Contemporary barn-inspired home adheres to passive house principles

July 31, 2019 by  
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Delivering a modern twist to local historic building practices, London-based architectural practice Bureau de Change has recently completed a new home that takes inspiration from traditional farm structures in the Cotswolds, a rural area of south central England. A pair of timber chicken sheds, nearly 100 feet long each, was used as the starting point of the design for the Long House. In addition to respecting the local rural vernacular, the thoughtfully crafted home also follows passive house principles to reduce energy use without sacrificing comfort year-round. Located near Cirencester in Gloucestershire, England, the Long House spans approximately 5,400 square feet across three gabled volumes that have been given two different exterior treatments. The single-story volume to the front is built from stone, while the volume in the rear—split into two parts—is sheathed in natural larch that will gain a natural patina over time. The contrast adds visual richness and the materials selected will naturally develop a patina over time to blend the buildings into the surroundings. “The front barn has been built in dry stone wall by a local craftsman, chosen not only for its local relevance but for its inherent qualities of mass and muscularity,” explains Bureau de Change Architects co-founder Katerina Dionysopoulou. “This facade is monolithic, with fewer openings to produce a heavier, solid volume at the front. As a counterpoint, the taller barn in the back is clad in lighter-weight natural larch which has been charred to a deep leathery black at each window recess. This charring has then been brushed away to gently blend it into the natural larch—creating an ombre effect which emphasizes the rhythmic push and pull of the window indentations.” Related: British farmer plants heart-shaped meadow in honor of his late wife Inside, the front volume hides an inner courtyard that’s hidden behind the elevation and serves as a light-filled focal point for the home. To meet passive house principles , the architects constructed the building with an insulated concrete formwork system to create an airtight thermal envelope. Openings are limited on the south-facing facade and triple-pane glass was installed to minimize unwanted heat gain and loss. Air quality is maintained with a heat recovery ventilation system. + Bureau de Change Images by Gilbert McCarragher

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Kengo Kuma suspends a cocoon-like timber dwelling for minimal site impact

February 27, 2019 by  
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Prolific Japanese architecture firm Kengo Kuma and Associates recently worked its magic in the tiny Swiss village of Montricher at the foot of the Jura Mountains. There, the architects designed a contemporary family home that’s partly suspended from an existing concrete canopy and wrapped with timber inside and out. Created for the Jan Michalski Foundation, the cocoon-like dwelling — named Suspended Forest — is meant to further the organization’s mission of fostering literary creation and the practice of reading. Set close to the forest, the 120-square-meter abode takes inspiration from its nearby surroundings with an abundant use of timber. The architects collaborated with a local craftsman for the roof and facade system, which combines traditional techniques with contemporary style. Using locally sourced oak and larch, the architects cut out rectangular shingles of varying sizes and arranged them in a checkered pattern with an organic and random appearance to create an eye-catching exterior that doubles as a screen. The wood was left untreated so as to develop a natural patina over time. “It was our intention to organically relate the different spaces of the house,” the architects explained in a project statement. “We designed a cocoon-like, gradual and continuous space containing all the functionalities. A corridor runs from the entrance to the main living space, where the floating balcony connects the interior with the surrounding environment. Then, lateral apertures let the light come into the house.” Related: This spiraling sculpture can absorb the emissions of 90,000 cars An outdoor staircase, also suspended off of the main building, leads to the entrance, which opens up to a long hallway branching off to the home office, bedroom, technical room, master bedroom and finally the living area in the rear. The cocoon-like sensation created by the exterior cladding is echoed in the interior through the use of angular larch panels covering the ceilings and walls. Large windows let in plenty of natural light and views of the outdoors. + Kengo Kuma Photography by CAPimages via Kengo Kuma

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Kengo Kuma suspends a cocoon-like timber dwelling for minimal site impact

A stone barn is transformed into a modern, energy-conscious home in Verona

December 19, 2018 by  
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Milan-based architecture practice Studio Wok has revamped a historic stone barn into a contemporary country home using environmentally friendly materials and design choices. Located in the small parish of Chievo in the west of Verona, Italy, the adaptive reuse project carefully respects the architectural heritage of the site while tastefully bringing the residence up to modern living standards. The result is a charming dwelling filled with natural light, warm timber surfaces and framed views of the Italian countryside. Completed in 2018, the country home in Chievo included the renovation of not only the architecture, but also the surrounding garden in the agricultural court. A massive magnolia tree — preserved upon the clients’ request — forms the focal point of the garden and is edged in by a square black flowerbed next to the new pool bordered by stone flooring. To emphasize the site’s history and allude to traditional building techniques, the architects peeled back the plaster on the barn’s facade to reveal the river pebbles that make up the load-bearing walls. This honest approach to materials is echoed throughout the house from the exposed timber beams to the minimalist palette with natural finishes. The materials used also reference the local rural vernacular found throughout Verona from the river pebbles grafted onto modern frames in Biancone to the local stone sourced from Lessinia. Related: Old barn and granary gains a new life as an inspiring community hub A large masonry arch marks the entrance and leads guests into a series of spacious, light-filled living spaces with Vicenza stone paving as well as a library with a brick fireplace. The upper floors house the bedrooms. Warm birch plywood cladding is inserted to bring warmth and delineate the spaces within the home. “The project’s leitmotif is a spatial and material dialogue between history and modernity, and it is also characterized by the great care taken in terms of environmental sustainability,” the firm explained. “In addition to the use of technical devices and systems for efficient energy, special attention has been given to the surrounding territory and landscape in the use of materials and design choices.” + Studio Wok Photography by Simone Bossi via Studio Wok

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A stone barn is transformed into a modern, energy-conscious home in Verona

Glass building in China is filled with soaring timber pillars in the shape of trees

December 19, 2018 by  
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Beijing-based firm  LUO Studio has unveiled a beautiful, all-glass headquarters for an eco-farm operator in China’s Henan province. The transparent Longfu Life Experience Center features a spectacular interior comprised of multiple soaring timber “trees” that can be easily reconfigured or dismantled entirely. The modular design not only reflects the current company’s commitment to providing clients with greener lifestyles, but it offers future tenants an adaptable building structure with infinite possibilities. According to the architects, the inspiration of the design stemmed from wanting to develop a structure that could offer optimal flexibility for years to come. By using  modular design , the building’s three main volumes can be reconfigured depending on the desired use. The timber “clustered columns,” which were inspired by the shape of trees, can be arranged as singular structures or combined “just like Lego bricks.” Related: Long Lodge is an elegant and sustainable mass timber retreat proposal in the woods “The clustered column was divided into five segments,” the architects explained. “The bottom part of each clustered column is in the shape of a regular polygon. These extend upward from the bottom and form a square outside edge.” Further adding flexibility to the design, the expansive 17,000-square-foot interior is arranged in an open-plan layout that relies primarily on  natural light . The two stories include a multi-functional space on the ground floor that can be used for large events or sectioned off for smaller gatherings. The first floor is a mezzanine gallery protected by series of glass balustrades. On the upper level, the timber structures have table spaces that wrap around their width to provide space for work or play. + LUO Studio Via Dezeen Photography by Jin Weiqi via LUO Studio

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Glass building in China is filled with soaring timber pillars in the shape of trees

Vatican Citys first-ever pavilion debuts at the Venice Architecture Biennale

June 1, 2018 by  
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The Vatican Chapels Pavilion of the Holy See opened to fanfare last week, marking Vatican City’s debut at the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale. Curated by Professor Francesco Dal Co, the temporary installation consists of 10 chapel-inspired pavilions, each designed by a different renowned design practice from around the world. Perhaps the most anticipated of them all is the pavilion by Foster + Partners , which takes the form of an open-air chapel built with a tensegrity structure. Spread out across the picturesque San Giorgio Maggiore Island, the Vatican Chapels Pavilion of the Holy See is set in a contemplative wooded environment. Foster + Partners’ chapel is located between two mature trees on one end of the island and connects to the lagoon beyond. The chapel comprises a tensegrity structure made up of three upright crosses that support a larch latticework membrane connected with steel cables and masts. Italian furniture company Tecno built the installation. “The project started with the selection of the site,” explained Norman Foster, founder of Foster + Partners. “On a visit to San Giorgio Maggiore, close to Palladio’s magnificent church and the Teatro Verde, I found a green space with two mature trees beautifully framing the view of the lagoon. It was like a small oasis in the big garden, perfect for contemplation. Our aim was to create a small space diffused with dappled shade and removed from the normality of passers-by, focused instead on the water and sky beyond – a sanctuary.” Related: Foster+Partners unveil design for first-ever Vatican Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale The larch membrane allows dappled light to pass through the chapel’s interior. The tensegrity structure was also engineered to withstand wind loads. Jasmine vines are planted around the structure and will grow overtop it in time to soften its contours and add an extra sensory element. The pavilion will remain open to the public until November 25, 2018. + Foster + Partners Images by Nigel Young/Foster + Partners

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This alpine hotel is built with modular rooms stacked together

April 13, 2018 by  
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This minimalist and modular hotel in the mountain resort of Lenzerheide, Switzerland offers a streamlined and modern take on the traditional mountain chalet. Carlos Martinez Architekten designed Hotel Revier with prefabricated room modules, each with a glazed end wall and lined in natural, unfinished plywood. The long and narrow larch-clad building comprises three rectangular segments angled to follow the shoreline of the Heidsee and positioned to face panoramic mountain views. An exercise in minimalism, the sports-oriented Hotel Revier is “reduced to the bare essentials,” wrote Carlos Martinez Architekten. “The hotel unites the atmosphere of a mountain chalet with the liberating feeling of a campervan and the functionality of a ship’s cabin. All rooms face West toward the water and bring to mind the image of a VW bus: one park at the lake opens the tailgate and feels a sense of freedom.” Related: Hotel Tverskaya Transforms a Disused Building in Moscow with Sleepbox Modules The hotel’s communal core, made up of the lobby, bar, and restaurant, occupies the ground floor, while the four floors with a total of 96 rooms are stacked above. The 160-square-foot standard rooms, prefabricated and fully equipped offsite, were assembled into a metal framework. Each standard room includes a wall-to-wall bed that can be folded up into a sofa, TV, floor-to-ceiling window , hooks, narrow ventilation wings, a deep windowsill, and a heating unit for drying gloves and clothing. Hotel Revier also includes four barrier-free and 29 triple-bed rooms, also prefabricated. By stacking the modules side by side, the architects create a “double-wall” effect with the advantage of improved acoustic insulation. + Carlos Martinez Architekten Via ArchDaily Images © Marc Lins, Hannes Thalmann, and Revier Mountain Lodge

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100% recyclable materials make up these low-impact monastery huts in Italy

June 16, 2017 by  
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Edoardo Milesi & Archos designed a series of minimalist monastery guesthouses that reflect the monastics’ ascetic lifestyle in the Siloe community. Located in the province of Grosseto in central Italy, these huts are built entirely of recyclable materials and are elevated off the ground to ensure low impact on the beautiful rural landscape. The Monastery Complex of Siloe comprises five guesthouse units set outside monastery grounds against a hilly backdrop crisscrossed with trails. Each guesthouse was carefully sited on the landscape to minimize site disturbance . The buildings are elevated on stilts to mitigate uneven terrain. Only recyclable materials were used in construction, including timber used for the roofs, lofts, and walls, to the ventilated covering made of zinc and titanium. External cladding, floors, doors, and window trim are built of naturally oxidized larch. Related: Plastic waste pop-up pavilion rethinks recycling in the Netherlands Approximately 33 square meters in size, each guesthouse comprises a bedroom; bathroom; open-plan living room with a dining area and kitchenette; a north-facing balcony; and a south-facing loggia . The windows are located on the north and west sides to create diffused lighting indoors, while the south side is mostly closed off and equipped with eaves to protect against solar heat gain. + Edoardo Milesi & Archos Via domus Images by Aurelio Candido

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100% recyclable materials make up these low-impact monastery huts in Italy

Eco-friendly Syrian refugee housing that anyone would love to call home

January 19, 2017 by  
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Building refugee housing often means fast construction at the expense of beauty and quality, but that doesn’t have to be the case if we take German architect Werner Sobek’s work as any indication. Sobek and the company Aktivhaus recently completed a modular development for 200 Syrian refugees in the German town of Winnenden. Prefabricated in a factory and swiftly assembled on site like Legos, the bright and airy homes are attractive enough for anyone to want to call home. Faced with an influx of refugees fleeing the Syrian civil war , the German town of Winnenden turned to Sobek for a quick way to set up a housing estate for around 200 people in the Schelmenholz district. The development also needed to be flexible enough to be converted for different uses in the future and to be easily expanded on or deconstructed. To minimize costs, construction time, and waste, Sobek installed 38 prefabricated modules from Aktivhaus’ 700 Series. Each 60-square-meter module is constructed using timber frame construction and is stacked to create two stories. The airtight walls, clad in larch , are made with high levels insulation—consisting of hemp and wood fibers—to minimize energy demands. Most materials used are resource conserving and recyclable, with minimal concrete used. The windows are sealed with rubber strips instead of toxic polyurethane foam. Related: Sobek’s Activhaus produces enough green power to light up the house next door Sobek estimates that the modules could last hundreds of years if they are well cared for. The Winnenden development is intended as refugee housing for three years, after which they will be converted into social housing. The development also includes a technology module, two community rooms, and a multifunctional space with washing machines and dryers. The project was initiated and completed last year. + Werner Sobek Via Treehugger , zvw.de Images © Zooey Braun

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Eco-friendly Syrian refugee housing that anyone would love to call home

Decrepit farm buildings reborn into modern energy-efficient home in Suffolk

December 28, 2016 by  
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David Nossiter Architects breathed new life into a collection of decrepit farm buildings that had been laid to waste after a ruinous fire in the 1950s. The skillful renovation transformed the barn buildings into a contemporary dwelling, one that preserves the existing rural forms but also retrofits them with high-performance systems for energy savings. The project, named the Church Hill Barn, is nestled between the English counties of Suffolk and Essex and makes use of local and salvaged materials.

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Decrepit farm buildings reborn into modern energy-efficient home in Suffolk

Elevated glass-bottomed pool gives thrill-seekers dramatic alpine views

November 18, 2016 by  
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The dramatic cantilevered pool is one of many additions in NOA’s renovation of Hotel Hubertus, completed May 2016. The new accommodation wing, which includes 16 new suites and facilities, is visually connected to the old accommodation wing by the pool, which sits between the two. The sky infinity pool appears to float weightlessly in the landscape, hovering 12 meters above ground, and successfully passes on that gravity-defying feeling to swimmers thanks to a glazed front, a glass window at the bottom of the pool, and no view-obstructing barriers. The pool has a width of 5 meters, a length of 25 meters, and a depth of 1.3 meters. A 17-meter length of the pool juts out from the front of the hotel to overlook spectacular views of the Dolomites . Trunks of native larch trees stripped of bark support the pool. “The new pool , which imposingly rests in-between the two accommodation wings, seems like a floating rock, come to rest at the site, overlooking the valley,” write the architects. “The hidden edges of the pool, kept in anthracite-coloured stone, abolish the gap between pool and landscape, creating the impression of the water flowing into nothing, disappearing between pool and landscape. The pool metaphorically reminds of a mountain lake, nestled into the astonishing mountainscape of the UNESCO World Heritage site , the Dolomites…” Related: Glass-bottomed sky pool will be suspended 115 feet in the air To create a uniform appearance between the existing building and the new build, the architects added native larch tree trunks to the facade. The debarked trunks were installed in a rhythmic, alternating pattern and double as sun screens , room dividers, and rain protectors. New perforated, powder-coated metal balustrades replaced the old wooden ones and enhance the wings’ curved forms shaped to follow the existing topography. + NOA Via Dezeen Images via NOA

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