Get away from it all in this tiny hut tucked into a Lithuanian forest

October 18, 2018 by  
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Designed by Ema Butrimaviciute of Lithuanian studio  Utopium , the Etno Hut is a 150-square-foot,  off-grid retreat tucked into a remote forest in Lithuania. Surrounded by breathtaking vistas, the tiny cabin, which was built with minimal impact to the landscape, is designed to provide a serene retreat for those looking to reconnect with nature. The cabin’s location, set in an expansive forest that sits between two Lithuanian cities, was strategic to its use. Wanting to provide city-goers with a serene weekend escape , the architect imagined a quiet retreat where anyone can escape from the hustle and bustle of city life without the inconvenience of driving for hours to get there. Related: Tiny ‘hut on wheels’ is the perfect vacation home to escape the concrete jungle Tucked into the edge of an expansive, lush forest, the tiny cabin was built on a slope facing south. Its orientation was strategic to take advantage of the sunshine and stunning views. The structure was built on a steel foundation screwed into the ground by hand as to minimize impact on the landscape. The entire hut, which was constructed out of Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs), was assembled in just three days. From a distance, the 150-square-foot cabin is virtually camouflaged into the forest backdrop thanks to its dark black facade. A large open-air deck leads to sliding glass doors that open wide to create a seamless connection with the landscape. On the interior, white walls and wood flooring brighten the modern living space. The cabin has a king-sized bed and a pull-out bed, a bathroom with a shower and a fully-equipped kitchenette. The space is meant to provide a relaxing atmosphere, with no transformable furniture or ladders — just everything needed for simple, uncomplicated living. + Utopium Via Archdaily Images via Utopium

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Get away from it all in this tiny hut tucked into a Lithuanian forest

A solar-powered home hides behind a colossal, sloped green roof

October 12, 2018 by  
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We often profess our love of green roofs , but a recent home design in Krakow has really taken the idea to the next level. Polish firm Superhelix Pracownia Projektowa has just unveiled a beautiful home with an enormous green roof that’s sloped over the entire northern side of the home. The roof is so large that it camouflages the barn-inspired home entirely on one side, providing the home with its name, the House Behind the Roof. The 2,000-square-foot home is located in a residential area outside Krakow. The building is part of a housing estate with 10 other homes built relatively close together. According to the architects, the first stages of the planning were focused on ensuring the privacy of the homeowners. As a result, the home’s design was created with the immense roof that pulls double duty as an eave that shades the interior while providing the utmost in privacy. Related: A green-roofed underground extension breaks the mold for school architecture Although the architects wanted to go with a traditional, flat green roof, local building codes prohibited them from doing so. As an alternative, the architects decided to top the home with a 45-degree sloped plane on the northern side. Covered with lush succulents, the roof gives a touch of whimsy to the design but also acts as a privacy shade and insulation. On the southern side of the home, multiple solar panels soak up the sun’s energy. At the apex of the A-frame roof, a series of large skylights allow natural light into the home. The house is clad in a light-hued Western Red Cedar. Because of the resilient nature of the wood , it wasn’t necessary to treat the timber beforehand. As a result, the wood will take on a silver-gray patina over time. Additionally, care for the green roof is also minimal. Long-lasting dry periods in this region are not common, and the succulents planted on the roof are low-maintenance. The rustic wooden aesthetic continues throughout the interior of the two-story home. Along with the skylights, there are multiple windows that are mounted high in the walls to provide the interior with natural light and ventilation. The home is laid out in a rectangular plan, reminiscent of a traditional barn . The ground floor houses the kitchen and living space, along with a bathroom and utility room. The master bedroom and en suite bathroom are on the top floor, as well as two extra bedrooms and a children’s playroom. On the bottom floor, large sliding glass doors lead out to an open-air deck with a barbecue and dining space. + Superhelix Pracownia Projektowa Via Archdaily Photography by Bart?omiej Drabik

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A solar-powered home hides behind a colossal, sloped green roof

New study suggests it’s time to replace modern, grassy lawns

October 12, 2018 by  
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The lush green lawns surrounding many homes, businesses, parks and other outdoor spaces might not be the greatest idea, according to Australian scientist Maria Ignatieva and Swedish scientist Marcus Hedblom. In a new study published in the journal  Science , the urban ecologists suggested that we need to rethink the modern lawn in favor of more sustainable options. Ignatieva and Hedblom said that the negative environmental consequences of green lawns far outweigh the natural benefits, and we need to start exploring new forms of groundcover. The scientists claimed that the amount of water , fertilizer and mowing that lawns require is a problem — especially when we use gas-powered mowers that emit carbon monoxide and other toxins into the air. The use of those mowers negates any positives of the lawn pulling carbon dioxide out of the air. Related: How to transform your wasteful grassy space into a food forest garden The ecologists also pointed out that globally, lawns occupy an amount of land equivalent to the area of England and Spain combined. In arid regions of the U.S., lawns are responsible for 75 percent of household water consumption. To make matters worse, weed killers and fertilizers used to keep lawns pristine find their way to the water table. If you think artificial turf is a solution, think again. Turf does not contribute to carbon sequestration — the process of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere — and it also causes problems with water runoff. It is also possible that it could poison local water tables. Ignatieva and Hedblom said that some communities have started allowing natural meadows to grow instead of lawns. In places like Berlin, residents have allowed the landscape to grow wild. These ideas are a step in the right direction, but the ecologists suggest the need for more scientific research into some plant types that could develop into naturally short grass alternatives that don’t require a lot of water for survival. The study also urges people to change their way of thinking when it comes to their lawns. + Science Mag Via Phys.org Images via Daniel Watson

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New study suggests it’s time to replace modern, grassy lawns

This sculptural home takes cues from the sloping Hollywood Hills landscape

October 12, 2018 by  
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Tucked inside a quiet and wooded site of Nichols Canyon is the Hollywood Hills House, a sculptural home that boasts cutting-edge green technologies and materials. Los Angeles-based design practice Tighe Architecture crafted the home for a musician and took inspiration from the terrain to form the curvaceous, multi-story dwelling. Spanning an area of 5,200 square feet, the home is faced with an abundance of full-height glazing that creates a seamless connection between the indoors and out. Although the Hollywood Hills House is located less than a 10-minute drive from the bustling Hollywood Boulevard, the home feels a world away in its secluded plot surrounded by mature pines, eucalyptus and indigenous plants . The multifaceted building was optimally placed to make the most of its landscape views and to protect against unwanted solar gain. Set on a solid base of board-formed concrete walls, the home’s upper levels appear to float in comparison because of its curved lines, walls of glass and plastered exterior. The main living areas, kitchen and dining room are located on the first floor and open up to views of the landscape through floor-to-ceiling glass. The master suite and two additional bedrooms can be found on the top floor, while the basement consists of a music studio, laundry room, storage and the garage. A swimming pool has been installed in the backyard. “The floating mass is shaped by the constraints of the site and a series of openings that frame specific views,” the studio noted. Related: Richard Neutra’s mid-century Hailey Residence is an exercise in compact space design The client’s request for a sustainable home directed the adoption of passive solar principles in the design process. The home is optimized for natural ventilation and lighting, yet also includes a solar photovoltaic system and a solar hydronic system for heating water. The existing native landscape has been supplemented with a drought-tolerant native planting plan. + Tighe Architecture Via Dezeen Images by Antonio Follo

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This sculptural home takes cues from the sloping Hollywood Hills landscape

This staggered, residential tower is draped with greenery in Quito

October 4, 2018 by  
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Acclaimed architecture firm Safdie Architects has been tapped to design a new residential tower that’s expected to be one of the tallest in Quito , Ecuador. Rising to 24 stories, the eye-catching project — dubbed Qorner — features a staggered tower with large garden terraces on every floor. Created in collaboration with local construction firm Uribe & Schwarzkopf, the striking high-rise will also feature operable glass walls for residents to embrace indoor-outdoor living and take advantage of Quito’s year-round temperate temperatures. Oriented to face the city’s central park, La Carolina, at the corner of the popular shopping street Avenida Portugal, Qorner mirrors the neighboring park’s lush environment in its design. In addition to the double-height garden terraces on each floor, the north facade of the building is partly covered with a dramatic living wall planted with native vegetation. A tree-lined infinity-edge swimming pool and garden top the roof. The projecting terraces on the east and west faces of the tower help shield full-height glazed openings from the sun and create a variety of double-height corner terraces that boast views in multiple directions. Perimeter concrete walls and columns as well as a central stabilization core were used to create a column-free interior with maximum flexibility. Related: Nature-inspired housing mimics the curvature of the landscape in Chongqing “We pride ourselves on developing projects unique to the place and program, and at the same time, incorporating principles that have long guided our work,” Moshe Safdie said. “While our projects around the world are diverse, our principles remain steadfast for each one: access to green space , the maximization of daylight and views in each dwelling, and fostering a sense of a ‘vertical neighborhood’ wherein each apartment forms part of a greater whole.” The Qorner is slated for completion in 2020. + Safdie Architects Images via Safdie Architects

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This staggered, residential tower is draped with greenery in Quito

A hygrothermal-optimized house boasts thermal comfort with volcano views

October 4, 2018 by  
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Known for its hot and humid summers, the Costa Rican town of Naranjo de Alajuela can be a tricky place to build a cool and comfortable home with a small energy footprint. Yet San Rafael de Escazú-based design studio 10?84? Arquitectura shows that crafting a naturally cool home can be a breeze if you employ the right passive design strategies. One such example can be seen in the VV Residence, a 2,023-square-foot abode that features a well-ventilated environment as well as a strong connection to nature, including spectacular northern vistas of three volcanoes and the Central Valley. The key to the design of VV Residence was 10?84? Arquitectura’s approach to the home’s hygrothermal properties, an assessment that led to careful management of the building’s heat and moisture so as to prevent early degradation and homeowner discomfort. To that end, the one-bedroom home was strategically oriented to minimize excessive thermal load, and openings were maximized to capitalize on the existing views of nature and promote natural ventilation . A solar study informed the placement of sun overhangs and blinds; the north and south-facing facades, for instance, were constructed with vertical and horizontal solar shades to protect the interior from direct solar radiation. To promote natural ventilation and passive cooling, the architects designed double-height spaces and installed glass louver windows. Ample glazing also lets in plenty of natural light to help reduce energy demands. Moreover, VV Residence is equipped with a rainwater harvesting system that supplies water for home sanitation and irrigation as well as solar hot water heaters. To reduce landscape impact, the building’s steel structure was pre-cut offsite, and the surrounding landscape design incorporated existing native species. Related: Natural stone and an expansive green roof blend the stunning Gozu House into the Andes Mountains “Through the incorporation of various passive design strategies, the VV Residence reaches a high performance level in reducing its environmental impact and energy use during its life cycle,” the architects explained. “The project achieves a high hygrothermal comfort rating while taking full advantage of its surrounding environment to create optimal living spaces without sacrificing connections with nature and the surrounding landscape.” + 10?84? Arquitectura Via ArchDaily Images by Adrián Aguilar González

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A tiny, rustic, off-grid cabin sits on vast 300 acres in Australia

October 3, 2018 by  
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When clients tasked Melbourne-based firm MRTN Architects with designing a new home for their whopping 300 acres of natural landscape, the architects could have created a massive structure. Instead, the design team, inspired by the local vernacular, chose to implement a modern take on a simple shed. The 500-square-foot Nulla Vale House and adjacent shed, both of which are 100 percent off-grid , were designed to foster a strong harmony with nature. Located in Victoria, Australia, the home is set on an idyllic and rather remote area of untouched landscape. When the architects were contacted by the clients, the main request was that they design a structure that could be incorporated into another “more permanent home” that may be built on the same site in the future. Other than that, the clients also requested something that would stand out among the landscape from a distance. While exploring the area, the architects saw a lot of old sheds tucked into the rolling hills and decided to use these traditional forms as inspiration for the new home. “Nostalgia for this connection between land and building was the guiding principle for the Nulla Vale House and Shed,” the team explained. Related: Off-grid rainforest cabin built from scratch has minimal site impact The home and the adjacent shed are 100 percent off the grid and installed with water, sewer and electrical systems that not only support the existing buildings, but are capable of supporting any future buildings as well. The shed, which is covered with solar panels , is used for storage and houses the main PV battery. In addition to its energy efficiency, various recycled or repurposed materials such as salvaged brick were used in the home’s construction. Radial sawn timber was used to frame the home, which was then topped with a roof made from galvanized sheeting. The roof’s deep eaves shield the interior from the hot summer sun and optimize solar gains in the winter as part of a passive, energy-efficient strategy. The rustic aesthetic of the exterior continues throughout the interior living space. The salvaged brick walls were left unfinished, and wooden beams run the length of the vaulted ceiling. Even the insulation in the ceiling was left intentionally exposed in order to reflect the light from the concealed LED fixtures , which were installed in the beams. The main living room and small kitchen sit at the heart of the home. Farther back, there is a simple bedroom and bathroom. Throughout the space, there are various windows that flood the home with natural light. + MRTN Architects Via Dwell Photography by Peter Bennetts via MRTN Architects

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A tiny, rustic, off-grid cabin sits on vast 300 acres in Australia

This beautiful Washington cabin meets net-zero targets even in extreme temperatures

September 13, 2018 by  
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Nestled in a historic mining area in Washington State’s Cascade Mountains, a holiday retreat offers luxurious comfort without compromising sustainability targets. Despite the region’s freezing cold winters and extremely hot summers, Bainbridge Island-based Coates Design Architects crafted the Tumble Creek Cabin to net-zero energy standards using renewable energy and passive solar strategies, rather than traditional energy consumptive cooling and heating systems. Powered by solar energy, the energy-efficient cabin boasts a contemporary design with an abundance of full-height glazing to look out on the landscape beyond. With a natural palette designed to evoke the region’s mining history, the 3,835-square-foot Tumble Creek Cabin is mainly built of stone, Corten steel and reclaimed barn wood. The steel and timber elements are left exposed throughout, while floor-to-ceiling glazing establishes strong connections with the outdoors. To minimize the home’s energy usage, Coates Design Architects oriented the home to follow passive solar principles and mapped the interior layout to conserve energy as much as possible. The self-contained entry vestibule and mud room, for instance, doubles as an air lock to stop chilly drafts and unwanted hot air from entering the main living spaces. Designed as “a legacy piece” for the clients’ extended family, the vacation home includes two primary bedroom suites and a bunk room in the main residence, and an additional guest room can be found in the separate extension. An L-shaped open-plan great room on the east side of the main house is anchored by a massive board-formed concrete fireplace and opens up to a spacious patio. A winding outdoor walkway leads from the patio to an outdoor spa and a freestanding garage on the southwest side of the site. Related: Weathering steel wraps around a solar-powered California home In addition to a 10 kWh photovoltaic array on the roof, the cabin relies on radiant underfloor heating and an energy recovery ventilation system; both systems can be monitored and adjusted remotely. Energy-efficient aluminum-clad wood windows and doors were installed, as is a Tesla Powerwall for electric vehicle charging. + Coates Design Architects Images via Coates Design Architects

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This beautiful Washington cabin meets net-zero targets even in extreme temperatures

A striking timber home with a green roof disappears into a Mexican forest

August 15, 2018 by  
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Barcelona- and Mexico City-based firm  Cadaval Sola-Morales has just unveiled Casa de la Roca, a beautiful, dark timber home topped with a green roof  and located in a remote forest in Mexico. The single-story structure features a jet-black facade crafted from felled trees and finished with a living roof to help camouflage the home into the peaceful, secluded forestscape. When designing Casa de la Roca, the architects were focused on one objective: to create a home that would easily blend into the landscape for years to come. Acting accordingly, the architects chose materials based on durability. The structure, which sits on a low-maintenance concrete foundation, is clad in reclaimed timber from local felled or dead trees. Related: Living trees grow through the ceiling of Cadaval & Sola-Morales’ Tepoztlan Lounge in Mexico The exterior walls were then coated in black paint to add longevity to the structure. “We used paint (and not dye), to add another layer of material protection; dye tends to lose its qualities over the years,” the architects explained. “It is black, responding to the desire to blend in with the landscape, seeking a certain anonymity in front of the vegetation and exuberant views.” The dark exterior essentially allows the home to hide deep within the forest , but that wasn’t enough for the architects. Once the dwelling was constructed, the team finished the entire roof with vegetation, creating an even stronger connection between the man-made and natural. According to the architects, the home’s layout of three long hallways that converge into the main living space was also inspired by the landscape. The team wanted the house to have three private lookouts at each end to provide distinct views of the forest. The three “arms” of the home come together at a central point, which is also where people can come together and socialize . The interior space is both elegant and welcoming. A minimal amount of furniture is spread out over the open-plan living room, so the main focus is always on the incredible nature that surrounds the home. Extra large floor-to-ceiling windows and doors allow optimal natural light into the home, while also creating a seamless connection to the forest. + Cadaval Sola-Morales Via Wallpaper Photography by Sandra Pereznieto

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A striking timber home with a green roof disappears into a Mexican forest

Striking yellow PVC-clad pavilion is a sustainable shelter designed for the end times

August 10, 2018 by  
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Studio Morison has unveiled a stunning round shelter clad in a membrane of yellow PVC and aluminum mesh – and it just might help see you through the apocalypse. The artists behind the Escape Vehicle #9 shelter, Heather and Ivan Morison, explain that its design was inspired by their vision of a future world where nature has reclaimed the planet. The glowing pavilion has been installed in Holtingerveld, one of the darkest places in the Netherlands, as part of the Into Nature: Out of Darkness art festival, and it invites guest to spend the night in its metallic “existence chamber.” The sustainable shelter is a lightweight, compact structure made up of minimal materials, making it fully demountable. The circular wall consists of a membrane of yellow PVC, which is clad in a custom aluminum expanded mesh. Four Spirafix screw anchors connect the structure’s aluminum legs to the ground, ensuring that the building leaves little to no impact on the landscape. Related: Nomad Pavilion is a woven goat hair desert shelter that collects its own water As far as the design inspiration, Ivan says that he envisioned a future when nature reclaims the planet, when humans will have to “tread quickly and lightly on the land they occupy.” He further explains, “When first imagining Escape Vehicle #9 I had a vision of a flight into the future. I saw a lightness from that future within the darkness of the present, and this is where the Escape Vehicle can take us towards.” His vision of light and darkness can be seen firsthand in the shelter’s interior. Visitors enter the  shelter  through a ladder on the ground, which leads into a circular “existence chamber” with metallic flooring and a ceiling clad in a quilted foil insulation to help maintain the temperature. The chamber is compact, but spacious enough for two people. A double bed sits at the center, directly under a conical “navigational buoy” made from bent sheets of aluminum. A hatch in the metallic ceiling provides access to the rooftop deck , where visitors can enjoy beautiful, peaceful views of the surrounding nature. The yellow structure stands out in the vast greenery during the day, but it converts into a glowing beacon at night. Inside the shelter , the intensity of the yellow increases as the sun rises, creating a glowing light meant to have a calming effect on the inhabitants. The Into Nature: Out of Darkness event runs until September 16th. The shelter is part of the biennial event’s art route, which is also featuring works by Olafur Eliasson , Adrián Villar Rojas and Susan Philipsz this year. Guests can make reservations to sleep in the Escape Vehicle #9 for a unique, off-grid experience. + Studio Morrison Via Dezeen Photography via Studio Morison

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Striking yellow PVC-clad pavilion is a sustainable shelter designed for the end times

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