A Brisbane cottage is sustainably updated to gracefully age in place

March 20, 2020 by  
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In Brisbane’s leafy suburb of Paddington, Australian architectural practice Shaun Lockyer Architects has created a contemporary and sustainable addition that provides a striking contrast to the original cottage it sits beside. Dubbed Sorrel Street, the concrete-clad extension is a deliberate counterpoint to the local vernacular while respecting the scale of the neighborhood. Sustainability and the client’s desire for limited maintenance also informed the design, which features green roofs, substantial thermal mass, LED lighting and low-E glass throughout. Completed in 2016, Sorrel was commissioned by clients who wanted their suburban home reworked to better meet the needs of their children, one of whom has limited mobility. As a result, the architects altered the sloping site to create a flat lawn that opens to the northwest side. The need for flat land also led the architects to place the contemporary addition to the north of the cottage so that the main living spaces could flow out to the level garden. Related: A 1920s cottage gets a new lease on life as an urban barnyard house “The project explores the juxtaposition between historical context and contemporary architecture within a broader subtropical paradigm,” Shaun Lockyer Architects explained. “In a somewhat controversial decision, the call was made to ‘leave well enough alone’ and make a clear distinction between the small, original cottage and the new work, keeping their respective personalities distinct.” The renovated, predominately single-story home is centered on the kitchen and comprises all the main sleeping and living areas on the upper level, while only the garage, storage, offices and media room are on the lower floor. To minimize energy use, the home is equipped with deep eaves and strategically placed windows and skylights for cross-flow ventilation and natural lighting. The insulating green roof and thick concrete walls help maintain stable indoor temperatures, while timber flooring and furnishings lend a sense of warmth throughout. + Shaun Lockyer Architects Photography by Scott Burrows via Shaun Lockyer Architects

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A Brisbane cottage is sustainably updated to gracefully age in place

This prefab weekend retreat made from shipping containers can be ordered online

December 16, 2019 by  
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Mexican architects Rodrigo Alegre and Carlos Acosta of the Mexico City-based firm STUDIOROCA have recently launched VMD (Vivienda Minima de Descanso), a new prefabricated housing system for delivering luxurious weekend retreats with reduced ecological footprints. Available to order and customize online, VMD can be fully set up and habitable in just 99 days. Each unit, which can be built as a one- or two-bedroom home, is constructed in a factory using shipping containers and outfitted with ecological materials, smart home technologies and high-end furnishings all created by Mexican designers. Created to answer the question, “What would you do with less?” the compact VMD was designed with a focus on sustainability and the “idea of retreating from noisy, polluted, stressful urban centers.” As a weekend getaway , the VMD also emphasizes low maintenance and an easy lock-up-and-go design. All technologies, from the interior lighting system to video surveillance, can be controlled remotely. Related: Solar-powered cliffside home is a hidden retreat with stellar ocean views The prefabricated homes are manufactured in a climate-controlled factory in Mexico using a shipping container structure clad in Viroc for a non-toxic facade that’s also resistant to fire and water damage. The interiors are dressed in eco-conscious materials, such as Bolon’s Elements Oak flooring made from up to 33 percent recycled materials , and appliances, like the low-flow bathroom fixtures by Helvex. Floor, wall, countertop and bathroom finishes can be customized to meet different style preferences. Customers will also have options to make their VMDs self-reliant by installing solar panels, rainwater harvesting systems and incinerating toilets. From order to delivery, the VMD should take just over three months to complete, along with a week needed for installation on site. Due to the strength of the structure, the house can be placed in almost any location accessible by a large trailer and crane, with no complex foundations necessary and minimal building permissions required. The VMD was launched at Inédito as part of Design Week Mexico in October. Fulfillment of VMD orders will begin next year. + VMD Images via Taller Escape

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This prefab weekend retreat made from shipping containers can be ordered online

Net-zero Maine house is designed to blend into the forest with age

February 28, 2019 by  
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When the owner of a beautiful natural site in Falmouth, Maine tapped Portland-based architectural studio Kaplan Thompson Architects to design his house, it was clear from the beginning that the forested surroundings would play a major role in the design. Not only did the architects use a predominately timber palette to bring the woods indoors, but the two-story home was also engineered to produce all of its own energy to reduce impact on the environment. Dubbed the Blackwood House, the net-zero dwelling is fitted with a variety of renewable energy systems and low-maintenance materials for long-term sustainability. Topped with a slanted roof, the Blackwood House takes on a shed-like appearance with a utilitarian vibe that’s strengthened by the exterior surface materials. Combined in what the architects call a “complex textile pattern”, the low-maintenance and cost-effective facade includes weathering steel, fiber cement board (Viroc), and black-stained cedar (Maibec), all of which will develop a natural patina over time. An open timber-framed carport completes the utilitarian look while keeping the design within budget. “Unlike contemporary modern spaces that are cold and sterile, this house is modern and sleek yet roughhewn,” the architects say of the two-story house. “With fine woodworking alongside the clean lines of the interior structure, raw and cooked come together in harmony. Taking into consideration the beauty of the surrounding natural forest, this design places focus on exposed materials in their most basic form. Timber beams throughout the living areas bring the woods inside and provide structure to the rooms. Hidden storage and flowing spaces combine with large, strategically placed windows to allow the forest and natural light to take center stage.” Related: Kaplan Thompson Architects Unveil Super-Efficient Harborview Townhomes in Portland, Maine Completed in 2017, the Blackwood House spans an area of 2,775 square feet yet feels even larger thanks to full-height glazing that frames views of the outdoors, while a treehouse -like feel is achieved in the second floor balcony. Careful construction and triple-glazed windows ensure that the light-filled, open-plan interior maintains comfortable indoor temperatures year-round. Photovoltaic panels mounted on the roof of the carport power the energy-efficient home. + Kaplan Thompson Architects Images by Irvin Serrano via Kaplan Thompson Architects

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Off-grid Glass Cabin is built of recycled materials on reclaimed Iowan prairie

August 30, 2018 by  
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Indianapolis-based architecture and design studio atelierRISTING recently completed the Glass Cabin, a family retreat that operates off the grid with minimal site impact. Designed and built by the architects on land belonging to a sesquicentennial farm in northeastern Iowa, the property is elevated off the ground to minimize disturbance of the grasslands and floodplain. Built in the shape of a wood-framed pole barn, the low-maintenance building is powered with solar energy. Set in a clearing in the woods next to the Wapsipinicon River, the Glass Cabin derives its name from  full-height low-E insulated glazing that wraps around its northern facade. Barn-inspired timber doors slide over the northern glass front for security when the retreat isn’t used. Flanked by outdoor terraces, the elevated home includes two bedrooms, one bathroom with a composting toilet, a great room, kitchenette and screened porch within 1,120 square feet. Indoor-outdoor living is embraced throughout the light-filled abode, as is natural ventilation. Natural and reclaimed materials were used throughout the off-grid home. Western Red Cedar was used for the structural framing, barn doors, exterior and interior siding and exterior decking because of its natural resistance to moisture, insects and fire. The timber was left untreated and will develop a silvery gray patina over time to match the aged barns nearby. Natural cork was used for the flooring, while the wall cabinets were custom-built from cedar. “While primarily a three-season retreat, a Norwegian designed wood stove provides warmth for the holidays,” the architects added. Related: A net-zero modern farmhouse kicks off a sustainable community in Texas To minimize construction waste, standard lumber sizes were used. The Glass Cabin, oriented on a north-south axis, relies on passive solar strategies to keep its energy footprint at a minimum. Energy efficiency is also secured with highly efficient mineral wool and rigid insulation, achieved by using R-30 floors, an R-20 roof and R-15 walls. The white metal roof also helps to minimize heat gain. + atelierRISTING Via ArchDaily Images by Steven & Carol Risting

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This plant-covered house in Indonesia has a "second skin" that helps keep the interior cool

April 2, 2018 by  
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Nestled in a densely populated residential area of West Jakarta, Indonesia , the Pedongkelan-YN house provides a quiet tropical oasis in the midst of the surrounding city. In order to shelter the occupants from strong direct sunlight, architecture firm HYJA designed the house with a protective layer covering its glass surfaces. This layer works in tandem with the building’s swimming pool to keep the interior shaded and cool. Because the house occupies a west-facing corner lot, it receives copious amounts of sunlight in the afternoon. The architects responded to this issue by placing easy-to-maintain wooden grilles over the majority of the building’s glass openings. Related: Incredible daylit house in Vietnam is filled with living trees A swimming pool  sits next to the residence, with the pool terrace occupying the middle of the room and dividing the interior space into two parts. Glass surfaces dominate this part of the house, visually connecting the outdoor and indoor areas and allowing cooled air to reach the furthest corners of the residence. The bedroom balcony floor features a hollow iron plate that facilitates continuous air flow. In addition, the wood, iron and stone walls combine with the surrounding green landscape to give the impression of a modern tropical house . + HYJA Via Archdaily Photos by Ernest Theofilus

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This plant-covered house in Indonesia has a "second skin" that helps keep the interior cool

Off-grid Fossil Discovery Exhibit camouflages into the Texan desert

March 28, 2018 by  
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Big Bend National Park isn’t just a place of stunning landscape beauty—the Texan park is also paleontological paradise. To tell the story of the area’s rich fossil history, Texan architecture studio Lake | Flato designed the Fossil Discovery Exhibit, a series of interpretive pavilions that draws inspiration from the surrounding topography. The unstaffed, low-maintenance building operates off grid and draws energy and water from solar panels and a rainwater catchment system. Created as a series of open-air pavilions , the Fossil Discovery Exhibit takes visitors on the Big Bend Fossil Discovery Trail: a sequential walkway that covers four paleontological eras from the Early Cretaceous period to the Cenozoic Era. “The complex story of Big Bend’s remarkable landscape can be brought to life through its fossil history and the artifacts found within the park,” wrote the architects. “These characteristics create a unique opportunity for interpretation and education; the trail will describe the world-class diversity and length of Big Bend’s fossil history while directly referencing the breathtaking surrounding landscape.” Related: Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum is sustainably built from CNC-milled beetle-kill timber Elevated on concrete piers, the building is clad in perforated weathering steel for low maintenance and camouflage so as to avoid disrupting views from the road and trails. Interior partitions guide visitors through the spaces, the highlight of which is the Gallery of the Giants where massive bones and recreated skeletons are on display. Solar panels power the buildings, while the angled roof, which evokes a winged dinosaur, is optimized for rainwater collection. + Lake | Flato Via Dezeen Images by Casey Dunn

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Off-grid Fossil Discovery Exhibit camouflages into the Texan desert

Crimson Bluffs Home uses passive solar and cooling to weather the extreme Montana seasons

March 5, 2018 by  
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  The environmentally friendly Crimson Bluffs House in Montana offers stunning 360 views of the Missouri River and the surrounding mountain ranges. Conceived by Greenovision , the house stays naturally warm in the harsh winters and cool in the sweltering summers thanks to its passive solar and passive cooling design. The house combines heating approach of passive solar and radiant hydronic floor heating – a strategy Greenovision calls Sun Smart Radiant Heating. Other green strategies include passive cooling design, ample amounts of natural light , high insulation values, and advanced framing. This home was constructed using locally sourced and recycled materials which are durable, long-lasting, and low maintenance . Large façade openings offer amazing views of the surrounding landscape. Related: Couple builds tiny A-frame cabin in three weeks for only $700 The Sun Smart Radiant Heating captures the sun’s energy on sunny days and has two added benefits. The radiant system distributes the sun’s heat uniformly throughout the home and also produces heat during long stretches of cloudy days or extreme cold. This dual heating method is not only incredibly energy efficient , it relieves any worries homeowners may have about living in a home that is heated with passive solar alone. + Greenovision

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Crimson Bluffs Home uses passive solar and cooling to weather the extreme Montana seasons

This beautiful home in Portugal was inspired by a child’s drawing

October 31, 2017 by  
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This gorgeous monolithic house in Portugal , designed by Filipe Saraiva Arquitectos , uses modular design to stay true to the simplicity of a child’s drawing of a house. Its geometry and materials not only reflect the archetypal image of a home– they also allow for optimal energy performance and lower maintenance costs . The house sits on a sloping piece of farmland in Ourém, Portugal, with a difference in height of approximately 15 feet (4.5 meters) from one end to the other. It is surrounded by natural landscape and overlooks the historic Castle of Ourém. Related: This charming home in Portugal is insulated with soil The design of the residence mimics a child’s drawing of a house, composed of five lines that represent walls and roof, while rectangular shapes represent doors and windows. In line with this simplicity, the main approach to the construction is based on prefabricated elements such as black concrete panels . The black concrete panels not only help the project blend into the surroundings, but it also reduce maintenance costs. + Filipe Saraiva Arquitectos Photos by Joao Morgado

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This beautiful home in Portugal was inspired by a child’s drawing

Modern low-maintenance cabin is a seamless extension of the Puget Sound landscape

December 6, 2016 by  
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This modest yet stunning cabin overlooking beautiful views of Washington’s Puget Sound is a triumph of modern, environmentally sensitive design. Seattle-based MW works designed the Case Inlet Retreat for clients who had hiked, camped, and paddled on the 20-acre site for years and wanted a home that would forge a strong relationship with the land. The low-maintenance cabin beautifully delivers on the clients’ requirements and has since won several American Institute of Architects awards, including a 2016 National Honor Award. Tucked away on a forested slope along the eastern edge of the Case Inlet, the compact retreat is a quiet and low-maintenance sanctuary that blends into the landscape with large glazed surfaces and a natural materials palette. A weathered cedar -clad volume anchors the building in the north and houses the master bedroom en suite with the bath located in a wood-lined, light-filled room overlooking views of the outdoors—a space the homeowners describe as their “favorite spot to enjoy a glass of wine at [the] day’s end.” A stairway next to the bathroom leads to the basement, where a guest bedroom, bathroom, mechanical room, and storage room are located. Related: Element 1 is a modern prefab island retreat that frames views of Puget Sound In contrast to the mostly opaque sleeping volume, the living spaces are wrapped in glazing for a transparent effect. A concrete cantilever juts out over the edge to the west, projecting the open-plan living room, kitchen, and dining area towards panoramic views of the tree canopy and water. The kitchen sits on an Ipe wood deck that seamlessly extends the building footprint beyond sliding glass doors and into an outdoor meadow bathed in afternoon light in the south. A broad timber-clad flat roof, accessible via a staircase, tops the cabin and offers homeowners the chance to immerse themselves in the evergreen canopy. + MW works Images via Jeremy Bittermann

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Modern low-maintenance cabin is a seamless extension of the Puget Sound landscape

Spahaus and Trihaus are “ready-to-live” homes tucked in a Canadian forest

July 23, 2015 by  
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