Modern prefab retreat in Italy takes in panoramic alpine views

April 29, 2020 by  
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Perched atop a hill in Aosta Valley’s highest municipality in northwest Italy is the newly completed House in Chamois, a modern, prefabricated home by Torino-based design and build firm Leap Factory . As with all “Leap Houses,” the home’s entire design and construction process was managed by the Leap Factory team and was constructed with a modular system built of natural, recyclable materials to allow for maximum flexibility. All of the components provided by Leap Factory for the House in Chamois were also designed and produced in Italy.  The House in Chamois was created for Barbara and Giorgio, a duo with a deep appreciation for the outdoors. Used as a base for exploring the alpine landscape, the two-story home echoes the traditional vernacular with its gabled shape but is undeniably contemporary as defined by its streamlined form, minimalist design and full-height glazing. Its position above a main road turns the house into a new landmark for the village and has become a local attraction for visiting hikers. Related: LeapHome unveils sustainable, super-efficient Frame prefab As a ‘Living Ecological Alpine Pod’ (LEAP), the House in Chamois was designed to be environmentally friendly. The use of prefabrication helps minimize construction waste, and the installation process was done with minimal site impact. The structure is also “hyper secure” and engineered to resist earthquakes, hurricanes and other extreme climate activities. The modular nature of the home also makes it modifiable. As with all Leap Houses, the House in Chamois was also designed with integrated furniture and finishes. “With its minimal shapes and spaces full of light, the house shows incredible attention to details, lines and materials,” the architects explained. “The layout of the rooms, furnishings and technical systems are fully integrated to give life to spaces where one can fully express their personality and live in harmony with their surroundings.” + Leap Factory Photography by Francesco Mattuzzi via Leap Factory

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Modern prefab retreat in Italy takes in panoramic alpine views

This recycled metal jewelry is inspired by our world

April 29, 2020 by  
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Raised in the countryside of South West England, creative artist Emma Aitchison has developed a jewelry line inspired by and respectful to nature . Furthermore, Aitchison wanted her unique designs to act as a symbol for environmental awareness and to provoke conversations about protecting vital resources on the planet. While Aitchison offers a line of handmade classics, she excels at giving old jewelry new life . This often means turning an antiquated family heirloom into something modern and personal or redesigning a broken piece into something striking. Each product is inspired by and named after our world, from the Current ring and Wave necklace to the popular Polluted bracelet and Magma earrings. Related: This jewelry is made with upcycled gold from Dell computers Sustainable practices have always been at the heart of the company. Emma Aitchison is based in the U.K. and has made a concentrated effort to partner only with other local businesses. This keeps transportation costs for materials and production low and reduces emissions. All items are packaged using eco-friendly filler that is reusable and recyclable. Perhaps the most notable nod to the planet is the company’s dedication to using only recycled gems. That means no virgin gems are mined or created in a lab for these necklaces, bracelets, earrings and rings. Instead, Emma Aitchison uses gems from old jewelry, including pieces already owned by customers. All silver necklaces are also made from 100% recycled metal. The company maintained carbon neutrality throughout 2018 and 2019 with these decisions plus its commitment to carbon offsetting. Every successful business looks to the future, but Emma Aitchison’s list of company goals looks different than most. It aims to continue streamlining supply, production and delivery in an eco-friendly way. For example, although the current gold-plating is done in London at a sustainable company, Ella Aitchison hopes to improve this practice by transitioning to solid gold that can be Fair Trade-certified and recycled. The company hopes to become zero-waste , too. In addition to eco-friendly packaging, delivery will employ bike couriers in the local area and carbon-neutral shipping companies elsewhere. A future studio update even includes recycled materials, solar panels and wind power to further reduce Emma Aitchison’s overall impact on the planet. During the coronavirus pandemic of 2020, the company has vowed to remain loyal to suppliers who are unable to provide products at this time. Instead, Emma Aitchison is continuing sales with the inventory it has in stock and is taking pre-orders for shipments once it can restock. It is also offering a 25% discount during this time. + Emma Aitchison Images via Emma Aitchison

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Solar-powered timber home in Chile embraces ocean views

April 15, 2020 by  
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Earlier this year, Chilean architecture firm Cristobal Vial Arquitectos completed Casa Rural #01, a solar-powered holiday home oriented for views of the Pacific Ocean and optimal passive solar conditions. Located just outside the coastal town of Matanzas in Navidad, the building was designed for a reduced environmental footprint, from the use of elevated foundations that minimize site impact to the rooftop solar panels that meet all of the home’s electrical needs. Set atop hilly remote terrain high in the pine-studded mountains, Casa Rural #01 marks the first home to be constructed within a new housing development. Conceived for a single family, the modestly sized building embraces the outdoors with its framed views and material palette. The structure is built entirely of dimensioned wood with structural insulated panels (SIPs) and is topped by a metal butterfly roof with solar panels.  Inside, Casa Rural #01 measures 60 square meters and is organized as three modules, all of which open up to an exterior west-facing terrace . The house includes three bedrooms, an open-plan living room with a kitchen and dining area, and a bathroom. The interior spaces are minimally dressed and wrapped entirely of timber with the roof timber elements exposed.  Related: This elevated prefab home in Chile takes in striking volcano views “The proposed volume is proposed longitudinally in favor of the slope,” explains the architects in a project statement. “That is why a modulation of three separate volumes is solved, which organize the public, private (children) and private (adults) program. The separation of these volumes is done through two cuts that allow having the north-south domain of the land in which it is located. In order not to lose the continuity of these, a broken gable roof is proposed, as an envelope, which seeks to dialogue with the existing slope and at the same time marks what is the circulation space within it and the opening towards the views.”  + Cristobal Vial Arquitectos Images via Cristobal Vial Arquitectos

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Solar-powered timber home in Chile embraces ocean views

A welcoming healthcare center in New Delhi follows passive design principles

May 1, 2019 by  
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New Delhi-based architecture and interior design firm VYOM has completed the Dental Care Centre, a recently opened healthcare facility in New Delhi that offers much more than a teeth cleaning. Designed to follow passive solar principles, the light-filled facility immerses patients in a spa-inspired environment with views of nature from every room. A natural materials palette also helps tie the bright and airy building to the landscape. Built to embrace nature, the Dental Care Centre was carefully laid out on a linear site so as to avoid removing any mature trees. The thoughtful design not only reduced site impact , but also helped maximize access to shade while reducing heat load on the structure. The shaded areas also informed the team’s decision to add an outdoor deck and outdoor seating for patients and visitors, while bamboo screens provide privacy to the staff quarters. Views of the preserved canopy are swept indoors through large glazed openings and include clerestory windows , walls of glass and skylights. The most dramatic opening can be found at the heart of the Dental Care Centre, where an open-air courtyard is punctuated by a square fishpond enclosed in glass on four sides. A raised wooden roof with deep overhangs helps mitigate glare from southern sunshine while allowing natural daylight to flood the interior. Related: Light-filled dentist clinic shows how good design can calm patient fears “Addressing the functional, medical requirements while always keeping the focus on positive patient care has resulted in a scheme where the colors and materiality harmoniously enhance the spatial quality,” the architects explained of the healthcare facility, which is dressed in off-white walls and timber accents. “The Dental Care Centre is a singular and exclusive design that enhances the levels of patient care, while mitigating patient stress levels by giving them an environment which is close to nature, dynamic, cheerful and full of natural light .” + VYOM Photography by Yatinder Kumar via VYOM

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A welcoming healthcare center in New Delhi follows passive design principles

Congress reports U.S. will lose $54 billion annually to storms

May 1, 2019 by  
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A recent report from the Congressional Budget Office predicts an alarming $54 billion in hurricane and flood damage over the next few years — much of which can be avoided by spending money upfront to protect and prevent against losses. The frequency of what are called “billion-dollar storms” appear to be increasing. In 2018, there were 39 “billion-dollar” disasters around the world — 16 of which were in the U.S. Already in the first four months of 2019, the U.S. has endured winter storms Quiana and Ulmer, and each one caused more than a billion dollars  in damage to infrastructure and homes. The new report by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) focuses on hurricanes, which are the mostly costly natural disasters according to NOAA. Since 1980, tropical cyclones have caused a combined $927.5 billion in damages and are also the most expensive individual storm events in both financial cost and lives lost. Related: Low-income housing in flood zones traps families in harm’s way Of the annual losses predicted by the CBO, $34 billion is estimated in damage to homes, plus $12 billion for the public sector and $9 billion for private businesses. The direct cost to taxpayers is estimated at approximately $17 billion per year. However, the CBO report also underscores several preventive actions that could significantly reduce these costs. By some analyses , mitigation measures (such as flood prevention or watershed protection) could save Americans $6 dollars in losses for every $1 spent in preparation. Solutions to mitigate hurricane damage The following suggestions from the report include environmental and policy-level recommendations to reduce loss in infrastructure and lives from tropical storms and hurricanes. Reduce carbon emissions Hurricanes, and their rising frequency and intensity, are intricately tied to climate change . Increasing temperatures melt glaciers and cause sea level rise, which leads to higher storm surge levels and more destructive flooding. The rising temperatures have also been linked to increased rainfall. Climate change is a result of greenhouse gas emissions; therefore,  reducing emissions would slow and prevent some of the future damage caused by intense storms and extreme flooding. One primary way to reduce emissions, according to the CBO, is by expanding cap-and-trade programs. These programs incentivize companies to keep emissions below designated thresholds and allow the purchasing of emission credits between companies that pollute less and companies that pollute more. However, the CBO also acknowledges that limiting emissions may negatively impact the economy by increasing the cost of goods and services and reducing jobs. Likewise, the CBO argues that such strategies must be enforced at a global scale, otherwise corporations will relocate to countries that allow unfettered pollution. Increase funding for flood mapping The weather is changing, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is struggling to keep up. Rapid urban development in wetlands and flood zones, combined with sea level rise and erosion, are changing the landscape of flood risk. The scale of this need is overwhelming — in 2018, FEMA spent $452 million on flood mapping and data collection, but it was nowhere near enough. Expand flood insurance coverage Flood insurance agencies need accurate spatial data and maps in order to adequately provide coverage, charge appropriate rates and adequately inform the public about their specific risks. Most people simply do not buy flood insurance and of those that do, 25 percent drop their plan within the first year. More accurate data and delineated risk zones can help inform residents of their direct risks and incentivize homeowners to implement mitigation measure, such as relocating heating and cooling equipment above of the predicted flood level. Accurate risk data will also help justify changes for long-standing insurance policy holders who have been “grandfathered” into plans that grossly underestimated their vulnerability before climate science and spatial mapping were widely available. An estimated 20 percent of insurance policy holders are paying rates lower than their appropriate risk level, which is good news for the policy holder up until a storm hits and they are in need of benefits that correspond to the damage they endured. Encourage local and state governments to share recovery costs When the president declares a disaster emergency, municipalities receive federal dollars to provide basic needs and support recovery efforts. Though the federal government plans to ramp up funding for preventive measures, such as sea walls, the CBO believes that if local and state governments had to foot more of the bill, they would be more inclined to enforce important mitigation policy . For example, if local and state governments expected to have to pay for damage to infrastructure, they would be more strict about limiting new development in flood zones — something they have more power to control from a local level. The message is clear — mitigation efforts are worth every penny. The National Weather Service already predicted more severe flooding this hurricane season than previous years. As evidence piles up in favor of mitigation, the only question remaining is ‘where do we start?’ + CBO Via The Weather Channel Image via Raquel M  and Pamela Andrade ( 1 , 2 )

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Congress reports U.S. will lose $54 billion annually to storms

Cozy pop-up Seedpods let you escape into nature with a minimal footprint

April 24, 2019 by  
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Reconnecting with Mother Nature has been elevated to new heights with Nomadic Resorts ‘ latest treehouse initiative — the Seedpod. Shaped like a human nest, these lightweight sleeping pods are designed for minimal landscape impact and can pop up in remote locations in just one day. The pop-up hotel rooms were recently installed in Mauritius’ Bel Ombre Nature Reserve, where they were hung from trees and made to “float” above the forest floor. Founded in 2011 as a reaction against the environmental footprint of traditional hotel development, Nomadic Resorts is an interdisciplinary design and project development company that services the hospitality industry with sustainable and contemporary projects. The Seedpod, developed after years of research, builds on the company’s commitment to low-impact design. Drawing inspiration from the shape of a seed and a bird’s nest, Nomadic Resorts crafted an aerodynamic structure that is not only capable of resisting wind speeds of 120 kilometers per hour, but can also be quickly installed in remote locations without using heavy machinery or power tools. “Our goal was to take inspiration from the humble seed to create a floating hotel room that was both ephemeral and robust — comfortable but exciting to sleep in,” said Louis Thompson, the CEO of Nomadic Resorts. “The idea is that sleeping in the pod is a transformative experience in its own right — a chance to spend a night in a human nest where you can see the movement of the wildlife below and hear the gurgling of the stream. Our team has been striving to find a symbiotic, harmonious relationship with the sites we develop. To achieve that, we need to find a compromise between durability and sustainability, environmental integrity and guest comfort — size was an important consideration in that discussion — it is the place, not the space, that is true luxury.” Related: Nomadic Resorts’ tiny prefab pod homes can pop up anywhere The Seedpod debut at the Heritage Nature Reserve consists of two units set up for a unique picnic experience where visitors can learn about the endemic forest, swim in the natural pools and enjoy a mosquito-free lunch inside each room. The pods, which were attached to trees at the reserve, can also be erected on their own with an optional tripod and equipped with lighting, solar panels , a ceiling fan, a cool box and a charging station for devices. Each unit measures nearly 12.5 feet in height (nearly 7.5 feet for internal height) and slightly over 7 feet in diameter. + Nomadic Resorts Images via Nomadic Resorts and The Heritage Nature Reserve

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Cozy pop-up Seedpods let you escape into nature with a minimal footprint

Extinction Rebellion LA protests climate change by supergluing themselves to Universal Globe

April 24, 2019 by  
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A group called Extinction Rebellion Los Angeles (XRLA) organized a protest on the campus of Universal Studios for Earth Day. A few members of the group climbed the company’s famous globe and superglued themselves in place with the hope of sending a message to NBC and the rest of Hollywood. The goal of the protest was to inform the business community in Los Angeles that climate change is real and that we need to take drastic steps to avoid destruction. The group outlined several demands alongside the protest, challenging NBC to publicly act on behalf of the environment. Related: Climate activists will turn up the heat at presidential debate The first call to action is for NBC to admit that we are facing an environmental emergency unlike anything we have ever witnessed. Secondly, XRLA wants the studio to inform the public about the truth of climate change and how the government has failed to do anything about it. Thirdly, the group asks NBC to stop accepting ad revenue from companies that deal in fossil fuels, go zero-carbon by 2025 and perform an internal audit that shows its  carbon footprint . The last demand is for NBC to hire environmental lobbyists and think-tank personnel to handle climate discussions, as long as their funding sources are completely transparent. XRLA sent a letter to the president of NBC Universal outlining these goals and encouraging the company to take part in building a sustainable future. Members of Extinction Rebellion come from a variety of backgrounds and professions and are spread across 38 cities in the United States and 49 countries around the world. To date, Extinction Rebellion protests have led to more than 1,100 arrests in the name of bringing awareness to and action against climate change. The organization often works with other environmental groups to meet specific goals and raise awareness . NBC has not responded to Extinction Rebellion’s letter, though the company did remove the protesters from the iconic globe. + Extinction Rebellion Image via Prayitno

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Extinction Rebellion LA protests climate change by supergluing themselves to Universal Globe

Local, natural materials make up this eco-friendly jungle refuge in Tulum

March 28, 2019 by  
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Mexican architectural firm Jaquestudio recently completed a new boutique hotel nestled in a leafy paradise within Tulum, Mexico. Carefully sited to preserve nearly three-quarters of the existing jungle vegetation, the Jungle Keva is an environmentally friendly retreat that minimizes site impact and the use of plastics. Moreover, the hotel is built of locally sourced, natural materials that tie the building to the landscape. Designed to mirror the Tulum environment, Jungle Keva features five beautiful lodges with expansive walls of glass that pull views of the trees into the interiors. Each lodge includes double-height , open-plan spaces flooded with natural light. The communal areas and shared amenities are located in a building at the north of the property. The hotel draws water from an on-site well and includes a newly built, state-of-the-art septic treatment system. The five lodges vary in size, from 505 square feet to 600 square feet, and accommodate three to four guests. All accommodations include a private terrace with a hammock overlooking the jungle and an indoor-outdoor bathroom as well as Wi-Fi, natural bamboo sheets and organic toiletries. Guests also have access to on-site yoga classes, a pool, a restaurant and excursion activities. Related: This breathtaking Tulum art gallery was created by Peggy Guggenheim’s great-grandson The structures are built with low-maintenance and natural finishes that lend the buildings a sense of warmth. The distinctive earthy color found throughout the hotel is achieved with the “chum” finish, a Mayan stucco local to the region that’s made from tree resin. “The objective was to use materials that age with dignity, so that with the passing of time, the architecture acquires character and a deeper sense of belonging,” the architects explained. “The different volumes of the complex are scattered along the lot, between the trees and stone paths, which provide a sensation of being in a small village in the Mayan jungle.” + Jaquestudio Via ArchDaily Photography by César Béjar via Jaquestudio

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Local, natural materials make up this eco-friendly jungle refuge in Tulum

A climate-sensitive concrete home is carefully embedded into hilly terrain

March 22, 2019 by  
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When Medellín-based architecture studio Juan Manuel Peláez Arquitectos (JUMP Arquitectos) visited its client’s property in nearby Colombian town of La Ceja, the team was so impressed with the landscape that they resolved to minimize alterations to the site. To that end, they adapted the built forms to the uneven terrain by splitting the residence — dubbed the C47 House — into three gabled volumes united by two glazed bridges. Built of concrete, the homes take advantage of the material’s thermal mass to absorb heat during the day and release warmth during cool nights. Covering an area of 3,831 square feet, the C47 House consists of three connected buildings. To the north is the single-story garage with service quarters that connects to the central second-story building via a short glass-walled  bridge  and outdoor walkway. This middle building houses the kitchen and dining area on the ground floor as well as two bedrooms on the upper floor. A long glass bridge stretches out to the west and connects with the third building, a single-story volume comprising the living area and lounge. Each building is strategically laid out to minimize site impact. “The natural slope and ditches where the water runs in the rainy season were the morphological characteristics that would not be modified, on the contrary, it made us think that the spatial scheme of the house should be from three volumes connected by bridges so the terrain would remain the same,” the architects explained. “Once this path was found, we did several explorations to work the architectural program according to the volumetric fragmentation. For the inhabitants of the house, this idea of having spaces connected by bridges, but at the same time totally independent, they found it very interesting, above all, to change the relationship with the landscape and space in very short distances.” Related: Rammed earth ties a contemporary home to the rocky New Zealand landscape The positioning of the homes were also informed by the region’s climatic conditions, particularly how cold the temperatures in the area turn at night. The concrete walls help harness solar gain during the day, which is then dissipated as passive heating at night. Large windows flood the interiors with natural light and are carefully placed to frame select views of the neighboring hills and nearby forest. + JUMP Arquitectos Via ArchDaily Images via JUMP Arquitectos

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A climate-sensitive concrete home is carefully embedded into hilly terrain

This geometric pod is an ultra-light micro-office on wheels

October 9, 2018 by  
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Los Angeles-based design studio  Knowhow Shop  has unveiled Lighthouse — a digitally-crafted micro-pod on wheels meant to revolutionize the world of low-impact, urban design. The name refers to the light weight of the 150-square-foot structure. The work studio’s unique, asymmetrical volume was put together with everything from boat building materials to film industry hardware through prefabrication techniques. The design was the brainchild of architects Kagan Taylor and Justin Rice, who built the micro-structure right in their own backyard. Built like a piece of furniture rather than a building, the inspiration for Lighthouse came from the idea to create a new form of architecture that would provide a better, more practical solution for office design with minimal site impact . Related: The Cornelia tiny house is a peaceful writer’s studio built with reclaimed wood To give the structure mobility, the pod is built on industrial casters such as those on roll-off dumpsters. As a result, the office can be moved easily to be used as an individual structure or combined with other structures to create a nest of pods. Its small stature is perfect to fit into forgotten urban areas where new construction isn’t possible. Instead of a regular cube or rectangular form, Lighthouse features a futuristic, geometric volume painted all white. The facade is made out of various SIPs ( Structural Insulated Panels ) that are joined together with film industry hardware. The glass front door, as well as the structure as a whole, has no right angles. Inside, the aesthetic is quite minimalist, with long, thin desks attached to the length of the walls and a shelving unit at the back. A large skylight and horizontal window flood the interior with natural light. The minimal design, height and abundance of natural light enhance the interior, making it seem much larger than it really is. “We were surprised by the difference in perceived space from the outside vs. the inside,” the architects said. “From within our office feels much larger than it looks from outside, and it is something that most visitors comment on immediately.” + Knowhow Shop Via Wallpaper Photography by Stephen Schauer . His work can be viewed at his Instagram page . Aerial shot by Nephew LA .

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This geometric pod is an ultra-light micro-office on wheels

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