House of Childhood is a daycare that emphasizes energy efficiency

January 20, 2021 by  
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As part of a National Association for Urban Renewal project that will run until 2030, the Maison de l’enfance à Albertville (Savoie, France) is the first step in an ambitious urban development masterplan in the area. Translated House of Childhood, the building was designed by Tectoniques Agency and is functional, inviting, striking and environmentally friendly. With a commitment to early childhood, this initial project is a multipurpose facility with a dynamic, open floor plan that incorporates a municipal daycare center, a family daycare center, space for nursery assistants, a leisure area and a school restaurant. Related: Adorable prefab nursery in Greece mimics a tiny urban village According to a press release, the House of Childhood is, “set in the heart of the Bauges, Beaufortain, Lauzière and Grand Arc mountain ranges,” making for a natural backdrop in nearly every direction. Architects placed an emphasis on the upper level of the building in order to capture the sweeping landscape. In addition to exceptional views of the surrounding peaks, the building responds to a goal of minimal site impact . In fact, a compact design caters to the architects’ call for preserving the ground in anticipation of future land development of green spaces. The team relied on a concrete foundation — Albertville is in a seismic zone — but equally relied on natural materials like different types of locally sourced wood for framing and furniture. To soften the look, the concrete walls are surrounded by a wooden structure. The upper facade offers protection and visual appeal with a combination of shimmering bronze and copper coloring. A significant portion of the building was built using prefabricated panels, ensuring industrial quality while allowing expediency of construction. This technique enabled the project to be completed in 13 months. Energy-efficient elements are included, such as the biomass heating network and ventilation provided by an adiabatic AHU to keep children cool during hot summers. The centralized entrance provides access to a reception area on one end and the dining room, activity rooms and technical rooms on the other. The first floor houses a courtyard with a generous playground. Natural light illuminates the interior through a combination of skylights and glazed facades. The interior design is also focused on the children, drawing natural elements inside with fully exposed bleached beech and spruce walls, ceilings and furniture. Paint colors designate separate spaces; for example, yellow defines the changing rooms and blue defines the restrooms.  + Tectoniques agency Photography by Renaud Araud via Tectoniques agency 

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House of Childhood is a daycare that emphasizes energy efficiency

LEED Gold-targeted Knight Campus advances scientific innovation

January 13, 2021 by  
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The University of Oregon recently welcomed the Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact, a 160,000-square-foot campus built to accelerate groundbreaking scientific discovery and development in a collaborative multidisciplinary environment. Designed by New York-based  Ennead Architects  and Portland-based Bora Architecture & Interiors, the Knight Campus raises the bar for research facilities with its human-centered design that prioritizes wellness and socialization as well as energy efficiency. The eco-conscious campus features high-performance glazing as well as cross-laminated timber materials and is on track to achieve LEED Gold certification.  Named after benefactors Penny and Phil Knight who contributed a $500 million lead gift, the Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact comprises a pair of L-shaped towers that frame an elevated terrace and courtyard at the heart of the campus. Transparency is emphasized throughout the design from the glass bridge that connects the two towers to the large expanses of glazing that make up the buildings’ unique  double-skin facade  and put the interior lab and office spaces on display. “So much of research is about improving the human condition,” said Todd Schliemann, Design Partner at Ennead Architects. “Our goal for the Knight Campus was the creation of a humanistic research machine – one that supports practical needs and aesthetic aspirations, but more importantly, one that inspires the people who work in it, those that move through it and those that simply pass by, and that contributes to the  university  community and the greater context.” Related: Oregon Ducks hit a home run with über-green Jane Sanders Stadium The campus was designed with input from University of Oregon faculty and staff, who helped inform the building’s open workspaces of varied sizes and highly adaptive spaces that give researchers the freedom to change their lab spaces to nimbly work across fields as needed. The new labs also boast cutting-edge technologies, such as  3D-printing  and rapid prototyping, to speed up the process of taking scientific discovery to market.  + Ennead Architects Images via Ennead Architects

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LEED Gold-targeted Knight Campus advances scientific innovation

Trump administration reverses migratory bird protections

January 7, 2021 by  
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In a last-ditch effort to protect fossil fuel companies, the Trump administration has reversed a conservation law that prohibits such companies from killing migratory birds accidentally. Fossil fuel industries have long been seeking the reversal of the law, which is part of the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The law has been protecting migratory birds from deaths caused by disasters like oil spills for over 100 years. The rollback now means that the federal government will not fine or prosecute companies that lead to the death of birds through their actions. Accidental environmental disasters such as oil spills and electrocutions could kill thousands of birds without any implications, as long as the cause of death was not intended to kill the birds, even if the company was conducting illegal activity. Related: Migratory birds triumph over Trump administration “This rule simply reaffirms the original meaning and intent of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act by making it clear that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will not prosecute landowners, industry and other individuals for accidentally killing a migratory bird,” said David Bernhardt, Secretary of the Interior. However, environmentalists view the issue differently. Eric Glitzenstein, director of litigation at the Center for Biological Diversity, said the move is cruel and harmful to biodiversity .  “It’s horrendous,” Glitzenstein said. “It will just have a really overwhelming negative effect on our already dwindling bird populations.” The Migratory Bird Treaty Act was originally put in place to protect birds from poachers and hunters. The act made it illegal for any person to hunt, capture or kill birds or take their nests or eggs from certain listed species without a permit. Although the act did not clearly mention the accidental killing of birds, it has been instrumental in protecting birds from the actions of fossil fuel companies. The act was used under the Obama administration in prosecuting seven oil companies in North Dakota for killing 28 birds. The same act was instrumental in a $100 million settlement against BP for the killing of 1 million birds in the Deepwater Horizon Spill. Via The New York Times Image via NPS/Patrick Myers

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Futuristic aviary design uses piezoelectric energy to mimic bird movements

January 7, 2021 by  
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A combination aviary and bird-watching platform in China’s Suzhou Taihu Lakeside National Wetland Park, this stunning conceptual design by Margot Krasojevi? Architecture utilizes piezoelectric energy to move parts of the structure, mimicking birds in flight. At the heart of the dome, a high tensile steel loom acts as a gallery for birds, while the primary structure is made from stainless steel spine beams that move and sway like feathers. Piezoelectric cells are connected to a motor that harnesses movement to produce an electrical current, making the entire structure self-sufficient. The cells then respond to the overall mechanical stress generated by the structure and create an electric charge, which in turn runs through a dichroic filtered electrochromic glass modifying the transparency and luminosity of the facade. Responding directly to the density of bird movement, the facade appears to “flutter” as the environment changes. Related: Abandoned amusement park to gain new life as a nature park in Suzhou Thanks to the reflective, fluttering facade, the structure appears to partially disappear into its wetland surroundings. The dome protects birds from flying into the glass cladding by projecting ultrasound signals from the surface. Extra electrical energy generated by the piezoelectric cells is used to control the dome’s temperature, humidity and building filtration, allowing the structure to essentially dictate its own ecosystem. The humidity is filtered and ecologically purified to be pumped back into the surrounding wetlands through the aviary’s dome.  Visitors are led into the wetlands and connected to the building entrance through a helical ramp that unfolds across the aviary. This hydraulic runway ramp glides along within the building, rather than touching the building envelope, to guide visitors as they walk among the birds. The ramp can lower and raise to take visitors to different heights within the interior; this can offer clearer views. The pile grid is anchored through concrete to enable it to rise and fall according to the substructure movement, all while maintaining equilibrium inside the aviary. + Margot Krasojevi? Architecture Images via Margot Krasojevi?

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Futuristic aviary design uses piezoelectric energy to mimic bird movements

Green-roofed home embraces valley views and daylight

January 7, 2021 by  
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On the steep banks of the Dyje River in the Czech town of Znojmo, Brno-based architecture firm Kuba & Pila? architekti has completed the Family House in the River Valley, a contemporary, geothermal-powered home topped with a lush green roof. Set on a narrow, rectangular plot, the waterfront home complements its neighbors with its simple form, yet it stands out with a modern materials palette that includes a structure of reinforced concrete and steel clad in black aluminum sheets. Access to natural light and views toward the slope and the river largely dictated the design of the home. Completed after 9 years of design and construction, the Family House in the River Valley comprises three floors that face the Dyje River and one floor that faces the slope. The north-facing side of the home is topped with a sharply angled green roof that feels like an extension of the steep, grassy slope and culminates into a rising garden above the home. Related: Modular home in Delft boasts low-carbon timber build and a green roof Unlike the layout of a conventional home, the Family House in the River Valley places the living areas on the top floor and the bedrooms down below. “The living space benefits from the absence of partition, which creates two advantages,” the architects explained. “One, the sunlight floods the room from the southern side, from the garden through the glass wall in the dining area. Two, to the north, it offers impressive views of the valley. It is the beautiful views of the Dyje River valley and the opposite rocky slopes with important historical monuments of Znojmo that are the main strengths of this site.” The interior is kept minimalist so as not to detract from the beautiful landscape views. Large, aluminum-framed windows usher in these vistas and natural light. To create an indoor-outdoor experience, the architects connected the living space to an outdoor terrace and the garden on the south side, which can also be accessed via an outdoor staircase. + Kuba & Pila? architekti Photography by BoysPlayNice

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A French wine cellars updated facade doubles as housing for local bats

December 31, 2020 by  
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Bordeaux-based design studio MOONWALKLOCAL collectif d’architectes has recently crafted a new facade for a French wine cellar that doubles as shelter for local bats. Although contemporary in design, the new construction pays homage to its rural surroundings with its simple, gabled shape. Eleven bat nesting boxes have been discreetly integrated into one of the building’s timber-clad, gabled end walls. Simply titled the Bat Wine Cellar, the multifunctional project combines a low-maintenance yet beautiful facade with ecological purpose. The inhabitable facade of the contemporary wine cellar features 11 bat nesting boxes that run the width of the gabled end wall and are constructed of timber to camouflage them into the wooden exterior. To ensure a dark and safe environment for the bats, the architects created a small opening at the bottom of each box as well as ridges on the interior for the bats to hang upside down. Related: Dutch town helps out rare bat species by installing “bat-friendly” streetlights “Useful in the vineyards to regulate insect and butterfly populations, the future inhabitants of this place will have all the necessary comfort: darkness, warmth and height to protect themselves from predators,” MOONWALKLOCAL collectif d’architectes explained in a project statement. In addition to eliminating unwanted pests from the vineyards, the bats can also serve important pollination roles. The dark timber cladding takes cues from the local agricultural vernacular, which includes wood-clad sheds as well as tobacco dryers finished with tar and used oil that dot the rural Bordeaux landscape. The architects used the traditional Japanese wood charring technique of shou sugi ban to treat the wood, which takes on a handsome appearance. Although the process can be time consuming, charring the wood offers benefits such as resistance against rot and pests. As a result, the preserved cladding requires little maintenance. The Bat Wine Cellar project was completed in 2016. + MOONWALKLOCAL collectif d’architectes Images via MOONWALKLOCAL

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A French wine cellars updated facade doubles as housing for local bats

Twin cabins in Washington make use of reclaimed and natural materials

December 1, 2020 by  
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If there’s anything better than a cabin in the woods, it’s two cabins in the woods. For Kathleen Glossa of Swivel Interiors, in a collaboration with fellow Seattle-based integrated design firm Board & Vellum, a project for a family in Eastern Washington offered double the reward. The high-energy, outdoorsy clients wanted to create personal space on their property for family and other guests. They requested simple dwellings that didn’t overwhelm the surrounding landscape of rolling hills.  The design for the two matching cabins is inspired by an old barn on the property that was heavily leaning and in danger of collapsing. Dating back to the 1890s, the barn may have outlived its usefulness as a shelter, but the team was able to reclaim the lumber as a central component to the cabins’ construction. Craftsmen used the barn wood to meticulously create a dividing wall down the middle of each cabin. Dowbuilt , the builder for the project, skillfully mitered each corner, continuing with the same board around each bend. Related: These elevated wooden cabins can only be accessed via hiking trail In addition to the salvaged wood, natural materials for each 900-square-foot cabin were locally sourced with nature in mind. Exposed plywood walls connect the interior to the nearby trees while concrete flooring, metal siding and tin roofs offer durability and a classically rustic vibe. The interior color palette of browns, greens and oranges further celebrates nature, and the wood-burning stove in each cabin connects the living area to the surrounding landscape. The interiors were designed with equal consideration for sourcing products locally. Many businesses of all sizes provided products for the cozy and authentic cabin atmosphere. New items were combined with pieces pulled from the client’s storage unit. Other décor was salvaged from vintage stores within the state. Handcrafted selections from Old Hickory, a company in business for over 120 years, were intermingled with bright powder-coated metal furniture from Room & Board. Black Dog Forge out of Seattle customized the cabinet hardware, bathroom accessories and drapery hardware. The project supported other artisans with the purchase of shower curtains from Etsy vendors and pendant lighting crafted by Barn Light Electric. Each cabin features Dekton countertops, Pratt and Larson tile, under-counter refrigerators and a coffee pot, but kitchen function is limited to keep the focus on outdoor grilling and enjoying meals at the main house. + Swivel Interiors   + Board and Vellum Photography John Granen & Tina Witherspoon via Cameron Macallister Group

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Twin cabins in Washington make use of reclaimed and natural materials

Fiat 500 3+1 electric vehicle gets a fresh redesign

November 26, 2020 by  
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The Fiat 500 3+1 electric car is designed to attract customers who want a smart, sustainable ride that blends style and functionality. The addition of a third door is practical, and the car features the same Fiat 500 aesthetic. Best of all, the electric vehicle capabilities are a big win for the planet. For the interior, Fiat chose a warm and soft color pallet on the interior textiles to emphasize a stronger bond with nature. Eco-friendly and recyclable materials are featured as well. Seats are made from a combination of vegan leather and Seaqual fiber derived from recycled plastic, some of which was collected from the ocean. Additionally, chrome replacement paints and mats are made of recycled fibers, and components of the dashboard are made of wood. Related: AUDI’s new electric car will have autonomous vehicle capability and a roof that holds real plants The new Fiat is available in three colors: Rose Gold, Glacier Blue and Onyx Black. It features full LED headlights, two-tone 17” diamond-cut wheel rims and chrome-plated inserts on the windows and side panels, while the seats, dashboard upholstery and steering wheel are all clad in ‘eco-leather.’ The battery pack is now located under the floor, allowing for a roomier interior layout and increased stability. The space has also been organized using modular storage compartments. Technology-wise, La Prima comes with the most advanced level 2 autonomous driving system available, the first of its kind for city cars, according to the company. Customers can look forward to Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control, lane centering and control, traffic sign recognition, an autonomous emergency brake with pedestrian and cyclist recognition, Intelligent Speed Assistant, a high-resolution rear camera, 360° parking and urban blind spot sensors, automatic twilight and dazzle sensory, emergency call capabilities, a wireless smartphone charger and an electronic parking brake. The electric battery boasts 85 kW fast charging and includes an 11 kW Mode 3 cable for charging at home or in public. Its electric motor is structured around safety and entertainment, integrating a technological “ecosystem” to connect drivers and passengers to the car through their phones. For example, the Fiat app allows users to view charging points nearby and check battery charge levels remotely. + Fiat Images via Fiat

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Fiat 500 3+1 electric vehicle gets a fresh redesign

Architect designs his own breezy, plant-filled home in Los Angeles

November 18, 2020 by  
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David Montalba, founding principal of Montalba Architects, recently completed a 5,450-square-foot personal residence in Santa Monica, California. The design is based around a vertical courtyard concept with movable wooden screens that make up the facade. These screens help cool the home in an energy-efficient way during the area’s hot summers. Several additional green design elements, including a Tesla Powerwall and solar panels, further reduce the home’s carbon footprint. At three stories, the home seamlessly merges indoor and outdoor with the series of operable wooden screens, providing just enough privacy from neighbors. The vertical courtyard connects all levels of the house while a concrete base acts as an anchor to the lower levels. Landscaped balconies and the enclosed courtyard are divided by lush plants and connected with a bridge. The result is an L-shaped plan centered around the courtyard, locking into the site while the second floor hovers above the concrete footing and living quarters on the ground floor. Related: Santa Barbara home is surrounded by wooden screens for natural climate control   “Given the lot’s size and the neighborhood, the biggest challenge was making sure we didn’t overbuild and maintained some degree of privacy with our immediate neighbors,” Montalba said. “This was achieved by creating a basement level and vertical courtyard in which the house is organized. Los Angeles has a long history of residential courtyard buildings and that in combination with the privacy it offered helped drive this concept.” The louvers provide cross-ventilation over the footprint of the house, while the strategically placed pool provides evaporative cooling to create a breezy corridor through the living area. Adjacent terraced gardens and the perimeter of the home are landscaped with native plants for shading, cooling and stormwater retention. Other eco-friendly features include a rainwater collection system for potable water, a Tesla Powerwall , solar panels and radiant heating and cooling systems. A vertical garden adds more plant life to the home, while a thermal mass in the basement helps further achieve comfortable temperatures year-round. Soft tones and organic colors are featured in the interior design, with floor-to-ceiling length windows to let in plenty of natural light. + Montalba Architects Photography by Kevin Scott via v2com

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3D-printed modular oasis stays naturally cool in Abu Dhabi

November 12, 2020 by  
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Italian firm Barberio Colella Architetti and architect Angelo Figliola have unveiled a futuristic vision for an urban oasis in Abu Dhabi that combines cutting-edge technology with low-tech systems to stay naturally cool in extreme climates. The conceptual project — dubbed Urban Dunes — uses locally sourced sand as the main building material, which would be 3D printed in stereotomic blocks of sandstone. In addition to providing passive cooling, the oasis would also pay homage to the region’s culture with intricate and elegant spaces that mimic the traditional architecture of Abu Dhabi. Designed to span 1,000 square meters, the Urban Dunes project features the tagline “rethinking local sustainable models.” The proposal “started from the deep awareness of the climatic context of Abu Dhabi’s and the Emirates’ traditional architecture, such as elegant vaulted spaces, vernacular shading devices and cold-water basins,” the architects explained in a press statement. As a result, Urban Dunes’ sculptural, sand dune-like form is integrated with iconic elements such as mashrabiya , vaulted spaces, water basins, fountains and palms. Related: Mixed-use complex aims to minimize heat gain with greenery in Saudi Arabia For adaptability, the architects have proposed a modular design to fit a variety of spatial settings. The basic module, a square, can be extended to create everything from an L-shaped layout to a courtyard. Each module would be made from 3D-printed blocks that stack together to create a vault with a thickness of 55 centimeters that, together with the heat-reflective cool pigments mixed into the sand, help protect against solar heat gain. The vaulted spaces below are also optimized for natural cooling with elegant mashrabiya, a type of perforated window screen to enable natural ventilation . The incoming airflow is cooled by the water basins placed around the interior as well as the two waterfall fountains and palm trees in the center. Earth pipes are laid underground to feed water to the fountains and basins. + Barberio Colella Architetti Images via Barberio Colella Architetti

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3D-printed modular oasis stays naturally cool in Abu Dhabi

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