Architects transform an old hay barn into a stunning minimalist home

February 28, 2017 by  
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OFIS Architects have converted an old hay barn in Slovenia into a gorgeous living space. The barn was originally used to house cattle on the first floor and store hay on the upper level, but had been left empty for years. To convert the space into a comfortable loft space without sacrificing the building’s local vernacular, the architects were determined to use as much as the existing structure as possible. The Slovenian countryside is full of decrepit barns that serve as symbols of the country’s rural lifestyle. To pay respects to the local vernacular, the architects made impressive strides to use what they could of the barn’s original materials . Related: Architects transform 18th century barn with seamless contemporary extension Surprisingly, the renovation team was able to maintain almost all of the external wooden cladding and concrete roof slates. A few strategic renovations were made to include windows and an opening for the front porch to let in natural light to the home, and a ramp that previously led animals into the barn was also fixed to serve the same purpose for the new, human inhabitant. https://youtu.be/cBDAeyO7WC0 Inside, the home has an open floor plan with minimal furnishings and exposed wooden beams. The interior floors, walls and furniture are covered in locally-sourced spruce panels, resulting in a homey cabin feel. The open living and dining area make up the main volume, and a raised bedroom was installed in the back. The kitchen, sauna, fireplace and bathroom are all strategically placed out of sight behind a wall of sliding vertical planks to further open the living space. + OFIS Architects Via Ambienti TV Photography by Tomaž Gregori?

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Architects transform an old hay barn into a stunning minimalist home

Famous swimming pigs in Bahamas found dead after consuming ‘wrong food’

February 28, 2017 by  
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A pod of swimming pigs has delighted tourists in the Bahamas for decades, but several of them were recently found dead. Wayde Nixon, who owns some of the pigs, said they appear to have eaten food they aren’t accustomed to. The tragedy has drawn criticism of irresponsible tourists who often feed the animals human food, including alcohol like rum or beer. About 20 swimming pigs once frolicked in the Exuma Cays, according to the Bahamas’ tourism website . Swimming alongside the animals and photographing them may be harmless, but Nixon said people have also tried to ride on top of the pigs or give them alcohol. He told The Nassau Guardian, “We had them pigs there almost 30 years, and never has this happened before, but now we are going to have to regulate it. Right now it’s blowing out of proportion with people, anybody bringing food there, anybody doing what they [want to] do.” Related: Yoda the Piglet Escapes Slaughterhouse, Finds Love and Safety He blamed their deaths on someone giving them bad food, but Bahamas Humane Society president Kim Aranha said it could have been an accident, and the animals could have consumed something poisonous. She told The Independent, “It could be malicious but I don’t really see why anyone would go out of their way to hurt those lovely animals. I know there are a lot of silly sailors that go and feed them alcohol to try and get them drunk but that’s not to mistake them with the tour operators based out of Nassau who have treated them with excellent care.” Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources V. Alfred Gray said the government will work to prevent tourists from feeding the pigs, such as through a boundary line so visitors could still see the pigs but wouldn’t be able to feed them. He said his department is working with the Ministry of Tourism to implement a safeguard for the remaining 15 or so pigs. Via The Nassau Guardian and The Independent Images via Pixabay and cdorobek on Flickr

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Famous swimming pigs in Bahamas found dead after consuming ‘wrong food’

Estrade Residence adapts to rocky hillside with locally-harvested materials

January 30, 2017 by  
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The gorgeous Estrade Residence adapts to the rocky, steep topography of a lake shore in Quebec , and offers breathtaking views of the surroundings. Canadian design studio MU Architecture design the house using natural and locally sourced materials and created a multitude of spaces and terraces that embrace the site. The main idea was to highlight the peculiarities of the site and integrate nature into the design of the house. This resulted in a staggered structure that includes several terraces that establish a strong dialogue with the surrounding landscape. Thick walls made from rocks extracted during excavation create a spine of the project that extends outwards, protect the apartments on the ground floor, and help establish a direct connection between the interior and exterior spaces. Related: Modern meets rustic in the Hemmingford House built from natural materials The different volumes are gradually revealed as visitors climb an aerial and magisterial staircase which connects all levels of the house. Open spaces dominate the ground floor bathed in natural light, with a double-sided fireplace located in the center of the common room adding warmth to the place. This area extends the kitchen to the outside via a veranda which stretches perpendicularly to the natural ridge. Natural cedar cladding of the upper volumes complements the stone walls and gives the residence both a rustic and modern feel. + MU Architecture Via v2com Photos by Ulysse Lemerise Bouchard (YUL Photo)

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Estrade Residence adapts to rocky hillside with locally-harvested materials

Haiti renovation project boosts community using local labor and materials

January 27, 2017 by  
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Nothing warms our design-loving hearts like a project built by and for communities, and with local resources to boot. Working pro bono, Thrive Architecture teamed with nonprofit organization Building Goodness Foundation and local workers to expand an existing Center of Hope Haiti school and orphanage just outside of Hinche. Not only is the project socially meaningful, but environmentally-conscious as well. The project, which was completed in October, 2016, included a series of new facilities for an existing school and orphanage run by The Center of Hope Haiti (COHH). As the funding allowed, the construction team was able to build four new buildings to create much-needed space for the educational complex. Related: Earthquake-resistant orphanage is a welcoming ray of hope in Haiti The entire project followed BGF’s construction scheme, which includes using a team of skilled craftsmen and trade professionals along with local unskilled and semi-skilled laborers. The entire group works on the project from start to finish, from site planning and concept design to construction, allowing the communities to create a capable, self-sustaining labor force. The layout for the school included a new “sheltering landscape” built on the highest elevation possible in order to offer additional protection during the storm seasons . The team was also careful to protect two existing Mango trees that offer shade from the tropical heat. Related: Architectural Association School of Architecture bamboo workshops in Haiti teach post-disaster construction techniques From the beginning of the project, the construction plan consisted of using conventional Haitian construction techniques, including the use of traditional Haitian “parging”, which was left unpainted. Locally-sourced materials made up a good part of the project, including quarried stone that wraps around each of the buildings’ exteriors. Additionally, locally-sourced steel pipes were used as the tie-downs for the roofs, offering solid protection from strong winds. To reduce the school’s energy usage and costs, the buildings mainly depend on natural daylight, but LED lighting is installed throughout the buildings. All of the buildings were constructed with an extended roof, which double as shade and shelter from the harsh summers. As for the project’s energy conservation strategy , the exterior walls have low operable windows on the courtyard side of the buildings designed to optimize natural air ventilation. For insulation, the walls were built with lightweight Ubuntublox made from repurposed Styrofoam trays that were cleaned, shredded and sewn into rice bags by women in Port-au-Prince. + Thrive Architecture + Building Goodness Foundation + Center of Hope Haiti Images via Thrive Architecture and Tom Cogill

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Haiti renovation project boosts community using local labor and materials

Yi She Mountain Inn is a serene retreat built with local materials

January 27, 2017 by  
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Just a mere hour outside of Beijing lies Yi She Mountain Inn, a tranquil off-grid retreat tucked into an expansive mountain range. The inn, which was designed by DL Atelier and built with locally-sourced materials , offers a firm sense of simplicity in lieu of the typical luxurious amenities, offering an “environment designed to inspire humility, tolerance, enthusiasm and other beautiful emotions.” The inn was built with locally-sourced brick and wood, but includes a number of green pockets to integrate nature into the design. A lovely green roof coveres the buildings and a vertical brick wall is covered in climbing vines and wild flowers that bloom in springtime. The courtyard is filled sunlight and has natural ventilation, making it the perfect atmosphere for socializing. Related: Pine-clad V Lodge is a bold, minimalist retreat nestled within the Norwegian landscape The main spaces inside the spacious compound are meant to be communal, where interaction between guests is the norm. At the heart of the retreat is an open-air kitchen, which leads out on to a graveled patio. For indoor socializing, there is a large family-style dining table under an inverted wooden roof . Of course, for those who desire a bit of solitude, there are plenty of private nooks and crannies for quiet contemplation. Five guest rooms are found on the east side of the inn, each with its own distinct design and spectacular views of the mountains . + DL Atelier Via Archdaily Photography by Sun Haiting

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Yi She Mountain Inn is a serene retreat built with local materials

Sleep in sustainable luxury inside this eco-friendly jungle treehouse

January 25, 2017 by  
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Travelers looking to indulge in a different perspective of the beautiful Yucatán coastline will do well by ascending the eco-friendly Treehouse at Papaya Playa Project . As the newest addition to the luxury resort’s 85 casitas and cabañas, this hotel room nestled in the heart of the jungle offers luxury with an environmentally friendly twist. Elevated on stilts to minimize site impact , the Treehouse was built of locally sourced materials and recycled wood using age-old Maya construction techniques. The Papaya Playa Project is a resort that stretches across 900 meters on the Caribbean coast in the Mexican town of Tulum, around 130 kilometers south of Cancún. Like all of the resort offerings, the recently unveiled Treehouse is ecologically built with local materials such as thatched palapa roofing, wood-and-plaster composite walls, and bamboo window coverings. Unlike most of the cabañas, however, the Treehouse is removed from the coastline and instead offers a retreat deep in the verdant jungle though views of the azure Caribbean Ocean can still be enjoyed from its panoramic windows. Related: Eco-friendly resort in Australia mimics the surrounding sand dunes “Sustainability means life for future generations and integrity for the current one,” says Emilio Heredia, owner of the Papaya Playa Project. “Elevating the structure encourages the growth of jungle plants around the treehouse and ensures the building does not interfere with nature. We wanted to show the utmost respect to all the wildlife living in the jungle when building the treehouse.” Experiencing sustainable luxury in the 35-square-meter treehouse won’t come cheap however—one night at the Treehouse can set you back $1,400 for two. + Papaya Playa Project

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Sleep in sustainable luxury inside this eco-friendly jungle treehouse

Galapagos beach shelter shows off the versatility of renewable bamboo

January 23, 2017 by  
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Bamboo makes sense no matter where you use it. The Scarcity and Creativity Studio built this minimalist bamboo beach shelter in just two weeks, after all the commissioning details were sorted out. Located on the Playa Man in the capital of the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador , the structure was built with locally-grown bamboo to ensure a versatile, flexible and renewable landmark for the local community to use. The project is part of a larger initiative to improve beach facilities in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the capital of Galápagos Province located on San Cristóbal, the easternmost island of the archipelago. The shelter, which provides shade and open air showers to users of Playa Man, was built in two weeks using locally-sourced bamboo, wire ties and concrete stoppers. Related: This solitary lookout shelter is a bridge between ancient civilization and modern life The team arrived in Galapagos to find that the The Municipality of San Cristobal, where they were supposed to build a new shade shelter and facilities, cancelled the project. They decided to use the four weeks to find a new home for the project, approaching several local institutions. Out of four proposed projects–a bridge, yoga training facility, police tower and shade shelter–they opted for the latter and reused the bamboo they had already purchased. Hopefully, this project will start a local, if not global trend of building with this strong and sustainable material that replenishes itself in only four years . + The Scarcity and Creativity Studio Via  Archdaily

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Galapagos beach shelter shows off the versatility of renewable bamboo

Sustainable eco huts built on stilts in an idyllic French pine forest

January 20, 2017 by  
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A series of beautiful eco lodges gently meld into an idyllic pine forest in southwestern France. Designed by French firm Patrick Arotcharen Architecte , the small timber huts that make up the Les Echasses Hotel were constructed with locally-sourced timber on stilts. Hovering over a private lake, the development creates a harmonious connection between the built and natural environment. The hotel complex is made up of seven individual lodges situated on four hectares in the middle of a pine forest. The design of the wooden huts was meant to create a “contrasting homology” with the natural landscape. Built on stilts, each of the structures has a large open-air balcony that allows for incredible views. Related:25 prefab eco-suites pop up at ViVood’s adults-only Landscape Hotel in Spain Further solidifying the close relationship with its environment, the wooden cabins were built with as many locally-sourced materials as possible. Maritime pine sourced from the surrounding Landes Forest was used to clad the buildings around a steel frame. In addition to the beautiful setting, guests can enjoy an onsite restaurant and swimming pool, as well as local activities like golfing and surfing. There is also an orchard and plenty of open green space to enjoy a peaceful walk. The hotel is currently building an eco-friendly tree hut to view the beautiful area from a birds-eye view. + Patrick Arotcharen Architecte + Les Echasses Via Archdaily Photography by Mathieu Choiselat and Vincent Monthiers

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Sustainable eco huts built on stilts in an idyllic French pine forest

Italian farmhouse transformed into exquisitely sustainable summer retreat

January 17, 2017 by  
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Minimalist sophistication may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of Italian farm houses, but designer Andrew Trotter’s first architectural project, Masseria Moroseta, is full of surprises. Renovated with locally-sourced materials, the contemporary Italian summer retreat, located on the coast of Puglia, is a stunning example of how to infuse sustainable elements into historic structures without forsaking the original character. Tucked into five idyllic acres of olive groves, the renovation process spanned three years. Using local materials and guided by traditional techniques, Trotter focused on retaining the masserie’s (‘farm’ in Italian) original character as much as possible. A subtle contemporary aesthetic was carefully infused into the home’s open layout. Using the central courtyard as the heart of the retreat, the process naturally geared towards building a “kinship of community” through open communal spaces such as the rooftop terrace and sea-facing veranda. Of course, there are plenty of quiet nooks for those seeking solitude. Related: 700-Year Old Italian Farmhouse Renovated with Delicate Filigree Screens The relaxing retreat now consists of six guest rooms, some with private gardens. As for the project’s energy needs , the renovation called for enhancing the natural efficient nature of the original structure and the implementation of modern technology. Vaulted ceilings and stone floors were used to keep the interior cool on hot days and cross ventilation windows help with natural air circulation. Thick walls were installed with recycled insulation to reduce the dependence on artificial cooling and heating. Solar panels provide the building’s energy and heating needs. Going local was also part of the guest amenity strategy; 100 percent of the food and drink served at the retreat are either produced on site or sourced from the local community of farmers, artisans, and manufacturers. Guests can enjoy over 40 types of fruits and vegetables from the organic garden, roasted on a 200 year-old stone oven and drizzled with the retreat’s own stone-pressed olive oil. + Andrew Trotter Via Ignant Photography by Salva Lopez Andrew Trotter, masseria moroseta, solar power, green design, italian farmhouse renovation, summer retreat puglia, sustainable renovation, sustainable design, organic farms, recycled insulation, reclaimed materials, locally-sourced materials, eco-friendly designs, beach retreats

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Italian farmhouse transformed into exquisitely sustainable summer retreat

Green-roofed music center built of natural materials harmonizes with the landscape

January 13, 2017 by  
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Tranquility is at the heart of the handsome Sunbeams Music Center , where music is used as therapy to soothe the souls of the disadvantaged. Designed by Newcastle-based studio Mawson Kerr for the Sunbeams Music Trust charity, the music therapy center visually harmonizes with its bucolic lake landscape in Cumbria, England. The building is sensitively placed on the landscape and incorporates environmentally friendly design including photovoltaics , locally sourced natural materials, and passive design principles. The 600-square-meter Sunbeams Music Center caters to disabled children and adults with a variety of music therapy rooms. The building includes four such rooms as well as recording studios, an exhibition space, concert hall, and administrative offices. To minimize site impact , the architects shaped the building along the landscape’s natural contours, which resulted in a building’s horn-like shape. “The building is designed as a home and advert for the amazing work Sunbeams do working with disadvantaged members of society,” writes Mawson Kerr. “Bringing music into the building was on of the key drivers alongside harmonising the building with the natural surroundings and wider environment.” Related: Green Covered Taipei Music Center by Mario Bellini Architects The building was largely constructed from locally sourced timber and features a glue-laminated timber structure, cedar shingles, and exterior oak slats. Skylights punctuate the building’s green roof . The music center was also built with ground-source heat pumps and sheep wool insulation. + Mawson Kerr Via Dezeen

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Green-roofed music center built of natural materials harmonizes with the landscape

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