energy plants. In Norway, they are experimenting with fueling their public transportation system with biogas. According to Energy Central, one kilogram of food waste produces a half liter of fuel . The city of Oslo powers 135 buses with their organic waste. It may seem like a good idea to turn trash into energy, but is the process really as environmentally-friendly as it sounds? Related: Scientists invent a solar panel that produces hydrogen The Controversy When waste is burned to produce energy and heat, the process produces an enormous amount of smoke. Nearly all of that smoke is carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas, and there is nothing clean about that. Could this really be better than recycling or even burying trash in a landfill ? Waste-to-energy is not a “renewable” process because unlike solar or wind, once the waste is burned, that’s it. There is no more energy production from that specific resource. Gayle Sloan, chief executive of the Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia, says that the goal is to create energy from burning materials that recycling programs leave behind. This means the waste hierarchy is prevention and recycling before bioenergy and landfills. But, according to Jane Bremmer, coordinator of the campaign group Zero Waste Oz, waste-to-energy incinerators are actually a threat to recycling. “We appear to have this system where waste-to-energy incinerations are being allowed to remove material recovery facilities (recycling centers) from their planned projects,” says Bremmer. “They are doing that because it assures their waste stream.” Not only is waste-to-energy emitting greenhouse gasses and threatening recycling, but it can also be polluting the air. Wheelabrator, an incinerator located in Peekskill, New York, burns 2,250 tons of waste every day and provides “clean, renewable electricity.” But, is that an honest claim? The plant emits toxins into the air that can be deadly — 577 million pounds of carbon dioxide and 131,000 pounds of carbon monoxide every year, according to the Emissions Containment Totals Report . Then there is the sulfur dioxide and nitrogen, which means the citizens around that plant are breathing in a plethora of dirty pollutants . Related: Verizon pledges $1 billion for programs that help the environment In Australia, there is also a problem when it comes to funding. Not only are their waste-to-energy plants polluting the air and damaging their recycling programs, but they are also gobbling up cash from government grant and loan programs. “It’s consuming, in a large degree, a petroleum product into an energy stream which produces CO2 equivalent,” says Robin Chapple, Greens Western Australian MP. “We managed to control the emissions, like dioxins, but we are still turning the plastics into a greenhouse gas . If you have a good recycling program which deals well with waste, the feedstock for incineration disappears.” Smart Solutions Inventors from the Center for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology (SMaRT) program at the University of New South Wales are attempting to take recycling to the next level . Instead of burning materials to create energy, they have developed a microfactory that can be placed at waste sites that can turn discarded items into molecules which can then be transformed into something new. “If you are using something and then, after a single life, saying, ‘I’m done with it, and I’m going to burn away the fundamental molecules and elements and everything else to release a bit of energy’, then that’s not good,” says UNSW engineering professor Veena Sahajwalla, the head of the SMaRT project. She says that if we simply burn our waste, then we aren’t trying hard enough to find ways to repurpose materials and resources. For Sahajwalla, bioenergy is not the solution to our environmental problems. Via The Guardian Images via Shutterstock

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Are bioenergy facilities the solution to the growing garbage problem?

Escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life in these bamboo huts built on a remote Vietnamese beach

March 20, 2019 by  
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When it comes to completely disconnecting from the stresses of everyday life, sometimes it’s worth the while to really go off-the-beaten-path. Thanks to Vietnamese architecture firm, VTN Architects , now you can find a little slice of serenity in a very remote area of Vietnam. Located about 2 hours from the nearest port and only accessible by boat, the Castaway Island Resort is comprised of five bamboo guest huts , covered in thatched roofs and engulfed on one side by a verdant mountain range and on the other by a private white sand beach. The Ho Chi Minh City-based firm designed the resort to offer the ultimate in lodging for those who want to reconnect with nature. Located on a tiny island that’s part of the Cat Ba Archipelago, the idyllic area is a well-known tourist destination. Tucked into a soaring mountain range on one side and a private beach on the other, guests at the eco-retreat can enjoy breathtaking views from anywhere inside the bamboo huts and outside the property. Related: Top 6 Must-See Summer Eco Resorts Around the World! Using the natural landscape for inspiration, the architects used environment-friendly bamboo to craft the huts that make up the guests rooms, as well as the restaurant and multi-use pavilion. The huts were built using thin bamboo rods that were treated in a traditional Vietnamese technique that involves soaking the bamboo in mud first and then smoking it afterwards. Once properly treated, the bamboo frames were assembled by bamboo dowel nails and re-enforced by rope. Covered with thatched roofs, the huts not only offer an authentic Vietnamese cultural experience, but also reduce the building’s impact on the existing landscape. Using bamboo as the primary building material meant adding durability to the design, as well as the option to be easily removed without leaving a footprint on the beautiful landscape. Guests will enjoy staying in the spacious guest rooms, but can also enjoy spending time in the restaurant and onsite pavilion. Built in the same style as the bamboo huts , the restaurant is built in a hyperbolic-parabolic shell volume. This shape allows the communal area to be covered, but open on all sides so that guests can take in unobstructed views while they enjoy local fare served by the restaurant. + VTN Architects Via Archdaily Photography by Hiroyuki Oki, via VTN Architects

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Escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life in these bamboo huts built on a remote Vietnamese beach

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