Yurt-inspired visitor’s center in China blends into its exceptional surroundings

February 9, 2018 by  
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This gorgeous visitor center in China was inspired by Mongolian yurts . Architecture firm HDD combined locally sourced stone and wooden beams to create a multi-functional space where local children can play and read. The Mulan Weichang Visitors Center also offers overnight accommodations and a great spot for astronomy enthusiasts to observe the night sky, all nestled within the stunning Mongolian grasslands. The building is located in the northeast of Hebei province, an area connected to inner Mongolia grasslands where ancient Chinese emperors used to hold autumn hunting festivals. Blending into its grassy surroundings, the building resembles the traditional Mongolian yurt. This layout creates a series of round, semi-public spaces that fit perfectly with the modern lifestyle. Related: A Firsthand Look at the Magnolia 2300 Yurt – the First Energy Star Home in British Columbia The middle of the library is a sunken living space, and the kitchen and dining area located off to the side. Large windows fill the interior with natural light and offer views of the landscape. This openness toward the exterior dominates every corner of the interior, including the bathroom, where a freestanding bathtub sits in front of another large window. Related: Trakke Transforms Ancient Yurt into a Packable Round House That Pops Up Anywhere for the Everyday Adventurer The architects used local materials including old stone and used wooden beams in order for the building to blend seamlessly into its natural surroundings. The main structure of the building is steel framing, combined with triple layered low-e glass panels, while the exterior wooden frames double as an efficient shading system. + HDD Architecture Via Contemporist Photos by Shengliang Su

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Yurt-inspired visitor’s center in China blends into its exceptional surroundings

Idyllic ecolodge tucked into remote Vietnamese mountainside is made of locally-sourced granite

January 15, 2018 by  
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Located in a remote region in northern Vietnam, the Topas Ecolodge could just be the ultimate off-grid getaway . Set in an idyllic location with stunning views of the lush green mountainside, the sustainable complex offers 33 one-bedroom bungalows constructed from local white granite quarried from the surrounding mountains. The lodge is located in the remote village of Sapa in northern Vietnam, deep in the Hoang Lien Son mountain range. The area is quite popular for tourism and many people come to visit the traditional hill tribe villages found in the area. In the past, visitors to the region would stay in the villages, but as tourism grew, the area was in dire need of a sustainable lodging option that would not take away from the idyllic surroundings. Related: Bolivia’s Ecolodge del Lago takes inspiration from traditional Lak’a Uta architecture The Topas Ecolodge was designed to provide rustic, but comfortable lodging that blends into the landscape. Situated atop two cone formed hills, the project’s construction was based on sustainable principles in order to create as low impact on the environment as possible. The 33 one-bedroom bungalows were all made out of locally-sourced granite quarried from the nearby mountains. Additionally, the complex has an innovative wastewater facility that was designed to avoid pollution of the surroundings. Additionally, the goods and products used in the lodge are all found locally. Created as a wellness retreat , thee bungalows have no TV and no internet. Visitors can spend their time hiking or biking through the mountainside and when they’re ready for a bit of relaxation, the infinity pool offers breathtaking views of the mountainside. Additionally, there is an onsite spa that specializes in the traditional Red Dao herbal bath. + Topas Ecolodge Via Uncrate

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Idyllic ecolodge tucked into remote Vietnamese mountainside is made of locally-sourced granite

New satellite paves the way for full-color, full-motion video from space

January 15, 2018 by  
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British company Earth-i just launched a new prototype satellite that paves the way for the “world’s first full-color, full-motion video satellite constellation.” CARBONITE-2 is a test version of the the Vivid-i commercial satellite constellation, and its imaging system “is designed to deliver 1m resolution images and color HD video clips with a swath width of 5km.” CARBONITE-2 (which the Earth-i team calls VividX2) blasted off from the Indian Space Research Organization ‘s Satash Dhawan Space Center aboard the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle late last week. Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) manufactured the technology demonstration satellite. In their statement on the launch they said it “will demonstrate a low-cost video-from-orbit solution using Commercial-Off-The-Shelf technologies.” Related: Teen creates world’s lightest satellite and NASA is sending it to space An Ultra High Definition camera on CARBONITE-2 can snap high-resolution images and capture up to two minutes of video. The satellite weighs around 220 pounds, and it will orbit 314 miles, above the planet, moving at around 4.3 miles a second. European Space Agency Earth Observation Programs director Josef Aschbacher said in a statement, “The launch of VividX2 is a significant next development of Earth-i’s constellation, and welcomed by ESA. The Vivid-i Constellation will provide capabilities we haven’t seen before including full-color video, and an assured stream of high-quality data from space to help improve both our planet and lives on Earth.” The company said such images and videos could help governments or businesses monitor assets, track activities or changes, and even “predict future events with more certainty.” Earth-i has already ordered the next five satellites for Vivid-i from SSTL. Via Engadget , Earth-i , and Surrey Satellite Technology Limited Images via SSTL/Beaucroft Photography

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New satellite paves the way for full-color, full-motion video from space

Recycled bedsprings transformed into an art pavilion at Dubai Design Week

November 23, 2017 by  
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Old copper bedsprings have been transformed into a surprisingly chic exhibition space at this year’s Dubai Design Week. Fahed + Architects designed Pavilion Abwab (“doors” in Arabic) to house a curated selection of 47 designs by design talent from the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia (MENASA). The cloud of mesh metal made of locally sourced materials takes inspiration from nature and showcases the firm’s commitment to environmentally friendly practices. The temporary Abwab pavilion consolidates all the designs into a single space, unlike Dubai Design Week’s former practice of commissioning independent pavilions for six MENASA countries. Designers from 15 different MENASA countries were represented this year at the exhibition that was split into eight categories: interpretation, mimicry, intersection, geometry, tactility, artisanal, nostalgia, and re-use . Related: Beautiful timber pavilion unfolds like origami Fahed + Architects sourced the used bedsprings from local waste management company bee’ah . A series of interconnected posts supported the cloud of mesh. “Set against a large mass of buildings within the d3 corridors, the structure’s silhouette will be reminiscent of impetuous ocean waves, coral clusters in a reef and clouds in the sky, referencing the practice’s environmental commitment,” reads a statement on Dubai Design Week . “The pavilion will distill daylight to create patterns on the exhibited works and on the ground.” + Fahed + Architects Via Dezeen Images by Photo Solutions

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Recycled bedsprings transformed into an art pavilion at Dubai Design Week

This rammed earth school in Ghana school cost only $13,976 to build

November 13, 2017 by  
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This amazing school in rural Ghana was built in 60 days for just $13,976. The new InsideOut School replaces the only school in the area, which was destroyed by strong winds. Architects Andrea Tabocchini & Francesca Vittorini designed the non-profit project and built it with the local community and volunteers from 20 different countries. The team had to work without electricity, which meant they had to build the structure by hand. They moved 58,000 kg of and crafted materials available on site. Local soil was compacted to create staggered walls, while a lightweight wood structure lifts the roof to allow zenithal light into the building. The skylight also facilitates natural ventilation. Related: Rammed earth school in Vietnam blooms like a colorful jungle flower The result is an affordable school that can be replicated anywhere with a similar climate. Via Plataforma Arquitectura Lead photo by Andrea Tabocchini

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This rammed earth school in Ghana school cost only $13,976 to build

This cozy off-grid cabin shows beauty on a budget in upstate New York

November 8, 2017 by  
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Manhattan studio JacobsChang shows off beauty on a budget with their completion of the Half-Tree House, a one-room cabin tucked into the forests of upstate New York’s Sullivan County. Located on a remote 60-acre site, the 360-square-foot structure operates off-grid and was built by amateur weekend builders with a limited budget of $20,000. Despite the challenging steep slope, the architects and builders achieved an elegant result that dramatically juts out into the landscape. JacobsChang kept construction costs for the Half-tree House low by sourcing most of the materials on-site , including the timber cladding made from locally felled pines. To minimize site work and use of retaining walls , the architects anchored the building on one side with simple concrete footings and then used the existing trees to support the other side with a Garnier Limb anchoring system. Related: Prefab tiny cabin perched on a granite rock to minimize environmental impact Traditional Scandinavian pine tar was used to give the cabin a dark facade, which contrasts with the whitewashed interior. Three floor-to-ceiling pivoting windows open the cabin up to the outdoors, letting in ample natural light and ventilation. Say the architects: “The space is heated with a highly efficient Jotul wood stove and power, if needed, is drawn from a portable generator. The entire construction was performed by its two owners, and in the true spirit of New England barnraising, with a team of dedicated weekend support.” + JacobsChang Via ArchDaily Images © Noah Kalina

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This cozy off-grid cabin shows beauty on a budget in upstate New York

Artist turns recyclable cardboard into strikingly lifelike human sculptures

November 8, 2017 by  
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That Amazon delivery box you’ve chucked in the recycling bin might not mean much to you, but in the hands of artist James Lake cardboard takes on almost limitless possibilities. The talented UK sculptor has been working with cardboard for 20 years, manipulating the medium into human sculptures and other objects full of expression and detail. James, who describes cardboard as a “brilliant material to work with,” challenges viewers to see the extraordinary in things often dismissed as mundane. When James was 17, he developed bone cancer that ended with the amputation of his right leg. Despite, or perhaps because of, these struggles, he developed a passion for the arts that he’s channeled into sculpting cardboard. “When I first started making sculpture I decided to use cardboard as my medium of choice,” says James on his website . “I wanted a medium that can be used to sculpt beyond traditional material and without the need of an arts studio. The end result was the fine crafting of an inexpensive common place and recyclable material. I manipulate cardboard into taking a form which is vastly beyond its original function as a container to transport food and commercial goods.” Related: Modular Wikkelhouse wrapped in 24 layers of cardboard snaps together in a day In addition to his personal work and commissions, James’ work has been displayed in schools and as part of community projects. His use of cardboard goes beyond its cost-effective advantages; James believes the use of a ubiquitous material makes his sculptures more accessible “and blur the boundary between high art and low art.” As a self-described “diversity/inclusion artist,” James regularly holds art workshops with disadvantaged members of the community and provides resources to local schools and colleges. + James Lake Via Colossal

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Artist turns recyclable cardboard into strikingly lifelike human sculptures

Portable fog-harvesting AQUAIR harvests clean drinking water from thin air

October 19, 2017 by  
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Water scarcity doesn’t just affect those in arid climates—areas in humid tropics also lack access to freshwater sources. National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) students in Taiwan tackle these water issues with AQUAIR, a portable fog-harvesting device that pulls potable water out of the air. Designed for use in remote mountainous areas in tropical latitudes, AQUAIR can be easily assembled with the addition of locally sourced materials with future aims of open source production. Though AQUAIR’s water collection system has widespread uses, NCKU design students Wei-Yee Ong, Hsin-Ju Lin, Shih-Min Chang, and Marco Villa created the workable prototype in response to Honduras’ water crisis. As the second poorest nation in Central America, Honduras is home to a large number of subsistence farmers and rural communities that lack access to clean water due to drought and groundwater contamination—issues also felt in rural mountainous Taiwan. Like most fog harvesting systems, AQUAIR collects water with a mesh waterproof fabric stretched across a bamboo structure to maximize airflow. The key to AQUAIR’s design is the fan and small centrifuge that use gravity—a 30-kilogram weight is attached to the structure—to draw collected water vapor down a tube and into a bucket. The collapsible structure can be assembled by hand, while locally sourced rocks and bamboo can be used for the weight and tensile structure, respectively. Related: Bowl-shaped roofs harvest rainwater and promote natural cooling in arid environments The design students plan to take their working prototype to Honduras in February where they’ll work together with the local community. “We also want the project to be easy to build and assemble, so the local people can easily access the parts or create their own versions of AQUAIR,” said Marco Villela. “We do not want the parts to be 3D printed, because the material is not strong enough, so the best and cheapest option would be to create a mold and use plastic or ABS injection techniques. In regards to the gears, we want to get more sturdy and durable gears, so while the cheaper parts of the system can be replaced, the gear box can last for as long as possible. The project is designed to be easy to assemble and disassemble, also if any part is defective, it is easy and cheap to replace.” AQUAIR recently received a Design Mark for innovation in environmental and humanitarian issues as part of the 2017 Golden Pin Concept Design Award . + Golden Pin Concept Design Award

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Portable fog-harvesting AQUAIR harvests clean drinking water from thin air

Go way off-grid in this beautiful bamboo hut in tucked into Bali’s lush mountains

September 25, 2017 by  
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Adventurous travelers looking to go way, way off grid will love this beautiful bamboo haven located deep in Bali’s mountainous region of Gunung Agung. The Hideout Bali Hut , designed by Jarmil Lhoták and Alena Fibichová, sits adjacent to a peaceful riverbank and is just steps away from picturesque rice fields, letting guests experience the Balinese countryside. The Hideout Bali Hut is made completely out of locally-sourced bamboo. Jarmil Lhoták and Alena Fibichová used this sustainable material to create an incredibly durable structure with a low construction footprint. The bamboo used in Hideout’s construction is from the nearby Karangasem Mountains and it’s considered to be one of the best types of bamboo for building. Thanks to its growing height – usually about 800 meters above sea level – the flesh of the bamboo stalks have lower sugar levels, which results in a greater density and durability. Before construction, the stalks were treated with smoke and non-toxic products to increase their longevity. Related: Beautiful bamboo building withstands floods and storms in Vietnam The A-frame hut is supported by six pillars and topped with a thatched roof . The triangular shape of the house led the architects to install large triangular windows on the upper level, which provide stellar views while flooding the interior with natural light . The rest of the house is closely connected to its natural surroundings, and the garden features an outdoor shower surrounded by overhanging trees. + Hideout Bali Via Archdaily

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Go way off-grid in this beautiful bamboo hut in tucked into Bali’s lush mountains

Timber house extension with prefab elements immerses owners in Stockholms outdoors

August 7, 2017 by  
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Windows are much more than just panes of glass in Anders Berensson Architects’ latest project in the Stockholm archipelago. The architects recently completed Look Out Lodge, a house extension built of locally sourced materials that functions like a standalone cabin. Custom-made prefabricated windows were added in the second phase of the project and define the areas for sleeping and working, all the while immersing the owner in nature. Clad in timber inside and out, Look Out Lodge was built on-site using local materials and building techniques. The two window additions—a Sky Tower and desk window—were prefabricated on site and slotted into place after the primary structure was completed. The small house extension is just large enough to accommodate a sleeping area and workspace. “Another goal with the design was to redefine the idea of a window as a flat readymade glass piece into an architectural element that creates its own space with a clear focus towards the outside,” wrote the architects. “This goal led to the design of a sky tower one can crawl into when being in bed totally dedicated to the sky and one corner window with a desk inserted to it that creates a work space on the inside and table for flowers on the outside with a clear focus and direction to the outside field.” The architects designed the Sky Tower to give the homeowners the countryside luxury of falling asleep beneath a starry sky. Topped with a round skylight and lined with spruce , the Sky Tower wraps around a custom-built bed and provides the perfect space to read during the day and for stargazing at night. The exterior draws on the local tradition of jigsaw facades and is punctuated by a pattern of native fauna and flora including large animals, amphibians, birds, flowers, and fish. Related: Apple Headquarters is finally complete and it’s an adorable treehouse The Desk Window prefabricated element is a corner unit that frames views of a wildflower meadow, one of the most beloved features of the Stockholm archipelago. The desk unit features a solar shade and a red terra-cotta concrete slab with holes for flower plants on the outside of the window, while a curved birch plywood tabletop with a round cut-out for sitting is located on the interior. Holes drilled into the desk are made for different purposes, including ventilation, cables, lamps, pencils, and even for pencil sharpening. + Anders Berensson Architects

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Timber house extension with prefab elements immerses owners in Stockholms outdoors

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