Multi-family timber home perches atop a Norwegian slope

April 25, 2018 by  
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Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter recently completed their latest residence: a multi-family dwelling set atop a steep slope in Oslo , Norway. As with the Norwegian architecture firm’s many other projects, the home is primarily clad in vertical planks of natural timber which helps tie the building into its wooded surroundings. Named the Two-in-One House, the residence houses two families as well as an independent apartment. When the client came to Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter with the project, the brief asked for a house that could comfortably accommodate two families while appearing as a single, unified home. In response, the architects crafted a slender and rectangular cedar -clad volume that emerges from a concrete base. To give the monolithic building a sense of lightness and to take advantage of surrounding views, the building is wrapped in glazing on the lower and top-most levels. Related: Norwegian-inspired timber cabins unveiled for a landscape hotel in France “The main task was for the project to appear as a unify house despite its duality, and still ensure the privacy of both units,” wrote the architects. “The ground floor integrates the main public functions of the homes and elegant windows frame the landscape scenery and invite nature into the building. On the contrary, the first floor protects the intimacy of the families and provides a more introvert area, with windows subtly appearing behind the cedar cladding.” The contemporary home also connects to a series of outdoor terraces on the east. + Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter Images by Ivar Kvaal

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How millennials are changing home design

March 16, 2018 by  
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You won’t be hard-pressed to find an article about the next industry Millennials are killing. As more of them become homeowners, it’s no surprise that their tastes are starting to impact home design as well. As a group, Millennials have huge buying power, and the design world is taking notice of their preferences. Take a look at several home design trends that appeal to this generation, including green-focused fashions, small-space living, and dual-purpose furniture trends. 1. Urban and Size-Conscious It’s true; Millennials haven’t been queuing up to buy large suburban houses. They are more concerned with reasonable energy use, efficiency and of course, saving on the dollars. The importance of being within close proximity to necessary social and professional networks and city resources means this generation is generally found in urban areas , and naturally, this goes hand in hand with smaller properties, too. However, just because they choose to live in smaller quarters, doesn’t mean they’ll be cramped. 2. Open Plan Floor plans are more open and efficient than ever before. Simply put: Millennials just don’t have time for hallways! A big kitchen still remains a prerequisite, but it should flow into the other rooms for easy entertaining. For this reason, almost half of Millennials are keen on luxury kitchens with a preference for lounge furniture that serves more than one purpose. Who says a couch can’t have built-in storage or an end table can’t double as a coffee table during parties? 3. Sleek and Simple Baby boomers preferred rustic décor and plenty of accessories. Luckily for us, Millennials are keen on functionality and minimalistic design to keep a clutter -free home. That’s not to say that rustic and natural materials aren’t found in their homes, they are just limited in number. Part of this is due to the smaller spaces they are occupying , but it’s also because the increased use of technology means many accessories that were once physically found in the home can now be condensed into the palms of their hands. 4. Natural Materials and Features There is a hangover of the baby boomer rustic interior, but the youngest generation of homeowners are switching it up. We’re seeing more natural tones in today’s millennial homes such as reclaimed wood, neutral palates and barn doors. Scandinavian design is contributing to the pro-wood feel, but so is the tendency to bring the outdoors inside. 5. Tiles are Back One of the biggest changes identified as Millennial interior décor is a preference for tiles. Subway tiles are dominating the market ; whether they’re used as backsplashes or flooring, it’s the ultimate trend. Since Millennials have now occupied smaller homes , the financially savvy are more likely to have more room in the budget for the designs they want. That means more money is going into kitchen design and spa-like bathrooms. Tiles on floors will tend to be in natural stones or wood effect patterns, while low maintenance backsplashes dominate the kitchen. 6. Statement Appliances Diner-type restaurants with open plan kitchens and cookery shows may have had an impact here. This generation loves fancy kitchen appliances and probably also benefits from saving the cents with home-cooked meals instead of splashing out on dinner. 7. Green Building Materials Millennials are choosing eco-friendly materials such as non-toxic paint, Energy Star appliances and LEED-compliant light fixtures in and around the home. The EPA recently estimated that homeowners save up to $501 every year with eco-friendly windows, for example, so the trend is fitting in well with this cost-conscious generation. Related: These solar-powered tiny homes are designed just for millennials 8. Low Maintenance Since when could this ever be a bad thing? This generation is more and more conscious of the time, energy and expense that goes into the upkeep of living spaces. This means that Millennials are championing the move to high design at low cost which doesn’t require regular maintenance. 9. Smart Technology It’s reported that Millennials today are more inclined to boast about a home with integrated smart-technology than they are about a brand new kitchen. It’s clear that Wi-Fi-connected technology throughout homes is key for more reasons than one. Lighting, heating, smoke detectors, TVs and speakers can all be monitored from phones or tablets. This removes safety hazards as well as inconveniences such as needing to walk into a room to turn on the music. They also are demanding “technology friendly” spaces which mean lots of outlets and charging stations. 10. Sustainability This generation is the most sustainability-focused generation ever. They’re looking for renewable energy sources within apartment blocks, sharing resources, supporting surrounding independent businesses and using green materials. Almost half of Millennials are interested in solar panels for their homes, and show a keen interest in growing their own food. Gardening is good for the environment and works well with recent healthy living trends. Expect to see more small gardens, window-box gardens, or community gardens where this generation takes up residence. Millennials currently account for 83.1 million people in the United States alone. Their influence on demand and popular trends knows no bounds. The home design of today and tomorrow is all about flexibility, sustainability, minimalism and natural effect interiors – easy to live in, yet stylish and unobtrusive. Most importantly, awareness of environmental challenges we face globally is translating into eco-friendly lifestyles. It’s a change worth celebrating.

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These solar-powered tiny homes are designed just for millennials

March 13, 2018 by  
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The tiny home movement is meeting the needs of all kinds of demographics – including veterans , retirees and homeless populations . Now, one savvy collaboration has launched a line of tiny homes specifically for millennials. Custom tiny home company Timbercraft is teaming up with travel company Everywhere Travel Co to provide smart living options for millennials looking for a quality home without outrageously high mortgage rates – or for young nomads looking to travel before putting down roots. With a long history of creating tiny homes for renting or buying, Timbercraft offers six beautiful tiny home models, each more stunning than the last. With many of the same features you’d find in a contemporary home, Timbercraft has managed to minimize space, without sacrificing on aesthetic or quality. Most of the tiny homes are on wheels , placed on 16′ to 32′ long trailers in order to be mobile, but can be delivered to specific locations for permanent installations as well. Related: Custom ordered tiny homes provide compact living options without sacrificing on comfort The homes also come with impressive sustainable features such as solar-power connections . They can also be installed with composting toilets and grey-water systems. Especially attractive for the millennial sector is the fact that all of the homes can be custom-built to meet individual needs. Buyers can choose from a variety of building materials to be used on the exterior cladding or interior features. As far as living space, the designs incorporate many unique features rarely seen in tiny homes such as fireplaces, vaulted ceilings, large skylights etc. Most come furnished with space-saving, yet comfortable furnishings like comfy couches and large beds that fit into the sleeping lofts. With Everywhere Travel Co now in the picture, millennials interested in living in a tiny home can test out the Timbercraft tiny homes in different settings. As part of the collaboration, the travel company will work with interested clients in order to organize temporary stays or vacations in tiny home rentals . The team also has plans to collaborate with Airbnb for those who want to rent for longer periods of time in beautiful settings around the country. + Everywhere Co + Timbercraft Via Inside Hook Images via Timbercraft

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VIDEO: Man saves rabbit from raging California fire

December 8, 2017 by  
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Fires continue to ravage Southern California . While the Thomas Fire rages in Ventura County, one man was captured on video rescuing a wild rabbit hopping near Highway 1 in La Conchita. As the animal jumped near the flames, the man followed until he was able to pick it up and carry it away. Local outlet KABC reported a news photographer captured the scene on video on Wednesday. A man pulled over and appeared to be panicking as a wild rabbit hopped near flames. The man managed to catch the animal and held it in his arms as the blaze burned close to the freeway. The man declined an interview, but KABC reported he risked his life to save the rabbit. Related: Out of control wildfires force thousands to flee their homes in Southern California The unnamed man has been hailed as a hero, but some people are questioning whether or not he made the right choice. California Fish and Wildlife spokesperson Peter Tira told SFGate , “Fire is something animals have to deal with constantly. If you encounter a wild animal in your neighborhood, leave it alone. Fire or no fire, just let the animals be.” Small animals are generally good at handling fires, according to Live Science . A rabbit that hasn’t fled a blaze might have a good reason for being there – like saving its young, according to researcher E.V. Komarek, who once observed a cotton rat run to the edge of the flames of a controlled burn to herd juveniles away. It doesn’t appear there are similar direct reports of rabbits behaving similarly, but researchers have noted cottontail rabbits are good at surviving wildfires with their young. Desert cottontail rabbits are common in Southern California, although we don’t know the species of the rabbit in the video. We also don’t know for sure why the rabbit was in the area. Live Science staff writer Rafi Letzter suggests “if you see a wild animal moving around near a fire, the best thing you can do is leave the creature to its business.” On Friday President Donald Trump declared an emergency and ordered federal aid following a request from Governor Jerry Brown. Via KABC , Live Science , SFGate , and The Washington Post Images via ABC7 on YouTube

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18 fun and educational gifts for tots

December 8, 2017 by  
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This holiday season, delight the tots in your life with playful  eco-gifts  that educate and inspire creativity. From this Waldorf and Montessori-inspired game  to this ingenious easy weaver , all of the gifts in our gift guide for tots will be sure to bring joy to little ones, while encouraging cognitive and imaginative play. Check out all  18 awesome green gifts for little kids here . GIFTS FOR LITTLE KIDS >

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Custom ordered tiny homes provide compact living options without sacrificing on comfort

November 7, 2017 by  
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Not everyone is capable of building their own tiny home, but for those who’d like to live sustainably and efficiently, Fauna Homes can make your tiny home dream come true. The home designs – which are based on the three pillars of minimalism, affordability and sustainability – come in a range of models, but all are strategically designed to provide compact living spaces that don’t sacrifice on comfort. The designs for Fauna Homes are based on providing sustainable options for those looking for an eco-friendly, but comfortable tiny home. The small stature of the structures require fewer building materials, transport, and produce less waste, making it a wise investment for a sustainable lifestyle, and the optimal dimensions provide ample living space. Related: MUJI to sell eagerly awaited $27k minimalist tiny homes this fall As far as sustainable features, the homes are designed to be mounted on a concrete slab in order to reduce its environmental impact. The building materials were chosen to create a strong thermal mass that reduces the need for energy use. The tiny homes can also be ordered with an optional heating floor system, further reducing energy use and costs. Solar rooftop panels and a household waste water recuperation system can also be implemented into the design. All of the Fauna Homes, which can be custom ordered to abide by any local building codes, offer the ultimate in space efficiency, personalized to each homeowner’s needs. Open floor plans and high ceilings with ample windows and glazed walls allow for a strong connection between the indoors and outdoors. Every layout has been optimized for maximum efficiency in terms of flexibility, meaning no space is left unused. Each model also contains a number of strategic storage options such as custom-crafted cabinets. + Fauna Homes  

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The US is now the only country in the world to refuse the Paris Climate Agreement

November 7, 2017 by  
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Today the war-torn country of Syria officially signed the Paris Climate Agreement , leaving the United States as the only country to refuse the landmark climate deal. Though Barack Obama entered the US into the deal during his time as president, Donald Trump quickly withdrew the nation after his inauguration. The Middle East nation made the announcement in Bonn, Germany, at the COP 23 UN climate summit. Even though Syria is facing its sixth year of a brutal civil conflict, it agreed to limit its carbon emissions in an effort to prevent climate change from worsening. It’s not clear what has changed, and Syria has yet to submit its targets for cutting greenhouse gases . In December 2015, nearly 200 countries signed the Paris Accord . Until last month, Nicaragua was also a holdout nation. However, that was because the Central American country did not think the deal went far enough in putting limits on emissions and helping lower-income nations adapt to an already-changing planet. One of Nicaragua’s complaints was that top polluters — like the US, EU, China, and India — were not keeping their emissions levels low enough to prevent sea levels from rising and global warming under 2 degrees Celsius — let alone the more ambitious goal of 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2100. Eventually, parties to the deal signed – as the global climate change agreement was better than none at all. Now the US is the last country to sign. In the past, President Trump said that American workers (particularly coal miners) were being put at an “economic disadvantage” by the deal. And even though the US is the second largest emitter of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the world (second to China ), Trump remains committed to the idea that investing in coal — not renewable energy — is the way forward. Related: Edible schoolyards sprout across war-torn Syria “With Syria’s decision, the relentless commitment of the global community to deliver on Paris is more evident than ever,” Paula Caballero , director of the climate change program at the World Resources Institute, told the New York Times . “The US’s stark isolation should give Trump reason to reconsider his ill-advised announcement and join the rest of the world in tackling climate change .” The countries that have signed the Paris Agreement now seek to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Via The Independent , The Verge , BBC Images via Pixabay

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The US is now the only country in the world to refuse the Paris Climate Agreement

Green-roofed village shows a more sustainable way to build in post-disaster rural areas

October 24, 2017 by  
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When the 8.0-magnitude Sichuan Earthquake devastated China in 2008, nearly 5 million people were left homeless. Rural Urban Framework , a non-profit research and design collaborative, saw construction in the wake of disaster as an opportunity to improve the lives of rural villagers through new building typologies. Their recently completed project, Jintai Village, is a socially and environmentally sustainable prototype for earthquake reconstruction that combines rooftop farming, biogas technologies, denser living, and local materials in a self-sufficient community. Developed with support from the local government and NGOs, the Jintai Village Reconstruction project was created as an alternative to the hundreds of thousands of homes rebuilt after the 2008 earthquake and as “an investigation into modern rural livelihood.” Unlike most rural developments, this 4,000-square-meter project takes cues from denser urban living by placing buildings closer together with narrow alleys in between. The architects developed four housing types—varying in size, function, and roof sections—in their total of 22 houses united by their use of brick facades, concrete frameworks, and terraced roofs where villagers can grow food. Natural ventilation, rainwater harvesting systems, and insulation made of straw are built into the homes. Related: Eerie photos show nature swallowing up a Chinese village 7 years after an earthquake “By relating various programs of the village to an ecological cycle, environment responsiveness is heightened, transforming the village into a model for nearby areas,” said Rural Urban Framework to Dezeen . “Because the land available for house building is limited, the village combines dense urban living in a rural context.” The village also includes a concrete community center with space for growing vegetables on the roof. The humanitarian project was completed as part of the studio’s ongoing efforts to provide design services to charities and NGOs working in China . + Rural Urban Framework Via Dezeen Images by architects

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Failed Palm Springs golf course is being repurposed into a sustainable community filled with olive groves

October 20, 2017 by  
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A failed Palm Springs golf course is being reborn as an “eco-modern agrihood” located on 300 beautiful acres of desert landscape. The Miralon residential community will include 1,150 solar-powered homes , along with almost 100 acres of open recreational space, including working olive groves, community gardens, and walking trails. The ambitious project is located on a former golf course, which was built, but never operational due to falling into foreclosure in 2008. Freehold Communities bought the property and will be collaborating with Robert Hidey Architect s along with C2 Collaborative Landscape Architecture to create a sustainable residential community focused on providing a healthy lifestyle for the homeowners. The large complex will include multiple pools, a fitness and recreation center, and various amenities. Related: Wind and solar-powered Thunder Valley Regenerative Community rises in South Dakota Miralon will consist of more than 1,000 eco-friendly homes, all equipped with solar panels. However, at the heart of the project is the massive amounts of outdoor space included in the master plan. The residential area will be surrounded by almost 100 acres of green space , which will be landscaped to create recreational space for the residents. Former golf cart paths will be repurposed as 6.5 miles of hiking trails. The tee boxes and greens will be converted into community gardens as well as dog parks, exercise stations and community social areas with firepits and WiFi. What’s even more impressive is that the homes will back up to more than 70 acres of working olive groves , which will be installed with a drip-irrigation system and cultivated by Temecula Olive Oil Company . The olives will be pressed on-site and be made available to the residents, along with produce from the community gardens. “Evolving the existing golf course into habitat-sensitive, agricultural open space is a response to the precious resources of the Coachella Valley including its need for water,” explained Freehold California Division President Brad Shuckhart, “At the same time, Miralon responds to peoples’ desire for authentic experiences – whether through community gardening or immersion in a rich range of social spaces.” + Miralon + Freehold Communities

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Failed Palm Springs golf course is being repurposed into a sustainable community filled with olive groves

How termites draw on solar power for climate control

September 22, 2017 by  
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Termite mounds could hold clues to passive climate control , according to new research. Seven scientists scrutinized African termite mounds to see how they keep their homes cool in the sun while maintaining a uniform concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2). Researchers have looked at south Asian termite mounds in the past, but those are often more shaded; they say uncovering the secrets of African termite mounds could lead to energy-efficient building ideas. Termite mounds are impressive not only because the creatures that construct them are so small, but because they naturally maintain a comfortable temperature – no air conditioner necessary. Researchers led by Samuel Ocko, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate student, dug further into climate control in termite mounds, specifically those of the Macrotermes michaelseni termite in Namibia . Their mounds can be around 10 feet high, with millions of workers residing inside. Related: BIOMIMETIC ARCHITECTURE: Green Building in Zimbabwe Modeled After Termite Mounds Ocko and his team measured air velocities and temperatures in the mound over 35 days in Namibia’s autumn and found even though temperatures outside the mound changed by 27 to 36 degrees Fahrenheit, inside temperatures only varied by 15 degrees Fahrenheit. The termites drew on the sun more than wind to achieve climate control. According to IFLScience, convection from the temperature gradient between outside the mounds and their centers drove smooth airflow. During 24 hours, CO2 levels stayed around five percent. The mounds have holes that can be up to 0.2 inches in diameter, which IFLScience said creates an array of tunnels and allows for gas exchange. They said the mounds also lean towards the equator. CO2 levels vary more in Indian mounds during the day, while temperatures remain even. African mounds have large thermal gradients between the center and the sun-facing side. The researchers said in their paper abstract that even though African and Indian mounds differ, they can harness periodic solar heating for ventilation ; they said the system functions like as an external lung. The Journal of Experimental Biology published the research this year. Ocko was joined by scientists at institutions in the United States, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. Via IFLScience Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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