MAD reactivates an abandoned Japanese tunnel using surreal immersive art

August 17, 2018 by  
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How do you bring young people back into Japan’s rural areas? One popular answer seems to be with art and architecture. In one of the country’s latest rural revitalization efforts, Beijing-based design studio MAD Architects was invited to reactivate the long-forgotten Kiyotsu Gorge Tunnel in the Niigata prefecture. Created for the 2018 Echigo-Tsumari Triennale, this series of permanent artistic interventions aims to help bring back “the cultural energy that once empowered the region.” Set in the heart of Japan’s snow country, Echigo-Tsumari is a mountainous, agricultural region where more than a third of the community comprises the elderly (at least 65 years of age). In a bid to attract young people back to the countryside, Fram Kitagawa founded the Echigo-Tsumari Triennale in 2000. The art field hosts approximately 160 site-specific artworks across 200 villages in an area greater than 760 square kilometers. For this year’s program, MAD Architects was invited to re-imagine the historic Kiyotsu Gorge Tunnel, a 750-meter passageway carved through rock that offers stunning panoramic views. In a project dubbed “Tunnel of Light,” MAD created five interventions along the historic tunnel to follow the five elements of nature — wood, earth, metal, fire and water. The first installation (wood) is the “Periscope,” a small timber hut that houses a cafe, shop and hot spring foot spa with a circular aperture surrounded by mirrored lenses. “Expression of Color” (earth) marks the tunnel entrance and is outfitted with atmospheric music and different colored lights at each lookout point. The first of the modified lookout points is “Invisible Bubble” (metal), featuring a reflective and introspective capsule-like structure that only allows one-way views from the inside out. “The Drop” (fire) at the second lookout point comprises mirrored “dew drops” attached to the ceiling and walls and back-lit by red light. The “Tunnel of Light” culminates with the “Light Cave” (water), where semi-polished stainless steel elements bring reflections of gorge into the tunnel to create “an infinite illusion of nature.” Related: Futuristic “spaceship” Lucas Museum breaks ground in Los Angeles “MAD’s ‘Tunnel of Light’ is an artistic transformation that demonstrates how art and nature can come together to reinvigorate a community,” the designers said in a project statement. “Each one of the installations forms a poetic space where visitors can transcend the role of observer and become an active participant — allowing individuals to place themselves in nature in unexpected ways.” + MAD Architects Images by Nacasa Partners Inc and Osamu Nakamura

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MAD reactivates an abandoned Japanese tunnel using surreal immersive art

Dilapidated garage turned into gorgeous tiny art studio

August 14, 2018 by  
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When artist Sue Prue moved in with her boyfriend, she decided to make full use of an old, run-down garage in the backyard by turning it into a tiny studio . The 270-square-foot space was compact, to say the least, but with a little design savvy, the ambitious couple managed to create a gorgeous, light-filled art space. Although the initial plan was to renovate the old garage in the backyard, it was in a sad state – beyond repair and full of rats. These issues prompted the design duo to demolish the old structure completely. Inspired by the Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) trend in the area, Sue worked with specialists in ADU design to create a new tiny space that would meet her needs. Related: Former chicken coop transformed into a backyard artist’s studio in Berlin At just 270 square feet, the studio is quite compact, but it’s also big on style. The exterior of the structure is clad in a neutral beige siding with olive-hued trim. A pleasant sitting area surrounds the entrance, creating a seamless connection between the indoor and outdoor space. A set of double glass doors lead into the white-walled interior.  Concrete flooring , natural light and exposed wooden beams give the space a fresh, modern aesthetic. The interior is designed to be as space-efficient and sustainable as possible. It includes the reclaimed wood wall in the kitchen, which also has plenty of space for storage. The ornate black-and-white tile in the bathroom provides another artistic touch. As an experienced Art Director, the Berkeley-based Prue has a keen eye for design. In an interview with Apartment Therapy, she reveals that she filled the space focusing on a design theme that was “happy, colorful, modern, [and] mid-century-esque.” She found many of the items at flea markets, while others are more upscale purchases. + Sue Prue Via Apartment Therapy Images via Sue Prue

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BIGs massive Lanescraper building may become Australias tallest tower

August 10, 2018 by  
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Bjarke Ingels Group has unveiled designs for the Lanescraper, a supertall building proposal that has been shortlisted for Melbourne’s Beulah Tower competition. Envisioned with a footprint of over 2.5 million square feet, the Lanescraper aims to serve as a bustling mixed-use destination housed in what could be the tallest tower in Australia. The $2 billion project would see a dramatic redevelopment of the post-industrial Southbank neighborhood, so-named after its location south of the Yarra River. Selected as one of six shortlisted designs, the Lanescraper reinterprets the concept of Melbourne’s laneways and block neighborhoods into a giant “vertical block” made up of a series of stacked and staggered volumes with laneway-inspired gaps in between. Rising to a height of nearly 1,200 feet, the Lanescraper will feature a mixed-use program with car parking, food and retail, interactive/discovery spaces and the BMW Experience Center at its lowest levels. Stacked above will be the entertainment and cultural options in addition to office and commercial space, childcare facilities and a hotel. The bulk of the building will be reserved for residential use, which occupies the uppermost levels. The design is developed around the idea of two cores—one large and one smaller—which lends itself to an optimized walking layout and circulation. The stacked and staggered boxes also help break down the mass of the building to a more human scale. The design was created in collaboration with Fender Katsalidis , ARUP, Jan Gehl, GTA Consultants, bloomimages, and Brick Visual. Related: BIG and CRA break ground on greenery-infused Singapore skyscraper “The stacked blocks between the cores extend upwards and interlock to provide connectivity and structural rigidity, appearing as a zipper of diverse programmatic functions that step back respectfully from Southbank Boulevard and Power Street,” explains Bjarke Ingels Group. “In doing so, the tower tapers inwards and negotiates the space between the surrounding buildings, minimizing vis-à-vis at the top and overshadowing of the public realm below. An evolution of the skyscraper beyond the proverbial ‘village-in-the-sky’ to a tower uniquely Melburnian: the LANESCRAPER.” + Bjarke Ingels Group Images via BIG

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BIGs massive Lanescraper building may become Australias tallest tower

Solar-powered home cuts a bold and sculptural silhouette in Melbourne

August 10, 2018 by  
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When Melbourne and Paris-based architecture firm Ola Studio was tapped to create a suburban single-family home in Melbourne , it based its design around the clients’ love for art as well as the industrial loft-like spaces of converted warehouses they were accustomed to. The end result is a partly gabled home that pays homage to its surrounding local and historic context while exuding an undeniably contemporary appearance. The house, named Ross, is powered using a solar photovoltaic array and also follows passive solar principles to minimize energy use. Set on a long rectangular lot in a diverse heritage precinct, the Ross house comfortably fits a family of five, their dog and an art collection. The home is split into two floors with the primary living spaces and a single bedroom on the ground floor, while the master bedroom, two secondary bedrooms and a sitting area are stacked above. Outdoor decks flank both sides of the home to encourage indoor-outdoor living; the family also has access to lawn space and a spacious pool. Ross’ sculptural roofline takes cues from its neighboring structures, both of which are white-painted, single-story period bungalows. The monochromatic color scheme and minimalist material palette is carried over from the exterior to the interior, which serves as a gallery for the client’s art collection. Related: A modular extension boasts a seamless indoor-outdoor living experience “The house is a bold sculptural piece; elegantly defined by its divisible realms,” explain the architects in a project statement. “This includes the public façade and entry, the living area within a secluded garden , and the private realm upstairs, each providing uniquely evocative environments for the public and residents. Upstairs is wrapped in black vertical aluminium angles and is a study in dealing with domestic privacy within the urban environment.” + Ola Studio Images by Derek Swalwell

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Modern LEED Gold home embraces outdoor entertaining in Aspen

August 7, 2018 by  
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Aspen’s historic West End neighborhood is best known for its ornate Victorian houses, but one residence in particular is turning heads for its modern, award-winning design and LEED Gold certification. Local firm Rowland + Broughton Architecture & Interior Design designed the ground-up home — dubbed “Game On” — that splits a historic landmark lot with a neighboring late-19th-century home. The new residence incorporates environmentally friendly and energy-efficient features throughout, from its solar roof tiles on the garage to its sustainably harvested materials palette. Constructed with a traditional gabled form and front porch that mirrors the surrounding architecture, Game On stands out from its neighbors with its clean lines and white-painted exterior. The 4,291-square-foot abode’s contextual design earned approval from Aspen’s Historic Preservation Commission. The minimal design approach carries over to the restrained landscaping as well. “Inspired by the residential vernacular of Aspen’s historic West End neighborhood, this home brings a sense of clarity and elegance to a traditionally ornate Victorian form,” the architecture firm said. “With the clients’ personal and professional lifestyle in mind, the design is intended to accommodate a large number of guests for entertaining yet provides a sense of intimacy for private relaxation. The open plan connects the indoor and outdoor spaces with seamless lift and slide pocket doors. Interiors feature custom built-in and floating furnishings and custom fixtures.” Related: Solar-powered mountain home is a sustainable prototype for Aspen development In additional to solar roof tiles , Game On minimizes its energy footprint with a highly efficient mechanical system, radiant in-slab heating and heat loss control. The sustainable water strategy includes high-efficiency fixtures and an irrigation system as well as a bocce ball court in the backyard that collects and filters all stormwater runoff. The interior is dressed in natural and recycled materials with no VOC paints for a healthy indoor environment. + Rowland + Broughton Architecture & Interior Design Images via Brent Moss Photography

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This modular outdoor swimming pool from Finland could make a splash near you

August 1, 2018 by  
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Reclaiming the waterfront with outdoor swimming pools isn’t a new concept, but Office for Peripheral Architecture (OOPEAA)’s latest design stands out from the pack with its modular and scalable design that can be applied in a wide variety of settings. Declared the winner of an invited architecture competition organized by Töölö Urban for the Allas Sea Pool Family , the Finnish architecture firm’s proposal was selected for its embrace of the outdoors and incorporation of local culture. Dubbed the ‘New Nordic Urban,’ the floating sea pool will use a modular and flexible building system constructed with recyclable cross-laminated timber elements. The first Allas Sea Pool opened in the heart of Helsinki in May 2016 and has been positively received, not least because of its year-round operations. The company now has hopes of going global with its outdoor pools and multifunctional spaces. OOPEAA won the competition with its flexible and adjustable design that exudes the “Nordic values of good life” with its inviting character and waterfront connection. “The winning proposal for the new global concept for the Allas Sea Pool Family by OOPEAA takes the notion of the New Nordic Urban as its starting point,” explains OOPEAA. “The ‘New Nordic Urban’ is defined as a sense of experience. It brings together the Nordic sensibility for the contemplation on nature with a healthy orientation towards physical activity and an urban inclination towards the social aspects of life. It is a celebration of the Nordic values of egalitarian sharing and good life. The ‘New Nordic Urban’ is essentially about bringing together the social sense of the urban (to see and to be seen + to share in the company of others) and a chance to enjoy nature and the element of water (contemplation + physical activity and sports).” Related: Detox your troubles away in this new public sauna built of natural materials Sustainability is also a part of the design, which will be built primarily of cross-laminated timber , the modular parts of which can be transported over waterways. The design’s scalable nature covers a wide range of sizes – from the smallest, with an indoor area of 800 square meters on a 2,000-square-meter floating platform, to the largest, with an indoor area of 3,500 square meters on a 10,000-square-meter platform. OOPEAA’s first design will be built in Oulu in Northern Finland with a slated completion date of 2019. + Office for Peripheral Architecture Via ArchDaily Images via Office for Peripheral Architecture

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A net-zero modern farmhouse kicks off a sustainable community in Texas

July 26, 2018 by  
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When a pair of retired ordained ministers set their sights on creating a sustainable community for “spiritual renewal,” the couple turned to Austin-based design practice Miró Rivera Architects to bring their vision to life. Located on a 47-acre meadow property in Texas , the recently completed Hill Country House serves as the community’s first housing prototype and as a private residence for the clients. Affectionately dubbed “The Sanctuary” by its owners, the spacious farmhouse-style abode combines rural influences with a modern aesthetic on a very modest budget. Arranged in a linear layout spanning 5,100 square feet, The Hill Country House cuts a striking and sculptural silhouette in the landscape with its zigzagging standing-seam metal roof that mimics the surrounding hilly topography. The home is primarily clad in white corrugated aluminum siding interrupted by vertical planks of warm cedar siding. The tapering limestone chimney, inspired by an existing shed on site, was built of dry-stacked local stone. Natural and locally sourced materials were used to reduce environmental impact and to tie the appearance to the landscape. Inside, the home is flooded with natural light and overlooks framed outdoor views. Crisp white walls and tall ceilings lend the home its bright and airy character. The public and private areas of the home are located on opposite ends. “Particular attention was paid to creating spaces that would enable hosting large groups of friends and family, blurring the line between indoor and outdoor space,” the architects explained. “The stark white aluminum cladding is broken at various intervals by warm cypress siding that defines a series of rooms outside the house, including a temple-like screen porch that extends from the volume containing the main living spaces.” Related: Spectacular wildflower roof grows atop a dreamy Texan cabana The environmentally friendly features of the Hill Country House have earned it a 4-star rating from the Austin Energy Green Building, a precursor of the LEED certification system. An 8 kW solar array meets nearly two-thirds of the home’s annual energy usage, while a five-ton geothermal system supplies mechanical heating and cooling. The homeowners’ water needs are supplied by a 30,000-gallon rainwater collection system. According to a project statement, the owners hope their modern farmhouse will serve “as a model for future off-the-grid development.” + Miró Rivera Architects Images by Paul Finkel / Piston Design

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A net-zero modern farmhouse kicks off a sustainable community in Texas

This round treehouse’s undulating roof mimics the flow of water

July 26, 2018 by  
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Nothing screams “serenity now” like an off-grid treehouse retreat that lets you wake up to the sounds of rustling leaves and a burbling brook. Thankfully, the architects at MONOARCHI have created a gorgeous round treehouse  that goes above and beyond the traditional fare, tucked away in a bamboo forest in China. Treewow O is about 26 feet off the ground, and it comes complete with an open-air deck shaded by an undulating round roof. Located in a remote village at the foot of the Siming Mountain range in Yuyao, Zhejiang Province, Treewow O was inspired by the incredible surrounding landscape. The house is approximately 26 feet high, a measurement chosen to blend the structure into the surrounding bamboo fields. Related: Microsoft unveils amazing treehouse office where employees can brainstorm in fresh air Built just a few steps away from a creek, the treehouse is divided into two levels and supported by steel beams, a design feature that was chosen to minimize the project’s impact on the landscape . The design consists of three non-concentric circles clad in wooden panels. A beautiful undulating roof covers the main structure and extends in certain places to shade the wraparound terrace. According to the architects, the constant movement of a nearby stream inspried the roof’s unique, wavy shape. To create the treehouse, the architect worked in collaboration with local craftsmen. According to the project description, the undulating form mirrors a local building practice used to protect interior spaces from harsh weather conditions. In addition to its protective qualities, the gradient movement of the design helps provide natural air circulation to the living space. The interior of the round structure houses a bathroom and living space on the first floor, with a spiral staircase leading up to the large bedroom on the second floor. The bold circular design helps to define the private and public spaces in the structure. According to the design team, “When the guest enters the terrace on the first floor, they will start to experience the circular sequence of spaces from the eave along the terrace to the connected interior: from the living room to the huge window, to the terrace of large depth and to the unwrapping roof to enjoy the view to the creek and the landscape of the mountain of bamboos; from the bedroom to the low window, to the falling roof to capture a good view.” + MONOARCHI Via Archdaily Images via MONOARCHI

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This round treehouse’s undulating roof mimics the flow of water

Substance harmonizes with style in this former Spanish Colonial Revival home

July 26, 2018 by  
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Any home perched on the side of Camelback Mountain in Phoenix, Arizona, is a winner. With awesome sky views as the backdrop for majestic deep-red sedimentary sandstone mountain ranges, the vistas are breathtaking, an awesome balance of beauty and tranquility. The owners of a Spanish Colonial Revival style house on the mountain loved the views, but the design of the house stifled the indoor/outdoor relationship they craved. Claire and Cavin Costello of The Ranch Mine architectural firm stepped in and made their vision a reality. The primary concerns of the homeowners were the choppy floorplan, the authentic but heavy clay tile roof on the house, dark beams that absorbed rather than reflected light, and chunky columns inside and out that ruined the panoramic views. The style was lovely, but it didn’t do justice to the natural surroundings. Related: Yield’s Sweet Suspension Shelf is Inspired by Spanish Colonial Design Instead of simply redecorating, the Costellos opted to remove all the original design elements and start the makeover with a simple two-story stucco house . To open up the floorplan and flow of the house, they connected the living spaces and added a glass, wood and steel staircase that left a wide-open view from the back to the front of the house and beyond. An ensuite bedroom added to the second floor juts out over the mountain to leave the footprint unchanged. Clad in limestone with calcite veins, the bedroom addition contrasts beautifully with the surrounding red sandstone that has hints of calcite throughout. The crowning glory to the project was more than 2,000 square feet of shaded patios around the entire perimeter of the house that also protects the interior from searing sunshine. For added comfort, cooling misters line the covered patio on the first floor. This patio leads to additional comforts including a fire pit, hot tub and pool. Custom-built steel screens on the southerly exposed second floor patio keep the sun at bay and the breezes flowing and are easily retractable to watch the sunset at the end of the day. + The Ranch Mine Images via Roehner + Ryan

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Substance harmonizes with style in this former Spanish Colonial Revival home

Recyclable House is an eco-getaway that celebrates the circular economy

July 25, 2018 by  
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A recently completed environmentally friendly retreat has opened for bookings on AirBnB in the picturesque countryside near Beaufort, Australia. Designed by  Quentin Irvine , the Recyclable House is an experimental modern home that stays true to its name with its use of recyclable materials and passive solar construction principles. Conceived as a “prototype house for the circular economy,” the four-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath rental comfortably fits 10 guests and promises “sensational indoor air quality.” Inspired by Australia’s iconic galvanized steel woodsheds, Irvine designed the Recyclable House with a gabled farmhouse aesthetic. Three sides of the building are clad in durable Z600 galvanized steel. The fourth facade is covered in timber planks charred using the Japanese Shou Sugi Ban technique. All components in the home were selected for durability and are either biologically or technologically recyclable. Even the walls, which are built with plasterboard, are fully compostable. Passive solar principles and highly effective insulation create comfortable indoor temperatures year-round, with extra heating provided by a Pyroclassic wood-burning stove and a solar hot-water system; no air conditioning has been installed. Natural finishes used throughout ensure low toxicity. Related: Australia’s amazing Upcycle House is made from the ruins of an old home “Whilst learning the building profession I identified and became frustrated with the fact that most Australian homes are essentially built with/for rubbish whether they were promoted as eco friendly homes or not,” explains Irvine, discussing the impetus behind his project. “Even though materials were often coming to site as quality recyclable materials , they would be destined for landfill the minute that they were installed due to the building practices and installation methods used. I found solutions to many of these problems by researching older building methods as well as thinking creatively about the problem.” Completed in December 2015, the Recyclable House was recently made available to rent on AirBnB starting at $95 a night. + Recyclable House AirBnB Images by Nic Granleese

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