Berkshire Residence targets Passive House standards

August 6, 2020 by  
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Brooklyn-based design studio Of Possible recently completed the Berkshire Residence, a 3,600-square-foot contemporary home that the designers describe as a “marriage of spatial poetry and building science.” Built by Massachusetts company Kent Hicks Construction , the home blends traditional New England construction with sustainable and cutting-edge building science principles to ensure the home’s longevity and to meet Passive House Institute standards. Located in Sheffield, Massachusetts, the Berkshire Residence was commissioned by a client who wished to combine elements of his childhood home — a two-story colonial dwelling surrounded by an apple orchard, barn, horse corral and a variety of landscapes — with contemporary and sustainable design. As a result, the house not only takes cues from traditional New England construction with its gabled form and muted, natural palette, but it also follows a contemporary design aesthetic with its clean and minimalist form. Related: Award-winning passive tiny house is insulated to combat New Zealand’s weather “The result is a home where every window and door is a floor-to-ceiling picture frame of the spaces of memory throughout the property,” the architects explained. “The architectural finishes are a sober palette chosen to enhance the effect of these frames against the ever-changing seasonal New England landscape. Moving through the home over the course of the day, one is drawn from the inside spaces to the outside landscape. This is a home for creating new memories and honoring old ones.” Although the Berkshire Residence is not Passive House certified, the house follows Passive House Institute standards with its focus on energy efficiency and a small carbon footprint. Materials were also sourced regionally and selected for durability. Field stones and boulders, for instance, were salvaged onsite and from local construction sites to create landscape retaining walls. The airtight home and its energy-saving systems make Berkshire Residence net-zero-ready ; the homeowners can reach energy self-sufficiency with the addition of a small, ground-mounted solar array.  + Of Possible Photography by Justina via Of Possible

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Berkshire Residence targets Passive House standards

Global warming to cause more deaths than all infectious diseases

August 6, 2020 by  
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A new study published by  the National Bureau of Economic Research  shows that by the end of the century, the number of global warming -related deaths will rival that of deaths caused by all infectious diseases combined. The study estimates that high, uncontrolled greenhouse gas emission rates will increase global mortality rates to 73 deaths per 100,000 people. This number rivals that of deaths caused by all infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, yellow fever and dengue fever. Research focused on global death and temperature records. The data showed relationships between increased global heating and some deaths. For instance, the study found a surge in heart attacks during heat waves . The study also detailed direct causes of death, such as heatstroke related to global warming. Amir Jina, environmental economist at the University of Chicago and co-author of the study, said, “A lot of older people die due to indirect heat affects. It’s eerily similar to Covid – vulnerable people are those who have pre-existing or underlying conditions. If you have a heart problem and are hammered for days by the heat, you are going to be pushed towards collapse.” The study also discusses how global warming-related health risks will most affect poor communities in hotter regions of the world. Countries in the tropics, such as Ghana, Bangladesh , Sudan and Pakistan, already face an additional 200 deaths per 100,000 people. In contrast, countries such as Canada and Norway experience lower death rates due to cooler temperatures. This means that the richer countries may experience less of global warming’s effects despite contributing the most to greenhouse gas emissions. Still, even for generally colder, richer nations, climate change’s effects are closer than they seem. In recent years, heat waves have hit parts of the U.S., Europe and Arctic. Estimates forecast that 2020 may be the hottest year in recorded world history, potentially causing more deaths than in previous years. + National Bureau of Economic Research Via The Guardian Image via Pixabay

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Global warming to cause more deaths than all infectious diseases

This green wall uses upcycled clay tiles for natural cooling

May 15, 2020 by  
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In its latest project to creatively repurpose clay roof tiles, Indian architecture firm Manoj Patel Design Studio has upcycled locally produced tiles into a green wall with natural cooling benefits. Dubbed the Ridge Clay Roof Tile Plantation, the project was created to promote the use of locally produced clay products. It also serves as a reaction against the proliferation of plastic and metal planters that have increasingly replaced clay pots. The Ridge Clay Roof Tile Plantation was installed on the shaded outdoor terrace of a residence in Vadodara, a Gujarati city with an extremely hot climate and temperatures that regularly near or exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Manoj Patel Design Studio created the green wall with repurposed kiln-fired clay roof tiles to help promote natural cooling, stimulate the local economy and to bring a touch of nature to the urban apartment. Artificial turf has also been laid on the terrace. Related: 3D-printed home inspired by a wasp’s nest is made of local clay “Such creative clay roof tile plantations are best suited to hot climatic considerations as clay surface absorbs water from the plants and when air comes in contact with the surface, it releases cool air into the space which also provides close to nature experience to the viewers,” the architects explained. “The use of clay tiles serves the purpose of plantation with environment sensitive transformation providing expression of everlasting beauty in less space.” Produced by local craftsmen, the V-shaped clay tiles are slightly modified with the addition of little grooves to help the tiles bond together. Attached to the wall with cement, the textural wall is assembled by hand and comprises tiles arranged in a zigzag pattern. The “pockets” created by two V-shaped tiles placed opposite one another are used to hold plants and lights or can be sealed off to create a small surface for placing objects. + Manoj Patel Design Studio Images via Manoj Patel Design Studio

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This green wall uses upcycled clay tiles for natural cooling

Half-buried home in Brazil is crafted from rammed earth

May 6, 2020 by  
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On a windswept hill a three-hour drive from São Paulo, Brazilian architecture firm Arquipélago Arquitetos has completed the House in Cunha, a low-lying, contemporary home that is primarily built of locally sourced rammed earth. To protect the building from the cold, prevailing winds, the architects partly buried the structure into the earth and repurposed the excavated soil as construction material for the building walls. The thick, earthen walls and the building’s sunken position also provide the benefit of thermal mass to help maintain comfortable and stable interior temperatures year-round. The design for House in Cunha takes inspiration from the surrounding landscape and the region’s traditional culture for ceramic crafts. Set atop a hill, the building is oriented for optimal views of the Mantiqueira Mountains, while its low-lying profile and rammed earth construction help blend it into the landscape. Related: Inspiring rammed earth hospital brings affordable care to rural Nepal The main walls of the home were constructed of rammed earth via a building technique that allows for easy assembly and disassembly. “All the characteristics of hardness, thermal inertia, color, brightness and tactile quality are factors due to the physical and chemical characteristics of that specific soil,” the architects noted. In addition to rammed earth construction, architects also used a local pottery technique to create straw-colored bricks for the remaining walls. Despite its use of traditional materials and construction techniques, the House in Cunha features a minimalist and contemporary design. The main living areas face north to take advantage of winter sunlight and open up to an L-shaped outdoor deck sheltered by deep roof overhangs. Large windows bring panoramic views and ample natural light indoors, while a mix of timber surfaces and brightly colored furnishings help create a cozy and welcoming atmosphere. The home also includes three bedrooms and two baths; the bedrooms face the northwest and also open up to the outdoor deck. + Arquipélago Arquitetos Photography by Federico Cairoli via Arquipélago Arquitetos

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Half-buried home in Brazil is crafted from rammed earth

LEED Gold-certified Azurmendi crowned Worlds Most Sustainable Restaurant

March 6, 2020 by  
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Three-star Michelin restaurant Azurmendi has once again been crowned the “World’s Most Sustainable Restaurant” by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. Noteworthy for its renewable energy systems that offset the building’s carbon footprint, the LEED Gold -certified restaurant has also distinguished itself as a leader of sustainable development with its proactive community role in encouraging knowledge-sharing and a circular economy. Located in Spain near the town of Bilbao, Azurmendi is also currently working on a germplasm bank to host over 400 local seed varieties of vegetables to show the importance of preserving genetic diversity.  Helmed by owners Eneko Atxa and Gorka Izagirre, Azurmendi was developed with the belief that all parts of the restaurant’s operations should be holistically considered, from the land it sits on to the surrounding Basque cultural heritage. Completed in 2010, the bioclimatic building was designed to minimize site impact and incorporate local and recycled materials as well as cutting-edge renewable energy systems. In addition to being recognized as the World’s Most Sustainable Restaurant by the World’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2014 and 2018, Azurmendi also earned LEED Gold certification and is the first sustainable restaurant of its kind on the Iberian Peninsula. Related: Eco-friendly Brae restaurant and retreat targets net-zero energy in Australia Along with adherence to passive solar conditions to minimize energy usage, Azurmendi is equipped with highly efficient insulation, energy-efficient fixtures and high-performance glass that improves energy savings by 50%. The building draws power from photovoltaic solar panels as well as geothermal energy, which is used to power the climate control systems. Rainwater is collected and stored in tanks large enough to cover 100% of irrigation and toilet needs. To further reduce its carbon footprint, the owners planted 700 native trees around the restaurant. They have also joined an initiative promoted by the City of Larrabetzu to recycle all of the restaurant’s organic waste into compost that is then used by local farmers to fertilize their fields. Azurmendi works closely with several producers in the area for local ingredients, which are picked up by a single truck in one trip to reduce carbon emissions. + Azurmendi Images via Azurmendi

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LEED Gold-certified Azurmendi crowned Worlds Most Sustainable Restaurant

Eco-house in Chile thrives in every season

January 2, 2020 by  
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Karina Duque had a unique conundrum to overcome when it came to the design of the KDDK House. Located in Frutillar, Chile , the eco-home’s site had views of lush greenery, in the form of meadows and forests, that presumably made the property so attractive to the landowners. These green views, however, could only be found in the opposite direction of the sun’s natural course. In a region that often saw rainy weather, designing a house that could allow for high-quality indoor livability while avoiding a dark or gloomy interior in such a location was quite the challenge. First, the designer placed the home on the highest point of the property to allow for the best views while also creating the greatest potential for natural sunlight to filter indoors for the greater part of the day. Even better, the elevated building site as well as reflective windows and organically inspired colors and materials help immerse and disguise the home among its lush property. Related: An angular timber cabin is hidden inside an ancient mountain forest The architect took inspiration from the architecture of German settlers, turning to simple lines, an elongated volume, a gable roof and skylights for a contrasting yet relaxing design. This style came with another perk in the form of ample space for a loft that could store heat. The team used painted, locally manufactured zinc for much of the exterior and certified larch roofing for the access corridor. These materials contrasted and complemented the interior, which was painted bright white to make the spaces brighter on those gloomy days. Cellulose insulation (typically made from recycled paper fiber ) for the roof, walls and under the windows helps to maintain heat during cold days, and natural cross-ventilation regulates the indoor temperature during hot days. The addition of a combustion stove in the kitchen serves as a primary heat source during the coldest winter days. In the summer, the iron-and-glass screens fold open to reveal a pleasant outdoor terrace. + Karina Duque Photography by Fernanda Castro via Karina Duque

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Eco-house in Chile thrives in every season

The eco-friendly wellness guide to Savannah, Georgia

January 2, 2020 by  
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Savannah is just as beautiful as it looks in pictures. Since Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil — both the book and the movie — came out in the 1990s, tourism has ramped up in this Southern town known for its 22 park-like squares, sultry summers and Spanish moss dripping from trees. But Savannah also has a modern overlay, thanks in part to the Savannah College of Art & Design, or SCAD, which has renovated deteriorating buildings and attracted talented youth from around the world since its founding in 1978. Today, this Georgia city of 145,000 appeals to visitors who appreciate history, art, ghosts, romantic architecture, Southern culture and a bit of quirkiness. Here are some sustainable stops throughout the city. Savannah outdoors The pace is slow in Savannah, especially if you visit in the summer. Walking around town, reading historic plaques in the squares and on the Savannah River waterfront, wandering into shops and talking with people is probably the best way to get a feel for the town. If you like a more structured outing, Savannah has a plethora of walking tours, with history, architecture and paranormal activity topping the list. It’s no wonder — Georgia’s oldest city, Savannah was established in 1733 and endured fighting in both the Revolutionary and Civil wars. Related: SCAD students save a piece of American history with vintage train car restoration In keeping with the paranormal and historical themes, Savannah has some of the country’s most beautiful graveyards. Bonaventure Cemetery, located on a bluff overlooking the Wilmington River, has the grandest monuments. The wide paved lanes are a nice place to stroll. Those who prize cardio workouts will enjoy an early morning visit to 30-acre Forsyth Park, where you’ll encounter locals running and doing walking lunges around the shady, 1.8-mile, figure 8-shaped loop. Historic mansions and monuments ring this flat course with a lovely fountain in the middle. Great Runs has also mapped a 6-mile running tour that hits every square and Forsyth Park. If you like to see places from the water, Savannah Canoe and Kayak offers tours of Little Tybee Island, or they’ll take you inland to see the forested creeks and wildlife of Skidaway Narrows. Because Savannah is only 18 miles inland from the Atlantic coast, many people also visit Tybee Island. This barrier island has wide beaches, a lighthouse and a fort. The League of American Bicyclists deemed Tybee one of the most bike -friendly communities. Several rental shops let you explore the island on two wheels. Wellness in Savannah Savannah’s many yoga studios include friendly Dancing Dogs Yoga right on the main drag downtown. Savannah Yoga Center offers events like learning to read tarot and pendulums, as well as a full schedule of yoga classes. Those who appreciate the healing power of felines will enjoy Pounce Cat Café and Wine Bar , where you’ll find approximately 20 adoptable cats cavorting or napping on any given day. If you’re pressed for time, you can get a 10-minute pass for just $5. Roots Up Gallery is an inspiring place to delve into Southern folk art . As the gallery’s website explains, the self-taught painters, jewelers, sculptors and potters they represent “possess a soulful style that is borne from within.” Vegan restaurants in Savannah The Fox and Fig Café is Savannah’s leading plant-based restaurant. The raw lasagna is deliciously flavorful, and the shakes, made with local favorite Leopold’s coconut ice cream, are very popular. You can even get a vegan truffle flight here. Kayak Kafé on Broughton, one of the main streets downtown, has clearly marked vegetarian and vegan dishes, including vegan tacos with walnut meat. Sit outside for optimal people-watching. People come to the Sentient Bean for espresso drinks and vegan chia yogurt in the morning, and plant-based dinners and local musicians at night. Wednesday nights, the Sentient Bean hosts meetings of the Psychotronic Film Society. Getting around Savannah When your feet get tired, you can hop on the DOT, a free bus that serves 24 stops in the Historic District and the Savannah Belles Ferry. It runs until midnight every day but Sunday, when service stops at 9 p.m. The Savannah Belles Ferry connects downtown with the convention center and Hutchinson Island. If you’re going farther afield, Chatham Area Transit serves Savannah and Chatham County. A shuttle bus service runs from downtown Savannah to Tybee Island in spring and summer. Uber and Lyft both operate in Savannah. Savannah eco-hotels How you feel about spectral visitors might drive your Savannah lodging decisions, because many of the hotels claim to have resident ghosts. The Marshall House generally wins accolades for being the most haunted, while the 1960s restored retro Thunderbird Inn might be the least. The Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort and Spa follows a long list of sustainability practices, including irrigating with gray water, organic waste composting and salt water pool and hot tub systems. The Kimpton Brice offers guests free use of bikes and supplies a yoga mat in every room. Images by Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat

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The eco-friendly wellness guide to Savannah, Georgia

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

This home gently wraps around towering 80-year-old coconut trees

November 27, 2018 by  
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Bombay-based firm  Abraham John Architects deftly crafted a beautiful home to carefully sit near 19 80-year-old coconut trees. The massive, 6,500-square-foot private residence is broken up into various fragmented volumes, taking on a small village feel that gives the home its name, Villa in the Palms. According to the architects, the unique layout was essential in ensuring that not a single tree was felled during the building process. To build the home around the trees, the architects created a unique, fragmented layout, reminiscent of a traditional Goan Village. Additionally, the team used traditional Goan building techniques and materials in the project. The exterior walls are clad in resilient laterite stone, giving the home an earthy aspect that blends it into the natural surroundings while providing a strong thermal envelope. Also climate-inspired are the pitched roofs that slope at different angles to harvest rainwater and withstand strong winds during monsoon season. Related: A modern, energy-efficient home is built around a beloved madrone tree The home is broken up into several individual spaces, which are connected by various outdoor decks, passages and bridges that wind through the trees, pools and gardens. The main living area provides stunning views of the gardens. The room is flooded with natural light through a large skylight that also provides sun for the interior garden. To blend the home further into its natural setting, the outer frame was installed with large screens made out of 100-year-old reclaimed teak wood . The living space, kitchen and dining room all look out over the pool, which is comprised of three distinct bodies of water covered with teak-wood bridges and little islands that were built to protect the existing trees .  This area also opens up to the natural gardens of lush greenery and, of course, the towering palm trees. + Abraham John Architects Via Archdaily Photography by Alan Abraham via Abraham John Architects

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This home gently wraps around towering 80-year-old coconut trees

An energy-efficient modern church references Utahs mining history

October 11, 2018 by  
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Salt Lake City-based design practice Sparano + Mooney Architecture  designed a church for West Valley City, Utah that’s strikingly modern yet sensitive to the existing site context. Located near Bingham Canyon Copper Mine, the world’s deepest open pit mine and a major employer in the area, the church pays homage to the working class community’s mining and construction past with its material palette. The award-winning, LEED Silver-targeted church — named Saint Joseph the Worker Church after the patron saint of laborers — was completed on a budget of $4.5 million and spans 23,000 square feet. In order to comfortably seat 800 people within a reasonably close distance to the altar, Sparano + Mooney Architecture designed Saint Joseph the Worker Church in a circular form with rounded and thick board-formed concrete walls. In addition to the new 800-seat church, the 10-acre site also includes an administrative building with offices and meeting rooms, indoor and outdoor community gathering and fellowship spaces, a large walled courtyard centered on a water feature and ample landscaping. After the architects salvaged parts of the original, now-demolished church that was built in 1965, they added new elements of steel, copper and handcrafted timber to reference the area’s mining and construction past. “Drawing from this lineage, a palette of materials was selected that express the transformation of the raw material by the worker, revealing the craft and method of construction,” the architects explained. Related: Historic Australian church transformed into a stunning family home for five “These materials include textural walls of board-formed concrete, constructed in the traditional method of stacking rough sawn lumber; a rainscreen of clear milled cedar; vertical grain fir boards and timbers used to create the altar reredos and interior of the Day Chapel; flat seam copper panels form the cladding for the Day Chapel and skylight structure over the altar; and glazing components requiring a highly crafted assembly of laminated glazing with color inter-layers, acid etched glazing, and clear glass insulated units with mullion-less corners,” the firm said. “The design harkens back to the mining history of the early parish, and details ordinary materials to become extraordinary.” + Sparano + Mooney Architecture Images by Dana Sohm, Jeremy Bittermann and Sparano + Mooney Architecture

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