Eco-friendly house uses only 19% of the energy it creates

January 27, 2020 by  
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Lexington, Massachusetts is known for its historical landmarks, but now the city is also home to a powerhouse of  energy-efficient design . Designed by Stephanie Horowitz of  Zero Energy Design,  the Lexington Modern Residence is a contemporary 4,400 square-foot home that not only generates its energy through solar power, but is strategically built to significantly reduce its overall energy consumption. In fact, the design is so efficient that the home only uses 19% of the energy it generates. The prolific team behind Zero Energy has long been recognized as a leader in  sustainable design . Not only do their projects maintain the highest standards in green architecture, but their signature modern aesthetics blend into nearly any environment. Related: Net-zero community planned for Hamburg will rely on geothermal and solar energy One of their latest designs, the Lexington Modern Residence, is a stunning example of how creating a sustainable home doesn’t mean sacrificing luxury. Completely powered by a 10kW rooftop  solar electric system , the home also boasts several energy-reducing strategies to create a highly insulated shell. For example, a high-performance building envelope and high-efficiency mechanical systems enable the home to consume only 19% of the energy it generates. The  layout of the family home  was intentionally created to make the most out of the landscape’s natural topography. Its sculptural volume is comprised of a series of cubed forms clad in various materials such as white stucco, wood siding and fiber cement panels. These exterior facades designate the use of the interior spaces found within. From the exterior, these areas are connected via open-air pathways, decks and patios. The interior of the four-bedroom home enjoys multiple strategic  passive features , as well as refreshingly modern interior design. The large open-space layout of the living area enjoys an abundance of natural light thanks to several triple-paned windows and a massive six by 16-foot Passive House (PHI) certified skylight. + Zero Energy Via Houzz Photography by Eric Roth Photography

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Eco-friendly house uses only 19% of the energy it creates

"Embroidered filtering skin helps library regulate light

January 20, 2020 by  
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French design practice Serero Architectes Urbanistes has recently completed the new Bayeux Media Library, a light-filled cultural institution that connects the northwestern French commune’s historical roots to its future development zones. Inspired by the famous Bayeux Tapestry, the building includes an “embroidered filtering skin” along its north facade comprising a series of multicolored tubes hanging behind the glazed facade to help filter views and light while mitigating unwanted solar gain. Energy usage is reduced thanks to an abundance of glazing outfitted with solar shades as well as an insulating green roof. Located next to the beltway near Bayeux’s dense historic center, the Bayeux Media Library has been strategically located to provide views of the cathedral. To emphasize a connection between the historic center and nearby contemporary development, the architects opted for a “transparent, landscape-building” with a horizontal profile and minimalist design. The glazed library also focuses on the indoor/ outdoor experience with outdoor reading terraces on the south side. At the heart of the contemporary Bayeux Media Library is its reference to the Bayeux Tapestry, a nearly 230-foot-long embroidered cloth dating back to the 11th century that depicts the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England. “It inspired the design of the media library’s north façade,” the architects explained in a project statement. “Stitch by stitch and thread by thread, embroidery was applied to the fabric to form the tapestry’s semiotic elements. The Boulevard Ware façade of the library is entirely glazed and protected by a ‘filtering skin’ composed of tubes tinted in the natural colors of the woolen yarns in the famous Bayeux Tapestry: beige, brown, bronze green, blue-black and deep blue with yellow highlights.” Related: Near net-zero energy Helsinki Central Library boasts an award-winning, prefab design In addition to the “embroidered” filtering skin on the north facade, the architects added an overhanging roof to shield the interior from unwanted solar gain on the south facade. The glazed east, west, and south facades are also equipped with roller blinds. Skylights let in additional natural light.  + Serero Architectes Urbanistes Photography by Didier Boy de la Tour via Serero Architectes Urbanistes

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"Embroidered filtering skin helps library regulate light

Architect makes playful puzzle pavilion for Design Week Mexico

January 20, 2020 by  
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At the 11th annual Design Week Mexico, Mexican architect Gerardo Broissin created the Egaligilo Pavilion, an eye-catching structure made with large jigsaw puzzle-shaped concrete pieces. Installed on the grounds of Mexico City’s contemporary art museum Museo Tamayo, the boxy pavilion draws the eye with its puzzle-inspired form and bubble-like protrusions designed to deliberately obscure views of the interior. Inside is a lush garden that remains exposed to the outdoor elements thanks to small slits and perforations cut into the pavilion on all sides. Installed last year at the beginning of October, Broissin’s Egaligilo Pavilion builds upon Design Week Mexico’s tradition of using architecture and design to spur thought-provoking conversations. The basis for the Egaligilo Pavilion begins with the teachings of French philosopher Michel Foucault, particularly how the discovery of self is centered on a state of constant questioning. Broissin explores this “principle of agitation” by designing a space that juxtaposes seemingly opposite elements, from the inclusion of both traditional and parametric architecture to the concepts of the artificial and the natural. For instance, the rectangular pavilion’s puzzle piece-shaped panels seem to suggest rigidity and order but are contrasted with the bubble-like dome protrusions and further undermined by the interior’s curved walls. A large circular opening marks one end of the pavilion and provides the only view inside of the structure, which houses a surprisingly lush garden with a mulch ground. Related: This prefab weekend retreat made from shipping containers can be ordered online “The Egaligilo’s external structure remains light weighted and displays shape contrasts, it holds a living oasis inside, in which symbolism is exalted and gives the visitor the capacity to assume a new role, to reinvent him/herself following Foucault,” Broissin said in the project statement. “A space that originally should have been outside is held on to walls that are capriciously opened to light, but can’t be penetrated by the gaze. This quality demands the visitor to immerse in space, and once again, creates a tension between the limit of the public and the private.” + Gerardo Broissin Images via Gerardo Broissin

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Architect makes playful puzzle pavilion for Design Week Mexico

Ramboll helps Lombok locals build earthquake-resistant bamboo housing

January 17, 2020 by  
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In 2018 when Lombok was struck by several earthquakes, some measuring up to magnitude 7, local communities around the seismic region were greatly affected. After the series of earthquakes settled, there were over 500 people dead, 445,000 people homeless and 129,000 homes damaged. Concerned that the quality of the area’s buildings was partially to blame, Els Houttave, founder of the Lombok-based charity Grenzeloos Milieu, knew that something had to be done to ensure this type of devastation never happened again. She teamed up with Ramboll bridge engineer Xavier Echegaray and structural engineer Marcin Dawydzik to find a solution that was both sustainable and resilient. When Dawydzik traveled to Lombok, he discovered the problem was in the building techniques and materials : “Villages were flattened with bricks and rubble scattered all around, in many cases the building foundations were all that remained. This was not an unusually powerful earthquake for the region, but lack of reinforcement in the buildings meant the damage, and consequential loss of life, was far greater than it should have been. What I found even more disturbing was that communities had already started rebuilding with the same absence of structural integrity that had existed in the destroyed buildings!”   As it turns out, the building solution was closer than expected. The partially-destroyed villages were surrounded by bamboo forests, a time-honored building material that is lightweight, strong, affordable, sustainable and reaches full maturity in about five years. Working hand-in-hand with the locals, Ramboll has now built three prototype earthquake-proof “template houses” made almost entirely out of locally-sourced bamboo. The homes are raised on cross-braced columns with a central staircase leading to the living area and space for two bedrooms. The walls are finished with bamboo woven sheets or canes and the roofing is made from recycled Tetra Pak carton packaging.  Going even further, the project headed by Grenzeloos Milieu and University College London will provide locals with a free blueprint on how to construct affordable earthquake-proof homes without complicated construction knowledge necessary. Additionally, Grenzeloos Milieu is growing more bamboo forests and teaching communities how to harvest the trees for food and construction. Ramboll volunteers on the ground in Lombok will teach the process hands-on while ensuring safety and efficiency . + Ramboll Via Dezeen Images via Ramboll

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Ramboll helps Lombok locals build earthquake-resistant bamboo housing

Planet Beyond earbuds combine tech, sustainability and fashion

January 17, 2020 by  
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High-tech products don’t have to be sterile and uniform, but there haven’t been a lot of options for personalizing or styling even common gadgets, like earbuds, until now. That’s what inspired Planet Beyond, a company aimed at offering fashionable options alongside state-of-the-art technology and sustainability. The earbuds, released in early December 2019, offer superior sound that is comparable to Bose or Apple. Even the basic model earbuds are embellished with a metal centerpiece, available in gold, gunmetal or silver tones, giving each pair a striking and unique look. The silicone earpieces not only deliver comfort but are designed for interchangeability of additional jewelry. Related: Korvaa is the world’s first headphones “grown” from bio-based materials Users can create ear art with a selection of add-on options. The jewelry components come in a variety of styles including leaves, shooting stars and sun rays. Each design is available in the same three base colors to match or contrast the center and are easily interchangeable whenever you want a different look. While quality sound is at the heart of these earbuds, sold as product PB01 to represent Planet Beyond’s initial product release, the brand’s bigger goal aims to add something that no other company has brought to the earbud market — style. As a start-up focused on sustainability, Planet Beyond has also placed importance on practicing corporate responsibility. With that in mind, each product is created from recycled metal . “Beyond being lightweight and durable, our Bluetooth earpieces are the synthesis of sustainability, fashion and technology ,” the company said. “With a broad range of offerings at attainable prices, we believe everyone deserves to witness the new intersection of technology and art.” Available now, the PB01 has a base price of $115. The optional accessories add an additional $55 each. With a team made up of a mathematician, an engineer, a computer programmer and an architect, we expect to see more wearable tech innovation from Planet Beyond in the future. + Planet Beyond Images via Planet Beyond

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Planet Beyond earbuds combine tech, sustainability and fashion

Transparent, prefab tiny cabin offers the best views of the Italian Alps

January 16, 2020 by  
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If you need a little getaway, there is a beautiful, tiny cabin retreat in the Italian Alps calling your name. The Immerso cabin, which is available to rent on Airbnb , is a prefabricated timber cabin with transparent roofs and walls that allow guests to completely “immerse” themselves in nature while trying to find serenity in an increasingly stressful world. Designed by Italian architects Fabio Vignolo and Francesca Turnaturi, the Immerso cabin sleeps up to two people. Located in the fairytale-like setting of the Chisone Valley in the western Piedmont, the timber cabin is surrounded by breathtaking views. In fact, according to the architects, this pristine location is what inspired the Immerso design — to meet the “increasing human need to live strictly connected to the nature.” Related: These solar-powered prefab cabins can be set up in just 4 hours Manufactured offsite using CNC-cut birch plywood panels that slot together easily, the prefab cabin measures a total of just 65 square feet. Its transparent, A-frame roof and walls add a spacious feel to the interior; however, curtains can be drawn to provide a bit of privacy. Two large doors open completely to reveal the minimal interior, which is comprised of a double bed and coffee table. In case you are wondering, there is a shared bathroom on the property as well for when nature calls. Currently located approximately 1,900 meters above sea level in the Italian Alps, the tiny cabin was designed to be easily transportable and assembled in nearly any location. The prefabricated design allows the structure to be assembled in just two hours. Additionally, the cabin is elevated off the ground on a platform in order to leave minimal impact on the natural environment. The Immerso cabin is available for rent on Airbnb starting at about $130 a night. + Airbnb Images via Immerso Glamping

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Transparent, prefab tiny cabin offers the best views of the Italian Alps

Passive solar community in Brazil combines social justice and sustainability

January 15, 2020 by  
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To empower a marginalized community in Brazil’s Maranhão state, São Paulo-based architecture firm  Estudio Flume  has completed Castanha de Caju, a new headquarters for a women’s agricultural cooperative that doubles as a welcoming community hub. Constructed on a limited budget and a tight timeline, the inspiring project included the refurbishment and extension of a small house as well as the inclusion of traditional construction techniques and materials to reduce costs. Low-cost passive thermal control strategies and considerable community input helped shape the project, which also includes permaculture principles, a biodigester, and rainwater harvesting. Located in Nova Vida, a small impoverished community in Bom Jesus das Selvas, the new agricultural co-op headquarters was primarily built to serve a group of women who make their living by collecting and processing a type of oil-rich Brazilian nut. As a result, the layout of the building was informed by the co-op’s workflows and includes nut cooking and breaking areas as well as an internal courtyard for drying foods. In light of the lack of  public spaces in the town, the architects also added facilities to the project, such as the sun-room and concrete bunch, to encourage community cohesion and knowledge sharing. In addition to  reusing  as much of the original building as possible, the new headquarters is constructed with perforated bricks and ‘brise-soleil’ pivot doors made with traditional techniques to allow for cross ventilation, natural light, and views. Since the area lacks a sewage system and a constant supply of potable water, the architects added a rainwater harvesting system and a septic tank biodigester for sewage treatment as well as a banana circle to filter gray water. The architects hope that through continued use and maintenance, the community will gradually begin to adapt these systems into other buildings in the town. Related: This beekeepers workshop uses sustainable design to minimize its footprint “This project is part of a wider plan for renovation works for small cooperatives and associations in the interior Maranhão and Pará states, in the north and northeast of Brazil ,” the architects said. “In a country with enormous continental diversity and cultural richness, it represents the opportunity to defend some sense of social justice, to ensure job security, comfort in the routine of a group of women. This was an opportunity to work with those who produce food on a small scale and with respect for the environment and, in the end, these products are eaten in the big cities.” + Estudio Flume Images via Estudio Flume

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Passive solar community in Brazil combines social justice and sustainability

A 1980s Madrid home gets a modern and energy-efficient facelift

January 3, 2020 by  
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In Madrid’s affluent residential district of La Moraleja, local architectural practice CSO Arquitectura has given a dated 1980s home a modern makeover with a focus on energy efficiency. Dubbed the Levitt House, the two-story home features a complete retrofit of the interiors as well as an entirely new energy-saving rear facade. To preserve continuity between the old home’s character and the new design, the architects used the building’s existing material palette — concrete tiles, timber and face brick — while bringing in a minimalist aesthetic. The renovation of the Levitt House also included an expansion to bring the total area to 4,600 square feet. To expand the home, the architects demolished the rear facade as well as a quarter of the deck and the first floor slab. The building footprint was extended toward the interior garden and the pool; the reworked rear facade embraces the backyard with full-height glazing, covered outdoor terraces and a series of folding timber shutters. Related: A 17th-century Spanish hospital gets transformed into a cozy library “Regarding the sustainability criteria, the new facade of the expansion is built with energy savings in mind,” noted the architects, who also strengthened the building’s insulation and added solar water heaters to the roof. “The windows capture the warmth during the winter, but also allow cross ventilation during the summer. To achieve a complete solar control, wooden shutters have been installed to guarantee privacy and safety for the inhabitants. Lastly, both the structure and this facade — and the carpentry — have been built with wood, a sustainable material.” Daylight floods the interiors, which feel bright and spacious thanks to tall ceilings, white walls and pale-toned woods that are complemented by bright pops of color from the client’s art collection and contemporary furnishings. At the center of the building is a minimalist staircase built with floating treads to maintain sight lines throughout the home. + CSO Arquitectura Photography by David Frutos via CSO Arquitectura

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A 1980s Madrid home gets a modern and energy-efficient facelift

The Amazon has lost over 10 million football fields of forest in a decade

January 3, 2020 by  
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The Royal Statistical Society (RSS) recently published its International Statistic of the Decade, and the “winner” was the stark statistic that the Amazon lost 24,000 square miles of rainforest. That is a land size equivalent to 10.3 million American gridiron football fields or 8.4 million soccer fields. This sobering deforestation figure highlights the harsh landscape changes caused by intentional human encroachment for commercial development purposes, such as logging, mining and cattle ranching. “The statistic only gives a snapshot of the issue, but it really provides an insight into the dramatic change to the landscape that has occurred over the past decade,” Liberty Vittert, a Harvard University visiting scholar and a statistician on the RSS judging panel, said. Related: Amazon rainforest might reach irreversible tipping point as early as 2021 Deforestation matters. Why? For one, the Amazon rainforest is a biodiversity hotspot, home to thousands of plant and animal species at risk of endangerment and extinction . Secondly, the Amazon Basin supplies a considerable amount of water vapor to the atmosphere; its deforestation leads to drought and attendant wildfires, which further exacerbate the ecosystem equilibrium of the rainforest habitat. Also, the loss of trees and other vegetation causes soil erosion, which increases the risks for  flooding  and a host of other problems such as land loss for indigenous people and  habitat loss for endemic flora and fauna species. When species become endangered , the ecosystem and its biodiversity equilibrium are imbalanced, triggering chain reactions where one loss leads to another. We lose not only those plants and animals we know of, but even undiscovered ones with medicinal potential that could never be recovered. Hence, when ecosystems weaken, all species, even humans, are placed at risk.  The Amazon’s deforestation is considerable because it is the world’s largest rainforest , spanning nine South American countries and measuring about 25 times the size of the United Kingdom. Therefore, it plays a vital role in our planet’s climate regulation. The rainforest’s canopy, for example, regulates temperature, cooling the atmosphere. The canopy similarly controls atmospheric water levels, affecting the water cycle and stabilizing the rainfall of South America. Of utmost significance, too, is the Amazon’s role in carbon sequestration . After all, this rainforest absorbs and stores more than 180 billion tons of carbon from the atmosphere. Without the Amazon as a carbon sink, the carbon is released back into the air, adding to greenhouse gases , which is ultimately bad news for Earth’s climate. Indeed, were it not for the Amazon rainforest helping to re-absorb the carbon from the carbon footprint generated by human consumption, land use and fossil fuel burning, climate change will not be buffered.  Professor Jennifer Rogers, chair of the judging panel and RSS vice-president for external affairs, explained further, “Irreplaceable rainforests, like the Amazon, are shrinking at an alarming rate, and this statistic gives a very powerful visual of a hugely important environmental issue. Much has been discussed regarding the environment in the last few years, and the judging panel felt this statistic was highly effective in capturing one of the decade’s worst examples of environmental degradation.” + Royal Statistical Society Via CNN Image via Free-Photos

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The Amazon has lost over 10 million football fields of forest in a decade

Gorgeous tiny home thrives in the California sunshine

December 27, 2019 by  
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Already well-known for its all-weather tiny home designs , Canadian studio Minimaliste is back with one breezy home for a client in California who dreamed of having a compact living space that is both comfy and mobile. The Noyer is a 331-square-foot tiny home on wheels that has a spectacular interior comprised of a living room, an office space, a kitchen, a bathroom with a composting toilet and a spacious sleeping loft. At just 331 square feet, the Noyer is a compact structure that is built on a wheeled trailer, enabling the tiny home to go mobile. Although it was specifically designed for a client in California, the Noyer, like all of Minimaliste’s designs, was built to perform just as well in warm climates as it does in colder regions . Related: The off-grid Eucalyptus tiny home radiates cool, Californian vibes The tiny house is clad in a gorgeous blend of charcoal-colored steel siding and cedar cladding . The shape of the Noyer is marked by its sloped roof, which was strategic in providing more room for the sleeping loft. Inside, bright white walls contrast nicely with the wooden ceiling and flooring. The entryway includes a small lounge area with an inbuilt bench facing the kitchen. A small table off to the side pulls double duty as either an office desk or a dining table . Like the rest of the home, this space has plenty of storage to keep it clutter-free. Home cooks will love the modern design of the kitchen, which has been painted black to stand out from the rest of the interior. The preparation area comes fully equipped with all of the amenities needed to whip up a tasty meal, including a full-sized refrigerator, a dishwasher, a stove top, plenty of counterspace and a dreamy farmhouse sink. Just past the kitchen, the main living area is elevated off the ground floor by a few steps. It is quite spacious for a tiny home and includes a small sofa centered around an entertainment shelf. A large, square window frames the views of wherever the Noyer is parked. On the other side of the home, there is a small bathroom with a stand-up shower, a composting toilet and a two-in-one, washer-dryer combo. Above this space, built-in stairs lead up to the sleeping loft, which is large enough to fit a queen-sized bed and a bedside table on each side. There is also a platform next to the loft area that enables the homeowners to change while standing in front of the wardrobe — a novelty in tiny home design. + Minimaliste Via Tiny House Talk Images via Minimaliste

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Gorgeous tiny home thrives in the California sunshine

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