Passive design keeps House Under Shadows cool and near net-zero

August 30, 2021 by  
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House Under Shadows is actually two houses, connected through  passive design  elements to provide efficient space for two families in a sustainable way. The structure is located in Karnal, Haryana, India, and was designed by Zero Energy Design Lab. The two separate houses each feature all the elements of comfortable housing with attention to net-zero features while honoring the culture of the area. In a press release, the architects reported, “the design was inspired by the proximity and architectural elements of a palatial hotel in Karnal – Noor Mahal’s ‘chowk’ and ‘chhatris’ which are elements derived from the traditional Indian ‘havelis.’” Related: The Cantilever House combats a hot climate with sustainable design The homes are oriented north to south to take advantage of natural sun and cooling in the North Indian climate. Glazed windows minimize heat and glare while allowing  natural light  and views. They also facilitate natural ventilation. A central courtyard between the two homes is clad in stone, taking advantage of its strong thermal attributes. Meanwhile,  vertical gardens  filter the air while helping to cool the space. The pool, central to each home, acts as a heat sink, collecting heat during the day and releasing it at night. Cantilevers throughout the design shade and shelter vertical walls for further heat reduction. The most strikingly innovative feature of House Under Shadows is the additional roof that spans the courtyard and residences, bringing the separate units under a singular roof while maintaining privacy for the residents. According to the architects, this pergola reduces solar exposure by 50%, adding to the  energy-efficient  aspects of the space. The Voronoi pattern throws light and shade throughout the interior space for an intriguing visual appeal. The shadow pattern is essentially part of the  interior design , an element that is combined with the art and furnishings centered around natural colors and textures.  The team relied on a material palette of locally sourced materials with low and neutral carbon footprints that reflect heat and minimize the need for artificial cooling and lighting. This includes stone cladding and natural  wood  ceilings. + Zero Energy Design Lab   Via ArchDaily   Images via Zero Energy Design Lab

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Passive design keeps House Under Shadows cool and near net-zero

Cottage Rock tiny home nurtures healthy living and nature

August 27, 2021 by  
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The project began with a client brief by rock-climber enthusiasts who wanted to escape the hustle and bustle of daily life in favor of a simple, off-grid  tiny home  where they could focus on the health of themselves and their ailing son. With this goal in mind, the clients brought in architect Nadine Engelbrecht to overcome the obvious site challenges and deliver their new home, called Cottage Rock.  Located in Pretoria’s Tierpoort in South Africa , the building lot had little to offer as far as accessibility. The only way to access the site was on foot, and even that required dedication. The site was wedged between usable farmlands and had no agricultural value. So the first several months involved excavating a rustic road into the building site, which put limitations on the supplies and how they were delivered. Related: Viewfinder House combines great views with energy efficiency A press release from the architect said, “Due to the steep and winding road only 3m3 concrete trucks and maximum 8m long trucks could be used to supply materials. Building materials had to be planned accordingly and a 15m length steel H-column had to be cut into three lengths and reassembled.” On the build site, emphasis was placed on preserving and reusing the copious amounts of large sandstone boulders throughout the property. Designers incorporated them throughout the landscaping and into the exterior of the house to use as a climbing wall. For  minimal site impact , the footprint of the house was limited to 86 square meters, yet the home remains cozy with two loft bedrooms and an open living space below.  A tight budget and desire to respect the natural surrounding environment guided the decision to use reclaimed steel windows, raw concrete for floors and walls, and stone . The team also incorporated raw bricks and cement-washed walls. With a primary goal to eliminate chemicals, pesticides, herbicides and fungicides, all materials were used in unprocessed forms.  Catering to the client’s wish for a home that opened up to the outdoors, Cottage Rock employs retractable doors on both sides of the house to invite  natural light  and ventilation and erase the lines between indoors and outdoors.  Cottage Rock is also completely off-grid. A  rainwater collection  system funnels water into a storage tank beneath the patio. Passive design elements provide natural temperature control and meet the client’s request for extremely low operating costs for the future of the home.  + Nadine Engelbrecht Architecture  Via ArchDaily   Images via Marsel Roothman  

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Cottage Rock tiny home nurtures healthy living and nature

This prefab home expansion in Ecuador enjoys gorgeous views

August 26, 2021 by  
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The province of Pichincha in the northern Sierra region of  Ecuador  wraps around the slopes of a dormant stratovolcano. Although its capital and largest city is Quito, one of the most visited destinations in the entire country, Pichincha also boasts some spectacularly secluded forested landscapes in the highland areas of the Andes Mountains. It was here that architects at RAMA Estudio were tasked with a modular home expansion for a largely nomadic family that decided to stay put in their home during the COVID-19 lockdowns. Whereas the family could previously get away with smaller spaces due to keeping their stays short and sporadic in the house (which totaled just 65 square meters) pre-COVID, the challenge came in creating a larger space once they decided to move in permanently. The clients requested expanding the existing home to include social areas and independent bedrooms for each of their children, all to be completed within three months. RAMA Estudio responded with an industrially  prefabricated  piece that could subtly sit on the ground, attaching itself to the existing structure. Related: Stunning family home in Ecuador offers serenity in an increasingly noisy world As the home is positioned over a slope overlooking the valley, care was taken to understand the natural environment and refrain from disturbing the soil or degrading the vegetation. Additionally, no construction waste was created that wasn’t reused for other projects or within the site itself. For example, all material that could be reused from the facade demolition was sorted to improve the ground in areas surrounding the building. The project features a system of metal channels that work as the structure for the floor and roof, both of which are thermally  insulated  and allow for vegetation to grow, similar to a green roof. Hanging plants overflow from the rooftop to complement the floor-to-ceiling windows, helping the building camouflage into its naturally vegetated surroundings. Regular modules built with  plywood  panels run from each end to create storage, decorative surfaces and screens toward the bedrooms. There are separate modules for the stove and television, including one for the kitchen that contains other appliances and cabinets. + RAMA Estudio Via ArchDaily Images courtesy of Jag Studio

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This prefab home expansion in Ecuador enjoys gorgeous views

How many trees are needed to offset a city’s carbon emissions?

August 26, 2021 by  
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Trees are nature’s lungs. While we enjoy their beauty, shade and fruits of their existence, they are silently working to clean the air. The natural process of all plants taking in carbon and releasing oxygen not only gives us clean air to breathe but also stores carbon that otherwise contributes to global warming . Countries around the world are in a race to find solutions for these types of greenhouse gases, which are a result of human activities like driving cars and manufacturing goods. While the push for electric vehicles and renewable energy through  solar panels , wind power and hydroelectricity takes the spotlight, another part of the solution equation is growing all around us in the form of trees. Related: Three Americans’ lifetime emissions enough to kill one person The simple fact is, planting trees is an exceptional tool in the fight against climate change. With this in mind,  Compare The Market  has presented its most recent research on the number of trees capital cities around the world would need to plant annually to offset the carbon emissions they contribute to the atmosphere. The study is based on information available through the Global Carbon Atlas Global City Emissions dataset, which measures emissions levels. While major cities work to reverse, slow down and stop the creation of these carbon emissions, what is the estimated number of trees it would take to counterbalance them? Which countries are the highest contributors and which have the lowest  environmental  impact? According to the data, Asia has some work to do. Five of the ten top carbon-emitting capital cities are in Asia. Note that for comparative purposes, the dataset measures transport, industrial,  waste  and local power plants emissions within city boundaries. The report combined data to show the total amount of carbon produced alongside the number of trees it would take to offset it. For example, the five cities in Asia, which include Beijing, Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Seoul, release a combined 219,506,539 tCO2 annually. The cities would have to plant 43,901,308 trees each year to offset those emissions. Individually, Beijing would need to plant 15,020,976 trees, followed by Singapore with 9,366,336 and Hong Kong with 8,975,292. Tokyo needs a 5,522,200-plant offset and Seoul 5,016,504. Other cities in the top 10 were Istanbul, Lagos, Santiago, London and Mexico City.  An energy spokesperson at Compare The Market comments, “Becoming carbon neutral is an essential goal for countries around the world, and as pledges roll in to reach this target by 2050 and beyond, immediate action is needed. One way we have studied is to offset emissions by planting trees which is great for absorbing CO2, with added benefits of supporting the ecosystem and  wildlife .” The tree offset calculation is based on information sourced from Carbonify.com’s carbon dioxide emissions calculator. The estimates are based on the assumption that five  trees  planted can clean up each ton of carbon dioxide produced.  The study stated, “A tree planted in the humid tropics absorbs on average 50 pounds (22 kg) of carbon dioxide annually over 40 years – each tree will absorb 1 ton of CO2 over its lifetime; but as trees grow, they compete for resources and some may die or be destroyed – not all will achieve their full carbon sequestration potential.” On the other end of the data spectrum are the countries performing better in the battle of low carbon emissions. For these results, a few substitutions were made in the face of missing data. Toronto, Milan and Basel were substituted to include Canada, Italy and Switzerland in the study. Reykjavik, Iceland was the least carbon-emitting capital in the study with total emissions of 346,630 tCO2 per year. The city would still have some work to do, planting 69,326 trees annually to offset its footprint. Of all the cities in the study, Reykjavik was the only one to come in below the 500,000 tCO2-produced mark. Even though nearly 70,000 is still a lot of trees, it was also the only city to have an estimate below 100,000 trees per year to offset carbon emissions. New Zealand took second place for carbon control with annual emissions of 621,179 tCO2. For Wellington to neutralize this, it will have to plant 124,236 trees a year. Basel, Switzerland, had the third-lowest number to plant at 156,786 trees to offset its 783,932 tCO2 footprint. Every other city in the study came in at over 200,000 trees a year. The study provides one tool in an array of options to reduce carbon release. Planting trees alone isn’t a sustainable solution, but neither is focusing solely on renewable energy or  recycling . To achieve goals set by world leaders, it will take a combination of actions across a range of environmental fields.  “The number of trees required may seem very high in cities like Beijing which would need to plant over 15 million trees, but this is if we only used plant power alone. There are many other initiatives and technologies in place, like the government incentives, which present lots of opportunities to offset carbon emissions on a small and large scale,” the spokesman said. + Compare The Market Images via Pixabay

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ANNA is a stunning prefab cabin with off-grid potential

August 19, 2021 by  
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Many people dream of staying in a cabin in the woods, but few have dreamed of one like this. Fortunately, Dutch designer Caspar Schols did, and now it’s available in a flat-pack design that can be quickly constructed for work, living or a getaway. The idea behind this unique and versatile  cabin  is to allow nature into the space, rather than simply placing a lodging in nature. “It’s primarily about being outside, and about creating a dynamic interaction between yourself, cabin ANNA as your home, and nature,” Schols explained. Related: ARCspace’s prefab homes are a quick and sustainable housing solution That’s done through a dynamic and innovative design that allows layers of the cabin to roll away as different situations arise. It features a glass-framed interior and a wooden exterior with a roof. The exterior is made of panels on rollers that can quickly transform the space. Completely retracting the walls and roof leaves a deck surface for true outdoor living. Alternatively, removing only the  wood  panels leaves a glass sunroom for shelter from the elements while allowing in copious natural light and views. When the weather rolls in, so do the walls, for a tight closure and a cozy protected space.  Schols was new to the architecture realm, but he dreamed big and delivered. ANNA, as the cabin is known, is now a completed ANNA Stay location, and the home can be delivered to a buyer’s location nearly anywhere in Europe . It’s expected to be available for shipping worldwide in 2022. ANNA can come flat-packed or fully constructed. If construction is required onsite, the build takes a few days with a small crew and an electric crane. Schols relies on  natural materials  inside and out, using sustainable Siberian larch wood and birch plywood. Sawdust is used for insulation. The cabins are prefabricated for minimal construction waste and site impact.  The cabin covers the basics with a shower, toilet, bathtub, complete kitchen and space for a couple of beds. Buyers can customize ANNA with a central heating system to match the location’s climate. It can also be fully equipped for off-grid living with a fire-heated boiler, a solar energy system and a water  waste  treatment system. ANNA Stay has received the 2021 Architizer A+Awards Project of the Year Award in a competition with over 5,000 entries from more than 100 countries. ANNA’s ability to adapt and change enables occupants to immerse themselves in the natural surroundings. Schols says, “She gives the freedom to live among an abundance of life, and cultivates a sense of belonging. You become part of everything around you, and I believe that everyone recognizes that feeling deeply from within.”  + Cabin ANNA Photography by Jorrit ‘t Hoen and Tonu Tunnel

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Viewfinder House combines great views with energy efficiency

August 18, 2021 by  
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In an initial meeting with Faulkner Architects, the client requested every room be oriented towards the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It took some out-of-the-box thinking, but somehow the design team managed to stay in the box while achieving that goal. Called Viewfinder House, this home is located in Truckee, CA, a launching point for myriad outdoor activities in every season. Even at 7,200 square feet with a pool, the design offers unique architecture and environmentally friendly features. The body of the home is made up of two rectangular boxes, with connections between the spaces via covered porches. The lower level is contoured to match the property line, but the upper level is rotated to take full advantage of Pacific Crest mountain views. Related: House Lhotka brings energy-efficient home design to the Czech Republic The team relied on steel for the base to hold up against deep winter snow, and an exterior rain screen of red cedar, which also shields the home from the street while allowing  natural light  to filter in.  Passive design elements create shade and promote  energy efficiency  throughout the home, starting with the roof overhang that protects the glass doors from weather and solar gain inside the home. High-efficiency boilers conserve energy and work in conjunction with effective radiantly heated floors. The back of the lower level takes advantage of earth sheltering to organically insulate the home, and natural ventilation is found through window and door placement. Faulkner Architects emphasized using enhanced-efficiency glazing and insulation for a tight construction envelope. According to a press release, these combined efforts help the building achieve a 14.5% improvement in efficiency, above the already strict California energy code.   Outdoors, the surrounding hillsides are covered in native  plants  and mature trees. The materials removed from the pool and house excavation were saved and used for the nearby terraced landscaping. + Faulkner Architects Photography by Paul Hamill

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This house by the lake erases the barrier between inside and outside

August 16, 2021 by  
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Designed to harmonize with the surrounding landscape , this home merges outdoor spaces with indoor living for a multi-generational family in a home known by architecture practice Atelier Starzak Strebicki as “Single family house by the lake.” Located in Poland , this home has a common space in the connected kitchen and dining room for gatherings of any size. Massive windows provide panoramic views of the outdoors, erasing the division between the spaces. The home also provides four bedrooms, one with a moving wall for ever-changing needs as the family grows. It includes three bathrooms, a utility room, media room, garage and more. Related: The Cantilever House combats a hot climate with sustainable design The design throughout the space keeps the eye pulling forwards. Steel columns support a unique concrete roof, and the walls are constructed from  brick . The ceiling seems to reflect the flooring for a cohesive feel throughout the space. From nearly every room, residents can access terraces, including those on the roof with a view of the lake and garden. Terraces accessible from the bedrooms are covered for shade.  In addition to connecting everyday life to nature, the design team focused on  energy efficiency  with a water-to-water heat pump that relies on underground heat, pulling from two boreholes extending up to 150 meters beneath the surface. The concrete roof and thick, well-insulated walls ensure comfortable temperature control throughout the space. The architectural team at Atelier Starzak Strebicki also included a  passive design  with carefully placed windows for natural light and heat reduction. The notable skylights were placed on the north side to avoid intense heat while still allowing natural light. All of the many windows are triple-glazed for maximum efficiency in all types of weather.  When the temperature drops, a fireplace in the living room warms the space. This couples with the coziness of the space’s  natural materials  such as walnut veneer, stone and old planks from the demolished platform that were used to finish the interior.  + Atelier Starzak Strebicki  Images via Danil Daneliuk

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This house by the lake erases the barrier between inside and outside

This sustainable home has a roof that bends like a leaf

August 13, 2021 by  
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Architecture is more than creating a sound building. It’s a craft that couples personal style and visual appeal with goals for the space. In the case of the Garden House, a project located in Playa Tamarindo, Guanacaste, Costa Rica , it’s a family home that meets the challenges of immersing into the surrounding landscape while maintaining a low carbon footprint. Garden House is more than shelter, although it is built to provide shelter for everyday life and in the case of natural disasters. It’s an example of how a structure can sync with nature. To start, architects built the home on stilts for a  minimal site impact  and to allow for a green space on the ground floor. The design takes into account rising sea levels and the potential for future flooding.  Related: New apartments bring sustainable architecture to the Upper West Side Costa Rica is world-renowned for taking progressive action in the fight against climate change. With that in mind, the Garden House took the lead on creating an  energy-efficient  space through the use of high-efficiency double glass sliding doors and windows that allow in copious natural light while helping to moderate temperatures indoors. They also promote natural ventilation and eliminate the line between indoor and outdoor worlds. Also, the water from the AC is captured and reused, along with  rainwater harvesting  that is filtered and used for irrigation. Water shortages in Costa Rica and across the globe inspired the designers to use high-efficiency faucets and toilets. This eco-friendly water supply supports the many surrounding gardens, which double as a privacy barrier and natural shade. The design hopes to set an example for the potential of “food production wall systems,” where even small homes can provide their own food. While the design may start from the ground up, even the roof works in conjunction with the other sustainable elements. The architects say, “The roof bends like a leaf to provide proper shade for the house and water drainage slope while capturing the sun’s energy for the use of the Garden House.” This is done through the use of  solar panels . + LSD Architects Via ArchDaily Images via Andres Garcia Lachner

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House Lhotka brings energy-efficient home design to the Czech Republic

August 11, 2021 by  
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Sustainable construction is on the mind of builders, architects, engineers, residential homeowners and businesses around the world. A project by SOA architekti in collaboration with Richter Design reflects this mindset with  green design  elements and privacy in an open and well-lit home.  Located at Lhotka Prague 4 in the Czech Republic , House Lhotka is unique in the creation of a large home with an easily identifiable and functional central space. The house is purposely divided into four volumes with the dining room at the heart of it and a corridor that connects them all. Related: Minimalist House in Minohshinmachi focuses on nature Designers selected  natural materials  where possible with a reliance on wood and sand-lime bricks. These elements also work to connect the outdoors with the indoors, such as the wooden ceiling in the dining room that flows through to a terrace, garden and pool areas. Large windows and moveable glass partitions marry the central part of the home with the outdoor living space while inviting in copious  natural light  and ventilation. With attention to energy efficiency, heating is provided through a heat pump and a gas boiler for additional support. Radiant cooling is built into the ceiling to help control interior temperatures. Likewise, efficient underfloor heating makes the space more comfortable.  A statement by the development team explains, “Air exchange is provided by a pressure-controlled ventilation system with passive heat recuperation with high efficiency. The intensity of ventilation is controlled automatically using CO2. In the summertime, the system is used for night pre-cooling of the building operating at a higher intensity.” To keep all this in check, a smart system monitors activities and makes adjustments as needed.   From the northeast entrance, the central corridor leads to a garage and study with views of the  plants outside. The basement and second floor of the home provide plenty of space for the family with a master bedroom and three kid’s bedrooms.  For security, the home is mostly shielded from view from the street side, yet the large windows open the space up to the garden for a connection with the surrounding landscape without the need to hide from passersby. + SOA architekti Via ArchiScene Images via BoysPlayNice 

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House Lhotka brings energy-efficient home design to the Czech Republic

Minimalist House in Minohshinmachi focuses on nature

August 3, 2021 by  
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The clients for this home in the northernmost part of Minoh City, Osaka Prefecture, wanted the architecture to represent local history and culture while also developing a modern aesthetic in a space that closes the gap between indoors and outdoors. Architect Yasuyuki Kitamura honored the clients’ wishes for a sustainable home that spoke to nature with thin beams on the interior and large windows to invite in natural light and open up the views of the nearby Mount Aogai. Known as the House in Minohshinmachi, the home was situated with the south side facing the road, east and west sides meeting other residential homes and the north side opening up to a buffer zone for the landslide disaster warning area. Related: Cloudy Courtyard is crystal clear in its historical inspiration The one-story house was kept low-lying in order to merge into the landscape without being obtrusive as well as to keep material and construction costs low. Builders used conventional construction methods, relying on wood and structural metals, which came together quickly for a short building period. House in Minohshinmachi was designed to ensure high seismic performance, resulting in the achievement of earthquake-resistance grade three standards. The designer brought elements of nature into the interior design with large pillars that resemble trees standing in the forest. Natural light floods the space with the entire center of the roof acting as skylights. Modern and minimalistic , the home also achieves excellent insulation performance standards while adhering to a modest budget. The project won the prestigious AZ Award and has been selected as the 2021 Architizer A+ Awards Finalist for Architecture + Living Small/Low Cost Design. “We have been searching for the future of environmental architecture, and our goal was to reconstruct the forgotten relationship between local character and the surrounding natural environment,” the architect explained. “The result is a new type of building that, in addition to its high residential performance, feels more like a part of nature than a landscape.” + Yasuyuki Kitamura Photography by Masashige Akeda via v2com

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