LEED Gold apartments provide supportive housing in Los Angeles

January 22, 2021 by  
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In November 2020, the Westlake / Rampart Village neighborhood of Los Angeles welcomed the Rampart Mint Apartments, a new permanent supportive housing project that provides secure and sustainable housing for people who are experiencing homelessness. Designed by Santa Monica-based firm KFA Architecture in collaboration with the West Hollywood Community Housing Corp. (WHCHC) and Affordable Living for the Aging (ALA), the six-story building provides 23 fully accessible studio apartment units, one of which is used as a manager’s unit. The timber-framed building is also designed to meet LEED Gold certification and aims to exceed Title 24 energy standards by 15%. Located on a former city-owned vacant lot between 3rd Street and Beverly Boulevard, the 15,400-square-foot Rampart Mint Apartments provides 22 units of housing for residents who earn less than 30% of the area median income. All units are equipped with kitchenettes and full bathrooms and include Energy Star appliances, low-flow plumbing, VOC-free interior paints and formaldehyde-free wood materials. Landscaping features drought-tolerant plantings. Related: LEED Platinum-targeted Santa Monica apartments are powered by solar energy “KFA has long specialized in designing affordable housing throughout the Los Angeles region, and we are very pleased to be a part of another project with WHCHC,” KFA Architecture partner Lise Bornstein said in a press release. “In addition to providing new, high quality, affordable urban infill housing with an emphasis on design and sustainability, Rampart Mint will also breathe new energy into an abandoned site that had been underutilized for more than 30 years.” Residents will have access to a variety of building amenities including a spacious community room that opens up to a rooftop deck with a community garden and city views, a computer lab, laundry facilities and an office space for social services. Voluntary on-site comprehensive services will also be made available free of charge to all residents by ALA and WHCHC residents services’ staff. + KFA Architecture Photography by Jim Simmons via KFA Architecture

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LEED Gold apartments provide supportive housing in Los Angeles

Dolmen Shelter renderings imagine stone-shaped guest rooms

January 18, 2021 by  
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Sibling team Davit and Mary Jilavyan have imagined a boutique  hotel  with stone-shaped guest rooms partially inspired by their housing complex in Moscow. The project, known as Dolmen Shelter, is a fictional rendering that the duo hopes to someday see brought to fruition by their friends in the building industry. The hotel measures from 35 square meters to 55 square meters on 100-120 square meters of site area. According to Davit and Mary, they came up with the idea while walking near their house and seeing a landscape design made up of three  stones . The structures are reminiscent of single-chamber megalithic tombs known as dolmens, which date from the early Neolithic age. Related: Marc Thorpe designs live/work buildings built from earth bricks The project imagines a mini-hotel with at least three small stone-shaped guest suites, a design that the team chose instead of buildings made from different blocks to keep the project unique. The idea is to move away from modern house designs that prioritize contemporary shapes and glass, and instead focus on more organic shapes. Each stone-shaped suite is made of reinforced concrete and faced with plaster to imitate natural stone. A few very small windows help mimic a  cave’s  atmosphere. Red lighting evokes the same mystery that characterizes  ancient  dolmens; archaeologists still debate the reasons behind their presence and methods of construction. The team says this choice intentionally alludes to the mesmerizing estrangement and overall characteristics that attract people to these ominous stone structures.  Simple, minimalist furniture provides enough to live comfortably without excess, while a rectangular black volume with an entrance space is built into each suite to indicate the doorway. Overall, the hotel renderings remind one of the ancestral caves of early humans, a feature the Jilavyans believe will distract guests from their busy lifestyles and allow them to concentrate on themselves and their inner voices.  + Dolmen Shelter Via Dezeen Images via Davit and Mary Jilavyan

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3D-printed home inspired by a wasp’s nest is made of local clay

March 10, 2020 by  
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There’s very little doubt that 3D-printing could be huge in the future of design, and architects from around the world are taking advantage of the practice to create new visions for urban living. Italian firm Mario Cucinella Architects has designed an innovative, 3D-printed home inspired by potter wasps’ nests. Currently being built in Bologna, Italy, the TECLA house is an experimental 3D-printed prototype that was crafted out of locally sourced clay and may provide an option for sustainable urban housing. According to the architects, the TECLA housing system addresses the need to create sustainable housing for the rapidly growing world population. With approximately 80 million people being added to the world’s population every year, cities are struggling to find adequate housing solutions that are both affordable and sustainable. Related: 3D-printed Aquaponic Homes grow their own veggies and fish Looking for ideas that could curb a massive housing crisis, architect Mario Cucinella has collaborated with WASP (World’s Advanced Saving Project) to create TECLA, a 3D-printed home that was printed using locally sourced clay — a product that is both biodegradable and recyclable. The natural material is also affordable and enables a zero-waste construction process. Inspired by the shape of a potter wasp’s nest, the TECLA is conceived as a basic cell with a shape and size that can vary depending on its surroundings. The dome-like structure can accommodate any number of living arrangements, but the prototype features an open living space with an adjacent dome housing a separate bedroom. Large skylights in the rooftop would let natural light illuminate the living spaces down below. In addition to acting as a potential housing unit that can be built with nearly zero emissions, the TECLA could serve as a prototype for a new type of sustainable community development, where autonomous eco-cities would run completely off the grid. Producing their own energy through clean energy sources, like solar and wind power , the clay homes would also be laid out around organic community gardens to create a fully self-sustaining housing development. + Mario Cucinella Architects Via TreeHugger Images via Mario Cucinella Architects

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3D-printed home inspired by a wasp’s nest is made of local clay

Rooftop farm grows on award-winning Denizen Bushwick building

February 28, 2020 by  
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After five years of design and construction,  ODA New York  has completed Denizen Bushwick, a 1.2-million-square-foot rental development centered around community, art and green space. Set on the former site of Brooklyn’s historic Rheingold Brewery, Denizen offers 911 apartments — 20 percent of which are designated affordable housing — along with 15 mega-murals created by local artists and 100,000 square feet of outdoor space. Residents also have access to a rooftop farm with hydroponic gardens along with a variety of lush courtyards and corridors, many of which are open to the neighborhood. To create “a city within a city,” ODA New York broke up Denizen’s massive size with a 17,850-square-foot public park that bisects the development to create a green promenade. ODA’s in-house landscape team designed the parks, interior courtyards, and two roof gardens for a total of 100,000 square feet of outdoor space with rooftop amenities such as a dining area with four kitchens, and a mini-golf course, hammock garden, dog park and a fully staffed rooftop farm with garden plots available to residents. Over 250 native New York trees and over 1,200 species of shrubs and perennials have been planted atop the roof. The impressive collection of amenities continues inside the building, which offers a coffee shop, game rooms, a bowling alley, a rock-climbing wall, a boxing ring, a movie theater and more. Fifteen large-scale  murals  made by local artists punctuate the development and can be viewed from multiple courtyards; five murals are visible from publicly accessible parks.  Related: Awesome Airbnb Rental Lets You Go “Camping” in an Indoor Micro-Cabin in Brooklyn “We are proud of what has taken shape at  Bushwick ,” Eran Chen, Founding Principal of ODA, said. “Not only were we able to transform a dilapidated industrial building and turn it into a magnate for community, but we’re influencing how people connect, how cities are developed, and paving the way for architecture to be part of the solution.” Denizen Bushwick has received the ULI New York Award for Excellent in Development — Market-Rate Housing along with the 2019 SARA NY Design Award.  + ODA New York Images via ODA New York, Eric Laigne and Imagen Subliminal

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Rooftop farm grows on award-winning Denizen Bushwick building

Rundown lodge near the Nile River is now a solar-powered eco-resort

February 28, 2020 by  
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Once known as one of Uganda’s most popular hotels, the Nile Safari Lodge had fallen into disrepair over the years. When it was tasked to breathe new life into the property, Kampala-based studio Localworks decided to pay homage to the building’s history by respectfully and carefully rebuilding the existing facilities instead of tearing them down and starting from scratch. Now, the fully refurbished accommodation is an incredible, solar-powered eco-retreat offering guests a direct connection to the nature surrounding the property. Located on the southern bank of the Nile River, the Nile River Lodge is enveloped in wilderness. Looking over the famed river, the lodge offers guests a chance to recharge their batteries while taking in the views. This calm atmosphere became the focal point of the green renovation process. Related: Two abandoned 1960s buildings in the middle of a desert become a chic eco-retreat Starting with the main building, the architects wanted to break open the communal spaces as much as possible. They did this by covering the existing building with a series of thick, grass-thatched roofs . The design strategy also aimed to implement new openings around the property to allow for indoor-outdoor living. The Ugandan climate is typically very hot and humid, so passive cooling strategies , such as natural light and ventilation, were used whenever possible. The wide, triangular openings and curved walkways found throughout the hotel allow guests to enjoy framed views of the river and surrounding Murchison Falls National Park from nearly anywhere onsite. At the heart of the eco-retreat is a soothing infinity pool that looks out over the river. A covered pavilion opens up to the pool and serves as the perfect spot to take in both the sunrise and the sunset. Guests will be able to enjoy down time in one of the eight cottages, all of which face the river. Although distinct in size and amenities, the cottages, referred to as bandas , are raised on stilts to reduce their impact on the landscape and generate air flow under the buildings. Made of natural materials such as wood, grass and stone, the buildings were all positioned to protect the interiors from the harsh equatorial sunlight. While passive strategies were used throughout the eco-resort, several modern features were also implemented to reduce the project’s environmental impact. Completely free of mechanical cooling systems, the lodge runs solely on solar power . + Localworks + Nile Safari Lodge Via ArchDaily Photography by Will Boase via Localworks

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Rundown lodge near the Nile River is now a solar-powered eco-resort

LEED Platinum-targeted Santa Monica apartments are powered by solar energy

January 30, 2020 by  
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Los Angeles-based design practice KFA Architecture has recently completed Pico Eleven, a new multi-unit residential housing project designed to achieve LEED Platinum certification. In addition to the building’s inclusion of solar panels, energy-efficient appliances and passive solar strategies, Pico Eleven has also dedicated approximately one-third of its units to affordable housing, with four units set aside for very low-income households. Located near Downtown Santa Monica, the housing project reflects its waterfront environment with reclaimed timber siding that recalls the rustic California beach house aesthetic. Nestled into a sloping hillside just blocks from Downtown Santa Monica , Pico Eleven comprises 32 units spread out across four floors and is organized into three distinct masses that step down the slope. The 33,000-square-foot building also includes two levels of subterranean parking with space for 64 vehicles. Eleven of the 32 units — which mainly comprise one- and two-bedroom units — are reserved for rent control, while four units are designated low-income. Related: Eco-friendly crematorium is envisioned for Santa Monica To take advantage of the building’s proximity to the waterfront, the architects have added three upper-level decks with sweeping ocean views and amenities including built-in barbecue grills, gas fire pits and outdoor seating. Outdoor space is further integrated into the design with the private patios that come with every unit as well as the inclusion of two large, open courtyards with drought-tolerant landscaping. Open floor plans and expansive glazing on the sides of every residential unit also give residents access to ocean cross breezes and plenty of natural light. In addition to an emphasis on cross ventilation and daylighting throughout Pico Eleven, the architects have added photovoltaic panels to the roof to generate electricity for the entire building. All units come with energy-efficient appliances and residents have access to two electric vehicle charging stations as well.  + KFA Architecture Images via KFA Architecture

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P+365 is turning abandoned festival tents into wearable merchandise

December 12, 2019 by  
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When Tuo Lei came across an image of thousands of discarded tents strewn across festival grounds and destined for landfill, the designer saw potential. Lei’s P+365 project takes abandoned tents from music festivals and repurposes the material into streetwear to be sold the following year at the same event (hence the “365” to symbolize the year-long cycle). The idea is to raise awareness of this environmental issue while finding a use for the tents beyond waste. For consumers, the sustainable clothes and accessories are interesting souvenirs from the event that are both practical and sentimental. Each collection comes with bags, a poncho raincoat, a cap and a bucket hat, all made using durable, weather-resistant materials recycled from the deserted tents. The garments are specifically designed for the types of conditions expected from a festival scene — such as rain, wind and heat. Related: Housing pods made of recycled plastic offer an alternative to festival tent waste The designer receives the used tents from volunteer organizations and recruits more volunteers from social media to assist with the sewing and assembling of the apparel as well as collecting additional tents. Along with the clothes, the P+365 collections include DIY booklets with step-by-step illustrations for how to make each item. To make the pieces more collectible, the garment tags include information about the festival name, material features and the design story behind the brand. So what’s next for P+365? In the future, Lei hopes to collaborate with specific festivals that have high numbers of abandoned tents in order to sell directly to festival-goers. Lei explained, “P+365 not only gives users an outfit to stand out from the crowd in a music festival but also could be new potential for future music festival fashion style.” + P+365 Via Dezeen Images via P+365

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P+365 is turning abandoned festival tents into wearable merchandise

Sustainable holiday gifts for babies and kids

December 12, 2019 by  
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Children innately have a curiosity about the world around them, and that curiosity can be cultivated into awareness and love for our planet. So this holiday season, give out eco-friendly gifts or green presents that your favorite kiddos can enjoy all while helping the Earth, too. Vegan shoes Vegan Chic is 100 percent vegan fashion with products vetted to meet high standards of eco-friendly and cruelty-free sourcing, especially with regards to fair and safe working conditions during production. Vegan Chic’s proprietors, Mark and Vessela, who are animal lovers avidly protecting and rescuing feral cats, explained, “We love animals and are committed to protecting them, as they cannot protect themselves.” Support the cruelty-free shop by purchasing adorable and functional vegan shoes that any child would be excited to sport. Meanwhile, CLAMFEET provides machine-washable, soft-soled, leather-free moccasins for infants and toddlers. CLAMFEET shoes are also completely vegan with organic lining. Plus, they are handmade in the United States. Eco-friendly clothing, bedding and bath items Little Lentil Clothing is “dedicated to leaving the smallest environmental footprint possible” by offering organic, natural and sustainable clothes for children. Its packaging is even derived from 100 percent reusable, recyclable or biodegradable materials. As Little Lentil Clothing’s website describes, “We are a brand with intentions to uphold elevated social and environmental values in order to leave the world a little bit better of a place for all of our babies.” Related: A guide to the best eco-friendly holiday gifts for children While Burt’s Bees has long been known for its personal care products, did you know that the company also offers 100 percent organic cotton products for babies and kids? Burt’s Bees Baby provides gentle, organic cotton that meets “the highest global standard for organic textiles” in clothing, bedding (nursery bedding, quilts and blankets) and bath apparel (washcloths, towels and robes). Responsibly crafted, plastic-free toys BeginAgain toys are made from a mix of vintage materials (maple, rubberwood and natural rubber) and modern bioplastics derived from non-GMO corn. As the company describes, its toys “move kids away from OIL and back into SOIL. We believe in the playful power of plants.” The BeginAgain animal parade A-to-Z puzzle and playset is a recommended favorite. Bamboo bike This is another company devoted to natural toys for children that collaborates with sustainable suppliers to provide families with “heirloom quality, non-disposable toys that support healthy lifestyles in balance with the environment.” The NovaNatural bamboo run bike is a lovely toy for any child, given its sustainable bamboo wood finish. Interestingly, bamboo forests can be harvested after only 3-5 years because they grow faster than other hardwoods, making bamboo a more sustainable wood. Additionally, bamboo forests produce more oxygen and absorb more carbon dioxide than other trees. Award-winning wood toys Hape Holding AG is a German-Swiss toy manufacturer that began with the responsible business practices of its founder, Peter Handstein, who said, “A commitment to children must go hand-in-hand with a commitment to the environment. Our children will inherit the world we live in.” Based in Lucerne, Switzerland with at least 36 companies in more than a dozen countries, Hape is globally renowned for its award-winning, educational wooden toys that utilize renewable resources, such as bamboo, for “minimal impact to the environment.” Hape’s award-winning toys include a two-in-one kitchen and grill set, a croquet set, a scientific workbench, a doctor set, a doll mansion, a dominoes set, a magnetic easel, a master workbench and builder set, a miniature band set and much more. Art supplies and kits If your child has an artistic bent, eco-kids offers non-toxic, environmentally friendly “creative play the natural way,” with all products made in the U.S. Cammie and Kip are the founders of this family-run business, which all began when Cammie created a recipe for “eco-dough” with natural ingredients that they first sold at local farmers markets. From there, eco-kids evolved into a comprehensive art supplies shop that sells wholesale on its website and retail on Amazon . Another sustainable children’s art supply establishment is Natural Earth Paint , the award-winning, Gold-certified Green America business that specializes in natural mineral pigments and organic ingredients. The company was founded by Leah Fanning, an environmentalist who immediately disposed of her toxic and synthetic paints when she became pregnant with her first child. She then founded Natural Earth Paint, which specializes in locally made, non-toxic art supplies packaged in “100 percent post-consumer recycled packaging, biodegradable plastic bags and recyclable glass bottles.” According to the company’s website, its merchandise is free of “preservatives, heavy metal toxins, solvents, synthetics, additives and fillers,” which makes them safer for children. Natural Earth Paint also operates out of a 100 percent solar-powered facility, and the company has a plant-a-tree campaign to boot. Besides artist palettes, its recommended children’s products are natural face paint kits and egg craft kits, which can be found here . Crafty STEAM kits Green Kid Crafts sells science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) subscription kits and educational toys that will inspire children to learn while they play. The company has earned several distinctions, including the Academics’ Choice Brain Toy Award, Dr. Toy’s Best Green Products and Red Tricycle’s Award for the Most Awesome Subscription Service. With sustainability as its driving force, Green Kid Crafts gives back to the environment by partnering with CarbonFund to advocate for more renewable energy efficiency as well as with the OneTreePlanted endeavor to plant a tree for every Green Kid Crafts order placed. Gardening kits If you have a budding horticulturist in your family, Hortiki Plants has a wonderful beginning gardener’s kit for children. The kits from Hortiki Plants include biodegradable trays made from hand-pressed palm leaves, natural kelp fertilizers, coconut coir seed pellets, organic seeds, organic soil, recyclable glass sprayers, recyclable metal vases and recycled shipping materials. The company also offers a gardening guarantee, so that if, for any reason, the seeds do not grow into plants, the seeds will be replaced for free. The Hortiki Plants Kids Fall/Winter Gardening Kit is perfect eco-friendly holiday gift for young gardeners because it also includes games and projects for children to engage in the world of sustainable agriculture. Images via Shutterstock, Vegan Chic , CLAMFEET , Little Lentil Clothing , BeginAgain , NovaNatural , Hape , Natural Earth Paint , Green Kid Crafts and Hortiki Plants

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Sustainable holiday gifts for babies and kids

Lush greenery blankets a passive solar community center in Singapore

July 8, 2019 by  
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In a bid to revitalize Singapore’s Bedok Town Centre, international design firm ONG&ONG has completed HEARTBEAT@BEDOK, an award-winning, mixed-use development that serves as a key civic and community space for Bedok residents. The community building is also a beacon for sustainability and follows passive design principles to minimize energy demands as well as building operation and maintenance costs. A cooling microclimate is created with lush landscaping used throughout the site and around the building, which is draped with greenery on every floor. Located on Singapore’s east coast, the HEARTBEAT@BEDOK was commissioned as part of the Housing and Development Board’s ‘Remaking Our Heartland’, an initiative that was announced in 2007 to ensure older towns and neighborhoods are adequately modernized to keep pace with the nation’s development. To bring new life to the area, the architects transformed a public park in the heart of the Bedok neighborhood into the site of a new community center that brings residents of different backgrounds together and cultivates community spirit. “The Heartbeat@Bedok is an architecturally distinctive community building that is defined by the highest standards in modern sustainability,” the design firm explained. “Featuring an inverted podium-and-blocks design strategy, spaces within the new building are predicated on functionality. The elevated podium allows for optimized natural ventilation, with a group of microclimates created around internal public spaces. A covered area extends 145 m diagonally across the site, creating a 3-story atrium that enhances porosity between floors, while also working to improve overall connectivity and visual integration of the internal spaces.” Related: Singapore’s first new-build, net-zero energy building opens its doors Completed in June 2017, the mixed-use development includes a community club, sports and recreation center, public library, polyclinic, a senior care center and public green space. In addition to the abundance of greenery, solar heat and radiation is mitigated with tapered facade glazing, solar fins and optimized passive solar conditions. A rainwater collection system and gray water system were also integrated into the building to ensure responsible and sustainable water use. + ONG&ONG Images via ONG&ONG

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Lush greenery blankets a passive solar community center in Singapore

Solar-powered prefab cabins keep naturally cool in Portugal

June 11, 2019 by  
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When a client approached Lisbon-based architectural practice Studio 3A for a small residential project in the seaside village of Comporta, the architects knew that a major challenge would be keeping the house naturally cool during the oppressively hot summers. In keeping with their commitment to sustainable architecture, the architects used passive solar strategies and efficient insulation to mitigate solar heat gain. The firm also teamed up with design studio Mima Housing to prefabricate the buildings, named Cabanas in Comporta, which were topped with solar panels and sheathed in charred timber for a durable and maintenance-free finish. The architecture of Cabanas in Comporta follows a modular design of three types: the “intimate module” that houses the bedroom and bathroom; the “social module” for the living spaces with room for an outdoor pool; and the “service module” that also serves as storage for items such as the client’s car collection. Together with Mima Housing, Studio 3A prefabricated the modular buildings with oriented strand board sandwich panels and wooden joints. The facades are clad in timber charred black using the Japanese technique of Shou Sugi Ban. Related: The elegant MIMA Light prefab home ‘floats’ on thin air “As local connoisseurs, we based our construction method on the traditional fishermen huts/cabanas as an inspiration for our project,” explain the architects. These huts have been built in this area for years and are very functional and quick to build which were another important point of our brief. With this construction type we had a couple of challenges to face which was the hot-summer Mediterranean climate and the mosquitos which are well known to bug you in the area. We implemented various sustainable strategies to reduce the heat sensation such as the calculated overhangs in front of the main windows, low emissivity window panes and a tensioned solar shading system in between the cabana modules.” Heat gain is further controlled with a double blind system installed in both the interior and exterior. The external blind also zips down to protect the home from mosquito invasions. Strategic placement of the buildings optimizes solar orientation and access to cooling breezes. Dark cement flooring is used to take advantage of thermal mass, while photovoltaic panels and heat pumps help heat the buildings in winter. + Studio 3A Images by Nelson Garrido

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