Nature-inspired home uses passive design to stay cool in Taiwan

March 12, 2020 by  
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Just outside Kaohsiung’s city center, Taiwanese architecture firm Chain10 Architecture & Interior Design Institute has completed Comfort in Context, a contemporary new home nestled in a lush hillside. Crafted as a respite in nature, the building is set far back from the road and is wrapped in floor-to-ceiling glazing to take in mountain views. Nature also informed the design and orientation of the home, which relies on cross breezes and strategically located roof eaves to stay naturally cool while minimizing the use of electricity. Though strikingly contemporary in appearance, the design of Comfort in Context relies on age-old passive design principles for providing a comfortable living environment year-round. Oriented east to west, the home features a facade that mitigates unwanted solar gain at all times of the day while taking advantage of southwesterly winds to combat Taiwan’s hot and humid summers. In winter, the neighboring hills protect the building from cold winds. Related: Modular materials make up an eco-friendly restaurant in Taiwan “Nature doesn’t have to be the second thought for an architect in 2020, it must always be his or her first,” the firm explained. “The earth isn’t getting any better and everyone needs to do everything they can to reduce the emissions of their projects.” To further reduce the carbon footprint of the home, the architects planted a number of Taiwanese beech trees around the property. Environmentally friendly recycled materials were also used for the building structure, facade, finishes and interior. By building with the existing landscape to minimize site impact, the architects were able to reduce construction costs. As a result, more resources were diverted to the clients’ most important space in the house: the open-plan living room, dining area and kitchen that occupy a large part of the ground floor. The upper floor contains a spacious master bedroom, secondary bedroom, two atriums and five balconies. + Chain10 Architecture & Interior Design Institute Photography by Moooten Studio / Qimin Wu via Chain10 Architecture & Interior Design Institute

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1971 Airstream gets glossy modern makeover, off-grid power

March 9, 2020 by  
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Although we’ve covered some gorgeous  Airstream renovations  over the years, there’s always one project that really blows our design-loving minds. This beautiful retrofit of a 1971 Airstream by Idaho-based  Traverse Design + Build is simply incredible. Once covered with a rusted out exterior and filled with a dingy avocado-green interior, the 27-foot trailer is now a gleaming contemporary home-on-wheels that can run completely off-grid . Though the team behind Traverse Design + Build had quite a few  Airstream conversions under their belts, when they saw an old 1971 Airstream Overland International for sale, they knew it would be a massive undertaking. The entire aluminum hull was almost entirely oxidized, and the outdated interior (comprised of avocado-green appliances, rotten flooring and yellow walls) was screaming to be put out of its misery. Related: A 1989 Airstream is converted into a modern home on wheels for a family of 6 In addition to the  Airstream’s rundown exterior and interior, all of the trailer’s electrical systems, which had been “modified” over the years, were completely shot. “There were electrical modifications that were done to it which were extremely dangerous,” said Jodi Rathbun, owner and founder of Traverse Design + Build. “We were surprised it never caught on fire, and that no one had been electrocuted.” To begin the arduous  renovation process , the team went to work on the exterior. According to Rathburn, just polishing the exterior to bring out its signature silver shine took more than 160 hours. Once the exterior was set and the hull’s trim repaired, it was time to tackle the interior space. The first step was to gut the interior almost entirely. The dilapidated, nearly 50-year-old trailer had little inside to reuse, but the team managed to retain some of the original elements  whenever possible. For example, they were able to reconfigure some of the existing storage cabinetry and some of the electrical and plumbing systems were able to be repaired. Other than that, the trailer’s interior living space was completely overhauled. To brighten up the space, a fresh coat of all-white paint was used on the walls and ceiling, and engineered maple floors were installed to give a little bit of warmth to the  interior design . The kitchen was built out with white IKEA cabinetry that contrasts nicely with the Tiffany-blue upper cabinetry, which was kept in place as a nod to the trailer’s long history. Throughout the space, the team managed to use ethical, sustainable, and fair-trade items to decorate. Not only did the designers manage to breathe new life into the 1971 Airstream, but they also enabled the trailer to run off-grid. A 510-watt  solar system generates enough power to run off-grid for extended periods. Additionally, there is an on-demand water heater, and LED lighting was installed throughout. The bathroom even features a Nature’s Head composting toilet, again enabling the trailer to be self-sustaining. “We built this so that it could be used off-grid, and away from power and water hookups for extended periods,” said Rathbun. + Traverse Design + Build Via Dwell Images via Traverse Design + Build

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1971 Airstream gets glossy modern makeover, off-grid power

Brazilian home uses solar energy for 100% self-sufficiency

February 6, 2020 by  
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Brazilian firm  24 7 Arquitetura  has set a stunning modern home into a challenging mountainous landscape in Brazil’s Nova Lima region. In addition to the home’s contemporary aesthetic, which is comprised of several exposed concrete blocks, the residence is completely self-sustaining thanks to its massive rooftop  solar array  that generates all the power the home needs. Located north of Rio de Janeiro, Nova Lima is a mountainous region known for its mining sector. The area is marked by rugged low and high-rising topography covered in lush vegetation. Although the undulating landscape presented several challenges for the 24 7 Arquitetura team, the architects managed to use the natural layout to the benefit of the contemporary home . Related: Solar-powered residence in Thailand takes on a sculptural form with cantilevering cubes According to the architects, the solution to the building lot’s slope was to set the home’s main social areas at the highest elevation possible, jutting out of the sloped hill, but above the tree canopy. This allowed the main living area to open up to a large outdoor space with a swimming pool and outdoor lounge area. Building the home into the landscape also led the design to be slightly tilted to the east, which enables the home’s interior to be shaded from the harsh sun rays during the summertime. Additionally, the designers planted two trees in the middle of the home’s outdoor deck to provide additional shade and let  natural light  subtly filter into the living spaces. The first floor of the home was built out to house the garage, laundry facilities and extra storage while the second floor is at the heart of the home. The large open-plan living area opens up to a large deck via massive sliding glass doors, leading to the infinity  swimming pool . The top floor houses the master bedroom with an ensuite bath and open-air balcony space to take in the stunning views. At over 4,000 square feet, the home is a massive structure that requires a lot of energy. Thankfully, this energy is produced by a large rooftop solar array that produces about 1400kW per month. This not only generates enough energy for the home, but also for heating the pool water. + 24 7 Arquitetura Via Archdaily Photography by Pedro Kok

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Calamus unveils worlds safest e-bike at CES 2020

February 6, 2020 by  
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India-based startup  Calamus  recently unveiled the Calamus One Ultrabike, an electric bicycle that they claim is “the world’s safest and most advanced” of its kind. Integrated with elements typically only seen on motor vehicles, the innovative e-bicycle combines safety features and high-end tech into a sleek and beautifully designed package. The Ultrabike was exhibited at the CES 2020 show and is available on Indiegogo for pre-order. Crafted to evoke continuity, the Ultrabike uses 6000 series aircraft-grade aluminum with automotive-grade paint for both the lightweight bike frame and handlebar, which is also part of a one-piece stem and handle design. To emphasize the design’s seamless flow, the removable battery was integrated into the down tube of the frame while all of the  bicycle cables — from the hydraulic brakes to the electrical and electronic cables — have been routed inside the frame. The internally routed cables also make the entire bike weatherproof and improve aerodynamics. Promising a range of nearly 45 miles on a single charge, the Ultrabike is powered by 250w/750w Ultra-drive mid-motors from Bafang and driven by Gates’ carbon belt CDX system for a smooth riding experience. For an improved user experience, each bike will also be equipped with sensors that track motor, battery, and component health to provide real-time diagnoses viewable via a 5-inch TFT LCD touchscreen. A high-performance chip stores and analyzes riding patterns to provide auto gear shifts, while an inbuilt GPS chip offers added functionality. Related: Propella’s lightweight electric bike rides like a regular bike For safety, the designers have added  LED  turn indicators into the handlebars as well as built-in ultrasonic sensors with haptic feedback for blind spot assistance. Security is enhanced with the addition of an ultra-fast biometric scanner for locking and unlocking the bike, geo-tracking and fencing with a ‘Find My Ride’ feature in the case of theft, anti-theft fasteners, an anti-theft alarm, and a patent-pending smart lock that can be accessed using a mobile app to lock and unlock the bike. The Calamus One Ultrabike can be pre-ordered on  Indiegogo . + Calamus Images via Calamus

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Calamus unveils worlds safest e-bike at CES 2020

Passive design helps this home adapt to rainforest climate

January 31, 2020 by  
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Building in extreme landscapes and climates comes with all sorts of complications, but one savvy architect managed to construct a beautiful modern home using the local environment to the home’s advantage. Mexico City-based architectural firm, Paola Calzada Arquitectos  built the contemporary Tabasco Home in the middle of Mexico’s rare rainforest using several passive features to reduce energy. What’s more, the home design was built using several eco-friendly and repurposed materials such as 3,000 recycled  plastic bottles  used for the kitchen. Unlike most of Mexico, Tabasco is mainly covered in thick rainforest. In addition to its humid climate, the area is often plagued by flooding , which causes complications for most construction projects. Related: Solar-powered home takes advantage of cooling ocean breezes in Los Angeles However, the area is pristine and idyllic for those looking to live among nature. Accordingly, the Tabasco house was built strategically using  passive features  so that the homeowners could enjoy a strong connection to the landscape, but feel protected from its harsh climate. Spanning almost 4,000 square feet over two floors, the contemporary home is laid out in an “L” shape. This strategic feature works two-fold. First, the interior of the L shape outside the home allowed the family to enjoy plenty of private outdoor space, including a large terrace, pool and patio. Additionally, the long extension faces north to protect the main living spaces from direct sunlight . As a result of the orientation, the ultra large expanses of glass walls allow for optimal natural light to flood the interior while the living spaces  are protected from solar gain during the summer months. For extra cooling, the home was installed with inverter technology air conditioners that run on solar power , further helping to reduce the home’s energy needs. The home’s exterior is a contemporary blend of reinforced concrete, steel and large expanses of glass. On the inside, the interior design is light and airy, with a distinctly modern touch. Double height ceilings and an abundance of windows provide a sense of spaciousness to best take in the amazing views of the large garden outside, which is planted with native vegetation. The open-layout on the interior opens up the space, letting the family enjoy time together at the large live wood dining table. At the heart of the home, however, is the massive kitchen, which was manufactured using 3,000 recycled industrial plastic bottles. Throughout the interior, exposed concrete walls and natural stone accents give the space a cool, industrial feel that contrasts nicely with the home’s natural surroundings. + Paola Calzada Arquitectos Via ArchDaily Photography by Jaime Navarro

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Cross-laminated timber makes this Scottish home climate resistant

January 20, 2020 by  
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Scottish firm Mary Arnold Foster Architects has unveiled a stunning home made out of several timber “pods” and tucked into the idyllic landscape of the Scottish Highlands. Clad in cross-laminated timber ( CLT ) and covered with slats of charred larch, which provide the home with resilience, the Nedd home was built on concrete pillars and set in between two outcrops to minimize damage to the landscape. Located in the remote village of Nedd in the western region of the Scottish Highlands, the eponymous home design was constructed using CLT and covered in burnt larch to give the structure longevity and sufficient durability to stand up to the harsh mountainous climate . Additionally, the charred wood provides the home with an airtight envelope which enables the interior to require very little heating. In fact, a wood-burning stove usually meets most of the home’s heating needs. Related: Waterstudio unveils the world’s first floating timber tower Made up of connected timber cubes , the Nedd House is divided into three separate volumes. One area houses the central living room, while the remaining cubes house an en-suite master bedroom and a guest bedroom. All three sections are linked by a single corridor, which leads to an ultra-large north-facing window that connects the interior spaces with the  idyllic surroundings . According to the architect, the home design was inspired by the area’s breathtaking views. “I wanted to avoid a wall of glass but instead to frame the large view in two key rooms; the living space and the main bedroom, partly due to the topography of the site,” Arnold-Forster explained. “The other windows frame views of the rocks, heather and grasses.” Contrasting with the dark hue of the exterior, the interior of the home is light and airy thanks to the pale timber walls and ceilings found throughout. Within the main living area, floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors provide direct access to an open-air deck that looks out over the landscape. + Mary Arnold Foster Architects Via Dezeen Photography by David Barbour Photography

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Cross-laminated timber makes this Scottish home climate resistant

This lovely lampshade is made from cabbage

January 10, 2020 by  
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Lighting can set the tone of a room, so a lamp with a natural and compostable lampshade can create a cozy, gorgeous and sustainable setting. In a partnership between Indian designer Vaidehi Thakkar and London-based Nir Meiri Studio, Veggie Lights are just that — lampshades made out of red cabbage leaves that lend a warm glow to any space. A testament to the duo’s dedication to exploring and highlighting sustainable options, Veggie Lights offer a useful and elegant decor option straight from the garden. To create the lampshades, Thakkar developed the process of converting vegetables into a paper-like substance called Fiber Flats. Meiri joined the project with a passion for using organic materials, as seen from previous successes in using both mycelium and seaweed to make lampshades. Related: Algae Lamps are a work of art and natural shade in one Each lampshade in the Veggie Lights line is unique, a result of the natural variations in the leaves. Cabbage leaves may not be in the spotlight for intrinsic beauty, but through the process of separating the leaves and soaking them in a water-based color preservative, the originality of each leaf begins to shine through. The leaves are then shaped and left to dry in high temperatures, so all of the moisture evaporates. At this point, the leaves are either left unfinished, or the edges are trimmed and contoured into a gentle downward curve. The design of Veggie Lights places the bulb and electrical parts in a simple and streamlined base. This allows the light to shine upward into the shade, illuminating the natural veins and color variations in the cabbage leaf. Because the lampshades are naturally biodegradable, they will age and are meant to eventually be replaced. However, the base is long-lasting, so you can replace the shade at the end of its life for a refreshed look without producing waste . + Nir Meiri Studio + Vaidehi Thakkar Via Dezeen Image via Nir Meiri Studios

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This lovely lampshade is made from cabbage

Swanky hotel made of 26 repurposed shipping containers opens in London

November 4, 2019 by  
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Building with repurposed shipping containers has come leaps and bounds over the years, with various cities around the world using the affordable building material to their advantage. Now, visitors to London’s vibrant Waterloo district can stay at the fabulous Stow-Away Hotel , a sustainable hotel built out of an impressive 26 repurposed shipping containers. Designed by London-based architectural studio Doone Silver Kerr , Stow-Away is London’s latest shipping container building. The chic hotel comprises several 29-foot long containers that are stacked to form five stories. Related: Treehouses made from shipping containers offer the ultimate glamping getaway in Portugal The exterior of the container hotel is stark white, emitting a contemporary aesthetic. The ends of the containers were cut to make room for large windows that overlook the street. Angled steel “fins” were added to the windows to shade the interior rooms. To pay homage to the containers’ industrial past, the bottoms of the shades were painted a bright orange. The hotel offers an apart-hotel concept, where guests can stay just one night or months at a time. As such, the elegant rooms are designed to be more akin to apartments than hotel rooms. Lined with marble and stained plywood, the rooms offer well-lit, comfortable accommodations that appeal to visitors of all types. The compact rooms have flexible furnishings to make the most out of the limited space. Each room comes with a king-sized bed, a seating area and a spa-like bathroom with a shower. The rooms also include kitchenettes equipped with hot plates, sinks and dishwashers. Guests will enjoy a bevy of modern amenities, including air conditioning, a flat-screen smart TV and free high-speed Wi-Fi. The shipping container hotel is located just steps from the Waterloo Underground, which is a huge advantage to travelers. However, to block out the noise from the busy station, special rubber pads were placed between the stories, adding to the hotel’s long list of useful amenities. + Doone Silver Kerr + Stow-Away hotel Via Dezeen Images via Stow-Away Hotel

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Swanky hotel made of 26 repurposed shipping containers opens in London

Old van converted into solar-powered bohemian beach hut on wheels

October 28, 2019 by  
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British designers Supertramped Co. have converted an old Mercedes-Benz T2 van into an incredible bohemian-inspired home on wheels. Ernie is a bright blue and white van that has been completely renovated with a fun, shabby chic interior design that  not only includes some whimsical beachy decor, but also an array of 400-watt solar panels that allow the beautiful camper to go off grid virtually anywhere. The Mercedes-Benz T2 vans were produced by Daimler-Benz from 1967 to 1996, and the boxy, durable vehicles were often used as ambulances or delivery trucks.  The vans were also known for their smooth maneuverability, something that, along with its compact shape, makes them the perfect type of van to convert into a vibrant home on wheels. Related: Amazing camper van maximizes space with clever boat design tricks According to the Somerset-based designers, the clients approached them with the idea of a surf-inspired mobile beach hut that would serve as their tiny home on wheels while exploring the world. Inspired by the sea and trajectory of the van, designers went to work and created Ernie— a beautiful camper van that runs on solar power. The exterior of the van is a bright blue and white, paying homage to the typical large striped umbrellas found on the sea side. The beachy theme continues throughout the interior with a fun, shabby-chic interior design . The walls are clad in rustic wooden panels punctuated with plenty of large windows, giving the space a warm atmosphere . The main living area is a compact, but cozy space with bench seating and dining table that sits across from the kitchen. Throughout the tiny space, fun decor made up of seashells and starfish trinkets add a bit of whimsy to the design. Like most camper van conversions, the design for the kitchen space has to be functional and space-efficient, and Ernie delivers in spades. The main area is  equipped with a fridge/freezer combo, stove top and oven. comprised of whitewashed cabinetry with a vibrant blue and white backsplash. A farmhouse sink adds a nice country style touch to the seaside vibe. Further past the kitchen is a small bathroom with full shower and marine toilet. However, the shower stall is incredibly original, featuring exposed pipes, subway tiled-inspired wooden wallboards, a giant skylight above that lets in tons of natural light . The sleeping space is located in the very back of the camper. A bed platform is set up with plenty of storage for sporting equipment, clothing, etc. underneath. A pair of dual doors open outward to take in the unobstructed views. In contrast to its warm, laid-back interior, Ernie also boasts a very hightech system. The van was installed with several modern features such as Alexa-controlled lighting, a surround sound system, WiFi, UV water sterilizer, led lights and a 400-watt solar array . + Supertramped Co. Via Curbed Photography by Simon and Kiana Photography

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Old van converted into solar-powered bohemian beach hut on wheels

Newly released video game challenges players to survive the climate apocalypse

October 28, 2019 by  
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Ever wonder how you’ll survive an apocalyptic climate crisis ? You can now get a simulated preview of your survival chances in a newly released, multiplatform video game, The Climate Trail. Developed by William Volk, the game focuses on a group of climate refugees fleeing Atlanta for Canada as the conditions all around them worsen. Wanting to raise awareness about the climate crisis in hopes of dispelling climate change denial and inaction, Volk charged ahead with creating the game despite having to overcome “the challenge of learning a new development system (Ren’Py) and programming language (Python).” Thus, he released The Climate Trail, which combines visual graphic novel storytelling with simulation game elements. Related: Climate change is a public health issue amounting to billions in medical costs According to his developer blog , “I’ve self-funded the project because I want to make people care about the climate issue,” Volk explained. “I wanted to create an emotional impact, weave in science information and make a game that makes a difference. I’ve always believed that games can have social value.” Inspired by the iconic game The Oregon Trail, which was a hallmark of elementary, middle and high schools from the 1970s to the 1990s, Volk’s game is as an educational survival foray, wherein players are pitted against hunger, thirst, extreme weather and other cataclysmic disasters in a dystopian future ravaged by the excesses of climate change. Incorporating scientific information about global warming , greenhouse gas emissions and sea level rise , Volk hopes the game will be introduced to schools as an instructive tool, teaching the value of resourcefulness in unpredictable and risky scenarios. With education as his top priority for the game, Volk made sure to steer away from gun-toting scenes, even humbly apologizing in his blog, “Sorry, no shooting in this one.” Rather, he chose to focus on knowledge and information, saying he paid “a lot more attention to the science of climate change” to make the game convincing, for the purpose of “catching the conscience of the deniers and doubters, to really take climate change seriously.” Volk shared, “The catch-22 about this game is I started it with a much more optimistic attitude than when I finished it. The more I dug into it, the more it seemed things were actually worse than imagined.” There are three levels of difficulty: moderate, significant and extreme. Available free for download and even free of advertisements, the game can be played with Mac, PC Windows and Linux systems. Mobile versions for iPhone, iPad and Android Google Play are available as well. + The Climate Trail Via Gizmodo Images via The Climate Trail

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Newly released video game challenges players to survive the climate apocalypse

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