Henning Larsen breaks ground on BEAM Platinum-targeted Shaw Auditorium in Hong Kong

April 23, 2019 by  
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Shortly after completing the “greenest school” in Hong Kong , Copenhagen-based Henning Larsen has broken ground on yet another sustainability-minded project— the Shaw Auditorium for The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Designed with modular seating, the multipurpose auditorium will be a flexible space that can accommodate a wide range of cultural events from concerts and musicals to conventions and exhibitions. The elliptical building will also feature climate-optimized design for reduced energy consumption and is expected to become the first of its kind in Hong Kong to achieve the city’s BEAM (Building Environmental Assessment Method) Platinum sustainability rating. Located on a hilltop overlooking Sai Kung Bay, the Shaw Auditorium will serve as a gateway to the university campus and a hub where academic and student life intersects. The building consists of three concentric rings stacked together to optimize panoramic views of the landscape through walls of glass that illuminate the interior with natural lighting. The facade will be painted white to reflect sunlight; the stacked rings are slightly offset to create balconies that double as sunshades . “Our design aims to become an example of a sustainable subtropical architecture, hopefully influencing the construction industry in this region to design with more consideration to our climate,” Partner and Design Principal at Henning Larsen, Claude Bøjer Godefroy explains. “We also aimed to create the most transformative and innovative auditorium in this region to match the reputation of the University, and to make sure the venue will be lively at all times.” Related: Hong Kong’s “greenest school” champions environmental stewardship Shaw Auditorium’s modular seating can be adapted to fit a variety of programs and is able to seat 850 to up to 1,300 visitors, while the hall can also be turned into a large flat floor area. As a result, the auditorium can take on different “modes” and morph from its default “Learning Commons” setup to accommodate concerts, conferences, theater productions, banquet halls, exhibitions and congregations. The curved auditorium walls can even be used as a 360-degree projection screen for an immersive audio-visual experience. The building also includes auxiliary classroom spaces, public furniture and an integrated cafe. The project is slated for completion in 2021. + Henning Larsen Images via Henning Larsen

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Henning Larsen breaks ground on BEAM Platinum-targeted Shaw Auditorium in Hong Kong

This beekeepers workshop uses sustainable design to minimize its footprint

April 22, 2019 by  
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In a bid to save northern Brazil’s rainforests from deforestation and land exploitation, São Paulo-based architecture firm Estudio Flume has recently completed Casa do Mel, a beekeepers workshop that serves as a self-sustainable business alternative to logging operations. Located in the Canaã dos Carajás in the Pará Estate of Brazil, the workshop serves a co-operative of beekeepers formed by 53 rural producers. To reduce site impact, the building follows passive solar principles and incorporates a variety of sustainable strategies such as a bio-digester and a rainwater harvesting system. Set on a steeply sloped site, Casa do Mel deftly navigates the 23-foot height difference with a concrete slab suspended on piers, a more cost-effective solution to the more conventional ground works approach. Elevating the building also helps to naturally ventilate the interior; the raised double-layered roof (slab and corrugated metal sheeting) and perforated walls made of concrete blocks backed with insect mesh also bring cooling cross-breezes into the workspace. The long roof overhang provides shade and protection from the harsh Brazilian sun. “The orientation of the Casa do Mel was designed with consideration to the local climate, prioritizing the thermal comfort and natural lighting of the workspace,” the architects explain of the 2,583-square-foot building. “The most permanent premises, such as the container and process rooms for honey, were located facing East to get the early morning sunlight.” Related: Flow Hive lets beekeepers harvest honey without disturbing the bees To responsibly handle gray water , the architects planted a circle of banana trees (Circulo de bananeiras) that uses the root system to treat the water and prevent soil contamination. Organic waste is treated in a bio-digester where it is turned into fertilizer and organic compost. The butterfly roof helps facilitate the collection of rainwater, which is used for non-potable uses such as flushing toilets. + Estudio Flume Images via Estudio Flume

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This beekeepers workshop uses sustainable design to minimize its footprint

These sweet teardrop trailers for adventurers run on solar power

April 19, 2019 by  
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We’ve covered quite a few teardrop trailers over the years, but Evolve ‘s new solar-powered trailers are really out of this world. The British Columbia-based company has just unveiled its latest models, the Evolve Traverse and the Evolve Outing. Both campers run on solar power and are clad in an all-aluminum frame to create an ultra durable envelope. Inside, the campers offer enough space for a queen-sized mattress and have a fully equipped kitchen with a propane stove and a cooler in the back. What more could you ask for? The innovative design for the teardrop trailer came to fruition thanks to a friend of Evolve’s owner, Mike. The man asked Mike for a simple tiny camper , but after designing campers for years, he was suddenly inspired to create something a bit more advanced. The result is a solar-powered camper that is fully insulated and waterproof. Related: The Droplet is a light-filled teardrop trailer inspired by Scandinavian design Years later, Mike, along with his daughter, Felicia, continues to build amazing tear drop trailers geared toward the nomadic spirit. The Evolve Traverse and the Evolve Outing models are very similar. Both run on solar power generated by a 100-watt rooftop solar array. Clad in aluminum and fully insulated, the campers are quite durable and can stand up well to extreme weather conditions. Each trailer can be customized, and clients can choose from a long list of extra features including custom colors, a bespoke kitchen layout, additional interior cabinets, hooks and more. Two large glass doors on each side of the trailer open up to the interior sleeping space, which has enough room for a queen-sized mattress that folds up into a sofa when not in use. There is also sufficient storage space for clothes and personal items, along with room for an optional HDTV for entertainment. Adventurers know that good meals are essential while on the road, and Evolve has spared no expense at building a beautiful kitchen into the trailer’s back end. The back door lifts open to reveal a fully equipped kitchen with a propane stove and cooler. The Traverse comes with a unique pull-out kitchen that provides extra counter space. Although it’s hard to image a better teardrop trailer, the company is currently working on The Explorer, an off-roading model with bigger tires for going off the beaten path. + Evolve Solar Teardrop Trailers Via Tiny House Blog Images via Evolve

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These sweet teardrop trailers for adventurers run on solar power

This elevated prefab home in Chile takes in striking volcano views

April 18, 2019 by  
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In the Chilean city of Pucón, Santiago architect Alejandro Soffia has recently completed a prefab home that visually pops against its wooded surroundings. Fittingly named the Yellow House after its bright yellow facade, the modular residence is elevated off the ground for reduced site impact and to create a treehouse-like feel. The home’s modules were strategically connected with wooden joints and punctuated by full-height glazing to frame views of Lake Villarrica on one side and the Villarrica volcano on the other. Built from a series of SIP modules that Soffia designed himself, the prefabricated Yellow House spans just under 1,100 square feet and consists of a long hallway that connects an open-plan living room, kitchen, library and dining area on one end of the house to the two bedrooms on the other side. The house also opens up to an outdoor terrace built from wood. “The hypothesis is, that if you create a prefabricated system which has a good architectural design, then you can reproduce this quality as much as you need it, within the laws of short/long production series,” explains Soffia, who adds that he prefers prefabrication due to its reduced site impact and speed of construction without compromising quality. “And if in the serial industrial production of buildings you get bored, you can also customize form and function through the system. More benefits when you fasten the building process and have more control over quality and cost.” Related: A modular classroom for environmental education pops up in a Barcelona park Full-height glazing fills the interior with light and creates an indoor/ outdoor living experience that immerses the owner in the forest. In contrast to the bright yellow corrugated facade, the interiors are lined in wood, with some sections left unpainted and others painted black. Minimalist decor keeps the focus on the outdoors. + Alejandro Soffia Via ArchDaily Images by Juan Durán Sierralta, Mathias Jacobs

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This elevated prefab home in Chile takes in striking volcano views

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

New York vows to ban plastic bags statewide in 2020

April 3, 2019 by  
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Lawmakers in New York just agreed to ban plastic bags across the state. The law is a part of a larger budget agreement and makes New York the second state in the United States to join the fight against single-use plastics . “I am proud to announce that together, we got it done,” Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York, stated. The ban on plastic bags will officially start on March 1 of next year. In addition to ditching plastic bags, businesses within the state will be allowed to charge up to five cents for every paper bag. Two cents from that charge will go into a fund that enables low-income families to purchase reusable bags, while the remainder will go towards an environment fund. Related: EU moves forward with its plastic ban The only other state in the union to pass such a law is California, which initiated a ban back in 2016. Hawaii has also gone to great lengths to discourage the use of plastic bags, with most counties in the state prohibiting them. This is not the first time New York has attempted to ban plastic bags . Two years ago, politicians tried to pass a law that would force companies to charge customers five cents per bag. That initiative was blocked by Cuomo. In 2018, Republicans in the state blocked a similar plan, though Democrats picked up a few seats in the state legislature, making the most recent ban possible. While the new law is a big step towards curbing plastic waste, not all residents in New York are happy about it. In fact, a few people have expressed their concerns about the ban and claim they use the plastic bags at home. Environmentalists also believe that customers should not be allowed to buy paper bags instead of purchasing reusable ones. There has also been some backlash from grocery stores in New York. While some owners are in favor of the ban, they think a portion of the five-cent charge should go back to the stores to help with costs associated with banning plastic bags. Via Eco Watch Image via  cocoparisienne

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16th century building in Malta is now a charming eco hotel that reflects a long history

April 3, 2019 by  
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Located within the fortified walls of Birgu in eastern Malta, the Locanda La Gelsomina building dates back to the 16th century. Today, the space has been renovated to bring the historic building back to its original glory in the form of a stunning boutique eco hotel boasting several sustainable features, such as solar power and a rainwater collection system. Visitors to beautiful Malta have a sophisticated eco hotel to hang their hats in while they visit the scenic Mediterranean island. Tucked into the hamlet of Birgu on the island’s eastern coast, Locanda La Gelsomina offers guests “an oasis of harmony” located just a short stroll away from the town’s historical sites and the harbor. Related: 8 gorgeous green hotels to add to your bucket list The building dates back about 500 years, but it was recently renovated into a jaw-dropping  boutique hotel . Although the objective was to provide a new and luxurious space for guests, the restoration project focused on retaining the building’s traditional Maltese architectural features as much as possible. Stone walls, high ceilings and arched doorways give the interior spaces a palace-like feel enhanced with antiques and decorative pieces collected from around the world. In addition to its aesthetic and structural renovation, the hotel was also updated with several sustainable features to bring it into the 21st century. A  solar-powered  heating system provides hot water for the property. Additionally, a rainwater collection system, which leads to an ancient well, is used for the hotel’s sanitation systems. The hotel houses four extremely spacious suites, each with its own individual interior design . In addition to the suites, guests can enjoy spending time in the hotel’s many social areas, such as the “jewel-box teahouse,” where Bellocq tea blends are served, or the rooftop terrace, where they can enjoy breathtaking views of the city. + Locanda La Gelsomina Images via Locanda La Gelsomina

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16th century building in Malta is now a charming eco hotel that reflects a long history

Twin timber buildings draw inspiration from traditional Japanese shrines

April 1, 2019 by  
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Local architectural firm Yuji Tanabe Architects recently completed twin timber buildings on a historic street in the Japanese city of Kamakura. In deference to the existing street architecture and the city’s Great Buddha landmark, the buildings feature a double roof facade with proportions inspired by traditional Japanese shrines. The project, dubbed SASAMEZA, is built of locally sourced timber to reduce embodied energy. Built for commercial use, SASAMEZA occupies a commercial block facing Yuigahama Street, a major transit corridor that connects central Kamakura to the iconic Great Buddha statue. Because the developers wanted the option to divide and sell the site once construction was complete, the architects split the property and created two buildings around a central courtyard . Each building is approximately 970 square feet in size, and they are near mirror images of one another. Due to the nature of the plot, the building on the right has a slightly different shape. “By taking the water under the roof slope of each building on both sides, it creates a sense of unity like a single building,” the architects explained. “In addition, by setting the opening parts across the passage and the court in the same position on the plane, the connection and the spread to the next wing are created. With the visualization of the structural material (offset column + double beams) in the interior space, the aim is to maintain a sense of unity in the entire building even if different tenants move in.” Related: An angular timber cabin is hidden inside an ancient mountain forest Designed with the environment in mind, the architects used timber procured from a mountain forest in Kanazawa Prefecture’s Hakone area. Along with the client, a forester and a builder, the architects visited the forest in person and selected and harvested the trees that would later become the columns and beams, all which are exposed and unpainted. Japanese wood joinery and fastening methods were applied so that the timber elements can be reused . + Yuji Tanabe Architects Images via Yuji Tanabe Architects

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Twin timber buildings draw inspiration from traditional Japanese shrines

Designers build a frozen igloo shelter in a geodesic dome shape

March 29, 2019 by  
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Using a simple triangular frame, a few shovels packed with snow and ice and a deep respect for traditional building methods, New York-based artist and designer Nikolas Bentel manged to construct an  igloo in the form of a geodesic dome. The Geodesic Igloo project was an attempt by Nikolas and his brother,  Lukas Bentel , to prove that durable shelters can be built using basic construction methods in the most extreme and inhospitable climates. According to Nikolas, the Geodesic Igloo project is an “architectural exploration blending traditional igloo construction with the modernist tradition of geodesic domes.” The ultimate goal was to prove that using a blend of traditional building techniques and modern forms, durable shelters can be built in the most extreme climates. Related: The North Face unveils a geodesic tent that can withstand 60 mph winds To start, the designers headed to the snowy landscape of Adirondacks in the dead of winter. Considering that a geodesic dome requires only one triangle shape repeated 15 times, the only material that they brought with them to the building site was a frame made up of equilateral triangle forms. Using the frame to cast the individual triangles, the designers filled the molds with buckets of water. When they were sufficiently frozen, the panels were then fitted together to create a cohesive domed structure. All in all, the frozen structure took just four hours to construct and lasted for almost two months. According to Bentel, the geodesic igloo, which comfortably houses two people, used a fraction of the snow needed to build a traditional igloo. In fact, using thin sheets of ice enabled the structure to be almost completely transparent, allowing natural light to penetrate the interior during the day. At night, it became illuminated beautifully thanks to a warm fire. + Nikolas Bentel + Lukas Bentel Images via Nikolas Bentel

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Designers build a frozen igloo shelter in a geodesic dome shape

Boxy volumes anchor a beautiful home into a rocky cliffside

March 21, 2019 by  
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When Montreal-based firm YH2 Architecture was tasked with the almost impossible feat of building on an incredibly sloped, rocky landscape, it came up with a solution that goes back to the age of time: building blocks. Using the natural landscape to its advantage, the firm constructed the gorgeous House Dans l’Escarpement out of two concrete “boxes,” one vertical and one horizontal. The ingenious design not only let the project expand vertically but also reduced the footprint of the home on its pristine surroundings. Located in Saint-Faustin-Lac-Carré region of Quebec, the home is tucked into a vast landscape made up of a lush forest and pristine lakes. The particular building location, however, is marked by a very steep cliff that has never been built on because of its rugged topography. Related: “Delightfully surprising” green-roofed island home cascades down a rocky slope When tasked with building on this seemingly impossible site, the architects employed an elementary concept to create an extraordinary home design. The House Dans l’Escarpement’s 3,230 square footage spans over two large blocks. The main entrance to the home is through an elevated metallic gangway that leads into the vertical block, while a horizontal block extends out on the ground floor. Spread out over three levels, the lowest floor of the vertical block houses a sauna and spa area, while the second floor is home to a small office and library. The master suite holds court on the upper level and boasts stunning views of the forest and river below. Connected to the vertical tower on the ground by an all-glass walkway , the horizontal block features an open-plan living and dining area that opens up to the outdoors with an open-air terrace. Driving the inspiration behind the unique design, the connection between the man-made and the natural is felt throughout the interior. Warm mahogany and  Corten steel panels were used to frame the home’s exterior, enhanced in some parts with slabs of exposed concrete, which the architects used to pay homage to the large boulders that make up the home’s setting. Mahogany is also the prevailing material used throughout the interior, giving the home a contemporary cabin feel. Selected for its durable quality as well as rich, warm tones, the wood is used in almost every surface, from the flooring, ceilings and beams to the window frames and kitchen cabinets. The result is a living space that blends in seamlessly with the forestscape that envelopes the home. + YH2 Architecture Via Archdaily Photography by Maxime Brouillet via YH2 Architecture

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Boxy volumes anchor a beautiful home into a rocky cliffside

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