This stunning brick "cave house" in Vietnam is open to the elements

April 17, 2018 by  
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Vietnamese firm H&P Architects has created a unique “cave” fit for human habitation. Their “Brick Cave” townhouse has three levels of brick walls, each one with apertures that create a playful atmosphere of light and shadow throughout the interior. Pockets of greenery accent the brick construction throughout the house, and a vegetable garden on the roof caps off the structure. Built on a corner lot in ?ông Anh, Vietnam, the home is nestled on the street and blends into the urban landscape. The architects chose to use brick in the construction to create not just a unique home design, but one with an ecological shade system. The multiple walls both filter natural light into the home and shade the interior from the region’s searing summer heat. Related: H&P Architects’ Bamboo Homes Float Above Rising Flood Waters on Recycled Oil Drums The idiosyncratic design is a labyrinth of walkways, stairs and angles illuminated by streams of natural light. In fact, to use the sun to the home’s advantages, the architects conducted a number of studies on the sun’s daily positions in relation to the house. Although the apertures may appear a bit random at first sight, they were strategically implemented to keep the home cool in the summer heat while providing as much natural light as possible. According to H&P Architects , the unconventional combination of bricks and greenery was essential to connect the home to its surroundings: “Brick Cave encompasses a chain of space…with random apertures gradually shifting from openness/publicity to closeness/privacy and vice versa. The combination of ‘close’ and ‘open’ creates diverse relations with the surroundings and thus helps blur the boundaries between in and out, houses and streets/alleys, human and nature.” In addition to having various openings, the walls are slanted inwards. This represents another conscious choice on the part of the architects–the slanted walls provide better viewing angles of the surrounding area and add a sense of nature to the design, letting in elements such as rain and wind. Harsh elements are commonly to blame for house flooding in this region, so the architects wanted a resilient design that would aid in protecting the home by letting the elements pass through it rather than crash into it, essentially creating a safe shelter. + H&P Architects Via Archdaily Photography by Nguyen Tien Thanh

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This stunning brick "cave house" in Vietnam is open to the elements

This couple turned an old RV into a five-person home for just $3,000

April 5, 2018 by  
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Renovating an old RV is no easy feat, but ambitious couples are taking on the challenge with some seriously incredible results. When sky-high rental prices in California forced Ashley and Dino Petrone to look for alternative housing options for their family, they decided to convert a 2003 Cougar Keystone camper into one very sophisticated living space. Although it’s a mere 180 square feet, their new home is spacious enough for their large family and includes a beautiful interior design. Even more surprising, the family spent just $11,000 to create the tiny home of their dreams. The Petrones sold their five-bedroom house with hopes of building their dream home on land they purchased in Ventura, California. However, they needed a place to live while they built it. Soaring rental prices in California forced the couple to look for an alternative living situation; they solved this problem by purchasing a dilapidated Keystone camper for $8,000 and spending just $3,000 to renovate it, proving once again that brilliant home design doesn’t have to be expensive. Related: Family of five moves from a 2,100-square-foot-house to a beautifully renovated school bus After purchasing the camper, they gutted the entire rundown interior, saving absolutely nothing. “The state of the RV was old and blue and dirty. The curtains were horrible and huge and the whole feeling just felt dark,” explained Ashley. They kicked off the renovation by ripping out the camper’s carpet and replacing it with beautiful pale timber flooring. They took down the original wallpaper in the camper and replaced with it chic wooden trim. They also replaced all of the old kitchen cabinetry, as well as the built-in furniture, which took up too much space. An Ikea desktop was custom cut for the new kitchen in order to make the space as efficient as possible. Once the camper’s shell had been renovated, the family began to add custom furniture and storage solutions that would help avoid clutter. The living space is light and airy, with an abundance of natural light . The family’s sleeping quarters take up the opposite sides of the camper, with the parents in the master bedroom at one end and the kids in triple bunk beds at the opposite end. Throughout the space, the decoration is minimal, but sophisticated – the Petrones found most of the items at garage sales or discount stores. The family posts updates on their fabulous RV conversion on their website, Arrows and Bow , as well as on their Instagram page . + Arrows and Bow Via Dwell Photographs courtesy of Arrows and Bow

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This couple turned an old RV into a five-person home for just $3,000

Melbourne architects turn an old terrace house into a gorgeous light-filled home

January 17, 2018 by  
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Melbourne-based Ben Callery Architects converted a compact terrace house with limited square footage into a contemporary, light-filled home by going upwards and outwards. The renovation introduced a large rooftop deck, and natural light floods the interior, providing a strong connection with the outdoors. The Beyond House also takes advantage of a number of sustainable features including passive heating and cooling, solar power , water harvesting, and repurposed materials. The old row home was previously cramped in between two walls with little light, but by bringing the home design upwards, the architects were able to outfit the top level with a gorgeous open-air deck that allows the homeowners to enjoy a private outdoor space. Although adding this indoor/outdoor connection to the home was imperative to the renovation, the owners were also focused on creating a strong sustainability portfolio for their new home. Related: Low-impact Abbotsford Eco House uses recycled materials wherever possible in Melbourne “The owners are serious about sustainability and wanted the new addition to be naturally comfortable, using the sun for heating, breezes for cooling, water harvesting, solar power, recycled materials (even re-using the old kitchen),” the architects said. “We looked beyond the site constraints and beyond the typical spatial boundaries within a terrace house’s rooms and levels.” The strong connection to the outdoors continues throughout the interior, which was outfitted with strategically placed windows to bring in as much natural light to the living space as possible. In fact, every room in the house has a floor-to-ceiling glass door that provides optimal light, further fusing the indoor with the outdoor. + Ben Callery Architects Via Freshome Photography by Peter Bennetts via Ben Callery Architects

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Melbourne architects turn an old terrace house into a gorgeous light-filled home

Architects create exquisite home addition out of reclaimed barn wood and local stone

January 2, 2018 by  
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Montana-based JLF Architects recently updated a gorgeous home in Jackson Hole with a spacious addition built out of reclaimed barn wood and local stone. The home design is straight out of a fairy tale, with rustic wood paneling and a glass-enclosed interior walkway leading from one end of the existing structure to its new extension. The home is located deep in the Teton Pines community, surrounded by thick forest. The homeowners were looking to add space to host visiting family during the summer and holidays, but they wanted to retain the existing home’s aesthetic. Working with local firm, Big-D Signature , JLF Architects created a design that would enhance the home’s size, but without sacrificing its beautiful rustic character. Related: Dilapidated 1800s dairy barn resurrected into a stunning home in Wyoming According to the architects, the design was focused on extending the original design rather than adding on an independent addition, “Our design-build approach allowed our team to look at the design of this home holistically to create continuity and quality within the architecture,” explains JLF Architects principal Logan Leachman. To find the appropriate materials, the architects searched various local log yards for reclaimed timber and stone that would match the original structure. Luckily, they found Montana moss rock and rough-sawn fir panels as well as 20th-century chestnut hardwood floors, all of which were used in the construction of the 700-square-foot addition. To connect the old space with the new addition, partners Big-D Signature crafted a beautiful glass entryway that connects the two structures. The glass walls allow for natural light to flood the interior and provides some seriously stunning views of the natural surroundings. The walkway is bookended by two stone walls that, along with the glass and timber passageway, brings the exterior into the interior. + JLF Architects + Big-D Signature

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6 ways to make your life more "Hygge" – the Danish secret to happiness

December 26, 2017 by  
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Unless you are from Denmark or Norway, the concept of “hygge” (pronounced hoo-gah) was likely foreign to you until the past few years when this idea of “cozying around” began gaining serious traction. In this big, loud, harsh world, many of us desire a return to good company, simple pleasures, and mindfulness in the moment, and hygge embodies these ideas and more. We’re sharing six ways to help you create this restorative state of mind beloved for centuries in Denmark (by way of Norway ). Image © @quizzically_yours 1. Host a low-key and intimate get-together Small hang-outs with friends are an ideal hygge-promoting gathering. Hygge get-togethers aren’t pretentious: think board game night , card night, or a bagel brunch in the comfort of your own home. The focus of these gatherings is on togetherness, not on spending five hours baking fussy hors d’oeuvres or desserts, so they are perfect for throwing together at a moment’s notice and are super potluck-friendly . An event that gets people absorbed in each other’s company and a low-tech activity that encourages them to detach from their phones is definitely high on the hygge scale. Linked to the concept of hygge is an appreciation of the outdoors, and Danes are known for prizing their open-air time from a young age: babies in Denmark and all over Scandinavia even take their naps outside . Take your gathering outdoors (weather permitting) to bring together the best of both worlds: huddling around an outdoor fire pit definitely fits the bill as does taking a dip in a hot tub. Image © Maria via Unsplash 2. Or make your own solo hygge experience Although hygge is often associated with cozy, candlelit get-togethers with dear friends, you can create your own hygge vibe when you are by yourself. Fredagsmys , a word from Denmark’s Nordic neighbor Sweden , is an actual term used for curling up indoors on a Friday night. So watch a movie, sit on the sofa, or make yourself some hot chocolate or tea and relax with a book (perhaps in front of a fire). Hygge is focused on the idea of enjoying and being aware of simple moments and experiences, so everything doesn’t have to be “just so”: partaking in a free flowing  yoga  practice or a nourishing  soup making  session applies. Image © Alisa Anton via Unsplash 3. Create hygge-friendly spaces in your home While it may be tempting to get caught up in the hygge-buying fever and feel the desire to suddenly possess a plethora of knit throws, cushy pillows, an array of scented candles, and more items, there’s no financial obligation required for creating a warm, comfortable, friendly space. Putting your favorite vintage and reclaimed  knickknacks on display creates a sociable, lived-in vibe. Ditto for items picked up during memorable vacations and roadtrips. If you have a home with large open spaces, consider arranging the furniture that you already own in configurations that encourage intimate tête à têtes. Even a small side table or an ottoman can be a place to gather around, set down your mug, or put your feet up. Interior designer Dani Arps for TaskRabbit suggests, “Texture and natural materials always add warmth; think chunky or nubby blankets stored in a mesh basket that sits next to a reclaimed coffee table.” Related: DIY Meditation Temple Built from Salvaged Materials Photo © Aaron Burden via Unsplash 4. Make space for quiet/meditation Mindfulness and gratitude are definitely components of a hygge mentality, and they dovetail nicely with many people’s goals of having a regular meditation practice. If sitting cross-legged and reciting a mantra isn’t your cup of tea, then consider making your cup of tea the meditation itself. Give yourself permission to really savor and enjoy your morning beverage  without feeling the need to check social media. Or take an invigorating walk with your dog by your side, soak in the tub , journal or even make a phone call to a friend or family member who you can’t connect with in person-these all align with the idea of creating a soothing and reflective practice. Since mindfulness is the goal, avoid multitasking while you are doing whatever activity you choose. Image via Inhabitots 5. Make comforting and nourishing food and drink If you were to scan Instagram, many of the images hashtagged with hygge would start to resemble each other: hands around a warm mug of something, a table laid out with humble but hearty fare, like this mushroom quinoa risotto , a bowl of oatmeal, or fruit and nut-studded granola. Another central tenet in Danish culture is spending time with family , so pulling out a favorite recipe that has been shared over generations for a family gathering is a great way to honor tradition (not to mention the fact that commonly beloved food seems to have a way of smoothing over many family riffs). A super hygge-friendly activity: create an intimate  multigenerational family cooking class with a matriarch or patriarch of the family teaching the younger set how to make a traditional family dish. A few other ideas to get you started include apple cider served in apple cups , a homemade vegan nutella-like spread , one pot sun-dried tomato and basil pasta , and a decadent vegan chocolate cake made with veggies . Image © Antonia Bukowska via Unsplash 6. Put hygge concepts to work year-round Although the idea of cozying around a fire or snuggled up on the couch with our favorites makes winter the season most associated with hygge, the concept of hygge can be employed throughout the year. After all, hygge is a mindset for making “ essential and mundane tasks dignified, joyful, and beautiful ”. To that end, going for a midsummer midnight swim, having a backyard BBQ with a few friends, taking a hike in the spring rain, or organizing a pumpkin picking and carving session could all embody this mind/body/soul-nourishing concept. Lead image ©  Worthy of Elegance via Unsplash

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6 ways to make your life more "Hygge" – the Danish secret to happiness

Low-impact ‘Outside House’ is built on an old lava flow in the mountains of Maui

November 22, 2017 by  
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Oregon-based firm FLOAT Architectural Research and Design recently built the “Outside House” for a client who wants to spend her days communing with nature at its fullest. To provide a strong connection to the surroundings, the architects created two simple wooden cabins – the Mauka house and the Makai house – on top of a three-hundred-year-old solidified lava flow high up in the Maui mountains. According to FLOAT architect Erin Moore, the design was inspired by a back-to-basics philosophy that puts the focus on enjoying nature, “The Outside House is a place to live outside. Two small pavilions shape the basics of daily life and structure an intentional relationship with the land.” Related: World’s most active volcano harbors a tiny off-grid home—and you can stay overnight The first cabin, the Mauka (Hawaiian for “inland toward the mountains” ) pavilion, is an enclosed cabin with a small bedroom. It’s equipped with just the basic necessities – a bed, built-in bench and small desk with chair – and it has a large sliding window that provides beautiful views of the landscape. The cabin is raised off the ground by four concrete blocks to reduce its impact on the ground. The Makai (Hawaiian for “seaward”) pavilion is an open-air deck with a small kitchen that offers stunning view out over the Pacific and the island of Kahoolawe in the distance. The wooden cladding and deck were are made from Juniper – a tree that is harvested for its protective qualities in the Pacific Northwest. An open shower is located on the backside of the kitchen, covered with a privacy panel made out of woven marine rope. Based on the wishes of the homeowner, the construction process took great lengths to protect the land. The architects built the cabins using prefabricated galvanized steel, which was carried to the building site by hand to anchor one of the cabins to the ground, while the other one was placed on concrete blocks. This reduced the impact of the project while also allowing the structures to be easily dismantled. + FLOAT Architectural Research and Design Via The Contemporist Photography by Olivier Koning

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This gorgeous Maui home has a geometric roof that doubles as the ‘ultimate terrace’

October 31, 2017 by  
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Ljubljana-based firm Dekleva Gregori? Arhitekti has built a beautiful contemporary home in Maui that provides striking views of the expansive coastline. The home’s unique angular roof – which is twice the size of the building itself – was designed to mimic the rugged surrounding landscape, and it doubles as an expansive open-air terrace . Located in the West Maui Mountains, the 5,000-square-foot home was built with locally-sourced materials whenever possible – including beach sand, which was integrated into the plaster finish applied to the interior walls. The building consists of five semi-separate “mini houses” arranged in an elongated u-shape that provides perfect ocean views from every angle. Related: Timber Chimney House gives farmhouse vernacular a modern twist At the heart of the design is the irregular roof, whose elongated, “choppy” angles are actually more than a unique design whim. The roof’s large shape provides protection against the area’s strong sun and wind conditions. Additionally, the roof extends generously over the structure’s perimeter in various areas, creating several shaded outdoor nooks. And just for fun, one section of the roof slopes to ground level, enabling the occupants to easily climb on top to enjoy the jaw-dropping ocean views. Clad in wooden slats, the roof will weather over the years with a green-hued grey patina , further embedding the structure into its idyllic surroundings. + Dekleva Gregori? Arhitekti Via Dezeen

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This gorgeous Maui home has a geometric roof that doubles as the ‘ultimate terrace’

Melbourne architects upcycle 1960s warehouse into stunning energy-efficient home

October 25, 2017 by  
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Melbourne-based Zen Architects  converted a rundown 1960s warehouse into a gorgeous, energy-efficient home . The green-centric architects focused the ethos of the project on retaining and reusing as much of the warehouse’s original materials as possible while simultaneously creating an ultra-efficient, light-filled family home. The architects focused the project on using whatever they could from the almost 60-year-old space to create a contemporary home. The original frame and open layout of the 2,583-square-foot warehouse was kept as it was in order to start with an open slate. To begin the project, the design team carefully stripped various original features from the warehouse such as light fixtures, sprinkler pipes, doors, cladding, and roof sheeting – all to be repurposed into the new home, which has a 6.1 star energy rating. Related: Perkins + Will overhauls a boring concrete warehouse into beautiful LEED Gold offices The existing concrete floor of the warehouse was kept in tact for two reasons: to retain the industrial character of the building and for the energy-efficient benefits that come along with a concrete base. The living space was carefully crafted into the open layout to create a comfy living area down below with the bedrooms on a newly created “floating” mezzanine level installed in the roof’s volume between the existing trusses. Plywood pods were used to create spaces for the bedrooms and en suite bathrooms, which are reached by a wooden staircase. A continual sense of light and space was achieved by strategically placing windows and glazed panels that provide a seamless connection between the interior living space the outdoor areas. To add open-air space within the living area, the architects created a north-facing interior courtyard, which in addition to flooding the interior with natural light , provides natural heat to the interior during the wintertime. To waterproof the space, the architects laid a new ground level slab that drains rain water to a storm water pit. The slab is hidden under a timber deck made of recycled wood that runs through the interior and exterior spaces. + Zen Architects Via Dwell

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Melbourne architects upcycle 1960s warehouse into stunning energy-efficient home

Antony Gibbon’s Lucent House is a serene minimalist retreat made of glass and stone

October 19, 2017 by  
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UK-based designer Antony Gibbon never ceases to amaze with his spectacular designs inspired by nature . His latest work, the Lucent House, combines glazed walls and stonework to create a serene, minimalist structure that blends into its environs. Nature is a common theme in Gibbon’s work, which, in the past, has included plenty of unique treehouse designs . The designer explains that through his work, he strives to create a strong, seamless connection between living spaces and their environment. “Each structure is individually created to consider the surroundings using sustainable materials wherever possible. I aim to create organic forms that exist in nature using natural materials that unite the two,” he writes on his website. Related: Antony Gibbon unveils a new light-filled treehouse designed for the ground The Lucent House is comprised of four stone walls that are connected with large glazed panels. A series of geometric forms twist and turn to create an open layout, while large floor-to-ceiling windows flood the interior with natural light . A wooden terrace runs the along the entire outline of the home, creating a beautiful deck that is sheltered by the hanging roof. The Lucent House is designed to sit peacefully on any body of water. However, according to Gibbon, the size and volume of the home can be adapted to suit almost any landscape. + Antony Gibbon Designs Images via Antony Gibbon

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Antony Gibbon’s Lucent House is a serene minimalist retreat made of glass and stone

LEGO launches Women of NASA set

October 19, 2017 by  
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Trailblazing women who have been instrumental in NASA’s space program are being honored in a special way: as LEGO toys. The company just displayed the final design , with an official launch date for the 231-piece set that includes four women: Mae Jemison, Sally Ride, Margaret Hamilton, and Nancy Grace Roman. Science writer and LEGO tinkerer Maia Weinstock proposed the idea for Women of NASA on the LEGO Ideas platform last summer – and reached 10,000 supporters in 15 days. LEGO designers Gemma Anderson and Marie Sertillanges got on board to help transform the idea into an official set, which will launch November 1. Related: BIG’s LEGO House officially opens to the public in Denmark Sally Ride was the first American woman in space , while Mae Jemison was the first woman of color in space. Nancy Grace Roman was the first woman to hold an executive role at NASA, and was instrumental in planning the Hubble Telescope . Margaret Hamilton “led the team that developed the building blocks of software engineering – a term that she coined herself,” according to NASA . Weinstock said in a statement, “…when girls and women are given more encouragement in the STEM fields, they become more likely to pursue careers in these areas. With this project, I wanted to spotlight a fantastic group of women who have made seminal contributions to NASA history. My dream would be to know that the first human on Mars – or an engineer or computer scientist who helped her get there – played with the LEGO Women of NASA as a child and was inspired to pursue a STEM career as a result.” The original proposal included five women, but according to a LEGO statement, “Katherine Johnson chose not to be part of the set.” If you’re in the New York City area, there will be a pre-release event October 28 at the Flatiron District LEGO store on 200 5th Avenue from 10 AM to 2 PM. You can check out details on the Facebook event page here . Via LEGO and LEGO Ideas Blog Images via LEGO

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