Chic geothermal-powered home embraces indoor-outdoor living

November 18, 2020 by  
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Dutch design studios  Bedaux de Brouwer  and  i29  have blurred the boundaries between indoors and out at Outside In, an aptly named 400-square-meter villa for a family of four. Completed in September 2020, the luxury home makes a verdant green patio the heart of its living area and features expansive glazing all around to take in views of the surrounding garden. In addition to bringing nature indoors visually, the home also reduces its impact on the environment with energy-efficient technologies that include geothermal energy storage, a heat pump and rooftop solar panels.  A minimalist  natural materials  palette and restrained design approach define Outside In, a single-story family home wrapped in an all-black brick facade to make the building recede into the landscape. Large integrated planters with overflowing greenery sit just outside the front of the building to further soften the home’s appearance. In contrast, the interior is dominated by white walls and light-toned wood surfaces that bounce back the daylight that floods the home. “With a purist design approach and modest materials, Bedaux de Brouwer and i29 designed a villa that has a luxurious quality, without being pretentious,” the designers explained in a press release. “The biggest quality of this house is the harmonious integration of interior and exterior to the smallest details.” Unity is also achieved indoors through the use of  custom furnishings  — from cabinetry and sliding doors to beds and wardrobes — all made from the same light-colored timber.  Related: Old train shed is transformed into a gorgeous office and restaurant in the Netherlands The  solar – and geothermal-powered home is divided into two main parts. A spacious living area houses a dining room and kitchen that wrap around a lush light-filled interior courtyard. Meanwhile, the private wing includes a master bedroom and two secondary bedrooms that face a walled-in swimming pool and garden. + Bedaux de Brouwer + i29 Images: i29 / Ewout Huibers

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Architects envision a lush, solar-powered oasis to cool Abu Dhabi

November 13, 2020 by  
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Abu Dhabi’s Department of Municipalities and Transport (DMT) has named European architecture firm Mask Architects’ palm tree-inspired Oasys proposal one of the 10 winners in ‘Cool Abu Dhabi’ . This global design competition sought sustainable solutions for mitigating the urban heat island effect . The winning design calls for a solar-powered refuge with modular, palm tree-like structures that would provide protection from the elements and respite from the heat with solar-powered misters and lush landscaping. The multipurpose, pop-up spaces could also be used for a variety of functions, from cafes and and retail stands to exhibition spaces. Mask Architect’s Oasys proposal draws the eye with its massive palm tree-inspired structures that the architects said would be topped with solar panels and integrated with lights and nozzles that spray a cooling mist into the air. Dubbed the Artificial Breathing Palm modular structure system, the design includes a “foundation base” that conceals all of the technical equipment — including water and electric lines as well as solar batteries — as well as five triangular module types of varying sizes. The modules can connect together in different configurations to fit a variety of settings, while lush landscaping would be planted around the modules to give the space more of an oasis-like feel. Related: Abu Dhabi Flamingo Visitor Center blends into the landscape “The ‘Oasis’ design concept has been influenced by the need to create a greener city as well as creating a real oasis in the middle of the city,” Mask Architects explained. “Besides the the flexible and replaceable design line, any outdoor functions are adapted easily into ‘Oasys’ conceptA mechanism that can be replicated easily to form a network of hubs and centre points in which they act as islands of rest places, socialising and sociable communal for the collective and community.” The ‘Cool Abu Dhabi ’ global design competition concluded earlier this year and received over 300 entries from nearly 70 countries. The 10 winning entries were announced online and each received $10,000 each in prize money.  + Mask Architects Images via Mask Architects

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Local materials make up a lakeside home tied to nature

November 11, 2020 by  
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On the shore of Lake Simon in the Outaouais region of  Québec , Montreal-based architecture firm  L’Abri  has replaced a family’s cottage with an elegant and modern escape deeply rooted in the landscape. Designed for a family of six, the 5,400-square-foot Baie-Yelle House pays homage to the original cottage with reclaimed materials such as stones salvaged from the original chimney that’s now used in the large wine cellar.  The architects took a  site-specific  design approach to the Baie-Yelle House as a means of celebrating the surrounding lakeside. To ensure that the landscape remains the focal point, the architects used a restrained materials palette that includes timber, metal and stone. The metallic siding that wraps around a portion of the setback ground volume mimics the shimmering waters of the lake, while the top volume is clad in an indigenous species of white cedar that’s left untreated, allowing it to develop a silvery patina over time.  “The design puts forward the use of  local materials  and a sensibility to the site’s environment and natural qualities,” the architects explained in a press release. “The materials are celebrated for their essence, bringing warmth and balance to an otherwise sober and contemporary composition. Of natural wood and anodized metal, the construction is formed of interlocking volumes oriented to open the relationship between the interiors and exterior.” Related: Young carpenter builds cost-effective timber cabin for his first home Natural materials continue inside the light-filled interiors. A gray limestone masonry fireplace anchors the  double-height  living room that faces the lake and provides a handsome focal point. The open-plan great room also connects to a large outdoor terrace. Even the raw steel staircase leading to the upper floor pays homage to the lake; the wooden treads were made from salvaged log drive trunks that sank to the bottom of the lake in the 1850s and were recovered and repurposed by a local artisan. + L’Abri Images by Raphaël Thibodeau

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These elevated wooden cabins can only accessed via hiking trail

November 5, 2020 by  
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Norweigian architectural firm Spacegroup has released renderings of the Movikheien Cabins, a development of raised wooden cabins in Hagefjorden, Norway. The property design purposefully does not include car-accessible roads; this limited access, along with the elevated cabins, aims to exhibit minimal physical encroachment on the natural terrain. According to the architects, the global COVID-19 pandemic that initially hit in mid-March has opened new opportunities in local travel industries despite having negative consequences on the economy. While international travel became limited due to pandemic restrictions, leading to uncertainty in the airline industry and a historically low value for the Norweigan Krone, the locals began to turn to domestic travel to explore the destinations in their own backyards. Related: Snøhetta completes stunning Norwegian cabins for glacier hikers The new development will boast environmentally friendly design and social inclusivity. In the past, cabin and campground developments meant manipulating the natural terrain by cutting down large areas of forest to produce oversized structures with large carbon footprints. The Movikheien Cabins project breaks this trend, with traditional “light touch” small units measuring about 62 square meters each and made using 100% wood construction. Sixteen new cabins are proposed for the development, each sitting on elevated columns above the terrain to preserve the landscape while remaining connected to the forest. This shared-yet-separate space provides a social community element all while protecting the land. Even better, a principle concept in the planning is dedicated to ensuring that the space would not be accessible to cars, since building roads would require too much intervention in the landscape. Instead, the site is accessed solely by a hiking trail designed by the client and architects as well as a rock climber and arborist who walked and mapped the location. This aspect also contributes to a lower construction footprint, as all building components must be of a dimension to be transported without the use of heavy machinery. + Spacegroup Images via Spacegroup

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These elevated wooden cabins can only accessed via hiking trail

Dream of an escape to the off-grid cabins in Kogelberg Nature Reserve

October 16, 2020 by  
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When the team at KLG Architects, a South Africa-based company that specializes in contemporary design, was asked to design a retreat deep inside a nature reserve, the result is architecture that respects nature while providing a safe, comfortable and off-grid space for humans in it. Located in the Kogelberg Nature Reserve, 1.5 hours outside of Cape Town, the retreat’s purpose is to accommodate the environmental staff who work on the reserve as well as provide guest amenities, which include a natural swimming pool and several cabins . Related: Nimmo Bay offers a remote, eco-friendly spa experience The challenges were significant with the remote location, including an inability to get large equipment into the region, so the team began by studying the landscape to understand the topography and vegetation. Careful consideration in protecting the fynbos region was a primary goal. With this central focus, the team selected a location for the structures that would have the lowest impact and began sketching designs on paper. In the end, the architects created five two-person cabins and three six-person cabins set in place with minimal site impact , including small concrete supports. Each cabin is raised off the ground, allowing animals to cross and water to flow beneath. A network of floating boardwalks connects the cabins while preserving the natural environment. Pine was selected as the primary building material due to its availability and natural gray fading that allows it to blend into the landscape. Each cabin is situated to highlight the views and comes complete with an outdoor deck with a private pergola for protection from the sun and heat. Inside, small wood-burning stoves warm the cabins at night while strategically placed vents provide cooling cross-ventilation . High specification insulation throughout the cabins further contributes to energy savings. The designers also incorporated off-grid technology such as waterless Enviro-loos. This form of dry sanitation relies on heat from the sun to convert sewage into compost without the use of water, chemicals or electricity. The water that is needed in the retreat is sourced from the nearby Palmiet River, which is treated at a new water purification plant. Full solar geyser systems were used throughout. In addition, green roofs are planted with carefully chosen endemic grasses, which help cool the space. As described by KLG Architects, “The resultant design sits harmoniously in the environment and connects the user to the natural landscape, providing a perfect retreat experience.” + KLG Architects Via ArchDaily Photography by David Southwood via KLG Architects

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Copyright Cloud HQ is inspired by traditional Guizhou stilt houses

October 6, 2020 by  
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Shanghai HuaDu Architecture & Urban Design Group (HDD) has completed the Chinese Culture (Publishing and Broadcasting) Data Industry (CCDI) project, the first national-level data center in China’s news, publishing and broadcasting industry. Located in Guiyang City’s Guizhou Shuanglong Airport Economic Zone in southwest China, the Copyright Cloud Headquarters serves as the country’s largest platform for copyright trading and the largest hub for broadcasting and television networks. In a nod to the importance of big data to the facility, the architects envisioned the contemporary building as an “information box” wrapped in an aluminum louvered facade that visually references big lines of code. The Copyright Cloud Headquarters serves as the first project launched in the CCDI Industrial Park and was built to create national-level databases on copyright information and digital content that has been monitored and tracked online. The building is divided into two main parts: the above-ground section with three floors and the underground section with two floors that are partly buried into the slope on the south side. Native plantings help blend the submerged sections of the building into the landscape.  Related: Green-roofed Czech Forestry Headquarters seeks symbiosis with the forest The architects also took inspiration from Guizhou’s traditional stilt houses for the design of the office building. Due to the sloped site, the architects installed two columns on the east side of the building to support the upper volumes. The raised volumes are likened to a “smart information box” suspended above the hilly landscape.  The architects explained, “Benefitting from the city’s geography, industrial policy and other advantages, the Copyright Cloud Headquarter endeavors to represent the concepts of intelligence, digitalization, and ecology with architectural design, and to create a vital, complex, open, and ecology-driven big data display platform to eventually safeguard the functioning of the modern and intelligent information network infrastructure.” The project was completed in 2018.  + HDD Photography by Zhang Yong via HDD

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Breathtaking alpine views await atop Iceman tzi Peak

October 5, 2020 by  
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At 10,666 feet above sea level, the newly constructed Iceman Ötzi Peak observation deck provides nature-lovers with a stunning vantage point of the Italian Alps at the peak of the Schnals Valley Glacier ridge in South Tyrol. Designed by Network of Architecture (noa*), the sculptural viewing platform is built of weathered steel and elegantly engineered for minimal impact, resulting in a structure that appears to blend in with and float above the landscape. The 80-square-meter viewing platform was recently completed last month for the Hotel Grawand, a unique, high-altitude hotel that is just a stone’s throw away from the summit. The Iceman Ötzi Peak is named after Europe’s oldest known natural human mummy, the Iceman Ötzi, whose mummified body was found nearby and is now on display at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano. In addition to providing breathtaking views of the snow-capped mountains, the undulating viewing platform also pays further homage to Ötzi with a geometric funnel cut into the observation deck that frames views of where Ötzi was found. The funnel is capped with a glass railing to give users the thrilling sensation of walking on air. Related: Apple Hotel gains a green-roofed wellness center in South Tyrol The lightweight viewing platform was designed to only touch the ground where necessary to limit visual and environmental impact, and it follows the natural topography. Weathered steel was selected as the primary material for its durability and its patina, which turns dark brown, gray and black over time to gradually blend in with the surroundings. “The parapet-high, vertical elements trace these gentle curves in their sequence,” the architects explained. “This creates a magical effect: an opening and closing of views that follows the movement of the viewer — an invitation to discover new perspectives time and again. This unique dynamic creates a fully immersive, sensual experience in which time stands still for a moment and every other souvenir is eclipsed.” + noa* Photography by Alex Filz via noa*

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Breathtaking alpine views await atop Iceman tzi Peak

Abu Dhabi Flamingo Visitor Center blends into the landscape

September 25, 2020 by  
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Prague-based architecture firm Petr Janda / brainwork studio has won an international competition with its design of the Abu Dhabi Flamingo Visitor Center, a proposed center that would service the Al Wathba Wetland Reserve located southeast of central Abu Dhabi. Dubbed “To See and Not to be Seen,” the winning proposal blends in with the landscape with an organically shaped building made of a pink concrete material that mimics rock formations in the Arabian desert . To mitigate the region’s intense heat, the proposed visitor center would feature liquid coolant integrated into both the inner and outer building shells as well as lichens that cover the surface of the building to significantly reduce operational costs. Organized by the Abu Dhabi Environment Agency in partnership with Bee Breeders, the Abu Dhabi Flamingo Visitor Center competition sought building designs that could accommodate a wide range of programming — including an information center, cafe, terrace, souvenir shop, display area for specimens, training center, bathrooms and a car park — and complement the Al Wathba Wetland Reserve. The reserve is a 5,000-square-kilometer protected area that is home to around 260 species of birds and other wildlife. Every autumn through spring, the reserve welcomes 4,000 pink flamingos. Related: Touring restored wetlands at a Wisconsin nature conservancy The architects’ winning proposal envisions a visitor center with a circular floor plan that eschews the traditional layout of individual rooms boxed in by orthogonal walls. Instead, the barrier-free interior emphasizes the building’s dynamic rounded shape with curved walls throughout the three floors, from the basement level to the roof, where a “pink lake” biotope is located. The unusual design encourages visitors to explore the building much like they would the reserve. “The main idea is to connect the visitor centre with the reserve’s nature at all levels of the project,” the architects explained. “To create an autonomous environment with the distinct genius loci. Using material and shape mimicry, the building organically connects its appearance with the environment of the reserve. It looks very old and, at the same time, contemporary or even futuristic. It works with the natural connection between the organic and inorganic components of nature, which permeates not only the technical part of the building (cooling and condensation system) but also all exhibition and didactic strategies (living parts of the facades, water elements and indoor life organisms).” The jury has praised the project for its site-sensitive design; however, it did note that the complexity of the building may prove to be prohibitively expensive to build in its current form. + Petr Janda / brainwork studio Images via Petr Janda / brainwork studio

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Abu Dhabi Flamingo Visitor Center blends into the landscape

Spend the night among the trees in southern Denmark

September 21, 2020 by  
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Before one ventures into the wilderness, where to shelter is always part of the initial planning process. While a tent or a lean-to might come to mind, if you find yourself in a particular section of the landscape near Genner, Denmark, a nest hanging from the treetops could be your chosen sleeping spot. The Hanging Shelter, called Hængende Ly in Danish, is much more than a hammock amidst the tree branches. In fact, it features a one-of-a-kind custom design constructed using traditional shipbuilding techniques. The end result is an enclosed structure perched 2.5 meters above the ground that offers 360-degree views of the surrounding nature. Related: Prefab eco-pods offer luxury lodging in any environment A basic ladder is the only access point to the Hanging Shelter, where visitors will immediately notice the steam bent oak that forms the curved walls and floor. In the vertical direction, eight additional arched wood frames shape the rounded walls. A thin, clear membrane covers the entire shelter, offering protection without disrupting the all-encompassing views. This unique structure was designed and produced in Genner, Denmark, by a team of skilled boat builders and engineers in collaboration with Stedse Architects. The Hanging Shelter’s location inspired the project after the architects and design partners were hiking around the Genner area. With equal passions for nature and wood, the team came together to highlight nature, design and skilled woodworking in a single overnight accommodation with minimal site impact . The architects enlisted the help of a local boat builder, who used traditional techniques to construct the finished product. Stedse Architects has a history of creating architecture centered around “sustainable construction, including climate adaptation, energy-efficient buildings, energy calculations and environmental consulting.” As an overall company goal, Stedse Architects focuses on wood architecture and rethinking traditional woodworking. Using the Hanging Shelter as an example, the company hopes that the project will “show the potential of using wood as a natural, sustainable and adaptable building material .” + Stedse Architects Photography by Thomas Illemann via Stedse Architects

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Spend the night among the trees in southern Denmark

Asia’s largest organic rooftop farm can grow 20 tons of food annually

September 15, 2020 by  
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Organic urban agriculture, renewable energy and beautiful landscaping come together at the Thammasat University Rooftop Farm (TURF), Asia’s largest organic rooftop farm that spans 236,806 square feet. Bangkok-based landscape architecture and urban design firm  LANDPROCESS  designed the productive landscape in response to both the Thai capital’s sprawling urbanization and rising food and water scarcity concerns amid the climate crisis. Equipped with solar panels that produce up to 500,000 watts per hour and rainwater harvesting systems for irrigation, TURF grows more than 40 edible species of crops, including rice, indigenous vegetables, fruit trees and herbs. Located in the  Bangkok  subdistrict Bowon Niwet, TURF’s zigzagging terraced design that merges the earthwork of rice terraces with modern green roof technology takes inspiration from traditional agricultural practices found across Southeast Asia. The cascading terraces not only help organize the different crop areas but are also engineered to absorb, filter and slow down rainwater runoff 20 times more effectively than conventional concrete rooftops. The runoff collects at the bottom of the landscape in four retention ponds capable of holding over 3 million gallons of water total. TURF can provide up to 80,000 meals — 20 tons of organic food — each year for the 40,000 campus residents. The campus canteen collects food waste and uses it for  compost  on the urban farm. TURF also serves as an educational resource for the university and hosts year-round workshops on sustainable agriculture for students and the surrounding community. Social spaces are also built into the landscape, from intimate seating areas to a terraced amphitheater with universal outdoor access to the second-floor auditorium. Related: Eco-friendly Everlasting Forest Pavilion champions circular living in Bangkok “As lush green turns to dry brown, TURF is a realistic, but hopeful solution, putting urban dwellers back in tune with  agricultural  practices,” a press release states. “Lessons on Thai agriculture, landscape and native soil are embedded into TURF, educating future leaders to adapt and embrace climate challenges, by building sustainable cities for generations to come.” + LANDPROCESS Photo credit: Panoramic Studio / LANDPROCESS

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