An indoor-outdoor home in Colombia is remodeled with local reclaimed wood

September 29, 2020 by  
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Located at the top of a mountain in Colombia’s Calandaíma River Valley, Casa Volcanes is a stunning home that promotes indoor-outdoor living and natural materials . Martínez Arquitectura kept the project budget low by choosing local and handmade elements in its redesign. Eighty percent of the woodwork for the home was reclaimed from demolition deposits in nearby Bogotá. Dark materials are used both for economic value and to highlight the raw sensation of the building’s relationship with its environmental surroundings. The architects chose handmade chircal brick to continue the home’s theme of blending seamlessly into the forest. Its location in Anapoima, just two hours from Bogotá, provides incredible jungle views and serene scenery that are enhanced by the locally sourced building materials. Related: This Costa Rican treehouse is built entirely out of locally sourced teak wood “Its hot tropical climate is a discovery of sensations and surprises. From time to time, you can feel the extreme humidity of the fog, the torrential rain and the blizzards that scare, as well as the dry periods of high temperatures, which suggest fires,” said Marisol, owner of Casa Volcanes. “The delight of the air and the insatiable sound of cicadas and frogs, of birds and insects inviting you to stay, are always a fundamental part of this marvelous environment.” Originally, the plot had a one-level construction, typical for a home in the Colombian coffee zone. Casa Volcanes, though it revolved around a communal space with picturesque windows surrounded by railings, had rudimentary and barely functional amenities. The owner wanted to keep the magical, organic feel of the place while updating the space to provide a more contemporary functionality. The kitchen is remodeled with a cobblestone floor, a new opening to the south and more space for social gatherings. The rooms themselves now act as semi-open spaces with mobile doors that allow them to be extended into the gardens. The designers kept the high ceilings and rustic lattices to respect the essence of the house, but painted the exterior a darker shade to create a reduction in thermal sensation and complement the stone rainwater pond. The existing railings are shortened to make their presence less obvious yet still harmonious to the property. + Martínez Arquitectura Photography by Carlos Alberto Martínez Valencia, Jesús Fiallo and Ana María Díaz Parra via Martínez Arquitectura y Fiallo Atelier

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Student designs inflatable bamboo greenhouses for sustainable farming

September 1, 2020 by  
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University of Westminster Master of Architecture (MArch) (RIBA Pt II) student Eliza Hague has proposed an eco-friendly alternative to the plastic-covered greenhouses commonly found in India. In place of the polythene sheeting that is typically used to cover greenhouses , Hague has created a design concept that uses shellac-coated bamboo. If applied, the weather-resistant and durable bamboo-shellac material would give the greenhouses a beautiful, origami-like effect and cut down on the excessive plastic waste generated by polythene sheeting. Created as part of her school’s Architectural Productions module that emphasizes biomimicry in designs, Hague’s shellac-coated bamboo greenhouse proposal follows her studio’s focus on challenging unsustainable architectural structures with nature-inspired alternatives. Polythene sheeting is currently the most popular greenhouse covering material in India. However, it needs replaced every year, which leads to excessive plastic waste. Related: 3-hectare desert farm in Jordan can grow 286,600 pounds of veggies each year Hague minimizes the environmental footprint of her design proposal by using locally sourced bamboo and natural resins extracted from trees. The paper-like bamboo covering is coated with shellac resin for weather-resistance. Hague also took inspiration from the Mimosa Pudica plant in redesigning the greenhouse structure, which would be built with collapsible beams and “inflatable origami hinges” so that the building could be flat-packed and easily transported. Once on site, the greenhouse would be inflated with air, covered with the bamboo-shellac material and fitted with expandable black solar balloons that would sit between the infill beams and cladding for the hinges to promote natural ventilation.  “The tutors in Design Studio 10 encourage you to analyse what it means to be truly sustainable in architecture, rather than integrating sustainability as a generic requirement which is often seen throughout the industry,” Hague said to the University of Westminster. “This helped to develop my project into something that challenges the suitability of widely used materials and current lifestyles.” + University of Westminster Images via University of Westminster

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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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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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