These solar-powered cabins are made of natural materials and shungite plaster

June 29, 2020 by  
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The Karg Cabin provides owners with a cozy opportunity for off-grid living with 100% solar-power capabilities (and that’s not even its most sustainable feature). These honeycombed-shaped micro-homes are also made completely out of natural materials . The solar-powered Karg Cabins come in three different designs: a standard cabin, a micro-home (measuring about 129 to 215 square feet) and a sauna. Karg Cabins can be used year-round and are easily transported via flatbed to a variety of rural or urban locations without a need for environmentally damaging foundations. Solar energy is used to provide 100% of the power needed for everything from lighting to ventilation to electrical sockets. Related: Check out these amazing sustainable cabins by ZeroCabin The compact design, ease of transportation and variety of different model types makes the Karg perfect for a traveling office, guest house, micro-home or just a spot to detox and disconnect from normal, everyday life. When it comes to building materials, the company chooses only those that can be found in nature. The majority of the structure consists of straw panels, cellulose wool for insulation , wood and shungite, a type of carbon-rich mineral found in Russia that is known for its healing properties. The straw panels help ensure proper insulation due to its ability to store heat and provide long-term, stable temperatures indoors. Cellulose wool collects moisture and is breathable enough to maintain a comfortable interior climate yet strong enough to eliminate condensation and keep the construction damage-free during the wet season. Shungite plaster is believed to block electromagnetic waves (EMF), improving the sleep quality of those living inside the home and keeping the interior very quiet. Triple-glazed, reflective windows help bring in natural light and connect the occupant with the outside environment. The Estonian company offers an online feature where those interested can build their own Karg on the website to find out exactly how much their personalized, off-grid cabin or sauna will cost. + Karg Images via Karg

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These solar-powered cabins are made of natural materials and shungite plaster

UNStudio unveils future-proof energy-generating education building for TU Delft

June 29, 2020 by  
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UNStudio has unveiled designs for Echo, a new multipurpose academic building for TU Delft that will not only generate its own energy via solar panels but will also feature a highly flexible and demountable design to ensure sustainability. Created in collaboration with Arup and BBN, the building responds to the campus’ needs for greater and more versatile teaching spaces with the inclusion of seven teaching rooms, the largest of which accommodates 700 people and can be divided into three separate rooms as needed. Echo is currently under construction and is slated for completion in December 2021. Surrounded by full-height, high-performance glazing on all sides, Echo embraces the concept of transparency with the inclusion of a covered public square created by connecting the adjacent square through its glazed ground floor — flanked by two auditoria — and out to the opposite street. Conceived as a “public connector,” the building renders the oft-invisible world of learning into a visible experience and further pulls the community in with a diagonally oriented restaurant with a terrace opposite the D:Dreamhall. Related: UNStudio to transform Gyeongdo Island into a sustainable tourism destination Adaptability defines Echo, which follows the contemporary culture of “Everything Anywhere” emphasizing the importance of interstitial spaces as potential study areas and meeting spaces. For instance, the winding grand stair that forms the heart of the building is wide enough to accommodate the flow of people as well as impromptu study sessions. In addition to the inclusion of classrooms and 300-plus study spaces for group work and self-study, Echo will provide medium-sized and large teaching rooms that accommodate between 150 to 700 people.  User comfort and sustainability has also been prioritized. To protect against unwanted solar gain , the building is topped with a large roof with deep aluminum awnings, while climbing plants will be grown along cables to create a subtle green facade over time. + UNStudio Images by Plompmozes via UNStudio

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UNStudio unveils future-proof energy-generating education building for TU Delft

Solar-powered residence in Thailand takes on a sculptural form with cantilevering cubes

January 29, 2020 by  
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Bangkok-based studio ASWA has unveiled a contemporary home located in the mountainous region of Maehongsorn, Thailand. The 1,000-square-foot, solar-powered home is comprised of three large cubes stacked on top of each other. With massive windows and dual outdoor decks, the energy-efficient house is strategically crafted to let the residents best enjoy the incredible views. Using the surrounding nature as inspiration , the ASWA team came up with the idea to create a structural form that would allow the homeowners to embrace the views from nearly anywhere inside the home. Built out of concrete frames, the blocks, which are of similar height and width, are shifted alternatively as they rise, creating large, covered decks between the levels. Related: A series of cantilevering cubes make up this French social housing complex A smooth cement cladding was used on the three volumes, but the second and third floors were covered in thin panels of artificial wood to create a warm aesthetic that blends in with the surrounding trees. To create a strong connection between the home and its natural setting, the blocks feature floor-to-ceiling windows that offer unobstructed views and natural light throughout the interior spaces. Connected via a stairwell that runs through the middle of the home, the three floors each have a designated use. The ground floor houses the main living area along with the kitchen and dining space, while the second floor has an office space. The large master bedroom is located on the top floor. Thanks to the stacked design, there are covered decks on the top two levels, including one with a hammock and another with a hot tub, as well as a rooftop terrace that allows the residents to take in the views and the fresh air. The Maehongsorn home was also built to be energy efficient and operates almost entirely off the grid . An array of solar panels was installed on the rooftop and provides electricity and hot water for the home. There is also a rainwater catchment system installed. Throughout the house, LED lighting helps reduce the energy consumption. + ASWA Via ArchDaily Images via ASWA

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Solar-powered residence in Thailand takes on a sculptural form with cantilevering cubes

Architecture students design and build a LEED Platinum smart home in Kansas

November 25, 2019 by  
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Every year, graduate students at the University of Kansas Department of Architecture enroll in the nonprofit Studio 804 program to design and build a sustainable, affordable and innovative home over the course of the year. In 2018, the group not only accomplished their goal of a LEED Platinum-certified house but also created the program’s first fully integrated smart house. Located in the Brook Creek neighborhood of Lawrence, Kansas, the net zero energy-targeted residence is a shining example of sustainable housing that even comes with an accessory dwelling unit. Located in a flood plain, the house takes the form of two floating, modern glass boxes that are elevated yet accessible with a ramp. The home takes flooding into account and makes water conservation and management a central theme in its design. All stormwater is managed onsite and is either funneled through underground pipes to native plantings or absorbed into the onsite subsurface. Inside the home, low-flow fixtures were installed and all but one fixture are WaterSense-rated. An Energy Star-rated heat pump water heater also helps reduce energy and water use. Related: Students build a low-cost yet high-quality sustainable home from recycled materials The house achieves energy savings through its airtight, highly insulated envelope, Energy Star-rated appliances and use of solar panels on the highly reflective roof. The east side of the building is completely glazed to let natural light flood the interiors and to bring the outdoors in. As a fully integrated smart house, all the appliances can be remotely controlled and “communicate with each other” to ensure energy efficiency. “As we always try to do, we took the potential negative of the site — being in a flood plain — and tried to make it a positive,” Studio 804 explained. “The buildable site was built up with compacted earth above the flood plain. The dwellings are carefully composed glass boxes perched on concrete plinths, off which they cantilever. The buildings seem to float in what is a park-like setting.” + Studio 804 Photography by Corey Gaffer Photography via Studio 804

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Architecture students design and build a LEED Platinum smart home in Kansas

7 tips for a sustainable Thanksgiving celebration

November 25, 2019 by  
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Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate abundance, health and family, so it is the perfect time to focus on the health of the environment — the land that sustains us and makes the holiday possible in the first place. Enjoy your celebration and give back to nature at the same time with these sustainable tips for the upcoming holiday. Remember that each small step has an impact, so look for ways you can make easy, eco-friendly swaps throughout your Thanksgiving festivities. Decorate naturally It’s fun to bring out the fall decor, bursting with color and scents of the season. But before you head down the pumpkin spice aisle at the local store, consider ways you can decorate naturally instead. Pick up gourds and pumpkins for the porch as well as a hay bale and corn stalks to complete the vibe. Everything can go into the composter later in the season for zero waste . Related: 5 tips for beautiful, sustainable Thanksgiving decor Inside the house, craft some homemade grapevine wreaths embellished with mini pumpkins, pinecones, nuts or berries. Take the kids out to collect colorful leaves, acorns and rocks. Press the leaves or put together a Give Thanks paper banner, with each letter spelled out in natural materials . For centerpieces, carve out pumpkins and insert candles or fill a traditional cornucopia of edible goodness. Alternately, use colorful, clear or reflective metal bowls of produce such as lemons and limes, squash or apples. Travel less Thanksgiving is one of the biggest travel holidays of the year. The impact of those trips leaves a heavy carbon footprint on the planet. With the fuel emissions of planes and cars, the easiest way to celebrate the day sustainably is to remain close to home. Use the holiday as an opportunity to volunteer at a soup kitchen or gather coworkers and friends without plans for a friendly feast. Get outside Electronics put a drain on natural resources , too, so skip watching the football game (or at least the third one) in favor of playing your own game outside. If you do not prefer contact sports, take the crew out for a nature hike or bike ride. Tour a local park, go for a paddle or cue up the cornhole in the backyard. Not only does time outside mean you’re not consuming electricity, but it’s also good for your health, both physically and mentally. Skip single-use dinnerware One of the simplest ways to reduce waste and pollution is to set the table with reusable plates, utensils and cups. You don’t have to put out china, but skip the plastic foam and plastic-covered plates in favor of the real thing. The same goes for silverware and glasses. Yes, this means you’ll have more dishes, but consider it quality bonding time with family when you work together to clean up everything. Ditch plastic With natural decor and reusable dinnerware, your plastic consumption will be low, but also look out for packaging on the food products you buy, fill water pitchers instead of using bottled water and reuse small cottage cheese, yogurt or butter containers to send leftovers home with your guests. Plan your meal carefully The Thanksgiving feast is a central component of the holiday, with Grandma’s famous yams and your aunt’s homemade pumpkin pie taking the spotlight. Keep looking forward to the favorite family recipes during the holiday, and supplement those must-have items with earth-friendly choices. Make several sides of fruits and vegetables. Also, lessen the quantity of meat, a leading cause of methane pollution for the environment. If skipping the meat isn’t an option for your family, reduce portion sizes and dish out bigger servings of fruits and vegetables. Related: How to host a zero-waste Thanksgiving dinner When it comes to planning the feast, look to your local market or fruit stand. Invest in organic produce and be rewarded with wholesome food that didn’t add toxins to the planet in its journey to your plate. In short, buy local, organic foods as the best choice for the planet. Freeze and reheat leftovers Many of us correlate the holiday with overindulgence, and it’s sometimes hard to avoid when everyone brings their favorite foods. Try to avoid waste upfront with realistic quantities of foods, and do your part to practice self-control when it comes to overeating. Once the meal wraps up, make use of leftovers with a second dinner. Invite friends or colleagues over on Friday for a Friendsgiving. You could also take leftovers to work to share. If everyone is burned out on turkey, throw it into the stock pot along with the leftovers from the vegetable tray for a delicious soup. Another option is to freeze leftovers for a later date. Celebrate the season and the planet with a plan to reduce plastic consumption, limit the impacts of travel and avoid food waste . Happy Thanksgiving! Images via Debby Hudson , Jill Wellington , Nel Botha , Terri Cnudde , Roman Boed and Shutterstock

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Eco-friendly "treehouse" in a French pine forest boasts surprisingly chic interiors

April 3, 2019 by  
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Architectural firm Atelier Victoria Migliore may have left its home base of Paris to design a beautiful treehouse-inspired family home in northwestern France, but the company made sure to bring its Parisian sense of style with it. Tucked into an idyllic forest landscape, the rustic, sophisticated home, which features a surprisingly modern interior design, was built on stilts to reduce the home’s impact on the landscape. No trees were felled during the construction process. Located in Fréhel, in the Brittany region of northwestern France, the “ treehouse ” sits on a sloped landscape in the middle of a pine forest. As the construction began, the architects aimed to protect the idyllic natural state of the surroundings; therefore, not one tree was felled. To reduce the home’s footprint, the structure was raised between 3 feet and 9 feet off the landscape using deep screw piles. Related: A treehouse made from sustainable wood hides a luxurious interior Following the natural topography, a long, roped wooden walkway leads from a lower ground level and wraps around the home’s edge, slowly rising up to the entrance. The home is comprised of several rectangular volumes, all clad in charred timber , arranged with wide spaces in between to create several open-air terraces. Punctuated by extra-large windows, the volumes were also oriented to provide stunning views from virtually any angle inside the home. The angular windows frame incredible views but also provide a strong harmony between the living spaces and the outside world. Throughout the interior, large trees feature prominently, even up through an interior courtyard ‘s wooden flooring. In addition to its connection to nature, the home’s 900-square-footage includes any number of surprising features. In the center of the home is a central walkway that stands out with blue-and-white zigzag tiling. When the homeowners are feeling the need to truly immerse themselves in the outdoors, there is a hammock that is hung between the rooftops of two of the home’s volumes, creating a serene spot for reading, napping or just breathing in the fresh air. + Atelier Victoria Migliore Via ArchDaily Photography by Cyril Folliot via Atelier Victoria Migliore

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Eco-friendly "treehouse" in a French pine forest boasts surprisingly chic interiors

Villa Bio: House With a Cantilevered Living Roof is a Feat of Engineering

April 2, 2010 by  
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One first notices this striking home because of its lush living roof , modern facade and floor-to-ceiling window that cap the end. Upon further study, the home is completely composed of concrete in what looks like a fantastic ode to MC Escher.

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Villa Bio: House With a Cantilevered Living Roof is a Feat of Engineering

Tokujin Yoshioka Grows a “Stellar” Chandelier From Living Crystal

April 2, 2010 by  
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Why construct furnishings and housewares from scratch when we can grow them from the ground up? As a preview to this year’s Milan Furniture Fair , Japanese designer Tokujin Yoshioka has unveiled a stunning “living crystal” chandelier that is grown in a tank filled with a mineral solution. We were awestruck by Yoshioka’s living crystal chairs in the past, and his latest piece sends a provocative yet simple message — the designer equates his newest design to “ a star descended from the sky emitting many rays of light in the space.

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Tokujin Yoshioka Grows a “Stellar” Chandelier From Living Crystal

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