Niraamaya Retreat honors traditional design with local materials

November 19, 2020 by  
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Located in Vayitharamattom, Kumarakom in the lakefront region of Southern India, the Niraamaya Retreat is a haven for wellness and rejuvenation with sustainable design elements throughout. A product of Edifice Consultants Pvt. Ltd, an award-winning architectural practice based in India, the 65,000-square-foot retreat offers a contemporary feel while still honoring the traditional style of the region with locally sourced building materials. The boutique resort is spread across seven acres facing Lake Vembanad and includes 27 independent luxury villas, two restaurants, a health club, a wellness center and a spa. The spa features multiple treatment rooms, a pool and yoga pavilions, while the business center contains meeting rooms and an amphitheater. Related: These charming timber cabins in South India are a retreat for nature lovers What sets this stunning coastal escape apart from the rest are the nods to classical Kerala architecture, a design style that incorporates traditional elements like sloping roofs, Mogappus and Charupadi, a type of built-in, ventilated porch bench. Locally sourced materials such as clay tiles for the roofing, granite pavilions and dados, laterite and wood are featured in the construction work. According to the designers, one of the biggest challenges for the project came in the form of high rainfall and water stagnation due to the site’s unique contours. To combat this, they enabled a network of natural bodies of water to allow for smooth surface runoff , even in the event of heavy monsoon showers. The landscape can only be described as tropical yet well-groomed, with native trees and plants leading to the onsite river. The intimate villas are scattered thoughtfully about the property, connected with peaceful pathways that wind through the lush surroundings. Each villa is about 100 square meters in size and includes a private moot pond, an open shower, a portico and bed facing the lake as well as a semi-open private landscaped area. + Edifice Consultants Pvt. Ltd Images via Edifice Consultants Pvt. Ltd

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Smart home with AI sits above a nature reserve in Prague

November 10, 2020 by  
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Villa Sophia by COLL COLL celebrates the connection between technology and nature. A  smart home  with artificial intelligence, the house sits on the Trója hillside above a nature reserve with stunning views of Prague. The villa’s technological aspects feature blue light eliminating house lights and self-moving doors to aid in natural ventilation, while the green roof contributes to the building’s energetic balance. According to the architects, many of the structural and material construction choices are inspired by sustainability and durability. Samples of materials were tested for strength, elasticity stability, chemical stability and permanence before use. The house includes a  green roof  that is exposed from above, contributing to colorful blooms of plants and flowers throughout the seasons. This roof helps balance the building both energetically and aesthetically. Terraces around the house follow an unfolding star design that dissolves into the overgrown garden, which routinely sees a wide variety of wild animals. Related: Architecture students design and build a LEED Platinum smart home in Kansas The smart home comes completely connected, integrated with a Sysloop system platform and EMPYREUM Information Technologies  artificial intelligence . To aid healthy sleep cycles, all of the house lights operate in the full spectrum of light (RGBW) to slowly eliminate harsh blue light components. For natural air ventilation, the doors operate on linear magnets. One wing of the house is dedicated to music, with a concert room that uses A.I. to play musical pieces or unique melodies to accompany the residents’ musical performances. Apart from the house’s environmental and technological features, the property also enjoys panoramic views of  Prague’s  Dejvice Hotel International. The office looks out on the Libe? Gasholder, while the living room hosts views of the garden, and the bedroom offers a look into the treetops thanks to a descending terrain. To ensure that surrounding homes can also enjoy the panoramic city views, Villa Sophia sits at the shortest possible height. + COLL COLL Photography by BoysPlayNice

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Smart home with AI sits above a nature reserve in Prague

Prefab holiday cabins appear to float among misty tea fields in China

October 6, 2020 by  
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Chinese architecture firms Wiki World and Advanced Architecture Lab have designed and built the Mountain & Cloud Cabins, a boutique hotel hidden in the mountains of Yichang in China’s Hubei province. Commissioned by the local cultural and tourism development agency, the nature-focused hospitality project features 18 timber cabins that are prefabricated and strategically sited for reduced site impact and optimized landscape views. The cabins are also engineered for energy efficiency and include a floor heating system and a fresh air exchange system. Completed earlier this year, the Mountain & Cloud Cabins project takes cues from the lead architect Mu Wei’s experiences living in Norway. The mountainous site in Hubei reminded Wei of the Norwegian landscape, so he channeled Scandinavian minimalism for the design of the modern cabins. The project includes hotel rooms, a cafe and a swimming pool. There are five different types of cabins that range from 35 square meters to 65 square meters in size. Each cabin’s main structure can be assembled in one day thanks to the use of prefabricated, cross-laminated timber panels. Related: Sophisticated, sustainable lakeside cabin showcases the best of Nordic minimalism “You can never order nature, besides you become part of it,” explained the architects, who endeavored to blend the buildings into the landscape. “We try to design and build as nature: cabins seem to come from the future, but disappear in the nature. They are the viewfinders of nature and breathe freely in the forest.” While the structure of the buildings are built of timber, the exterior of the cabins vary depending on the location. A bridge-like cabin that spans the tea valley, for instance, takes the form of an elevated, 14-meter-long wooden bridge with a courtyard terrace, while the angular, spacecraft-like LOFT cabins perched higher up on the mountain are clad in mirrored metal plates that reflect the surrounding environment. The unusual shapes of the various cabins lend the project an extra layer of mystique in the foggy tea field landscape. + Wiki World Photography by ?????? via Wiki World

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Prefab holiday cabins appear to float among misty tea fields in China

Modular hanging suites are built to drop into any setting

August 21, 2020 by  
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Located in the tourist-friendly Spanish village of Santa Maria de Palautordera, the Drop Box N-240 is a transportable, modular suite that is ready to “drop” into practically any location via crane. The models, designed by In-Tenta, are manufactured offsite, transported and quickly assembled. Along with wood as a renewable and sustainable building material for the frame, suites come with either natural wood cladding or composite panels made of cement and wood particles as exterior finish. The hotel property provides views of the Montseny Massif mountain range in Montseny Natural Park, included in the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves. This park is located in the Catalan pre-coastal mountain range, 25 kilometers from the stunning Mediterranean Sea and 50 kilometers from bustling Barcelona. Related: This prefab treehouse can be assembled in merely a few days In a project designed to increase in size without interfering with the natural environment, the prefab suite is suspended in the middle of the forest with a panoramic view over the trees. The floor plan includes a living room, a fully equipped bathroom and a platform with space for a queen-sized bed. The pod-like suite and attached terrace is installed like a treehouse , elevated over a metal structure to adhere to the sloped terrain while minimizing impact upon the site. The entire layout is designed for minimal occupation of land, giving the rooms a small, yet comfortable, ambiance. The cement-wood combination panels are low-maintenance, non-toxic, impermeable to water and aren’t susceptible to damage from living organisms. There are also several colors to choose from to customize the suite. The design company can also customize the floor plan depending on a client’s needs. In the case of the Santa Maria de Palautordera property, the entrance door is made of the same cement and wood mixture that makes up the rest of the facade, rather than the default transparent glass. The standard Drop Box N-240 layout includes a kitchen and a shower, but this particular suite ditched the kitchen and swapped a shower for a bathtub to save space. + In-Tenta Photography by estudibasic via In-Tenta

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Modular hanging suites are built to drop into any setting

Apple Hotel gains a green-roofed wellness center in South Tyrol

August 11, 2020 by  
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Bolzano-based architecture practice noa* (network of architecture) has recently completed the latest stage of expansion for Apfelhotel (Apple Hotel), a nature-focused retreat tucked away in the village of Saltaus in northern Italy. The recently completed phase includes 18 new guest suites and a green-roofed wellness facility that serves as the hotel’s centerpiece. Covered with a layer of earth and plants, the curved spa appears to blend seamlessly into a grassy hillside on one side and opens up to views of the landscape and apple fields on the other. In 2014, noa* won a design competition to expand on Apfelhotel’s historic structure and, in 2016, completed the expansion of the grounds, a renovation of the main building and restaurant as well as the addition of the Apfelsauna (Apple Sauna). Earlier this year, the architects added a wellness facility and 18 new suites on the hotel’s east-facing side that have been carefully crafted to complement the rural landscape and the existing renovated farmhouse . The guest rooms are spread out across three floors in three independent buildings, each wrapped in a wooden rhombus-pattered facade that pays homage to the traditional vernacular while appearing distinctively contemporary.  Related: A historic hotel is sustainably revamped into a charming “alpine village” getaway The new wellness facility — known as the Brunnenhaus (Water Well House) — forms the “green heart” of the hotel campus. The entrance to the green-roofed spa was built from a curved, semi-exposed concrete shell embedded into a grassy hill and punctuated with a door fabricated from old timber. The interior houses an adults-only upper level with a sauna , lounge, relaxation room, Finnish spa with panoramic outdoor views, a cave-like steam bath and an adjacent terrace fitted with an outdoor shower.  “The entire Apfelhotel project reflects the nature and passion of its family-owners, whose aim is to make people feel truly at home, rather than like a hotel guest,” the architects explained. “Together with noa*, the architecture was created with a great sense of integrity towards this special place, which becomes a unit with nature, ties in with its history, and maintains its own identity through applied design — where occasionally, glimpses of the apple can be seen in the surrounding nature and design.” + noa* Photography by Alex Filz via noa*

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Abandoned wine factory is transformed into a luxury hotel by the sea

June 19, 2020 by  
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On Greece’s idyllic Kourouta beach, Athens-based k-studio has converted a derelict wine factory from the 1920s into the Dexamenes Seaside Hotel , a stunning boutique hotel with enviable views of the sea in the western Peloponnese. Elegant, minimalist and site-sensitive, the adaptive reuse project pays homage to the region’s wine-making tradition by preserving and showcasing the original industrial design while weaving in contemporary elements with a complementary palette of concrete, steel, timber and engineered glass. Over 30 wine tanks have also been transformed into new luxury suites ranging from 483 square feet to 645 square feet. When k-studio was tapped to revive an abandoned wine factory into a hotel by Dexamenes owner Nikos Karaflos, the architects began with a site study and careful removal of the concrete wine tanks. After new water features and a vineyard with local grape and currant varieties were added into the central courtyard, the original elements, such as reclaimed brick , that had been removed were also carefully reinserted. These elements were then complemented with new additions such as locally crafted bespoke ceramic tiles crafted to blend in with the originals. Thoughtful design injects contemporary flair and functionality into the new hotel while preserving the factory’s character. Related: Bohemian island hotel with fresh natural furnishings offers simple leisure in Mykonos Accessed via a discreet entrance from the adjacent road, the Dexamenes Seaside Hotel greets guests with two glass pavilions attached to original concrete tank buildings that flow into a central courtyard and garden. Thirty-four concrete wine tanks have been repurposed into hotel suites, including nine sea-facing beachfront suites, 17 courtyard suites and 8 backyard suites with limited views. The Dexamenes Seaside Hotel also includes two original stone outbuildings converted into in-house dining and event facilities. The architects said, “From the outset it was clear that the strong history and raw beauty of the existing buildings should not only be preserved , but be showcased in a design that would breathe new life into their walls.” + k-studio Photography by Claus Brechenmacher & Reiner Baumann via k-studio

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Abandoned wine factory is transformed into a luxury hotel by the sea

The 6 months post-lockdown could determine Earth’s future

June 19, 2020 by  
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The  coronavirus  lockdown has left people marveling over clean air in Los Angeles and images of African penguins strolling through Cape Town. But emissions will rebound in a geologic blink of the eye. Energy expert Fatih Birol, executive director of the  International Energy Agency  (IEA), gives the world six months post-lockdown to get on track before the planet spirals into irreversible damage. “This year is the last time we have, if we are not to see a  carbon  rebound,” said Birol. Related: Coronavirus and its impact on carbon emissions According to the IEA,  governments  will spend about $9 trillion globally over the next few months to bail out their floundering economies. Exactly how that money is spent can make or break the planet’s future. “The next three years will determine the course of the next 30 years and beyond,” Birol told the Guardian. “If we do not [take action] we will surely see a rebound in emissions. If emissions rebound, it is very difficult to see how they will be brought down in future. This is why we are urging governments to have sustainable recovery packages.” The IEA published its own report outlining plans for a green recovery. This report prioritizes creating more green jobs instead of returning to the high-carbon economy. It also suggests jobs that will reform energy generation and consumption, such as constructing wind farms, erecting  solar panels  and retrofitting existing buildings to improve energy efficiency. April saw global carbon dioxide emissions plunge by an average of 17%. Unfortunately,  emissions  have already rebounded to within 5% of 2019’s levels. Birol is not alone in calling for a green recovery. Experts all over the world are urging reform. Some countries are listening. The EU has promised to center its economy on a new European green deal. Whether global leaders will follow through on putting their dollars into lowering emissions is not yet clear. + The Guardian Image via Pexels

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Summer gardening tips for a great harvest

June 19, 2020 by  
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When the much-anticipated summer season finally arrives, make the most of your garden time with a checklist of ongoing tasks that will keep your plants healthy year-round. Clean up Much of your clean up might have taken place in the spring. However, if winter rolls straight into summer in your part of the country, or you haven’t had the time or motivation to tackle the task, get busy pulling weeds, mowing the lawn and cleaning the patio furniture. Avoid harsh chemicals and instead borrow a pressure washer to blast the deck, fencing, porch and paver stones. Also, tidy up any concrete blocks along your raised beds. Related: Where to order vegetable seeds online Continue to plant Again, your garden is probably well underway from your spring plantings. But in addition to monitoring the growth of your current plants, continue planting for late summer and fall crops. Plan to keep your garden producing by planting fall crops such as pumpkins and squash. Create a calendar for planting based on where you live and how long crops need until harvest. Use mulch Summer heat zaps moisture out of the soil, and many plants suffer without mulch to help them retain much-needed water. Check your trees, shrubs and flowering bulbs a few times each month and supplement the mulch as needed.  Plant bulbs Although spring and summer steal the show for flowering bulbs, the fall months can dazzle too if you think ahead. Use the warm days of late summer to plant bulbs such as autumn crocus, winter daffodil and Guernsey lily that will burst to life in the fall. Be sure to mark where you placed them, so you don’t plant over them. Install a timer Using water efficiently not only benefits your pocketbook and the planet’s resources, but it also results in better plant production. The best way to water where you need when you need is to use timers that automatically turn the system on and off. Timers can be used for complex underground sprinkler systems with several zones and also for simple drip systems for hanging baskets or berry patches.  Water  in the early morning or late evening, when temperatures are cool and evaporation is less likely. Make sure to turn the timers off when rain is in the forecast. Prune and deadhead As plants continue to thrive throughout the season, they’ll benefit from a trim here and there. Identify plants that bloom early winter to late spring and prune them back during the summer. Deadhead current blooming plants as blossoms die off; this diverts the energy away from spent blooms and towards active ones.  Support your plants Early in the season, get cages around your brambling plants, such as raspberries and tomatoes . Other plants also need support as they grow, including bush beans, snap peas and flowers like delphinium. Check on your plants at least every other day to keep them in line.  Train them to climb Summer is also a productive season for your climbers, and without training, they may grow to undesirable places within or even outside your yard. Keep up with your hops, grapes, clematis and wisteria, guiding them up trellises or along wires as they reach new heights. Close the buffet for animals Your garden full of flowers or fruits is a tempting invitation for the neighborhood  animals . Summer is the time to protect your plants against critters large and small. Put up fencing around your food garden and make sure it is tall enough that deer can’t jump over it. Inside your garden, further protect plants from smaller animals that may squeeze in, such as rabbits and chipmunks. To protect against the smallest of hungry animals, keep ladybugs around to feed on aphids, move old plants to another area of the yard, use natural insecticides and place short, open cans or cups of beer nearby to draw in slugs. You can also use netting over the top of your crops to keep birds from having a free meal at the plant buffet. Feed your plants Even after your plants are well established, most need a little boost now and then to keep up energy for production. Around midseason, provide your plants with some fertilizer to help them out.  Turn your harvest into a meal plan Growing a garden can take a lot of work and money, so you don’t want your resulting harvest to go to waste. The best way to use up fresh vegetables is to plan for their arrival. You can add the tops of radishes, beets and carrots to pesto, which can be eaten fresh or frozen/canned for later. Plan to use your lettuce promptly after harvest with myriad salad options that can incorporate your carrots, beets, snow peas, broccoli, strawberries and more. The point is, as your garden produces various foods , create an upcoming meal plan to match.  Protect wood products Summer is also the time to restain fencing and decking. Apply a fresh coat of paint or stain to furniture and the garden bench. Invite pollinators to the party Pollinators such as  bees, butterflies, birds  and bats can really benefit your yard, so as summer progresses, cater to their needs. Build and install bat, butterfly, bird and bee houses. Keep the bird feeders and baths clean and supplied. Finally, plan your seasonal garden flowers around those that attract your feathered and winged friends to the party.  Start a compost pile Anytime is a great time to start a compost pile. Still, the heat of summer can help the stratified material break down faster than it would during other seasons.  Set up rain barrels Even if you have rare summer rains, getting rain barrels set up now will give you ample water when the rains return. You can then use this to water plants, the lawn or even the animals. Check your state’s rainwater harvesting laws before getting started, though. Preserve your harvest Finally, preserving food is a quintessential part of summer. Rows of canning jars, a freezer full of fresh crops and the dehydrator working overtime all represent the fruits of your labor. Images via Pexels and Pixabay

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Robert De Niro and partners to open a garden hotel in Poland

May 29, 2020 by  
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If a glimpse into history is on your bucket list, a stay at the soon-to-open Nobu hotel in Poland can help put a check in that column. Decimated by World War II, the city of Warsaw originated in the 1300s and has been under meticulous reconstruction for decades. Blending the old with the new, historical architecture is balanced with nearby neighborhoods that are alive with trendy wine bars, art galleries and cafes. Joining the creative hub is the newest addition to the Nobu family of hotels being built by Nobu Hospitality, a globally established lifestyle brand owned by actor Robert De Niro, chef Nobu Matsuhisa and film producer Meir Teper. The heart of this capital city will be the site of the V-shaped hotel. Nobu Hotel Warsaw will feature 117 sleek and spacious rooms along with meeting and event spaces, an expansive fitness center and the signature Nobu Restaurant and café. “Nobu Hotel Warsaw is a really exciting project for us,” said Trevor Horwell, Chief Executive Officer of Nobu Hotels . “The luxury hospitality market has been gaining momentum in Warsaw for a while. There’s a certain type of energy that extends far beyond the bricks and mortar – we’re very excited to be at the forefront of this new wave of lifestyle and hospitality development – and being from Poland originally, this opening is particularly exciting for our co-founder Meir Teper.” While luxury and the location are undeniably enticing, the building design also represents a marriage of the historic with modern elements that feed a need to completely understand the multifaceted city. Half of the hotel is housed in what used to be the Hotel Rialto, a building dating back to the 1920s that represents Art Deco design elements. A lobby connects this sample of Warsaw’s past to the other wing of the hotel, an ultra-contemporary space designed in collaboration with Polish architectural firm Medusa Group and California-based Studio PCH. The outdoor space features a pyramid of balconies with living gardens for a contrast of green space to cityscape. Hotel Nobu Warsaw is one of 18 hotels by Nobu Hospitality spanning five continents, each offering premium service, unique design elements and an extraordinary culinary experience. The Hotel Nobu Warsaw is expected to open in August 2020. + Nobu Hotel Images via ?ukasz K?pielewski

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Robert De Niro and partners to open a garden hotel in Poland

Robert De Niro and partners to open a garden hotel in Poland

May 29, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Comments Off on Robert De Niro and partners to open a garden hotel in Poland

If a glimpse into history is on your bucket list, a stay at the soon-to-open Nobu hotel in Poland can help put a check in that column. Decimated by World War II, the city of Warsaw originated in the 1300s and has been under meticulous reconstruction for decades. Blending the old with the new, historical architecture is balanced with nearby neighborhoods that are alive with trendy wine bars, art galleries and cafes. Joining the creative hub is the newest addition to the Nobu family of hotels being built by Nobu Hospitality, a globally established lifestyle brand owned by actor Robert De Niro, chef Nobu Matsuhisa and film producer Meir Teper. The heart of this capital city will be the site of the V-shaped hotel. Nobu Hotel Warsaw will feature 117 sleek and spacious rooms along with meeting and event spaces, an expansive fitness center and the signature Nobu Restaurant and café. “Nobu Hotel Warsaw is a really exciting project for us,” said Trevor Horwell, Chief Executive Officer of Nobu Hotels . “The luxury hospitality market has been gaining momentum in Warsaw for a while. There’s a certain type of energy that extends far beyond the bricks and mortar – we’re very excited to be at the forefront of this new wave of lifestyle and hospitality development – and being from Poland originally, this opening is particularly exciting for our co-founder Meir Teper.” While luxury and the location are undeniably enticing, the building design also represents a marriage of the historic with modern elements that feed a need to completely understand the multifaceted city. Half of the hotel is housed in what used to be the Hotel Rialto, a building dating back to the 1920s that represents Art Deco design elements. A lobby connects this sample of Warsaw’s past to the other wing of the hotel, an ultra-contemporary space designed in collaboration with Polish architectural firm Medusa Group and California-based Studio PCH. The outdoor space features a pyramid of balconies with living gardens for a contrast of green space to cityscape. Hotel Nobu Warsaw is one of 18 hotels by Nobu Hospitality spanning five continents, each offering premium service, unique design elements and an extraordinary culinary experience. The Hotel Nobu Warsaw is expected to open in August 2020. + Nobu Hotel Images via ?ukasz K?pielewski

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