6 impressive structures built around living trees

February 28, 2017 by  
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Treehouses hold a special magic. They hint at escape, and an opportunity to transcend the busyness of life; connect with nature. An example of man-made structures that harmonize with the environment , treehouses have inspired architects and designers around the world to build homes and offices that do the same. We’ve rounded up six examples of architecture influenced by treehouse design: four homes , one office, and one tearoom. All are designed around living trees , allowing inhabitants to breathe easy surrounded by greenery. Uncle’s House by 3 Atelier The living area of this light-filled home in Vietnam centers around a flourishing tree that is large enough for children to climb. The architects at 3 Atelier built this home for their uncle and his family, using materials reminiscent of the parents’ childhood homes. Not only does Uncle’s House inspire kids to engage with nature, they can even grow vegetables in the dirt around its base. Related: Snøhetta’s luxury cabin with Aurora Borealis views opens at Treehotel Inside Out House by Takeshi Hosaka One tree wouldn’t suffice for the Inside Out House by Takeshi Hosaka in Tokyo, Japan . From the outside, the cubic home is simple and modern. Inside, multiple trees and plants bring the outdoors inside. Sliding glass doors offer flexibility, and natural light permeates the home through skylights , creating a serene sanctuary in which humans and cats coexist. Symbiosis office by Cong Sinh Architects New developments are increasingly crowding out green spaces in the southern part of Hue, Vietnam. So Cong Sinh Architects designed Symbiosis, a peaceful office rooted in the environment in the midst of the bustling city . Expansive windows on both floors of the office overlook a green oasis full of vines and a tree. The shade from the greenery even helps regulate the office temperature. Tree House by A. Masow Design Studio A. Masow Design Studio unveiled astounding plans for the ultimate treehouse: an entire tree wrapped in a glass facade in Kazakhstan . A spiral staircase would allow the owner to move between four levels, circumnavigating the tree as they moved from floor to floor. The glass allows natural light to stream in and provides an unobstructed view of the surrounding woods. House in the Trees by Anonymous Architects This cantilevered Echo Park home takes the treehouse concept to new heights. House in the Trees by Anonymous Architects rests on a hillside overlooking Los Angeles , and was carefully constructed so as not to harm neighboring mature cypress trees, one of which extends through a bedroom in the home. Fire-treated Western red cedar siding, reclaimed chestnut floors, and walnut cabinetry add to the woodsy , natural feel of the cozy California dwelling. Bird’s Nest Atami by Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP A 300-year-old camphor tree in Japan now includes a tiny teahouse nestled among its branches. Bird’s Nest Atami, designed by Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP with the help of Takashi Kobayashi , is part of the country’s largest treehouse. Inspired by how crows utilize coat hangers in nests , Nakamura designed the freestanding teahouse to rest among the 22-meter-tall tree on light structural elements without harming the tree. The earthy interior also includes wood furnishings, inviting tea drinkers to relax in nature . Images via Quang Dam , © Koji Fujii by Nacasa & Partners Inc., Hiroyuki Oki , A. Masow Design Studio , Anonymous Architects , and Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP , by Koji Fujii/Nacasa and Partners Inc.

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6 impressive structures built around living trees

Affordable housing for disabled veterans marries wellness and sustainability in Los Angeles

January 17, 2017 by  
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Great architecture goes beyond building four walls—it’s about empowering individuals and building communities. That philosophy is embodied in the 2017 AIA award-winning project, Six Affordable Veteran Housing. Designed by Brooks + Scarpa , this beautiful LEED Platinum-certified project offers support services, rehab, and affordable housing to disabled veterans in Los Angeles’ MacArthur Park, an area with one of the highest population densities in the U.S. Unlike traditional shelter models, Six Affordable Veteran Housing was designed primarily around the concept of community by prioritizing large public areas over private spaces. The 42,500-square-foot complex is the first Skid Row Housing Trust project built outside of downtown Los Angeles and takes inspiration from the military term “I’ve got your six,” a phrase that refers to having someone’s back. “The organization of the space is intended to transform the way people live-away from a reclusive, isolating layout towards a community-oriented, interactive space,” say the architects. The SIX comprises 57 units of high-quality sustainable and affordable housing in a neighborhood that’s highly walkable, particularly to service-industry employers, but is typically out of the price range for disabled veterans. The units are stacked into four levels and each has balconies wrapped with a recycled wood screen overlooking the central courtyard. Every unit features ten-foot-high ceilings and large, strategically placed windows that let in ample natural light and cross ventilation. Related: Seattle teens build mobile tiny homes for local homeless community The project’s energy efficient design also sets the facility apart from most conventionally developed projects. The LEED Platinum -certified SIX was constructed using passive design strategies to optimize building performance, such as orienting the building for exposure to prevailing winds and adding windows that maximize day lighting. Concrete floors and walls double as thermal heat sinks, while double-glazed low-E windows minimize heat loss and gain. A large green roof and edible garden top the building and can be seen from below. + Brooks + Scarpa Images by Tara Wujcik

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Affordable housing for disabled veterans marries wellness and sustainability in Los Angeles

UK architect helps locals rebuild Nepal temple destroyed by earthquake

January 17, 2017 by  
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The 7.8 magnitude earthquake that battered Nepal in 2015 damaged 100 homes, killed three people, and devastated what many consider to be the country’s oldest Hindu temple in Changu Village alone. Slowly locals are rebuilding their beloved Changu Narayan temple with help from a British architect, who also helped restore Angkor Wat in Cambodia through the World Monuments Fund . Locals say the Hindu god Vishnu once appeared at Changu Narayan, the fifth century temple dedicated to the deity. Only priests ever entered the intricately carved wooden structure before the earthquake. When locals witnessed the devastation inflicted on the World Heritage Site by the natural disaster, they felt their lives had ended. But they didn’t give up hope, and began to rebuild. 61-year-old Gyan Bahadur Bhadal, who is one of a group of villagers maintaining the temple, told The Associated Press (AP), “I see now our world coming back alive.” Related: Shigeru Ban will reuse earthquake rubble to build Nepal relief shelters Architect John Sanday has loved Changu Narayan for decades, and told the AP he was very emotional visiting the site after the devastating earthquake, which damaged 600 historical monuments, palaces, and temples in Nepal. Out of those 600, Sanday decided he’d take on the temple as a project, and became a technical adviser for locals. He told the AP, “Sure, it’s peanuts, a little temple, so why is it so special? The detail. The grace. It’s one of the few World Heritage Sites that hasn’t been completely destroyed by development.” So far locals have painstakingly cleaned and made some repairs to the temple, but there’s still work to be done. The community needs to raise around $300,000 to complete the restoration initiative. Inspired by locals’ dedication, Sanday has already helped rebuild a guardhouse-sized shrine. Now he’s looking beyond the shrine to the temple, convinced the ancient building can be saved. Via The Associated Press Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Federal investigation find rampant sweatshop labor in L.A. factories

November 27, 2016 by  
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If you’ve been buying US-made clothes in order to avoid funding sweatshop labor, we have bad news for you. The Department of Labor announced earlier in November that a massive investigation of 77 Southern California garment contractors found widespread minimum wage and overtime violations, affecting major retailers like Forever 21, T.J. Maxx, Ross, Macy’s, and Nordstrom. In some cases, workers were being paid as little as $4 per hour.

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Federal investigation find rampant sweatshop labor in L.A. factories

LA architecture students design innovative houses for the homeless

November 4, 2016 by  
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Like many major cities, Los Angeles is currently in the middle of a housing crisis. Homeless populations are exploding, with encampments appearing on sidewalks, in parks, near overpasses, and along bridges through the city. While city officials are working on a ballot initiative to build 8,000 to 10,000 units to bring the homeless in off the streets, it could take years for those units to become available even if the measure passes. In response to the situation, students from University of Southern California’s School of Architecture have stepped up to create innovative new structures to shelter the homeless. The project is called the Homeless Studio , and it’s made up of 11 fourth year architecture students. Their solutions run the gamut from temporary shelters to expandable modular buildings. When the structures are complete, the students will deliver them to homeless people around the city, and an agency that supports the homeless in the San Fernando Valley will use their final project as a prototype shelter. Related: Brilliant sleeping bag transforms into a tent to provide shelter for homeless Rather than simply attending lectures by experts, the students have also done some intense on the ground research by meeting and talking to homeless people throughout the city. Organizations like Midnight Mission and Skid Row Housing Trust helped connect the students to real people, so they could better understand the day-to-day challenges their shelters would have to overcome. Some of the students used solutions they saw in practice on the streets – using reclaimed materials to create temporary shelters. Students Alexxa Soloman, Maria Ceja, and Belinda Park used scavenged shipping palettes, Ikea shelves, and pieces of plywood in their construction. Their classmates Jeremy Carman and Jayson Champlain took a different approach, creating a blue, rectangular box coated in fiberglass that expands outward to create sleeping and storage space. The designs are more than just a way for their occupants to stay warm and dry: they’re also a way to restore dignity to a population that too often has gone without it. Related: Homeless folks help feed their entire shelter with this flourishing rooftop garden For their final, the students are collaborating on the design for a temporary housing development for Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission . The agency plans to take the class’s plans, renderings, and full-scale prototype to help fundraise the final project. While a site hasn’t yet been selected, the plan complies with requirements for any commercial or industrial zoning. + The Homeless Studio Via Wired  

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LA architecture students design innovative houses for the homeless

Single cypress tree grows through a Los Angeles hillside home

October 31, 2016 by  
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Elevated off the ground and into foliage like a treehouse, The House in the Trees is cantilevered over a steep hillside and overlooks views of the valley. The 2,400-square-foot single-story building is wrapped in fire-treated Western red cedar siding and topped with an angled steel roof. The use of timber on the facade—and in the interior in the form of walnut cabinetry and reclaimed chestnut floors—helps the building blend into its wooded environment. Related: Contemporary ski chalet boasts gorgeous panoramic views and a low-energy footprint Large windows pour natural light into the interior, which is split into two portions: a two-bedroom main unit and a secondary unit with a kitchen, living room, office, extra bedroom, and bathroom. A wooden deck wraps around the living area to extend the building footprint to the outdoors. The mature cypress tree that grows through the home is exposed in the bedroom. “Waterproofing a tree in this situation proved to be very challenging but the system works to keep water out of the house,” write the architects. + Anonymous Architects Via Dezeen Images via Anonymous Architects

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Worlds largest thermal solar plant could be coming to Nevada

October 31, 2016 by  
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While thermal solar power plants have had a bit of trouble catching on in the US, solar energy company SolarReserve is hoping to change that. The company recently announced it’s hoping to build a 2,000 megawatt facility in Nevada called Sandstone. With a planned 10 towers and more than 100,000 concentrating mirrors, the plant would be the largest of its type anywhere in the world. It would overshadow SolarReserve’s Crescent Dunes plant , currently the largest in the US with 110 megawatts of capacity. The new report comes via the Las Vegas Review-Journal , which reports the plant would cost about $5 billion to build and would deliver enough power for 1 million homes–the same amount of energy generated by Hoover Dam. Its energy capacity would also put it solidly in line with many nuclear power plants which, in the US, generate anywhere from 479 to 3,973 megawatts. If this project is successful, it could prove once and for all that solar energy is competitive with more conventional power sources. Its size isn’t the only thing that makes the proposed Sandstone plant unique. It would also be only one of two in the US to store excess solar energy in a molten salt battery, allowing it to continue generating power overnight. Related: Revolutionary new solar power plant generates energy all day and all night At the moment, SolarReserve is looking at two potential sites to house the Sandstone plant, both on federal land in Nye County. The facility itself could range in size from 15,000 to 20,000 acres, and a decision is expected sometime in the next six months. After various criticisms faced by the Ivanpah solar plant in California, SolarReserve appears to be carefully considering the environmental and wildlife conservation impact of both potential sites. Via CleanTechnica Images via SolarReserve

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Architects envision carbon-sucking solar makeover for a busy L.A. freeway

July 11, 2016 by  
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Freeways don’t have to be so darn drab. Built in 1953 and expanded in 1971, the Arroyo Seco Bridge on Los Angeles ‘ 134 Freeway in Pasadena currently includes 10 traffic lanes. Its main purpose is to transport vehicles from Point A to Point B, but in the process it sends a huge amount of carbon emissions into the atmosphere and emits disruptive noise pollution. Michael Maltzan Architecture (MMA) and Arup Los Angeles designed a fix for the bridge, which includes a suite of solar panels and pile of carbon-sponging concrete. Their design transforms the bridge into a type of above-ground tunnel that MMA calls a ” new infrastructural overlay .” Drivers would still be able to see through the tunnel, but elements like “acoustically insulated walls” and “porous concrete ‘lungs'” would dramatically slash pollution . Arup estimates the insulated walls would cut noise by 65 percent, and the ‘lungs’ could capture 516,000 tons yearly of carbon dioxide. On top of the tunnel solar panels would provide clean energy for 600 homes and a rainwater collection system that would both water plants on the tunnel and add to Pasadena’s water supply. Related: Los Angeles approves $28 million FAB Park designed by OMA and IDEO Not only would the green freeway offer a more sustainable means of transportation, but could generate money for the city of Pasadena. MMA says the ” cost savings ” – which would be around $1 million – could be given to local schools. The green dream won’t become reality just yet; rather, it’s a vision of how aging infrastructure could fit into a sustainable vision for the 21st century. Caltrans, Los Angeles County, and Pasadena would need to work together to build the innovative freeway, though MMA doesn’t yet have an estimate for how much it would cost. But it would clearly offer huge benefits to local residents, and MMA says the concept is ” expandable “, such that it could be easily utilized on other freeways. + Michael Maltzan Architecture + Arup Los Angeles Via the Los Angeles Times Images via Michael Maltzan Architecture

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Architects envision carbon-sucking solar makeover for a busy L.A. freeway

Solar-powered recreational center in LA boasts a 7,800 square foot planted roof

June 24, 2016 by  
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The building is broken up into public and private areas by a large corridor that runs diagonally through the structure. This route forms the building’s spine and links the residential buildings of the Playa Vista community to the new Runway development to the east. Related: Solar-powered Hotel at Oberlin is first in US to be heated and cooled with geothermal energy The site is populated with palm trees, while the 7,800 square foot planted roof featuring drought-tolerant plant species helps maintain stable indoor temperatures. Parts of the roof surface not covered in vegetation are equipped with solar panels and a recyclable light-colored PVC membrane. Internal courtyards facilitate natural ventilation, with passive cooling systems harnessing coastal breezes to ventilate 75 percent of the building. + Rios Clementi Hale Studios Photos by Tom Bonner

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Solar-powered recreational center in LA boasts a 7,800 square foot planted roof

VW’s 10-year plan includes 30 new electric vehicles and a self-driving car system

June 24, 2016 by  
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On the heels of a report about the company’s $15.5B investment in an electric car battery factory, Volkswagen CEO Matthias Müller rolled out an ambitious 10-year plan to repair the company’s tarnished reputation following last year’s emissions cheating scandal. VW aims to launch 30 new electric vehicles by 2025 , which has to be the most outlandish goal a car company has ever announced. Yet, if any company is positioned to pull it off, it just might be this one. The company’s initiative, “Together – Strategy 2025,” outlines a shift in VW ’s focus, which many say is a deliberate and strategic move to distance the company from the $18 billion emissions scandal that put a damper on the car maker’s reputation. A court decision coming next Tuesday will determine exactly how much the company will pay directly to 482,000 customers, but VW has reportedly agreed to pay $10.2 billion (ranging from $1,000 to $7,000 per car owner, depending on the model’s age). Since Müller stepped into the chief executive role following the scandal, the company has made an enormous effort to reestablish itself as a leader in automotive innovations, up to and including green car technology. Related: VW promises world’s first mass market electric car In a recent press conference, Müller said the goal of the new initiative is “to learn from mistakes made, rectify shortcomings and establish a corporate culture that is open, value-driven and rooted in integrity.” VW had previously announced a goal to sell one million electric and hybrid vehicles annually by 2025, so this new initiative—as well as the news of a giant battery factory—lines up nicely with that. Volkswagen says it will work to develop a “competitive self-driving system (SDS)” that it can sell to other companies by the end of the decade. With VW’s home country of Germany planning to adopt a rule in 2030 requiring all new vehicles to be emissions-free, we know at least one place where the new VW models should sell like hotcakes. Via Engadget Images via VW

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