Twin timber buildings draw inspiration from traditional Japanese shrines

April 1, 2019 by  
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Local architectural firm Yuji Tanabe Architects recently completed twin timber buildings on a historic street in the Japanese city of Kamakura. In deference to the existing street architecture and the city’s Great Buddha landmark, the buildings feature a double roof facade with proportions inspired by traditional Japanese shrines. The project, dubbed SASAMEZA, is built of locally sourced timber to reduce embodied energy. Built for commercial use, SASAMEZA occupies a commercial block facing Yuigahama Street, a major transit corridor that connects central Kamakura to the iconic Great Buddha statue. Because the developers wanted the option to divide and sell the site once construction was complete, the architects split the property and created two buildings around a central courtyard . Each building is approximately 970 square feet in size, and they are near mirror images of one another. Due to the nature of the plot, the building on the right has a slightly different shape. “By taking the water under the roof slope of each building on both sides, it creates a sense of unity like a single building,” the architects explained. “In addition, by setting the opening parts across the passage and the court in the same position on the plane, the connection and the spread to the next wing are created. With the visualization of the structural material (offset column + double beams) in the interior space, the aim is to maintain a sense of unity in the entire building even if different tenants move in.” Related: An angular timber cabin is hidden inside an ancient mountain forest Designed with the environment in mind, the architects used timber procured from a mountain forest in Kanazawa Prefecture’s Hakone area. Along with the client, a forester and a builder, the architects visited the forest in person and selected and harvested the trees that would later become the columns and beams, all which are exposed and unpainted. Japanese wood joinery and fastening methods were applied so that the timber elements can be reused . + Yuji Tanabe Architects Images via Yuji Tanabe Architects

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Twin timber buildings draw inspiration from traditional Japanese shrines

Local, natural materials make up this eco-friendly jungle refuge in Tulum

March 28, 2019 by  
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Mexican architectural firm Jaquestudio recently completed a new boutique hotel nestled in a leafy paradise within Tulum, Mexico. Carefully sited to preserve nearly three-quarters of the existing jungle vegetation, the Jungle Keva is an environmentally friendly retreat that minimizes site impact and the use of plastics. Moreover, the hotel is built of locally sourced, natural materials that tie the building to the landscape. Designed to mirror the Tulum environment, Jungle Keva features five beautiful lodges with expansive walls of glass that pull views of the trees into the interiors. Each lodge includes double-height , open-plan spaces flooded with natural light. The communal areas and shared amenities are located in a building at the north of the property. The hotel draws water from an on-site well and includes a newly built, state-of-the-art septic treatment system. The five lodges vary in size, from 505 square feet to 600 square feet, and accommodate three to four guests. All accommodations include a private terrace with a hammock overlooking the jungle and an indoor-outdoor bathroom as well as Wi-Fi, natural bamboo sheets and organic toiletries. Guests also have access to on-site yoga classes, a pool, a restaurant and excursion activities. Related: This breathtaking Tulum art gallery was created by Peggy Guggenheim’s great-grandson The structures are built with low-maintenance and natural finishes that lend the buildings a sense of warmth. The distinctive earthy color found throughout the hotel is achieved with the “chum” finish, a Mayan stucco local to the region that’s made from tree resin. “The objective was to use materials that age with dignity, so that with the passing of time, the architecture acquires character and a deeper sense of belonging,” the architects explained. “The different volumes of the complex are scattered along the lot, between the trees and stone paths, which provide a sensation of being in a small village in the Mayan jungle.” + Jaquestudio Via ArchDaily Photography by César Béjar via Jaquestudio

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Local, natural materials make up this eco-friendly jungle refuge in Tulum

This passive house in the Czech Republic uses technology to recycle heat

March 28, 2019 by  
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A unique location and environmentally-friendly passive house design are what define this lovely home on the Czech Republic/German border. 750 meters above sea level and in the middle of a ridge within the Ore Mountains, it almost looks like a modern farmhouse from the outside. On the inside, however, you’ll find a sleek, clean design with light colors, glass and wood. The rustic home was built by Stempel & Tesar Architects and is a certified passive house . A passive house technique dramatically reduces a building’s environmental footprint by essentially reusing the heat generated by electrical and gas appliances (refrigerators, ovens, even computers) to heat the home. A ventilation system is used to supply fresh air from outside the house to keep the air quality clean, and an efficient heat recovery unit contains and exhausts the recycled heat. Related: Green-roofed NY home taps into passive solar with contemporary style Ultra tight insulation and advanced windows that don’t allow for the heat to escape is required to produce a passive house. Conversely, a passive house is also designed to keep your home comfortable in the warmer months. So rather than using a separate heating or cooling device like a heater or air conditioner that drains energy , a passive house can recycle the heat that is already being generated. The result is a low-cost, energy efficient design that reduces the ecological footprint of the home. Outside the home is a covered walkway leading to the front entrance and an exterior of dark wood. Using an environmentally-friendly method, the wood was colored using a heating technique that eliminated the need for synthetic varnishes. The wood was also used to match the two-car garage to the look of the main house, and the roof is made of simple ceramic tiles. The location of the property allows for plenty of sunlight to brighten the home through the large windows. The home is comprised of two levels and also features a living room with floor-to-ceiling windows and a sliding door that allows for the entire house to be opened to the garden in the warmer months. Though the summer is short in this part of the world, the designers still included a winter garden and a covered terrace outside. + Stempel & Tesar Architects Via Archdaily Images via Stempel & Tesar Architects

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This passive house in the Czech Republic uses technology to recycle heat

A post-earthquake home in Mexico is built of compressed earth blocks

March 28, 2019 by  
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In the aftermath of the Puebla earthquake that struck central Mexico in September 2017, Fundación PienZa Sostenible and Love Army México tapped Mexico City-based firm Francisco Pardo Arquitecto to design a home for a family who had lost their house in the disaster. Working in close collaboration with the Guzman family, the architects created a new and more earthquake-resistant dwelling that not only caters to the family’s needs but also offers improved living conditions. Named Casa Karina after the matriarch in the family of four, the home is built largely of compressed earth blocks , created in situ, along with pinewood used for the doors and windows. Located in the rural town of Ocuilan de Arteaga, the Guzmans’ 807-square-foot lot is located on family land split into five equal parts among the siblings. The Guzman’s original home was of poor construction: a single-story wood structure covered in metal sheets without insulation ; the floors were bare soil. In designing an improved home for the Guzmans, the architects decided to build a multi-story house with the communal areas and full bathroom on the ground floor, two bedrooms on the second floor and an open terrace on the third floor from where views of the town, the neighboring fields and the surrounding volcanoes can be seen. By building upward, the architects also allocated enough area on the grounds for a field for growing crops and space where the couple’s two daughters can play outdoors. The kitchen, located at the heart of the home, overlooks views of the field. Related: This Ecuadorian home uses the natural elements of rammed earth as a foundation The new construction is also far more robust than the previous house, with concrete foundations and polished cement floors. The compressed earth block walls are reinforced with concrete slabs. The architects said, “This is how we were able to entirely adapt the design to the needs and uses of the Guzman family and to build a new and more resistant home for them, providing better space conditions.” + Francisco Pardo Arquitecto Photography by Jaime Navarro, Pablo Astorga and Fernanda Olivares via Francisco Pardo Arquitecto

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A post-earthquake home in Mexico is built of compressed earth blocks

A circular home in Germany produces biogas for self-sufficiency

March 8, 2019 by  
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When a German pioneer in the field of biogas technology commissioned Korbach-based Christoph Hesse Architects , he had an unusual request: a round house . Drawn to the shape of a circular room, the client also found that a round form had the optimal proportions for supporting biogas production, which he would use to power his home. Dubbed Villa F, the project was envisioned as the “first link of a local heat grid” powered by biogas to encourage widespread adoption and reduce dependence on fossil fuels. Located in the central highland town of Medebach, Germany, Villa F stands out from its gabled farmhouse neighbors with its cylindrical form. To knit the building’s appearance in to the landscape, the architects used locally sourced materials, such as stones from the nearby creek, for exterior cladding and based the sloped roofline off the surrounding mountainous terrain. Loggias and balconies also reinforce a connection with the outdoors. The home is split into two floors. The ground floor consists of an office with technical rooms used for biogas production. The loft-like upper level houses the living areas with a centrally located living space, dining area and kitchen as well as a bedroom, bathroom, sauna and outdoor loggia with a heated circular pool overlooking the landscape. A close connection with nature was stressed as a reflection of the client’s agricultural background and his environmental values. Related: Why our ancestors built round houses — and why it still makes sense to build round structures today “Energy efficiency and protection of the environment are the main elements of the design,” the architects added. “The supply and disposal of the building are due to the biogas system self-sufficiently — therefore ‘ off-the-grid .’ Biogas has gained enormous traction in recent years, as biomass from forestry, agriculture and waste is used in a bioenergy village to generate electricity and heat. At the global scale, its substantial energy content could reduce the dependence on fossil fuels.” As a model biogas-powered home, Villa F has inspired the other villagers to adopt the technology with the goal of creating a self-powered community. + Christoph Hesse Architects Via ArchDaily Images by Christoph Hesse Architects, Deimel + Wittmar

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A circular home in Germany produces biogas for self-sufficiency

LEED-seeking winery in Uruguay is built almost entirely of locally sourced materials

February 26, 2019 by  
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Nestled in the bucolic countryside of Garzón, Uruguay, the boutique winery Bodega Garzón produces estate-grown premium wines while keeping sustainability in mind. Designed by Argentina-based architecture firm Bórmida & Yanzón , the winery optimizes energy efficiency with insulating green roofs that total nearly an acre in size, rainwater harvesting and reuse, as well as a high-efficiency HVAC with heat recovery. Fitted with state-of-the-art technology, the 205,000-square-foot development is currently pursuing LEED certification. Set on property formerly overgrown with invasive species and marked by rocky and steep slopes, the Bodega Garzón winery has reintroduced the landscape to native species and more productive uses. Not only does the state-of-the-art winery encompass 500 acres of vineyards, but it also boasts a production facility, a tasting room for visiting guests, retail space, a wine club, an open-fire 120-seat restaurant, and caves for barrel storage, tours, private dining, and events. Views of the idyllic countryside are optimized in the design and placement of the buildings. As part of the winery’s commitment to sustainability, over 90 percent of the construction materials were locally sourced and include granite, concrete and stone. An earthy and natural material palette of raw steel, honed marble, brass accents, leathers, and rich textiles give the interiors, dressed by California-based Backen Gillam & Kroeger Architects, a luxurious and polished feel. The designers were also careful to select recycled and rapidly renewable materials, such as Forest Stewardship Council-certified timbers. Related: An award-winning winery in British Columbia elegantly steps down a hillside The 19 varieties of grapes grown on site — including the brand’s flagship Tannat and Albariño grapes — are connected to drip irrigation that uses recycled surface runoff harvested in newly dug man-made pond systems. All stormwater runoff is treated before leaving the site and recycled for not only all of the irrigation, but for cleaning the outdoor areas and for the water pond as well. + Bórmida & Yanzón

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LEED-seeking winery in Uruguay is built almost entirely of locally sourced materials

Eco-friendly Brae restaurant and retreat targets net-zero energy in Australia

January 22, 2019 by  
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Sustainability is woven throughout Brae , a renowned restaurant and retreat nestled on a hillside of a 30-acre organic farm in rural Australia. Designed by Fitzroy-based studio Six Degrees Architects , Brae is best known for its seasonally inspired menu and talented chefs — the restaurant was named among the world’s 50 best restaurants in 2017 — and the idyllic establishment also boasts six eco-friendly guest suites designed to target net-zero energy consumption. Durable and recycled materials are used throughout the handcrafted buildings, which are powered with solar energy and use recycled rainwater. After Six Degree Architects completed Brae in 2013, the firm revisited the site to add a new accommodation building that would emphasize the restaurant’s commitment to sustainability and seasonality. Completed in 2016, the six guest suites are housed in a structure referencing the archetypal utilitarian rural shed and built with simple and robust materials including recycled timber and brickwork, raw steel and brass. Local builders and tradesmen built the project, and the guest suites are carefully fitted out with bespoke, engaging objects to make each room feel homey and welcoming. “The restaurant is renowned for seasonally sourcing raw produce from either the property or local region,” the architects explained. “There was a desire to bring this careful, considered approach into the crafting of the rooms and restaurant. Simple robust materials, contrasting hard and soft, and a level of intricate detailing remind you that hands have made and shaped the buildings. The project purposefully plays off the materiality and self-build nature of old rural buildings, reinterpreting them into contemporary and luxurious interiors, framing views of the working landscape beyond.” Related: Peek inside the BIG-designed garden village for one of the world’s best restaurants The guest suites are oriented for south-facing views of the landscape, while a landscaped berm to the north protects the building from view of the carpark. To achieve net-zero energy use during operation, the project is equipped with 48 solar panels that generate a daily average of nearly 44 kWh. Rainwater is harvested in two 40,000-liter tanks and reused for drinking and washing. Waste is broken down in a large worm farm. Thanks to these systems and passive thermal design, the 500-square-meter Brae guest suites have achieved a NatHERS energy rating of 7 stars. + Six Degrees Architects Photography by Trevor Mein via Six Degrees Architects

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Eco-friendly Brae restaurant and retreat targets net-zero energy in Australia

Climate-responsive H House celebrates the heritage of Kosovo

December 31, 2018 by  
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Recycled materials, energy-saving systems and references to Kosovan culture have been woven throughout the H House, a handsome and contemporary residence in ?aglavica, a village near the Kosovo capital of Pristina. Designed by  4M Group , the home serves as a beacon of optimism and energy-efficiency for the self-declared independent state, which has been defined by a long and troubled history. Sustainability is paramount to the dwelling and is expressed through the adoption of passive deign principles, locally sourced and recycled materials  and sensor-activated fixtures. As a partially recognized state and disputed territory in Southeastern Europe, Kosovo is home to a rich culture and a long history of war. “Demonstrating awareness of the dichotomy of Kosovo’s recent history, the client wanted a house where safety and security was paramount, but with open, light-filled interiors,” said the architects, adding that they wanted to “reflect the cultural legacy and illustrate a renewed optimism in Pristina with the creation of the H House.” As a result, the outer appearance of the home takes inspiration from the Fustanella, the traditional Albanian dress worn by men, and mimics the folds of the white garment in its multifaceted facade. The angular exterior also has a practical purpose as well. The architects followed passive solar principles in the design of the airtight building to mitigate the region’s extreme temperature fluctuations and also installed heavily insulated reinforced concrete walls as well as deeply recessed triple-glazed windows. The construction materials and labor were sourced locally and recycled materials were used wherever possible. Consequently, the H House only takes a little energy to maintain a comfortable indoor environment year-round. Related: MVRDV will transform the Tirana Pyramid, a former communist monument, into an education center In addition to low-tech strategies, the architects installed smart systems for comfort control including automatically operating louvers and window fan lights. Heating is supplied via a dual air/water thermal heat pump that also powers the underfloor heating . A wood pellet boiler provides supplemental heating. Low-energy lighting and water-efficient fixtures have also been installed. + 4M Group Via ArchDaily Photography by Ilir Rizaj and Fitim Muçaj via 4M Group

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Climate-responsive H House celebrates the heritage of Kosovo

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

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