This modular, off-grid design can adapt to any landscape

April 27, 2020 by  
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DIY home design is a life-long dream of many, and today’s architects are making it easier than ever to build your own home without toiling for years. Genoa-based firm  TEKE Architects  has just unveiled the MU50, a modular  off-grid home  designed to be configurable to virtually any landscape. Using modules of prefabricated timber frames that can be connected in various layouts, the innovative design is meant to be incorporated into any landscape with minimal impact. The MU50 design is meant to be a feasible solution to sustainable and convenient modern  home design . According to the architects, a basic principle of the innovative home design was to create a modular, highly-flexible system that incorporates reusable and recyclable materials that would ensure minimal environmental impact across the board. The modular frames and enclosure panels, which are prefabricated off-site, are easily delivered on-site where they can be installed in just a few days, depending on size. Related: This ready-made tiny home can be shipped to any destination Part of the design includes a severe pitched overhang roof made out of three possible building materials, either wood, aluminum or copper. As one of the design’s many passive features, the roof offers several climate control features. First, the underside of the roof includes tight thermal insulation and waterproofed panels. Secondly, the large overhangs shade the interior spaces. The roof will also be installed with  solar panels,  which depending on the location and size of the home, should provide sufficient energy to power the entire house. The living space is designed to be an open plan that allows for optimal natural lighting and air ventilation. No matter what the size, the system’s modular pods allow for  maximum flexibility , meaning minimalists can create the tiny home of their dreams, and families can create larger spaces that are suited to their individual needs. This flexible system also allows homeowners to adjust their living space to their changing needs throughout the years. Additionally, the home can run off-grid in any number of climates or terrains thanks to several active and passive climate control features. The modular frames are designed to be elevated off the landscape to allow for air circulation below its base. With proper building orientation, custom windows with double-paned glazing, and piston-operated pine sunshades, the home’s interior is protected from harsh sunlight and heat. In terms of active sustainable systems, the home design is created to run solely on solar power, but additional clean energy-generating systems can be used as well, such as a water collection system. Additionally, ground source heat pumps and underfloor heating create optimal  energy-efficiency  for the beautiful home design. + TEKE Architects Via Archdaily Images via TEKE Architects

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This modular, off-grid design can adapt to any landscape

Volkswagen reveals plans for mobile electric car charging robot

January 27, 2020 by  
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As the number of electric cars continues to increase, the need for charging stations increases with it. Often, finding a charging station not only involves planning to be at the location before the car runs out of battery power, but also being able to pull into one of the (typically shared) spots to complete the actual charge. Volkswagen is developing a mobile robot that eliminates the need to plug into a charging port, bringing the charge directly to your vehicle regardless of which parking space you choose.  Using an app or V2X communication, the owner simply lets the portable charger know the car is ready for a boost. The robot, equipped with cameras, laser scanners and ultrasonic sensors maneuvers through the parking garage, dodging obstacles until it locates the vehicle. The robot pulls a trailer that holds a mobile energy storage device. Once delivered to the vehicle, the robot autonomously attaches the charging unit to the car, initiating the charge. At that point, the robot is free to deliver charging devices to other cars. When the car is sufficiently charged, the robot comes back to disconnect the charging station and return it to its charging dock.  Related: Mercedes Benz presents a luxury electric car The system is currently in prototype form, and a manufacturing date has not been set. However, Volkswagen has a history of electric car innovation that leads us to believe it’s only a matter of time before the charging station comes to the car rather than the car having to track down a plugin. “The mobile charging robot will spark a revolution when it comes to charging in different parking facilities such as multi-storey car parks, parking spaces and underground car parks because we bring the charging infrastructure to the car and not the other way around. With this, we are making almost every car park electric, without any complex individual infrastructural measures,” Mark Möller, Head of Development at Volkswagen Group Components, said. + Volkswagen Images via Volkswagen

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Mirrored outhouse disappears into a lush river valley landscape

November 13, 2019 by  
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In Australia’s Kangaroo Valley, Paddington-based design studio Madeleine Blanchfield Architects carefully crafted a freestanding bathroom that all but vanishes into its surroundings. Designed for minimal impact, the compact outhouse is wrapped in one-way mirrors to blend into the lush landscape. Its use of solar energy and gray water recycling helps reduce the building’s carbon footprint . Moreover, the mirrored building is elevated off the ground and can be easily assembled and disassembled with limited site impact. Built to service a small cabin for overnight stays, the freestanding bathroom is set on a privately owned hillside about 30 meters from the accommodation. Its secluded location helps to enhance the feeling of being immersed in nature. The mirrored facade camouflages the structure by reflecting the lush landscape. When the space is used at night, the interior lighting makes the bathroom visible from the outside; the building orientation and remote location ensure privacy. Related: Mirrored home in the woods is hidden in plain sight The bathroom contains a bathtub and shower at the center that look out to unobstructed views of nature in all directions to give guests the sense of bathing outdoors. The architects also equipped the building with sustainable technologies, including solar-powered lights and a gray water recycling system with septic tanks. The landscape was minimally altered, and the bathroom can be easily removed without harm to the site. “The client’s desire to create a haven that not only provided connection to the landscape but a place to truly escape and unwind was met through the design,” the architects explained. “By avoiding the temptation to create a visually intrusive folly, the brief for the outhouse was met both visually and experientially. The outhouse heightens the sense of place, makes one consider their location.” + Madeleine Blanchfield Architects Photography by Robert Walsh via Madeleine Blanchfield Architects

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Mirrored outhouse disappears into a lush river valley landscape

Controversial climate change-inspired skyscraper could become Czech Republics tallest building

October 18, 2019 by  
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Inspired by the apocalyptic imagery from climate change projections, sculptor David ?erný and architect Tomáš Císa? from the studio Black n´ Arch have proposed a visually striking skyscraper that’s sparked controversy with its inclusion of an enormous shipwreck-like structure. Dubbed the TOP TOWER , the project proposed for Prague rises to a height of 450 feet, which means that if built, the tower would be the tallest building in the Czech Republic. The project is led by developer Trigema who aims to create a multifunctional, LEED Gold high-rise that includes rental apartments, a public observation area and commercial uses on the lower floors. TOP TOWER has been proposed to be located near the metro station Nové Butovice on the new nearly one-kilometer-long pedestrian zone in Prague. This location is outside of the protected urban conservation zone and would be far enough away from the city center that it would not disrupt the historic city skyline. Taking advantage of its height, the building would offer a public observation area at the highest point of the building where visitors can enjoy a 360-degree panoramic view of Prague .  Rental housing will make up the majority of the mixed-use TOP TOWER, while offices, retail and a multifunctional cultural center will be located on the lower levels. Parking will be tucked underground. The rusty shipwreck-like sculpture integrated into the building will offer opportunities for outdoor spaces and additional landscaping. Related: Computer modeling informed the whimsical design of this experimental home “We have been preparing the TOP TOWER project for more than two years and the final version was preceded by eight other alternative solutions. During this time, we have collected and are still collecting suggestions from experts, state and local authorities, and of course the local public, whose representatives have already been and will continue to hold a number of participatory meetings,” says Marcel Soural, Chairman of the Board of Trigema a.s. Trigema estimates that the construction for TOP TOWER will begin in 2021 and take less than three years complete.  + TOP TOWER Images via Trigema

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Controversial climate change-inspired skyscraper could become Czech Republics tallest building

Geometric pavilion with an inverted living garden holds court in a public square in Annecy, France

September 27, 2019 by  
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Almost 10 years ago, New York-based Behin Ha Design Studio erected an incredible green-walled living pavilion made out of recycled milk crates in the heart of Governors Island. Now, the plant-loving designers are back at it, unveiling a beautiful, inverted garden pavilion in a public square in Annecy, France. Installed in the Notre Dame plaza in the old city center of Annecy, the 330-square-foot Living Pavilion is a modular system of dairy crates. Assembled in a three-sided geometric shape, the recycled milk crates serve as the framework for the inverted garden. The exterior shape of the Living Pavilion, with its hipped and gabled roof, was meant to pay homage to the historic buildings of Annecy. With three immense openings, visitors are invited to enter under the pavilion to enjoy the suspended, lush garden planted on the interior walls. Related: A tiny, 96-square-foot rustic pavilion brings the outdoors in The geometric design gives the structure the potential to become a public or private shelter that is open to fresh air yet protected from harsh elements. The crates that make up the structure were strategically planted with drought-tolerant Liriope plants, which are resilient to almost any type of climate and can naturally cool the interior. Like the original installation in Governors Island in 2010, the most recent version of the Living Pavilion uses multiple milk crates to create a planting system for the garden. The drought-tolerant plants are initially cultivated in the crates in an upright position. Once the vegetation has grown, the planted crates are then installed upside-down to form walls. At the end of the Annecy installation, the crates can be removed and cultivated in another environment. According to the designers, the modular system creates a full-circle lifecycle for the structure. The design ensures that the pavilion can be easily disassembled and reassembled in another location while protecting the plants during the transition, allowing for regeneration of the same pavilion year after year. + Behin Ha Design Studio Photography by Aurelien Vivier and Behin Ha via Behin Ha Design Studio

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Geometric pavilion with an inverted living garden holds court in a public square in Annecy, France

Yosemite camping site unveils series of ADA-compliant tiny cabins

September 20, 2019 by  
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Taking a vacation in a tiny cabin in a remote area of the world appeals to all sorts of people, but there’s one group who has been largely left out of the movement — people with disabilities. Thankfully, one forward-thinking firm is changing that with their sleek tiny cabin design that is accessible for all. Los Angeles-based firm, M-Rad has unveiled their new X-suite cabin, an accessible tiny retreat that combines universal design with sophisticated aesthetic. Built specifically for Autocamp Yosemite, a 35-acre glamping site in northern California, the firm installed five X- suite cabins on the edge of a small lake, surrounded by the breathtaking Yosemite landscape. The cabins are all designed to comply with the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). Related: Wheelchair-friendly tiny house proves universal design can be cool The 270-square-foot prefabricated cabins have wooden frames wrapped in  dark-hued metal rainscreens topped with metal roofs. Designed to be transportable, the cabins sit on top of steel chassis with wheels. This enables the cabins to not only be moved easier to another location, but also reduces impact on the landscape. The entrance to each cabin is through a wooden open-air deck that doubles as a ramp. Double-entry French doors that are wide enough for large wheelchairs lead into the interior living space. The interior of the cabins feature rectangular layouts, with a large open-plan living area and a kitchen. Ultra-large glazed walls flood the interior with natural light.  The bedroom, which has enough space for a queen-sized bed, not only has a massive floor-to-ceiling window, but an oversized skylight that allows for stargazing while drifting off to sleep. The kitchens offer all of the necessary amenities that are on a reachable level, as well as a small dining area on the interior. The open-air decks also feature enough space for dining al fresco while enjoying the incredible views. Although the cabins may seem to be a minimalist design, in reality, the cabins were purpose-built to be accessible for everyone without sacrificing on design. Large, spacious thresholds, as well as wide rooms, allow enough space for wheelchairs to turn around in. Additionally, the bathroom was built to adhere to ADA standards such as a shower with a handlebar and seat. Throughout the home, windows, doors, knobs, etc. are also ADA compliant. + M-Rad Via Dezeen Images via M-Rad

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This home made of broken bricks features a series of rolling green roofs

August 23, 2019 by  
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Mexico City-based architect Fernanda Canales has unveiled the Terreno House, a beautiful, green-roofed home that was designed with two opposing factors in mind. According to the architect, the house, which was partially constructed out of broken bricks , had to be both resilient against the severe climate and as open as possible to take advantage of the vast natural landscape that surrounds the building. Located in Valle de Bravo, an idyllic lakeside community just three hours west of Mexico City, the 2,100-square-foot home was designed to blend into its environment. Set on a mountain plateau, the house is surrounded by expansive green fields and forested land. Related: Green-roofed home in Poland is made out of reclaimed brick Although the location is known as a popular resort area, the region is infamous for its severe climate of soaring high temps . It also rains almost daily for six months of the year. Accordingly, the team was tasked with not only creating a comfortable home but also designing a structure that would be resilient to the area’s extreme weather. At the same time, the family wanted a vibrant space that would be open and closely connected to the landscape. The building was strategically designed to be an extension of its setting. A low-lying elongated structure, the home is topped with a series of rolling domed roofs surrounded by greenery . The structure’s rough exterior was built out of broken brick, which creates an earthy, natural aesthetic. To create ample open-air space, the designers added four courtyards in the project. These spaces create a seamless connection with the exterior surroundings as well as provide a system of natural air ventilation throughout the home. Inside, smooth concrete ceilings and wood walls and floors create a pleasant contrast to the rough exterior. Daylighting is emphasized through the inclusion of massive windows. + Fernanda Canales Via ArchDaily Photography by Rafael Gamo via Fernanda Canales

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This home made of broken bricks features a series of rolling green roofs

A vacant lot in New Orleans is converted into resilient and affordable housing for war veterans

July 2, 2019 by  
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New Orleans-based firm Office of Jonathan Tate has unveiled a modern residential complex for combat veterans and their families. Located in the Gentilly district of the city, the Bastion Community is comprised of 29 two-unit apartment buildings laid out specifically in a way to foster social interaction. Additionally, considering the area’s history for severe flooding, the development was constructed with several resilient features . Located on a formerly vacant lot that spans 6.4 acres, the Bastion Community is now a vibrant residential complex comprising 29 apartment buildings, each containing two units. Within the development, there are various one-, two- or three-bedroom options, ranging from 720 square feet to 1,200 square feet. Related: BIG completes low-income “Homes for All” project in Copenhagen Already known locally for creating modern but affordable housing complexes, the architects specifically designed the Bastion Community to be a “protected but inclusive and thriving live-work environment” for post-9/11 combat veterans and their families. The layout of the homes as well as the on-site community and wellness center were part of a strategy to create a strong sense of community for those who often feel isolated. The homes are uniform in their design, which includes pitched roofs, pale exterior tones and wooden fencing. All units were built to be adapted to be ADA accessible . Considering the location has a long history of flooding , resiliency was at the forefront of the design. All of the structures are elevated off the landscape via concrete piers to allow flood waters to flow freely under the buildings without causing harm. Additionally, landscaping and building strategies for filtering, storing and returning water to the soil were also incorporated into the design. In addition to their resiliency, the apartments were designed to be sustainable and durable for years to come. Tight insulation and high-performance HVAC equipment were used to cut energy costs, and there are tentative plans to install solar panels in the future. Each unit has high vaulted ceilings and operable windows to allow for natural air ventilation. + Office of Jonathan Tate Via Dezeen Photography by William Crocker and aerial photography by Jackson Hill

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A vacant lot in New Orleans is converted into resilient and affordable housing for war veterans

Architects to transform two old railway yards into eco parks in Milan

May 14, 2019 by  
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OMA and Milan-based Laboratorio Permanente have won a competition to transform two abandoned railway yards in Milan into eco parks that will act as “ecological filters” for the car-centric city. Titled Agenti Climatici (Climatic Agents), the master plan would use the natural, air-purifying power of plants and the filtering capabilities of water to clean and cool the environment while adding new recreational spaces for the public. The project is part of a larger effort to redevelop disused post-industrial areas around the periphery of the city. The Agenti Climatici master plan addresses two railway yards: the 468,301-square-meter Scalo Farini on the north side of Milan and the 140,199-square-meter Scalo San Cristoforo on the south side of the city. The designers have designated Scalo Farini as the “green zone” that will consist of a large park capable of cooling the hot winds from the southwest and reducing air pollution . Scalo San Cristoforo has been dubbed the “blue zone” after the designers’ plan to turn the railway yard into a linear waterway that will naturally purify runoff and create cooling microclimates. “In a moment of dramatic environmental transformation and permanent economic uncertainty, our priorities have changed,” said OMA partner Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli. “The most valuable currency is no longer ‘brick’ — the built — but rather the climatic conditions that cities will be able to provide and ensure for their citizens. The city of the 20th century, with its high energy consumption , must be overcome by reconsidering the principles that have marked urban development since the classical era.” Related: CRA grows a sustainable pavilion out of mushrooms in just 6 weeks For adaptability, only the public elements of the Farini park will be fixed — including the waterways, greenery and bridges — while the location of the buildings and their programming will be contingent on the city’s future economic development. The master plan also calls for Milan’s longest expressway bicycle lane alongside a new tram line and metro stations. + OMA + Laboratorio Permanente Images via OMA and Laboratorio Permanente

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Architects to transform two old railway yards into eco parks in Milan

Two abandoned 1960s buildings in the middle of a desert become a chic eco retreat

May 1, 2019 by  
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London-based practice Anarchitect has breathed new life into two stone buildings from the 1960s that had laid vacant in the United Arab Emirates’ Sharjah desert for years. Using the crimson landscape as inspiration, the firm converted the abandoned buildings into the Al Faya Lodge , a light-filled eco retreat that was built with a variety of resilient materials to withstand the remote area’s extreme temperature fluctuations. Set into the foothills of Mount Alvaah and surrounded by miles of desert, the boutique hotel  required a very strategic design that would enable the structures to be resilient against the harsh climate. According to Anarchitect founder Jonathan Ashmore, the location was challenging to say the least. “Desert conditions present extreme heat in summer with intense and prolonged sun exposure,” Ashmore said. “It is important to consider these factors when first designing the form and mass of the building and secondly the selection of suitable and robust materials, which go hand-in-hand.” Related: Off-grid eco-retreats reconnect you to serene nature in Brazil Using the existing frames of the old buildings (formerly a grocery store and cafe) as a guide for the layout, the architects selected a number of robust materials to create a resilient design that would stand up to the elements for years to come. Locally-sourced stone and concrete were chosen to create a heavy thermal mass, which would help keep the interior spaces at a comfortable temperature year-round. Additionally, using concrete and stone also protects the building from the harsh weather that often sees driving rain, sand storms and freezing overnight temperatures. In addition to these materials, the hotel was clad in a vibrant mixture of weathered steel and teak hardwood to add a refined industrial aesthetic to the design. Large floor-to-ceiling panels let in optimal natural light throughout the interior and provide a strong connection with the amazing setting found outdoors. While guests to the lodge can enjoy stunning views of the mountains and desertscape from the hotel’s dining area, reception room and outdoor fire pit, the rooftop terrace is the place to be at sunrise and sunset. All of the five guest rooms feature large skylights for stargazing. When looking for a little downtime from exploring the area, guests can also take in a luxurious soak in the open-air saltwater pool. + Anarchitect + Al Faya Lodge Via Archdaily Photography by Fernando Guerra via Anarchitect

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