Story book of timber designed for University of Arkansas

April 2, 2020 by  
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Dublin-based Grafton Architects and Fayetteville-based Modus Studio have won an international design competition for the Anthony Timberlands Center for Design and Materials Innovation at the University of Arkansas’ Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design. Developed to bolster the university’s role as a leader in mass timber advocacy, the $16 million applied research center will be a “story book of timber ” promoting timber and wood design initiatives. The architecture of the Anthony Timberlands Center will also be used as a teaching tool and showcase the versatility and beauty of various timbers to the public. Crowned the competition winner after a months-long process that included a total of 69 firms, Grafton Architects also made recent headlines when its co-founders, Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, were named the 2020 recipients of the Pritzker Architecture Prize . The Anthony Timberlands Center will be the firm’s first building in the United States and will be located in Fayetteville, Arkansas on the northeast corner of the University of Arkansas’ Windgate Art and Design District. The new applied research center will house the Fay Jones School’s existing and expanding design/build program and fabrication technologies labs as well as the school’s emerging graduate program in timber and wood design. Created with the public in mind, the Anthony Timberlands Center will draw the eye of passersby with its dramatic cascading roof that responds to the local climate while capturing natural light . Inside, soaring ceiling heights and rhythmical open spaces evoke a forest setting. Related: Canada’s first net-zero carbon, mass-timber college building to rise in Toronto “The basic idea of this new Anthony Timberlands Center is that the building itself is a Story Book of Timber,” said Farrell in a University of Arkansas press release. “We want people to experience the versatility of timber , both as the structural ‘bones’ and the enclosing ‘skin’ of this new building. The building itself is a teaching tool, displaying the strength, color, grain, texture and beauty of the various timbers used.” + Grafton Architects Images via Grafton Architects

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Luxury resort in Bali pays homage to traditional village design

March 25, 2020 by  
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Already well-known for creating large-scale public works like eco-parks and museums, Dutch architectural practice OMA has added yet another stunning project to its impressive portfolio — a luxury resort in Seminyak, Bali. According to the architects, the inspiration behind the Desa Potato Head resort is the area’s traditional villages, and the resort’s layout recalls this through the use of traditional Balinese building techniques and reclaimed materials . Located on the beach, the beautiful eco-resort is unique in that it is not designed to be another luxurious but impersonal getaway, where tourists just lounge for hours, sipping on mixed drinks in the warm sunshine. Rather, the resort’s design is an architectural attempt to connect visitors to the local community’s traditions. Related: Reclaimed materials star in this surf villa with ocean views in Bali “The essence of Bali lies in the interaction between different cultures,” architect and OMA partner David Gianotten explained. “Our design for the Potato Head Studios offers both private guest rooms and facilities, and public spaces, to encourage exchange between different kinds of users, challenging the ubiquitous Balinese resort typology that paradoxically emphasizes hotel guests’ exclusive enjoyment, detached from the life of the local community.” As part of that strategy, the architects incorporated several traditional building techniques and materials into the resort’s construction. For example, the building’s elevated layout was inspired by the raised courtyards typically found throughout Indonesia. Made up of three large volumes, the complex is lifted off the ground by a series of thin columns. Guests can enjoy the spacious common areas that lead out to the beach or to the rooms via corridors of handmade breeze block walls that cast light and shadows in geometric patterns. Often used for celebrations and cultural events, this indoor/outdoor space is covered with extensive native vegetation , which creates a strong connection to Mother Nature. To take in the incredible views, guests can also make their way up to the massive rooftop terrace, which provides stunning, 360-degree views. With most of the work done by local craftsmen, much of the hotel consists of either recycled or reclaimed building materials. The cladding of the spacious courtyards and zigzagging walkways is comprised of cement casing and reclaimed wood boards. Additionally, local artisans handcrafted the resort’s woven ceilings from recycled plastic bottles . The private suites feature terrazzo flooring made from waste concrete. Decorations throughout the spaces include wood furnishings and artworks from various local artists. + Desa Potato Head + OMA Via Design Milk Photography by Kevin Mak via OMA

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1980s cottage in Melbourne is updated into an energy-efficient retreat

March 19, 2020 by  
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Melbourne-based firm Jost Architects has managed to breathe new life into a rundown 1980s cottage house in the beachside community of St Kilda. The renovation process focused on retaining as much of the building’s original features as possible, with the resulting design boasting several energy-efficient features that reduce the home’s environmental impact. The original home consisted of a one-story layout with two front bedrooms and a bathroom as well as an extension that was previously added to the back of the house. During the green renovation process, the architects decided to remove the addition but retain the original living areas. Related: A Mel bourne worker’s cottage gets revamped into a solar-powered family home Once the project started, the designers had to work around the local building restraints to add an upper level. The extension had to fit just right on the original, irregular layout without causing a distraction from the street. Working within the restrictions, the team carefully added a second floor with a new master bedroom and en suite at the front of the house. This space also has a front balcony with windows that open completely. From the bedroom, a hallway leads to another east-facing deck with an operable aluminum screen that provides the homeowners with a bit of outdoor privacy as well as protection from the western summer sun . The new area on the ground floor was also transformed into a spacious, open-plan living room. The entrance is now through a lovely outdoor courtyard that leads into the modern living area. Farther past the main space is the kitchen followed by two additional bedrooms. The green renovation not only gave the residents a bigger space that is flooded with natural light, but the home is now much more energy-efficient. Adding new outdoor spaces provided the living areas with optimal natural ventilation, both upstairs and downstairs. New materials, such as double-paned windows and decorative concrete with zoned hydronic heating, help keep the home well-insulated. For energy generation, the home was outfitted with a 2.6 kW solar power system on the roof. + Jost Architects Via ArchDaily Photography by Tom Roe and Shani Hodson via Jost Architects

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ChopValue recycles 25 million chopsticks into furniture and decor

March 19, 2020 by  
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A Canadian-based company called ChopValue has found some unique ways to reuse single-use chopsticks — think of it as upcycling food utensils into chic, sustainable decor and housewares. The process starts in coordination with restaurants by collecting used chopsticks. The wood then goes through a micro-manufacturing process, which turns it into usable material for other products. ChopValue keeps the production carbon-neutral while maintaining an overall carbon-negative status for the company. Consumers can select products with complete transparency regarding the overall carbon footprint and number of recycled chopsticks that were used to make a specific item. Related: Kwytza chopstick art transforms single-use chopsticks into stylish home decor The founder of ChopValue, Felix Böck, developed and engineered the innovative material while earning his PhD. The idea came one night while having sushi, when Böck and his partner were discussing their frustrations over construction waste in the city. They looked down at their chopsticks and were instantly inspired; the rest is history. Taking an interest in the environment and corporate responsibility, Böck hopes to lead by example and inspire others to rethink resource efficiency. The company offers a variety of decor items, including a hexagonal display shelf and honeycomb-shaped pieces that can be used as a single unit or in conjunction with other tiles for a geometric look. There is also a selection of cutting board options with designs specialized for charcuterie boards, cheese and cracker displays or butcher blocks. There’s even a zero-waste kit that comes with a cheeseboard, coasters, key chains, toothbrushes, chopsticks, stainless steel straws and straw cleaners; the kit comes in a box that can be used to donate used chopsticks back to the company. As an incentive, the company will get you a product equal to the amount of chopsticks you donate. For example, 75 chopsticks will net you a 75-chopstick coaster. In addition to the standard selections available on the website, ChopValue can produce custom wood furniture and other items. For example, a community table created for Little Kitchen Academy diverted 33,436 disposable chopsticks from the landfill. Another big project saw the creation of wall paneling, restaurant tables and entrance flooring for Little Bird Dim Sum that utilized more than 330,000 disposable chopsticks. According to the company, its efforts have recycled more than 25 million chopsticks to date. ChopValue has created a virtual interactive trade show booth in partnership with WireWax as a result of the many canceled trade shows stemming from the COVID-19 outbreak. Check it out while scrolling through the website, and it might just inspire the designer in you. + ChopValue Images via ChopValue

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ChopValue recycles 25 million chopsticks into furniture and decor

Solar-powered community hub in Australia emphasizes green design

March 18, 2020 by  
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Residents of the Australian suburb of Bayswater now have a new community center to enjoy. Designed by Melbourne-based firm K20 Architecture , the Bayswater Early Years Hub is a building that was strategically designed to minimize its impact on the environment via green design, which includes solar power, rainwater harvesting systems and more. At 20,000 square feet, the massive building offers residents a range of services including early learning spaces as well as several health centers. To blend in with the existing residential area, the structure was built with fairly humble features, such as red brick cladding and a gabled roof, which is covered in solar panels . Related: Green-roofed community center champions sustainable design in London It was imperative to the designers to include a functional layout with enough space for multiple services without sacrificing convenience to visitors. Accordingly, the resulting design is a dynamic volume comprised of two U-shaped masses “turning toward the sun,” which gives the project its nickname, Sunflower. As one of its primary functions, the center is a space for learning. Therefore, the project includes several learning classrooms that are spacious and well-lit by large windows. Additionally, an expansive courtyard was strategically landscaped to include a variety of greenery as well as adventurous play areas including a sand pit, swings, crawling spaces, slides and bridges. Along the border of these sites, parents and grandparents have several areas to sit down and enjoy the fresh air while the kids run around freely. From the onset of the project, the architects worked with the local government to ensure that the new structure would be incredibly energy-efficient . With the objective of a 100+ year building lifecycle, improved ecology and reduced environmental impact, the designers added several sustainable features to the building. The roof boasts an array of solar panels, which generate a substantial amount of clean energy for the building. The roof is also equipped with a rainwater harvesting system. Baywater uses several passive features to further reduce energy use, such as ample natural light. + K20 Architecture Via ArchDaily Images via K20 Architecture

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Embracing the Benefits of Local Food: Rafins’ Restaurant

March 16, 2020 by  
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You don’t need to cook from home to enjoy the … The post Embracing the Benefits of Local Food: Rafins’ Restaurant appeared first on Earth911.com.

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The best plants for attracting pollinators to your yard

March 2, 2020 by  
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Pollination occurs when pollinators, like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, feed on the sweet nectar from flowers. While they enjoy the buffet, powdery pollen sticks to them. As they move down the buffet line to other plants in the area, the pollen drops off into those plants, which then use it to create seeds, fruit and more plants. The process is essential to our food supply, with some estimates giving pollination credit for up to one-third of what we eat. Whether you want a robust garden full of produce, to help boost pollinator populations or both, focusing on the best plants for pollinators will help you reach your goal. Ideally, you will want to select native plants for your region. Talk to your local extension office, do some research online or grab a book from the library. Your local nursery or other garden supply store will likely have a great selection of the best plants for attracting pollinators to get you started. In the meantime, here are plenty of tips to help you know where to start when it comes to creating a beautiful, bountiful pollinator garden. Related: EU approves complete ban on bee-killing insecticides Best plants for every kind of pollinator and climate Many plants are forgiving enough to succeed in a variety of climates and are commonly used for attracting pollinators in just about any area. Herbs such as lavender, rosemary, sage, mint and oregano are great options. Other plants provide aesthetic appeal for your yard while also creating a feast for pollinators. Look into whether coneflower (purple is a favorite for butterflies), sunflower, redbud, catnip, penstemon, lab’s ears, verbena, aster, black-eyed Susan or yarrow are a good fit for your space. Butterfly gardens If your main draw is butterflies, try alyssum, aster, butterfly bush, cosmos, delphinium, and the easy-to-grow daylily. A few other butterfly favorites include fennel, globe thistle, goldenrod and liatris. Hollyhock makes butterflies happy, but be careful where you plant it, because hollyhock can become invasive after the first season. Plants to attract hummingbirds Hummingbirds like big, bright blooms they can stick their extraordinarily long tongues into for a drink. Test out bee balm, begonias, bleeding heart, canna, cardinal flower, columbine and coral bells (heuchera). Vary your plantings by season, and choose plants of different heights and colors. Include cleome, dahlia, foxglove, fuchsia, gladiolus, iris and lupine. Other plants known to draw in the fluttery birds include lantana, paintbrush, nicotiana, phlox and yucca. Bee-friendly plants As you probably know, bees are critical to the survival of our planet, but colony collapse has put them in crisis. Do your part with some bee-friendly plants like bee plant, bergamot, borage, cosmos, flax, giant hyssop, marjoram and poppies. Bees are usually satisfied feeding at any nectar-rich banquet, so most herbs, berries or flowers in your garden will likely make them happy. If you plan to try beekeeping, note that the resulting honey will pick up the key notes from what they feed on, so experiment with wildflowers, wild rose, thyme, verbena and blackberries for different flavors. Pollinators by region Weather trends in your area will affect the types of plants that will thrive, so again, it’s important to research plants native to your locale. However, here are some general ideas for the more extreme climates you might be dealing with. Arid mountains  If you live in a semi-desert region, try out catnip, clover, milkwort, morning glory, passion flowers and phacelia in your pollinator garden. Some other options that should thrive in arid regions include rose, potentilla, sorrel, violet and wild mustard. Coastal areas For areas that receive more rain, such as the misty coasts, add catalpa, cow parsley, goldenrod, impatiens, morning glory and willow catkins to your garden. Although we’ve mentioned a lot of flowers, remember that crops bloom too, providing an opportunity to feed the pollinators and yourself. Plant some almonds, apples, blueberries, cherries, eggplants, gooseberries, legumes, watermelons, squash, pumpkins and tomatoes along with herbs to satisfy the pollinators and fill your plate. Additional pollinator garden tips There are a few more components to creating the perfect pollinator garden, where bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and more will all flock to for nectar. Proper plant care In addition to selecting the best plants for pollinators, you’ll want to make sure those plants and the pollinators are thriving. Follow watering guidelines for the plants you select and fertilize them when needed, but be sure to use only organic materials. Avoid chemicals such as insecticides and herbicides that can harm bees, moths and other pollinators. Especially during the hot, summer months, scatter water sources around your garden for pollinators to enjoy while they work. Also cluster plants together so pollinators have some protection. This gives them a place to hide from predators, heat and rain as well as to rear their young. If you grow crops on a large or small scale, consider throwing some seeds in the ground during the off season. You may not want the plants that are not at their peak, but pollinators will appreciate them nonetheless — your soil will likely thank you for some variety, too. You can also put wildflowers in unused areas for your pollinators to enjoy. Pollinators’ favorite colors Map out your garden with a variety of colors for attracting pollinators of all types.  Birds are naturally drawn to warm tones, like scarlet, red and orange. They also respond well to white blooms. Butterflies like bright colors and the deeper tones of red and purple. On the other end of the spectrum, moths prefer dull red, purple, pink and white. By planting a variety of colors that bloom throughout the seasons, you will provide the best environment to attract all types of pollinators. Images via Shutterstock

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How to properly and safely dispose of these 10 items in your home

February 10, 2020 by  
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Toxic chemicals, e-waste, light bulbs and batteries are just a few common household items that exit our homes and can end up in the landfill , where they may or may not break down or leach into the soil and water. Equally concerning is the potential for broken glass and chemicals to cause problems to sanitation workers, the water system and wildlife. Even when you make the best purchasing decisions upfront, you will eventually find yourself with toxic household waste. Before tossing items in the trash, check out these disposal options for items like batteries and paint that are safer for the planet. Tires Because most automotive, tractor and machine tires are a mixture of rubber and steel, they can’t be recycled without separating those components. As a result, you will likely have to pay to drop them somewhere. The landfill is one option, but you can commonly return them to a local tire center. Regardless of where you take it, the fee typically ranges from $2-10 per tire, so consider upcycling those old radials into a property border or flower bed divider. Related: EWG warns ‘forever chemicals’ are contaminating US drinking water at levels far worse than expected Light bulbs Your local recycling center probably accepts spent CFL light bulbs. Because CFL bulbs contain a small amount of mercury, it’s important that they are properly disposed of. Most large home improvement stores also provide a return option for CFLs and basic fluorescent bulbs. Depending on your local recycling center, LED or incandescent bulbs may be recyclable with your glass items. You can also visit Pinterest for ideas on ways to repurpose bulbs. Batteries The best option when it comes to batteries is to make the investment in rechargeable batteries. When they wear out, look for drop boxes at your local home improvement and office supply stores. For single-use household batteries, you can return them during city household waste collection events, or your recycling center may have a drop spot. Some home improvement stores also provide a drop location. Car, tractor and motorcycle batteries are easily recyclable at any retailer that sells them. You will likely even get a core refund for returning them. Check with automotive repair locations, car part stores or your local Battery Exchange. Electronics When the stereo, computer, TV or cell phone bites the dust, skip the landfill and head to the recycling center. You may need to separate the cords and/or batteries from the laptop or TV remote, but most components are accepted at these locations. Also check with the manufacturing company or service provider. For example, Apple and many cell phone companies will accept old devices for recycling, and some even offer a credit for it. Medications Expired and unneeded medications are absorbed into the soil and waterways if flushed down the toilet. They are also a danger to children and pets, so proper disposal is important. Most local police stations accept medications, and they can be returned at city waste collection events. The U.S. DEA also provides an annual National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day in conjunction with local law enforcement agencies. Stains and paints The good news is that modern paints and stains are formulated to last, so you can finish up the can while doing touch ups or other projects, even years down the road. If you’re moving and have to come up with a quick yet responsible disposal method, visit your local Habitat for Humanity reStore, where it will reformulate the paint for resale. Another option is to allow the paint to dry in the can, either naturally or with the aid of a commercial paint-dry product. Once dry, it can be thrown out with the rest of your garbage without a risk of contamination, although we do recommend using it entirely or donating it for resell before turning to the landfill. Related: 6 of the best places to donate your things Cleaning products Between glass cleaner and furniture polish, household cleaners have a way of accumulating. So when you pull out the last of the carpet and no longer need carpet spot cleaner or you make the switch to natural cleaners and need to do away with your old bottles, keep an eye out for that city waste collection event. For cleaners you can still use, try to use them up and recycle the container when you can. Also consider giving away any cleaners you no longer want, but note that most donation centers will not accept them, so offer them to friends, family and co-workers. Lawn and garden products Insecticides and pesticides should not be added to the garbage, where they can leak into water systems and soil. The same goes for the old oil and gasoline from your lawn mower and other equipment. This type of pollution will impact plants, animals and humans. Hold onto any lawn and garden chemicals for the next household waste round-up to return them responsibly. Personal care products If you find your bathroom cabinets and shelves full of old skincare , fragrances or nail polish you don’t want anymore, it is important to dispose of them properly, especially if they are from your pre-green beauty days. Unused, unexpired products may be suitable for donation. Otherwise, do not dump products in the sink or toilet. Check with your local hazardous household waste facility to see if it can accept your items. If you must, put all of the contents of the containers into one jar and place it in the garbage. Eyeglasses Whether you’ve undergone laser eye surgery or upgraded your style, eyewear is another common household item that may no longer be serving its purpose. Fortunately, there are many ways to donate old eyeglasses where they can provide the gift of sight and keep them out of the landfills. Lyons Clubs International, New Eyes (a division of United Way), OnSight and Eyes of Hope are all options. You can also drop eyeglass lenses and frames at most optical centers or local drop boxes, or donate them to a thrift store. Via Earth 911 and EPA.gov Images via Shutterstock

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Passive design helps this home adapt to rainforest climate

January 31, 2020 by  
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Building in extreme landscapes and climates comes with all sorts of complications, but one savvy architect managed to construct a beautiful modern home using the local environment to the home’s advantage. Mexico City-based architectural firm, Paola Calzada Arquitectos  built the contemporary Tabasco Home in the middle of Mexico’s rare rainforest using several passive features to reduce energy. What’s more, the home design was built using several eco-friendly and repurposed materials such as 3,000 recycled  plastic bottles  used for the kitchen. Unlike most of Mexico, Tabasco is mainly covered in thick rainforest. In addition to its humid climate, the area is often plagued by flooding , which causes complications for most construction projects. Related: Solar-powered home takes advantage of cooling ocean breezes in Los Angeles However, the area is pristine and idyllic for those looking to live among nature. Accordingly, the Tabasco house was built strategically using  passive features  so that the homeowners could enjoy a strong connection to the landscape, but feel protected from its harsh climate. Spanning almost 4,000 square feet over two floors, the contemporary home is laid out in an “L” shape. This strategic feature works two-fold. First, the interior of the L shape outside the home allowed the family to enjoy plenty of private outdoor space, including a large terrace, pool and patio. Additionally, the long extension faces north to protect the main living spaces from direct sunlight . As a result of the orientation, the ultra large expanses of glass walls allow for optimal natural light to flood the interior while the living spaces  are protected from solar gain during the summer months. For extra cooling, the home was installed with inverter technology air conditioners that run on solar power , further helping to reduce the home’s energy needs. The home’s exterior is a contemporary blend of reinforced concrete, steel and large expanses of glass. On the inside, the interior design is light and airy, with a distinctly modern touch. Double height ceilings and an abundance of windows provide a sense of spaciousness to best take in the amazing views of the large garden outside, which is planted with native vegetation. The open-layout on the interior opens up the space, letting the family enjoy time together at the large live wood dining table. At the heart of the home, however, is the massive kitchen, which was manufactured using 3,000 recycled industrial plastic bottles. Throughout the interior, exposed concrete walls and natural stone accents give the space a cool, industrial feel that contrasts nicely with the home’s natural surroundings. + Paola Calzada Arquitectos Via ArchDaily Photography by Jaime Navarro

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Passive design helps this home adapt to rainforest climate

Charming hobbit home in Slovenian ‘Shire’ is built of local, natural materials

January 23, 2020 by  
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While it may not be located in the Shire, this hobbit home in Slovenia is just as magical as a Middle Earth abode. Located in an ancient Chalcolithic settlement that dates back more than 5,000 years, the quaint hobbit home was reconstructed using the building principles of the era, including natural materials such as wood, loam, straw and a lush layer of native grass that completely covers the handmade structure. Years ago, archaeologists discovered the ruins of a settlement from the Chalcolithic era in the village of Razkrižje, just a few kilometers from the Slovene-Croatian border. Over time, the local government has reconstructed the settlement, complete with homes made out of wood, clay and additional materials found in nature. Related: Spend the night in this magical Hobbit House tucked into the Washington shire Inspired by the project, one local, Mirko Žižek, decided to build a structure using the same ancient techniques. The result is a charming hobbit home , embedded into the landscape and cloaked in greenery. At the onset of the project, Žižek had strong ideas on the building’s volume and shape. “I wanted the house to be legal and structurally stable, so I have enlisted the help of an architect,” Žižek said. “He resisted my idea of a dome-shaped house for quite a few months, but I was stubborn. Finally, he had to give in.” Because the curves couldn’t be achieved using timber, the architect opted for a steel frame, which was then filled in with a mixture of clay, sand and straw. Although the team primarily relied on natural materials, there are some modern touches as well, including the layer of hydro-insulation that was added to the walls. Once the home’s clay envelope was dry and considered sturdy enough, an exterior layer of packed soil, approximately 10 to 15 centimeters thick, was applied to the building. This layer enabled the planting of a lush green roof that rolls over the entire structure. A natural rock pathway with a log edging leads up to the house. The entrance is unique in that it is made of an arched wooden door surrounded by repurposed glass jars stacked sideways, allowing natural light to stream into the front parlor. The interior walls are plastered with clay and kept in a natural tone. Curved throughout, the dwelling is comprised of a small living area, a kitchen and dining space and a large en suite bedroom, with the bathroom located behind a privacy wall. Mirrored tube lamps in the curved ceiling allow natural light to filter into the living area. Throughout the space, wooden touches, such as shelving, doors and the king-sized bed, were custom-built by Žižek. Right now, the hobbit house is used as a guest accommodation, but Žižek and his wife have plans to move into the beautiful space once they retire. + Ambienti Photography by Arhiv Lastnika

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Charming hobbit home in Slovenian ‘Shire’ is built of local, natural materials

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