Villa in Vietnam prioritizes natural light and green space

July 1, 2020 by  
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Step into K-Villa+, located in C?n Th?, Vietnam. Finished in 2020, this villa maximizes open spaces for natural light and prioritizes environmentally-inclusive design with a  green roof  and tropical-style garden. The villa is located near the Mekong River in the center of H?ng Phú, a newly-established residential area close to public transportation. Designed by Space + Architecture, the roughly 19,375-square-foot villa boasts a low building density, a green roof and a rainwater collection system. K-Villa+ is one of few private residences in the country to be certified by the Vietnam Green Building Council. The garden space incorporates a variety of  trees  native to the local area, including mango, palm, milkfruit, bougainvillea and plumeria. An ecological fish pond on the property features aquatic plants such as lotus, water lily and centella. Related: A rich vegetable garden grows atop a unique home in Vietnam Going with the overall eco-friendly theme, the designers paid specific attention to  natural ventilation  for the project. This area of Vietnam experiences a typical monsoon season with natural circulating air, which the designers worked with, using wide-open spaces, breeze block walls and a specific door layout to maximize airflow. Controlled air flows into the building to help keep the interior cool, and the green roof helps reduce thermal radiation. Additionally, the tropical weather in the region presents excellent opportunities for  natural light . Large windows and openings work harmoniously for regulated airflow and light, along with an indoor garden and skylight. An artfully-designed spiral staircase exposes the interior to even more light, while the property fence is made of a combination of cut out steel and glass. At nighttime, occupants can switch to an automatic lighting system and energy-efficient LED lights. The villa employs a  rain reuse system  to help irrigate its many plants, with plans to turn the system into a drinking water source. The gardens are landscaped with grasscrete brick to reduce concrete surfaces, increase natural plant composition and help to drain rainwater. Eco-friendly materials such as un-baked brick and certified-sustainable wood were painted with non-VOC paint to avoid harmful emissions. + Space + Architecture Via Archdaily Images via Space + Architecture

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Villa in Vietnam prioritizes natural light and green space

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

Stay-at-home orders increase demand for eco-friendly interiors

June 9, 2020 by  
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Lockdowns have forced many to stay home. With all that time inside, you can’t help but pay close attention to the interior details of your home. Many have turned to home improvement projects to make productive use of their time. The novel coronavirus has likewise forced many to become more health-conscious. It’s no surprise then that a joint study, administered by Harris Poll for eco-friendly manufacturer ECOS Paints , found 69% of those surveyed “have taken or plan to take action to make their home environment healthier as a result of COVID-19.” How can we make homes healthier and more eco-friendly? For one, 45% of those surveyed are cleaning the house more often. That’s followed closely by 43% who plan to “use eco-friendly paint, change air filters, add air purifiers, and/or add more plants to their home” to avoid harmful VOCs. Next, 17% are shifting toward natural or chemical-free household products, while 12% will cease using harsh chemicals as cleaners altogether. Another 10% are going to add a humidifier to their homes. Related: Scandinavian company Tikkurila debuts new paint collection to protect endangered species What are VOCs? The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines them as substances that emit gases that have adverse health effects. Their toxic fumes, for instance, can cause headaches, dizziness, respiratory irritation, visual impairments or more severe bodily reactions.  VOCs can be found in paints, varnishes, cleaners, disinfectants, air fresheners, pesticides and even hobby supplies. The use of eco-friendly paints and cleaning substances makes for a healthier home environment. So the pivot toward environmentally conscious products during the pandemic, as folks devote more time to home improvements, has piqued the interest of ECOS Paints.  “Having been in the home decor category for over 30 years, we believe this change in consumer behavior will significantly alter the industry,” said Julian Crawford, CEO OF ECOS. “Paint definitely impacts indoor air quality. ECOS Paints were originally created decades ago as a solution for individuals with chemical sensitivities, including children and babies who cannot tolerate strong odors and harsh chemicals. Today, ECOS has become a favorite among a broader market of consumers who care about creating healthier, wellness-focused living environments in their homes.” + ECOS Paints Image via Arek Socha

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Stay-at-home orders increase demand for eco-friendly interiors

Organic vegan restaurant named to raise awareness for deforestation in Brazil

June 9, 2020 by  
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Recently opened in the Brazilian city of São Paulo and designed by local architecture and design practice VAGA, the Cajuí Restaurant offers a menu of vegan , organic and natural ingredients supplied by small farmers from different regions of Brazil. Cajuí was named after the native species of cashew found in the Cerrado biome grasslands in central Brazil. Lesser known yet right next door to the Amazon rainforest , the Cerrado biome encompasses almost 800,000 square miles of savannas and grasslands — roughly the size of Alaska and California put together — and is one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems on Earth. It is home to 5% of the planet’s biodiversity, and many of the country’s indigenous people who live there rely on the ecosystem’s resources for sustainable livelihoods. According to the World Wildlife Fund , deforestation in the Cerrado is responsible for an estimated 250 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year; this is the same amount that 53 million cars would emit in one year. Related: Modular materials make up an eco-friendly restaurant in Taiwan Cajuí Restaurant is the brainchild of plant-based chef and São Paulo-native Natalia Luglio, who wanted to open an accessible restaurant in her hometown that prioritized organic , local ingredients. The unique biome of Cerrado serves not only as inspiration behind the name but also as an inspiration behind both the menu and the ambiance. Because of this, the designers wanted to pay special attention to the vibrant interaction between color, light and material in ways that alluded to the Cerrado. The architects concentrated on creating ample natural light in between the exterior and the interior spaces by attaching an additional wooden structure to the body of the main building, which had been renovated. VAGA also added translucent roof tiles lined with organic jute on the ceiling so that the sunlight could shine through and influence the color depending on the time of day. The red pigment in the cement floor of the restaurant mirrors the color of the Cerrado soil. Large plant beds were added to the staff area to hold some of the ingredients used on the menu. To keep the construction as sustainable as possible, almost all of the waste generated from the renovation was reused for additional projects, such as the waiting area deck, floor leveling and the bamboo ceiling in the back of the building. + VAGA Photography by Pedro Napolitano Prata via VAGA

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Organic vegan restaurant named to raise awareness for deforestation in Brazil

This dreamy eco villa runs on solar and wind energy

June 8, 2020 by  
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Located inside the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve in the municipality of Tulum in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, Casa Bautista is a private oasis hidden in the coastal rainforest and completely powered by  solar  and wind energy. The  reserve  area can be found less than 40 miles from the center of tourist-friendly Tulum. It was established as a natural reserve in 1986 and became a UNESCO World Heritage Site shortly after. This region is known for its natural limestone cenotes, archaeological ruins and, thanks to the healthy coral reef just off the coast, incredible snorkeling. Related: Prefab eco-pods offer luxury lodging in any environment One of the most unique aspects of this  eco resort’s architectural design is the color. To build the main structure, designers used an organic blue cast concrete that reacts to sun exposure throughout the day. Depending on the time of day and sun exposure, the color tones of the house range from various shades of blue to light pink and orange. Aimed at providing sustainable luxury, Casa Bautista is built on raised cross-shaped columns to reduce environmental impact on-site and to provide undisturbed views over the dunes between the property and the Caribbean sea. Terraces and pergolas situated throughout the house are made of locally-sourced wood, and an extended L-shaped floor plan provides natural cross  ventilation . The L-shape protects much of the interior from gaining too much sun exposure, while simultaneously providing adequate natural light during the day. Thanks to the cross breeze generated from the open design, only the bedrooms need air conditioning. A spiral staircase made with the same color-changing blue concrete connects all three levels of the structure. The middle floor and large roof terrace house much of the interior living space, while a pool and outdoor dining room are located on the top floor. A small tower off the master bedroom can be used as an additional space for work or meditation. Terraces also include a folding mechanism that can be raised and lowered to turn the residence into a “robust closed box” in the event of a hurricane. + PRODUCTORA Images via Onnis Luque

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This dreamy eco villa runs on solar and wind energy

Naturally cooled funicular offers spectacular views of the French Alps

June 8, 2020 by  
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In 2019, French design agency Atelier 360 gave the iconic Les Arcs – Bourg Saint Maurice funicular a dramatic makeover by developing two new funicular cars with wide panoramic windows to frame spectacular views of the French Alps. As with its predecessor, the newly completed funicular traverses 800 meters of vertical distance in a 7-minute climb to connect the village of Bourg Saint Maurice to the Arcs 1600 resort, an area near Mont Blanc renowned for skiing and mid-century architecture by French modernist architect Charlotte Perriand. The interior of the funicular was also designed to take advantage of natural ventilation to avoid installation of an electric air conditioning system. Originally built in 1989, the Les Arcs – Bourg Saint Maurice funicular was renovated and relaunched in 2019 in commemoration of the Les Arcs ski resort’s 50th anniversary. The refreshed funicular comprises two trains, each capable of accommodating 270 passengers, with all-new equipment manufactured entirely in France. The funicular allows visitors — approximately 600,000 people are estimated to use the transport system annually — to reach slopes at 1,600 meters above sea level. The design and construction process took about a year to complete; Atelier 360 collaborated with the Poma / Sigma teams for the interior design. Related: Canada’s newest funicular makes one of North America’s largest urban parklands more accessible “The new version imagined by Atelier 360 is not just a simple transport tool that should offer a large capacity, it is a real immersion experience in the landscape that we discover at as the ascent,” the designers explained. “The original funicular did not offer a view of the outside landscape because of its massive structure, the opaque roof and the ends reserved for the conductors prevented this. Today the roof of the vehicle is fully glazed and an intermediate relief creates a new panorama of the mountains.” The trains have been specially designed to optimize views of the breathtaking scenery from both ends. A system of operable windows and air vents, also located at the end of the trains, promote natural cooling . + Atelier 360 Photography by sylvain THIOLLIER via Atelier 360

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Naturally cooled funicular offers spectacular views of the French Alps

Prefab eco-pods offer luxury lodging in any environment

June 3, 2020 by  
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Developed by Nomadic Resorts, these prefab suites provide the perfect opportunity for a luxury eco-vacation  pretty much anywhere. The Looper tented suites incorporate recyclable materials and renewable energy to bring customizable accommodation to isolated and environmentally sensitive wilderness areas — such as rugged yet beautiful Yala National Park in southeast Sri Lanka. The tents can be popped up in all types of environments from deserts to mountains and everything in between, and are  prefabricated  off-site to allow for quick and easy assembly, disassembly and relocation. Related: These colorful glamping pods are tucked into a South Korean mountain range The Looper suites were created to use as little material as possible while leaving a minimal physical footprint, a feat accomplished by steel arches and a recyclable, weather-resistant tensile fabric exterior meant to last decades. The modular pods accommodate 28 square meters worth of living area with a 14-square-meter bathroom. A wrap-around deck is elevated on stilts so that the surrounding natural elements, such as  wildlife  and small bodies of water, can remain uninterrupted. The openings are made with low-E double glazing and the indoor/outdoor living areas come equipped with sustainable PV panels and a  rainwater  treatment system. The solar elements can be customized to reflect the unique outside conditions or the client’s specific needs. Style was certainly not compromised in the design of these versatile eco-pods, with the addition of materials such as copper, brass, leather and teak wood to elevate the interior. There is a spacious four-poster bed inside the main air-conditioned sleeping area and a freestanding copper bathtub inside the open-style bathroom, so guests can enjoy private views of the  outside terrain . The Wild Coast Tented Lodge in Sri Lanka, where the pods first debuted, arranged 28 Loopers in the shape of a leopard paw print on a beachfront property. Four of the luxury tented villas feature private pools and smaller “urchin” pods are also available to be used by families with children. + Nomadic Resorts Images via Nomadic Resorts

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Prefab eco-pods offer luxury lodging in any environment

Airy Santa Monica Canyon home embraces views of nature and art

May 27, 2020 by  
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Reclaimed materials, a world-class art collection and an indoor/outdoor lifestyle combine in this recently completed Los Angeles residence designed by Santa Monica-based firm  Conner + Perry Architects . Built for  Los Angeles natives, this luxurious four-bedroom family home with large windows and a natural material palette was thoughtfully inserted into a wooded Santa Monica Canyon. Salvaged materials taken from the old existing home on-site and felled wood found on the property have been repurposed into beautiful focal elements for the house, such as the grand entry doors and outdoor furniture.  Designed to embrace the “quintessential California indoor/outdoor experience,” the two-story Santa Monica Canyon home opens up with fully pocketing glass exterior walls to a central courtyard with a pool and outdoor shower. Extended canopy-like cantilevered eaves protect from the sun. The charred wood ( Shou Sugi Ban ) siding, copper, exposed steel and concrete materials that wrap the home’s exterior were selected for their organic nature and their low-maintenance, climate-compatible qualities.  To pay homage to the history of the site, which was used as a Forestry Service test station for Eucalyptus tree testing in the 1910s and 1920s, the architects  salvaged  much of the original 1940s cabin that once occupied the property. Related: New Santa Monica City Services Building will produce more energy than it uses The home interior takes cues from nature and includes a mix of massangis gray  limestone  and French oak used for the floors, weathered brass, blackened steel elements and a variety of marble and tiles. The warm yet restrained palette also provides a neutral backdrop for the clients’ world-class art collection; the interior floor plan was designed to frame views of either the art pieces or landscape views. “Each of them has described the house as having a magical or mystical quality, allowing light in at the right moments, as well as the shadows of the trees , and a calming mirroring effect,” Kristopher Conner, Conner + Perry Architects co-founder, said. + Conner + Perry Architects Images by Taiyo Watanabe

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Airy Santa Monica Canyon home embraces views of nature and art

Tiny minimalist cabin in the Pyrenees uses natural materials

May 21, 2020 by  
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Although known as one of the most idyllic areas in Spain, the Catalan Pyrenees are also known for their rugged landscapes and harsh winter climate, both of which make construction very challenging. Barcelona-based firm  Agora Arquitectura  recently took on this challenge by building the Weekend Shelter — a tiny, minimalist cabin constructed out of carefully-selected natural materials that make the structure extremely  resilient. At just 430 square feet, the Weekend Shelter was designed to be a part-time refuge set in the remote area of Isòvol, Spain .  The region is known for its breathtaking landscapes and extremely harsh winters, which are marked by heavy snow and rain. Accordingly, the  shelter’s construction  is a complex combination made out of resilient and sustainable natural materials that can withstand the test of time. Related: These solar-powered prefab cabins can be set up in just 4 hours The structure was  prefabricated off-site  to save on construction costs and minimize environmental impact. Once the prefab pieces were delivered on-site, the cabin was assembled quickly. The first step was to elevate the structure off the landscape to protect it and add a flexible option to move the shelter in the future if necessary. The shelter design consists of three thermal layers. First, the frame of the structure is made out of concrete blocks to help create a strong barrier from snow and moisture. Then, a shell of oriented strand board was used to cover the main frame. To add an extra layer of resilience, the exterior was then clad in panels of expanded  corks  and topped with a rubber membrane, again creating an impermeable shell. Three large sliding glass doors lead to the interior, which is flooded with natural light. The interior walls, ceilings and flooring are all covered in  sustainably-sourced  plywood panels, which, according to the architects, help provide great thermal and acoustic protection to the living space. Throughout the structure, the cabin counts on several  passive strategies  to reduce its energy use. Being oriented towards the south ensures that the interior is illuminated by natural light. The glass doors are double-paned to limit heat loss during winter. Additionally, wrapping around the front walkway is a simple system of roll-up shutters that allow the residents to fully control the amount of shade and sun that enters the living space. + Agora Arquitectura Via Archdaily Photography by Joan Casals Pañella

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Tiny minimalist cabin in the Pyrenees uses natural materials

Crowds fill national park for Yellowstone reopening

May 21, 2020 by  
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As some of the biggest national parks start to reopen, visitors reassure themselves that it is safe to be outdoors. But unfortunately in places like the ever-popular Yellowstone National Park, everybody is crowding in to see Old Faithful. On May 18, cars with license plates from all over the country filled Yellowstone’s parking lots and hardly a mask was in sight as people crowded together to watch the park’s famous geysers. Locals worry this could spread the virus to their communities. For now, only Yellowstone’s Wyoming gates are open. The Montana entrances remain closed. Tour buses, overnight camping and park lodging aren’t allowed. The park’s official stance is to encourage the use of masks in high-density areas. Related: Best practices for outdoor exercise during COVID-19 “We checked the webcam at Old Faithful at about 3:30 p.m. yesterday,” Kristin Brengel, senior vice-president of government affairs at the National Parks Conservation Association, told The Guardian . “Not much physical distancing happening and not a single mask in sight.” Cars from all over began lining up at 5:30 a.m. for Yellowstone’s noon reopening. Local Mark Segal said his was the only car he saw from Teton County. He worried about out-of-state visitors spreading the coronavirus to the local community. “What if everyone that leaves here goes and gets a bite in Jackson?” he asked. “This is exactly what we’re afraid of.” Montana and Wyoming have had fewer COVID-19 cases than surrounding states. Locals are divided on the issue, with some local business owners pressing the park to reopen and bring much needed tourism dollars, while others are more concerned about public health. Melissa Alder, co-owner of a coffee and outdoor store called Freeheel and Wheel in West Yellowstone, told NPR she’s feeling nervous. “We are fearful of the congregation of people that will come, and I don’t think we’re ready,” Alder said. “I mean, we don’t have a hospital. We don’t have a bed. We don’t even have a doctor full-time here in West Yellowstone.” Via The Guardian and NPR Image via NPS / Jacob W. Frank

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Crowds fill national park for Yellowstone reopening

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