Rammed-earth walls make up a beautiful retreat hidden in the Zhejiang mountains

October 10, 2019 by  
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Hidden in the misty mountains of Zhejiang , a new eco-sensitive resort made from local materials entices visitors with spectacular views and laid-back charms. International architecture firm kooo architects designed the Retreat Village, which comprises a cluster of luxury suites, for their client Hangzhou Origin Villa Hotel & Resort in the Dashan Village in Zhejiang, China. Taking inspiration from the local vernacular, the architects used local materials and techniques, such as rammed-earth construction, to create a resort that blends into its surroundings. Completed over the course of two years, the new Retreat Village is located on a remote, rural mountain. Although most of the original village architecture was built from rammed earth walls using local soils, the architects decided to only use rammed earth for a portion of the new construction so as to keep the interior from feeling too dark and constrained. The earthen walls are complemented by a natural material palette of bamboo, red bricks, stone and carbonized wood. To reduce site impact, the architects used locally produced as well as recycled materials and carefully sited the buildings to follow the natural contours of the mountain. Each of the buildings point in different directions to preserve privacy and to maximize views. An indoor- outdoor living experience is also emphasized in the design. Moreover, the use of natural materials and careful siting help make the village disappear into the landscape. Related: MAD’s ethereal Yiwu Grand Theater will “float” on Zhejiang waters “There is no light coming from this lonely village’s surrounding at night, so one can feel sufficient brightness even with a minimum amount of lighting,” adds the firm. “We kept the lights that can illuminate the entire space uniformly, such as downlights, to the minimum, and used all-directional soft umbrella-like lights such as free-standing lamps and table lights throughout the space. These fixtures project soft arches of light and shadow, illuminating the seamless finish and rounded edges of the walls and ceilings. Wrapped with the warmth of light, the rooms feel more calming and comfortable.” + kooo architects Images by Keishin Horikoshi / SS

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Rammed-earth walls make up a beautiful retreat hidden in the Zhejiang mountains

Light your pumpkins the EEK-o-friendly way this Halloween

October 10, 2019 by  
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With spooky season upon us, consider illuminating your jack-o’-lanterns in an eco-friendly way. But what are some good light sources to place within or even near pumpkins? You, of course, want to avoid toxins from certain sources, so here are some of Inhabitat’s sustainable suggestions this autumn. Soy or beeswax candles Steer clear of paraffin, because it is a petroleum-based product that produces soot. Paraffin candles have also been known to release acetaldehyde, acrolein, benzene, formaldehyde, naphthalene and toluene — all of which are toxins . Instead, choose “cleaner” candles made either of soy or beeswax. These options are all-natural, burn at lower temperatures, and last longer — ensuring a healthier light to place within your carved pumpkins. Related: Time to put the flame out — scented candles can cause disease and poor air quality Flameless LED artificial lights LED lights can be in the form of tea lights, string lights, even bike lights — making them wonderful choices for your jack-o’-lanterns. They are, after all, more energy-efficient and have longer lifespans than other types of artificial lighting. They are also a safer choice for inside a pumpkin because they don’t emit much heat, thereby lowering the risk of fire. They can operate at a wide range of temperatures — whether hot or cold — without significant degradation. For these reasons, LED lights are safer and more budget-friendly for a sustainable Halloween. Solar lights Go green this year by utilizing your garden decor to fashion a solar-powered jack-o’-lantern. How does one solarize pumpkins? First, you’ll have to allow your solar garden lights to collect energy from the sun throughout the day. While your yard’s solar lights are soaking up the sun, that is when you can cut out the bottom of your carved pumpkins. Then, at night, you can place those jack-o-lanterns atop the now-glowing solar garden lights. Voila! Your yard will come alive with solarized jack-o’-lanterns to ghoulishly light up your Halloween night . So this Halloween, if the kids are asking why your pumpkins have bigger smiles, goofier faces or even epic expressions, you can explain that it is all because they are all lit up in EEK-o-friendlier ways. Via Chester Energy and Policy Image via David Menidrey

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Light your pumpkins the EEK-o-friendly way this Halloween

Travertine and teak sustainably ground a modern home into a harsh coastal climate

October 3, 2019 by  
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Built to look like an extension of the landscape, the Point Nepean Residence in the town of Portsea, Australia is a sustainably crafted home designed to withstand extreme coastal weather. Melbourne-based design practice B.E Architecture created the home for a retired couple who wanted a beachside abode that would highlight the site’s natural beauty. In addition to a natural material palette that complements the coastal aesthetic, the home also uses site-specific, passive solar design principles to reduce energy demands. Set amongst thick tea tree parklands, the Point Nepean Residence enjoys sweeping views of Portsea Pier and Port Phillip Bay. In a nod to the rocky breakwater located below the site, the home features a facade made of imported Travertine from Eco Outdoor, a stone material selected for its weathered texture and ability to withstand the harsh coastal climate. Sustainably sourced plantation teak wraps the lower portion of the building and is also used for the mechanically operated screens on the upstairs windows. “The house is set back from the road with only glimpses of the building details being evident from the entranceway,” explain the architects in a press release. “It is only on approaching that slowly the house reveals itself, and one becomes more aware of the materiality of the elements used. Once inside the tall front gate, occupants and visitors are guided down a long walkway next to an atrium style internal courtyard that opens out into the main living area with views over the pier and ocean beyond.” Related: Locally sourced materials make up a timber home that mimics its forest landscape The thick travertine walls provide beneficial thermal mass for regulating internal temperatures, which is further stabilized with insulation in the walls and roof. Natural sea breezes are also maximized throughout to ventilate the building, while daylight streams in from multiple openings. The simple palette of timber and stone create a minimalist and modern appearance that’s also low maintenance.  + B.E Architecture Images by Derek Swalwell

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Travertine and teak sustainably ground a modern home into a harsh coastal climate

Yosemite camping site unveils series of ADA-compliant tiny cabins

September 20, 2019 by  
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Taking a vacation in a tiny cabin in a remote area of the world appeals to all sorts of people, but there’s one group who has been largely left out of the movement — people with disabilities. Thankfully, one forward-thinking firm is changing that with their sleek tiny cabin design that is accessible for all. Los Angeles-based firm, M-Rad has unveiled their new X-suite cabin, an accessible tiny retreat that combines universal design with sophisticated aesthetic. Built specifically for Autocamp Yosemite, a 35-acre glamping site in northern California, the firm installed five X- suite cabins on the edge of a small lake, surrounded by the breathtaking Yosemite landscape. The cabins are all designed to comply with the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). Related: Wheelchair-friendly tiny house proves universal design can be cool The 270-square-foot prefabricated cabins have wooden frames wrapped in  dark-hued metal rainscreens topped with metal roofs. Designed to be transportable, the cabins sit on top of steel chassis with wheels. This enables the cabins to not only be moved easier to another location, but also reduces impact on the landscape. The entrance to each cabin is through a wooden open-air deck that doubles as a ramp. Double-entry French doors that are wide enough for large wheelchairs lead into the interior living space. The interior of the cabins feature rectangular layouts, with a large open-plan living area and a kitchen. Ultra-large glazed walls flood the interior with natural light.  The bedroom, which has enough space for a queen-sized bed, not only has a massive floor-to-ceiling window, but an oversized skylight that allows for stargazing while drifting off to sleep. The kitchens offer all of the necessary amenities that are on a reachable level, as well as a small dining area on the interior. The open-air decks also feature enough space for dining al fresco while enjoying the incredible views. Although the cabins may seem to be a minimalist design, in reality, the cabins were purpose-built to be accessible for everyone without sacrificing on design. Large, spacious thresholds, as well as wide rooms, allow enough space for wheelchairs to turn around in. Additionally, the bathroom was built to adhere to ADA standards such as a shower with a handlebar and seat. Throughout the home, windows, doors, knobs, etc. are also ADA compliant. + M-Rad Via Dezeen Images via M-Rad

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Yosemite camping site unveils series of ADA-compliant tiny cabins

Yosemite camping site unveils series of ADA-compliant tiny cabins

September 20, 2019 by  
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Taking a vacation in a tiny cabin in a remote area of the world appeals to all sorts of people, but there’s one group who has been largely left out of the movement — people with disabilities. Thankfully, one forward-thinking firm is changing that with their sleek tiny cabin design that is accessible for all. Los Angeles-based firm, M-Rad has unveiled their new X-suite cabin, an accessible tiny retreat that combines universal design with sophisticated aesthetic. Built specifically for Autocamp Yosemite, a 35-acre glamping site in northern California, the firm installed five X- suite cabins on the edge of a small lake, surrounded by the breathtaking Yosemite landscape. The cabins are all designed to comply with the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). Related: Wheelchair-friendly tiny house proves universal design can be cool The 270-square-foot prefabricated cabins have wooden frames wrapped in  dark-hued metal rainscreens topped with metal roofs. Designed to be transportable, the cabins sit on top of steel chassis with wheels. This enables the cabins to not only be moved easier to another location, but also reduces impact on the landscape. The entrance to each cabin is through a wooden open-air deck that doubles as a ramp. Double-entry French doors that are wide enough for large wheelchairs lead into the interior living space. The interior of the cabins feature rectangular layouts, with a large open-plan living area and a kitchen. Ultra-large glazed walls flood the interior with natural light.  The bedroom, which has enough space for a queen-sized bed, not only has a massive floor-to-ceiling window, but an oversized skylight that allows for stargazing while drifting off to sleep. The kitchens offer all of the necessary amenities that are on a reachable level, as well as a small dining area on the interior. The open-air decks also feature enough space for dining al fresco while enjoying the incredible views. Although the cabins may seem to be a minimalist design, in reality, the cabins were purpose-built to be accessible for everyone without sacrificing on design. Large, spacious thresholds, as well as wide rooms, allow enough space for wheelchairs to turn around in. Additionally, the bathroom was built to adhere to ADA standards such as a shower with a handlebar and seat. Throughout the home, windows, doors, knobs, etc. are also ADA compliant. + M-Rad Via Dezeen Images via M-Rad

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Yosemite camping site unveils series of ADA-compliant tiny cabins

Award-winning sustainable retreat offers a stylish defense against fire

September 20, 2019 by  
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Australian architectural firm Steendijk’s Bellbird Retreat is proof that designing for fire safety doesn’t have to mean compromising aesthetics. Located in pristine bushland about two hours southwest from Brisbane, the award-winning weekend escape features a striking, weathered steel roof and stellar landscape views as well as a reduced environmental footprint thanks to a rainwater harvesting system and optimized passive design elements. Located on a 141-hectare bush site in Killarney, the Bellbird Retreat is in an area at high risk of fire. To protect the house from devastating bushfires, the architects installed thick brick walls and a fire-resistant roof that uses weathered steel pleats, rather than combustible timber rafters, for the structural support of a single-span structure with unsupported cantilevered eaves. Computer modeling informed the shape and size of the roof, which fans out across the house with deep overhangs to provide protection from solar heat gain. Related: A shipping container is recycled into a chic nature retreat in Brazil “On approach, Bellbird Retreat appears fortress-like with the pleated steel roof crowning three pivoting brick blades that tie the dwelling inextricably to the site while sheltering the building from wind, sun and fire,” the architects explained. “The building sits boldly, carved into the landscape. It is positioned to maximize the mountain saddle for recreational use, enticing the occupant through sliding corner doors that peel back.” Elevated on a cantilevered concrete floor slab, the north-facing Bellbird Retreat spans 721 square feet and includes two bedrooms on the west side with a shared bathroom in between and an open-plan living room, dining area and kitchen on the east end. Fronted with floor-to-ceiling glass, the light-filled interior is dressed in a minimalist palette of locally grown indigenous hoop pine used for the joinery, doors, walls and ceilings. More impressive is the endless views of the landscape that residents can enjoy from dawn until nightfall. + Steendijk Via ArchDaily Images via Steendijk

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Award-winning sustainable retreat offers a stylish defense against fire

Eco-friendly crematorium is envisioned for Santa Monica

September 5, 2019 by  
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Experimental architect Margot Krasojevi? has proposed a fantastical, solar-powered crematorium in Santa Monica that would not only use renewable energy for cremation, but would also give people the option to turn the ashes into tattoos, a concrete reef or even fireworks. In addition to the solar-powered cremation chamber, the design includes an open-plan chapel with a congregation area and an “animated zoetrope garden of remembrance” featuring holographic projections of the deceased. Because Margot Krasojevi?’s ECO CREMATION – Holographic Recycling Cremation project was envisioned for Los Angeles , the architect took inspiration from the city’s piers, boardwalks and coastline to create the undulating architecture and landscape. According to the architect, an average of 20,000 kilograms of wood are used every year for funeral pyre cremations. To reduce the environmental footprint and operating costs of the crematorium, Krasojevi? proposes powering the facility with solar energy and a backup generator fueled by biomass, biogas or a CNG or PNG backup burner. Parabolic reflectors would be installed around the solar cremation chamber to ensure the strongest solar concentration. Related: Entrepreneur sells mushroom suits that decompose your body after death “As the intention is to provide an ecologically friendly pyre, the solar chamber uses combined layers of dichroic and Fresnel glass to concentrate on the sun’s rays,” the architect explained. “The dichroic panels give the illusion of a burning fire, which is an aesthetic used in ceremonial cremations if requested — a spiritual, ceremonial alternative to an open burning fire that pollutes the environment. Once again, the origin of funeral cremations and their current uses throughout the world are addressed by the portrayal of smart material reflecting a dynamic light during the process.” After processing, the ashes can be stored for collection underground or used to memorialize the deceased by transforming them into tattoos, fireworks or a concrete mixture for the creation of an ocean reef. All services would be provided at and by the crematorium. Metals collected from the ashes would be recycled or sold for industrial purposes. At night, the landscape around the crematorium would be illuminated by digital projections of the deceased. + Margot Krasojevi? Architects Images via Margot Krasojevi? Architects

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Eco-friendly crematorium is envisioned for Santa Monica

A modernist home in Brazil brings a tropical garden indoors

August 5, 2019 by  
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Designed by São Paulo-based architecture firm BZP Arquitetura , the Casa Flamenco is a modernist home that makes the most of its lush, tropical setting. Surrounded by operable walls of glass and punctuated by interior courtyards , the home pulls the outdoors in at every turn. To further tie the luxury residence into nature, the architects included bioclimatic strategies to ensure a low-energy, comfortable micro-climate; a natural materials palette defined by stone and wood accents; and renewable systems such as solar hot water systems and a rainwater collecting cistern. Spanning an area of 1,300 square meters, Casa Flamenco was created for a young family of four in Jardim Europa, one of São Paulo’s most coveted and upscale residential neighborhoods. The house is spread out across three floors that engage the outdoors with large sliding glass doors. A minimalist materials palette defines the home’s light-toned interior. The design consists of white surfaces and natural materials, such as granite and hickory walnut, to keep the focus on the lush landscaping that is irrigated by collected rainwater. Related: This modern solar-powered retreat is topped with a massive green roof “We have included bioclimatic strategies for the project, such as the use of green slabs in landscaping, protective films on glass, photovoltaic panels that absorb solar energy and convert it to heat, heating water from showers and faucets, and creating a cross ventilation system in environments and greater climatic comfort and air movement inside the residence, reducing the constant use of air conditioning,” the architects said. To keep the emphasis on the landscape, the architects tucked the parking into the underground level, which also houses the technical and service areas. The spacious ground floor comprises the main social spaces including the living areas, dining room, kitchen, office space, home theater and access to an outdoor lap pool. The private sleeping areas are located upstairs. A separate building houses a gym, sauna and toy library. + BZP Arquitetura Via ArchDaily Photography by Tuca Reines via BZP Arquitetura

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A modernist home in Brazil brings a tropical garden indoors

Dramatic cliffs shape a luxe solar-powered getaway in Montana

July 24, 2019 by  
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Near Whitefish, Montana, Seattle-based firm Cushing Terrell Architects Engineers designed the Confluence House, a contemporary eco-conscious getaway that feels like a natural extension of the landscape. Named after its location at the intersection of two rivers, the Confluence House serves as a getaway for a nature-loving family. In addition to reducing its visual impact on the landscape, the architects also sought to lessen the building’s environmental impact with an energy-efficient design that includes solar panels and native drought-tolerant vegetation. Located on 10 acres framed by the dramatic Montana mountains, the Confluence House comprises three structures— a main house, a guest house and a utility structure— arranged around a protected central courtyard . To blend the low-lying buildings into the landscape, the architects wrapped the exteriors in locally sourced dark-stained wood and stone cladding punctuated with floor-to-ceiling insulated windows that seamlessly bring the outdoors in. Rugged metal roofs with an expansive solar PV system top the structures. Shaped by the neighboring bluffs, the Confluence House aligns the 2,282-square-foot main house with the west bluff while the 946-square-foot east bluff is aligned with the east bluff. The two-suite guest house is separated from the main house for privacy and is connected by way of a covered porch. “A model of efficient space planning, there are no hallways,” reads the project statement. “The flat-roofed living structures allow the complex to disappear into the horizon line.” The indoor/outdoor connection is emphasized through the abundance of glazing and a natural material palette, from the exposed-aggregate concrete floors that evoke gravel river beds to the whitewashed Douglas fir ceilings that reference weathered wood. Related: Four living trees grow through this dreamy treehouse retreat in Montana The surrounding landscape also influenced the landscaping of the protected courtyard, which is planted with native , drought-tolerant vegetation. Carefully placed boulders strengthen the landscaping’s similarities with the environment. A stream bed cuts through the courtyard and is a natural conduit for the rainwater that pours down from scuppers on the roof. + Cushing Terrell Architects Engineers Photographer: Karl Neumann

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Dramatic cliffs shape a luxe solar-powered getaway in Montana

An eco-friendly island resort immerses guests in the wild beauty of northern Norway

July 23, 2019 by  
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On a remote island above the Arctic Circle, Norwegian architecture firm Stinessen Arkitektur has created the Manshausen Island Resort, an eco-friendly getaway with spectacular views that has also been recently expanded with a new extension. Located on the Steigen Archipelago off the coast of northern Norway, the resort comprises a series of contemporary cabins carefully sited and elevated off the ground to minimize site impact while maximizing individual panoramic views. The new addition, which was completed three years after the resort’s opening in June 2015, includes new cabins and a sauna that was constructed from materials leftover from the first stage of construction. Sandwiched between mountains and sea, Manshausen Island features a dramatic landscape and a harsh climate with long winters and temperamental weather conditions. Despite the short building season, remote location and disagreeable weather conditions, the architects succeeded in developing a low-maintenance and sustainably minded resort with cabins designed in the image of the island’s two main existing structures: the old farm-house and stone quays. Each compact cabin was crafted for minimum impact on the landscape; the resort team plans to make the island self-sufficient by 2020 and all waste is already treated on the island. Related: A cluster of wooden cabins create a serene weekend retreat in Norway As with the original cabins at the resort, the new cabins in the extension — dubbed Manshausen 2.0 — have been built from cross-laminated timber , aluminum sheet cladding and custom, full-height glazing that allows for unobstructed views of the landscape. Prefabricated elements were used for “plug and play” installation of the shelters. Each 30-square-meter cabin was designed to be as compact as possible yet can comfortably accommodate up to four to five people and includes a kitchen and plenty of storage space. “Although [the new cabins] enjoy much of the same undisturbed sea views, the positioning in the landscape offers a unique approach to the design,” the architects explained. “Wave heights, extreme weather conditions and also future raise in sea level were studied to determine the exact positions of the cabins.” + Stinessen Arkitektur Images by Adrien Giret, Snorre Stinessen, Kjell Ove Storvik

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An eco-friendly island resort immerses guests in the wild beauty of northern Norway

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