Portland welcomes first Living Building Challenge project

May 8, 2020 by  
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Pacific Northwest architecture firm  Mahlum  has made history with the certification of its new architecture studio as Portland’s first Living Building Challenge ( LBC ) project. As an LBC-certified workspace, Mahlum’s new studio meets rigorous sustainability targets including net-zero embodied carbon emissions and the diversion of almost all construction waste from the landfill. The project is the 48th LBC-certified project in the United States and 57th in the world.  Located in a renovated 1930s structure that once served as a Custom Stamping facility, Mahlum’s newly minted 7,500-square-foot  office  in Portland meets the LBC guidelines for the Materials Petal, the Place, Equity and Beauty Petals, and the Health & Happiness Petal. As a result, workplace health and wellness have been emphasized alongside environmentally friendly design and construction. All products used were screened to comply with VOC emission restrictions.  Local materials and labor were also key to the office’s design. Nearly all of the wood used was sourced from the state of Oregon and 100% of all the wood is either  FSC-certified  or salvaged. Working with partners such as Sustainable Northwest Wood and Salvage Works, the architects also used over a dozen unique salvaged products, including Douglas fir wood reclaimed from the nearby National Historic site of Fort Vancouver. Moreover, local artist Paige Wright was commissioned to create nature-inspired ceramic vessels used as planters in the office. Materials have also been vetted to ensure compliance with the Red List, which screens for “worst-in-class” chemicals and environmentally harmful materials. Related: Glumac’s pioneering net-zero Shanghai office paves the way to greener buildings in China Mahlum will receive recognition for their LBC certification at the Living Future Conference, which will be digitally hosted in May 2020. The firm also plans to participate in Design Week Portland , currently expected to take place at the beginning of August, to welcome visitors as part of an Open House event.  + Mahlum Images by Lincoln Barbour

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LEED Platinum Akademeia High School caters to millennials

April 13, 2020 by  
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When  Medusa Group Architects  was tasked to design a high school in Warsaw, the Polish interdisciplinary design studio’s team seized the opportunity to address the perceived failures of the public education system to keep up with changing millennial needs. As a result, their design of Akademeia High School, completed in 2015, encourages a welcoming and flexible “lifestyle atmosphere” where students are encouraged to stay in school even after classes end. Built primarily of locally sourced timber, the school also boasts low energy consumption and has achieved LEED Platinum certification with a total of 86 points.  Spanning an area of 14,369 square meters, the Akademeia High School comprises a U-shaped building that wraps around a central  courtyard . Taking inspiration from urban design and place-making principles, the architects deliberately introduced a sense of ambiguity to many of the indoor spaces to encourage students to adapt the rooms to multifunctional uses. Seating, for example, is no longer limited to benches and chairs but also encompasses sculptural interior surfaces and the stairs of the outdoor amphitheater-like structure facing the central courtyard. The school cafeteria has also been transformed from a traditionally single-use space into a  multi-use  space akin to a “fashionable restaurant” that is open throughout the day for various functions. “This is a place where you can work with literature, meet with a psychologist, wait for parents and at the same time sit at a laptop and do homework, preparing the elders,” explain the architects in their project statement. “We wanted pupils in small groups to learn the culinary art from the kitchen, get to know the flavors and make inspiring, culinary travels – geography with gastronomy in one.” Related: A clean-energy school in southern France draws power from the sun Students can further their culinary arts education on the accessible roof, where an  urban garden  grows and houses beehives during the summer. The herbs grown on the roof are used in the school cafeteria. The rooftop space can also host classroom activities, from biology and physics to astronomy and geography.  + Medusa Group Architects Photography: J?drzej i Juliusz Soko?owscy

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Sasaki weaves an ecological landscape into Tianfu Vanke City

April 3, 2020 by  
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Sasaki Associates has recently completed the first phase for its landscape design of Tianfu Vanke City, a new 173-hectare community near the Western Chinese city of Chengdu. Located on land that had long been used for agriculture , the development takes a holistic approach to landscape and ecology restoration and will not only preserve and reintroduce native species but will also emphasize aquatic health. Nature has also been made a major focus of the built environment so that residents and visitors can enjoy the landscape through a wide range of outdoor activities. Unlike the relatively flat terrain of Chengdu , Tianfu Vanke City is surrounded by mountains and is rich in aquatic features. Sasaki Associates’ vision for the new urban community celebrates the local landscape by drawing design inspiration from the local environment, culture and materials. To that end, the team used GIS (Geographic Information System) mapping to analyze the site’s topographical features, which informed their plans for roadways, trail systems, water systems, landscape zones and outdoor activities. Related: Floating prefab architecture addresses climate change on Chengdu’s Jincheng Lake Site analyses also directed the division of the site into two interconnected neighborhoods — the North Valley and the South Valley — based on the ridgeline and the two sub-watersheds that feed into two scenic lakes at the mouths of the two valleys. To highlight successful landscape reclamation efforts and surrounding nature, the community will be integrated with a comprehensive trail system that will cater to mountain biking, hiking and camping. The project even includes an animal adventure park. Walls of locally sourced red sandstone will snake through the landscape to accentuate the rolling terrain. The first 13.5-hectare phase of the Tianfu Vanke City landscape was completed in October 2019 and features a three-zoned playscape, which encourages children to experience nature . The most eye-catching zone is the Hill Adventure Park with The Cloud, a 25-meter-by-13-meter netted play structure. The playscape also includes the Water Adventure Park with a sculptural wading “Ripple” pool and the Field Adventure Park with a “Maze” of boardwalks, meadows and pea stone paths. + Sasaki Associates Photography by Holi Photography via Sasaki Associates

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Sasaki weaves an ecological landscape into Tianfu Vanke City

Floating ICEBERG creatively confronts global warming

March 26, 2020 by  
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In summer 2019, a surprising sight popped up on a New Hampshire lake — ICEBERG, a floating, iceberg-shaped pavilion made of locally sourced wood and recycled plastic. Created to raise awareness on the issue of polar ice melt, the temporary installation was the work of  Bulot+Collins , an international architecture firm that guided over a hundred Beam Campers to build the project on-site. The environmental installation also doubled as a play space with a resting area for sunbathing and a staircase that leads to a diving platform.  ICEBERG was designed and built for  Beam Camp , a summer camp in Strafford, New Hampshire that teaches campers hands-on skills and creative thinking through large-scale collaborative projects selected through an annual worldwide design competition. In 2019, Bulot+Collins’ ICEBERG project was chosen and built in three weeks by 104 campers between the ages of 10 to 17.  Located in the middle of Willy Pond, the 700-square-foot ICEBERG pavilion features a slanted wood frame buoyed by a series of empty barrels. The structure is covered in locally sourced plywood panels clad in recycled HDPE tiles manufactured on-site by the campers with a process exclusively developed by the architects for the project. Recycled plastic was melted and molded into triangular shapes and then covered in a mix of resin and thermochromic paint to simulate the appearance of a melting iceberg : the hundreds of tiles turn from different shades of blue in the cold to a polar white in the heat.  Related: ICEBERGS immerse visitors in a beautiful underwater world in Washington, D.C. In addition to its striking visual appearance, ICEBERG served as a play space with a sunbathing area and a 10-foot-tall diving platform. “As architects accustomed to working in an environment where the designer, the client and the users are often three distinct parties, we were stimulated to have the future users play an active role in the building process of the project,” note the architects. “This blurring of boundaries familiarized campers with the subtle implications of building a space, and allowed them to evolve in a structure that they constructed with their own hands.” + Bulot+Collins Images via Bulot+Collins

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This private island resort in Panama promises sustainable luxury

November 19, 2019 by  
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Just off the western Pacific shore of Panama lies Isla Palenque , a private island sanctuary with nearly 400 acres of lush jungle and a luxury resort that prides itself on low-impact living. Unlike the traditional beach resort, Isla Palenque promises paradise for wildlife and nature lovers who are invited to explore a relatively undeveloped island — over half of the island has been set aside as a nature reserve. From jungle hikes to kayaking to cooking classes and birdwatching, all activities at the award-winning resort aim to cultivate a greater appreciation of Panamanian biodiversity. Created as part of the Cayuga Collection, a hotel group of sustainable luxury hotels and lodges in Central America, Isla Palenque gives guests of all ages the chance to experience “nature in the raw.” Amble Resorts founder and architect Benjamin Loomis designed the sustainably minded resort and deliberately kept its total development footprint to approximately five percent of the island while capping the guest count to 40 people at a time. Related: Sleep in sustainable luxury inside this eco-friendly jungle treehouse Isla Palenque is also a partner of the community-supported Dock to Dish sustainable fishing program and offers a reforestation program that invites guests to plant a primary rainforest seedling of their choice in an area of secondary growth. To further reduce the resort’s carbon footprint, locally sourced materials and ingredients are used wherever possible, from the wooden furnishings made on-site from naturally felled trees on the island to the locally grown ingredients used at the Las Rocas Bar & Restaurant. The onsite guided activities and excursions on and near the island — there are over 8 miles of hiking trails and seven accessible private beaches — that are included in the daily resort rates also emphasize a minimal environmental footprint. Guests can stay in one of Isla Palenque’s eight sumptuous Beachfront Casitas — romantic 650-square-foot bungalows that face the island’s largest beach, Playa Palenque — or choose among the Beachfront Villa Estates that include two Ocean Suites, three Jungle Rooms and a single Garden Room scaled with children and teens in mind. Rates at the Isla Palenque vary depending on the season. + Isla Palenque Images via Isla Palenque

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This private island resort in Panama promises sustainable luxury

MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple designs holiday retreats for an island community

October 23, 2019 by  
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Renowned for beautiful views, indigenous history and a famous golf resort, Ontario’s Bigwin Island will also soon be home to a new planned community spearheaded by MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects , a Halifax-based studio that won the bid for the project with their contemporary and eco-friendly proposal. The first three cabins of the 40-unit community have recently been completed and feature a locally sourced natural materials palette, an oversized roof reminiscent of Muskoka’s historic cottages and boathouses, as well as energy-efficient geothermal heating and passive ventilation systems. Located a couple hours north of Toronto in the middle of Lake of Bays, the cabins at Bigwin Island are part of an island revitalization plan set forth by property owner Jack Wadsworth, who decided to create 40 site-sensitive guest houses — ranging from 1,230 to 1,350 square feet — instead of a 150-room hotel. In keeping with their client’s desires, MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects began the design process by “listening to the land” and crafted three cabin typologies, each inspired by a different type of landscape on the island: “linear on the lake, courtyard in the woods, and pinwheel on the meadow.” Based on the design of Muskoka vernacular housing, each cabin will be assembled from a kit of parts that include a screened-in porch, a deck, a hearth, a great room, a sleeping box and a roof. Designed with minimal site impact , each cabin will also be oriented to take advantage of views as well as passive cooling strategies. In addition to using local materials and labor, the construction process will be kept simple due to the challenges of building on the island in winter between the fall and spring golf seasons. A geothermal heating system will draw heat from the lake and warm the cabins through the floors.  Related: Passive solar Martin-Lancaster House is wrapped in glass and cedar shingles “The ambition of this project transcends the individual guesthouses; Mackay-Lyons Sweetapple is bringing to Bigwin Island a vision of community,” explain the architects in a press release. “The buildings engage not only with the landscape, but with each other. They are sited in clusters, where their transparency and openness put them in conversational relationships.” + MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects Images by Doublespace Photography

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Rammed-earth walls make up a beautiful retreat hidden in the Zhejiang mountains

October 10, 2019 by  
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Hidden in the misty mountains of Zhejiang , a new eco-sensitive resort made from local materials entices visitors with spectacular views and laid-back charms. International architecture firm kooo architects designed the Retreat Village, which comprises a cluster of luxury suites, for their client Hangzhou Origin Villa Hotel & Resort in the Dashan Village in Zhejiang, China. Taking inspiration from the local vernacular, the architects used local materials and techniques, such as rammed-earth construction, to create a resort that blends into its surroundings. Completed over the course of two years, the new Retreat Village is located on a remote, rural mountain. Although most of the original village architecture was built from rammed earth walls using local soils, the architects decided to only use rammed earth for a portion of the new construction so as to keep the interior from feeling too dark and constrained. The earthen walls are complemented by a natural material palette of bamboo, red bricks, stone and carbonized wood. To reduce site impact, the architects used locally produced as well as recycled materials and carefully sited the buildings to follow the natural contours of the mountain. Each of the buildings point in different directions to preserve privacy and to maximize views. An indoor- outdoor living experience is also emphasized in the design. Moreover, the use of natural materials and careful siting help make the village disappear into the landscape. Related: MAD’s ethereal Yiwu Grand Theater will “float” on Zhejiang waters “There is no light coming from this lonely village’s surrounding at night, so one can feel sufficient brightness even with a minimum amount of lighting,” adds the firm. “We kept the lights that can illuminate the entire space uniformly, such as downlights, to the minimum, and used all-directional soft umbrella-like lights such as free-standing lamps and table lights throughout the space. These fixtures project soft arches of light and shadow, illuminating the seamless finish and rounded edges of the walls and ceilings. Wrapped with the warmth of light, the rooms feel more calming and comfortable.” + kooo architects Images by Keishin Horikoshi / SS

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Locally sourced materials make up a timber home that mimics its forest landscape

September 4, 2019 by  
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On the edge of the southern regional city of Ballarat in Victoria, Australian design practice Porter Architects has completed the Ballarat East House, a modern home that embraces the surrounding treed landscape with large windows and a materials palette of locally sourced Australian timber. Elevated off the ground to mitigate a tricky sloped site, the residence also emphasizes indoor-outdoor living throughout. Spanning an area of 200 square meters on a half-acre lot, the Ballarat East House is divided into two main pavilions — the northern pavilion houses three bedrooms while the southern pavilion contains the master bedroom and an open-plan living area — that are set on either side of an outdoor deck along with a recreational room in the middle. The home is wrapped in locally sourced Australian hardwood board and batten vertical siding to mimic the trunks of the surrounding trees. The cladding also has a three-dimensional effect that creates an attractive play of light and shadow throughout the day. The timber palette is continued in the interior, which includes locally sourced, recycled Australian hardwood floorboards as well as native hardwood joinery and furnishings. White walls, black metal accents and other materials, such as the travertine stone countertops and backsplash in the kitchen, help break up the use of timber. Tall glazed doors visually connect the living areas to the landscape, while a large outdoor courtyard protected from the elements serves as a second living zone. Related: A 1940s home gets a modern update with reclaimed materials “The two main living/private pavilions are defined by a dark stained Australian hardwood shiplap vertically clad entry/circulation area, enlivening the architectural experience from the hideaway laneway view,” the architects explained. “The passerby pedestrian is welcomed with an unassuming surprise in a neighborhood of common suburbia.” + Porter Architects Via ArchDaily Photography by Derek Swalwell via Porter Architects

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Locally sourced materials make up a timber home that mimics its forest landscape

Passive solar school in Indonesia celebrates the natural landscape

August 19, 2019 by  
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In the Indonesian city of Tangerang, Jakarta-based design studio RAW Architecture has completed the School of Alfa Omega, a new school that emphasizes a connection with the outdoors. Set on a former rice paddy, the project has been a challenging endeavor — not only was the first phase expected to be ready for occupancy just six months from the design commission, but the muddy site conditions and the tight budget of less than $1.2 million also posed concerns. By combining low-cost materials and design inspiration from the local vernacular with easy-to-follow modular designs, the architects were able to successfully complete the first phase in just four months and within budget. The School of Alfa Omega caters to 300 students ranging from preschool to high school and is divided into three levels of preschool, six levels of elementary school, three levels of junior high school and three levels of senior high school. For ease of construction, the architects designed modular classrooms of equal size that are arranged in clusters. Related: Cooling breezes blow straight through a low-energy brick house in Indonesia “The brief of the project was to design a school with a value where ‘every child is [considered] a genius’; to be functioned in a curriculum system that does not rely solely on academic scores,” the architects explained. “The school aims to explore all of the students’ potency — even of those laid outside the ‘formal education realms’ such as craftsmanship, applied art, ecological awareness, social sensibility, etc., hence it is also required the establishment of growing talent classes.” To mitigate the swampy conditions and risk of flooding, the architects elevated the steel-framed school on stilts. In addition to the use of steel and concrete for durability and strength, the architects turned to locally sourced materials to bring down costs and relate the building to its surroundings. Wavy walls of locally sourced red brick — found to be more sturdy than the linear form — add visual interest. A thatched roof of local bamboo with long overhangs help shade outdoor spaces. Tall ceilings, porous brick walls, balconies and large openings were also integrated into the design to promote natural ventilation and optimize natural lighting in the school. According to the architects, the materials and design help the building remain at a stable interior temperature of 27 degrees Celsius year-round. + RAW Architecture Photography by Eric Dinardi via RAW Architecture

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A massive green wall grows up the side of this luxury Italian hotel

July 9, 2019 by  
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On the banks of Italy’s spectacular Lake Como sits Il Sereno , a five-star hotel that not only offers top-of-the-line luxury, but also boasts sustainable features throughout. Milan-based Patricia Urquiola Studio designed the building with a palette of locally sourced natural materials and an eye-catching Patrick Blanc-designed vertical garden that grows up the side of the building. The designers’ attention to energy-saving elements and eco-friendly materials earned Il Sereno Climate House certification. Conceived as a contemporary spin on the rationalist-style Casa del Fascio by Giuseppe Terragni, Il Sereno celebrates the historical heritage of the lake and the natural beauty of the surroundings. As such, natural materials were used for construction and include locally sourced stone marble and timber throughout the sustainable hotel. Thorough site analyses informed the placement of the building and the operable facade, which allows for natural ventilation and lighting to reduce the hotel’s environmental impact. The lake is visible from every room in the hotel as well as from the common areas. “I was inspired by the color of the Lake, and its glistening water, the nature of the dramatic mountains, and the adjacent village of Torno,” says designer and architect Patricia Urquiola in a press statement. “The color palette is the lake. It includes green, light-blue, copper, grey and natural tones. For Il Sereno we used natural materials (stone, wood, wool natural fibers) for a sustainable style and timeless elegance.” Related: LEED Gold eco hotel in the Wine Country was built using reclaimed wood To reinforce the hotel’s connection with nature, the architects wrapped parts of the building in full-height glazing and balconies to create a seamless indoor/outdoor living experience and commissioned renowned green wall designer Patrick Blanc to create three artworks for Il Sereno. The largest vertical garden is mounted to the facade facing the northern lakefront to soften the structure’s appearance, while the other two artworks are found near the entrance on the south side. + Patricia Urquiola Studio Images by Patricia Parinejad

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