Cold Spring Residence, a family’s low-impact weekend retreat

October 2, 2020 by  
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Developed by architect and artist couple Jared and Carolina Della Valle, this stunning family  retreat  in the Hudson River Valley is driven by high sustainability standards. Located on 11 acres in Cold Spring, New York near where Carolina grew up, the house functions as a weekend escape for the family. Wary of the environmental effect that a second home could present, the designer set out to create a building with minimal impact on its natural surroundings. While planning and building the home, the designer made every effort to lessen the environmental impact. Jared’s company, Alloy, prides itself on being guided by professionals seeking to positively contribute to the built environment with sustainability at the forefront. The firm developed New York’s first two  passive house  schools and Brooklyn’s first all-electric skyscraper. Related: Contemporary Camp O communes with nature in the Catskills Cold Spring Residence, standing at 4,500 square feet and built to passive house standards, features a full  solar  array providing year-round energy to the home. All of the site’s natural resources are preserved, and a newly-planted meadow fills the remaining landscape with native plants that thrive all year long. The majority of the house uses raw  concrete  and pine finished with a natural tar resistant to bugs and woodpeckers, with bleached oak for the interior. Bedrooms reside on the cantilevered upper floor, allowing sunlight into the living spaces. Meanwhile, a two-story deep skylight shines into the kitchen. Inside, the concrete walls use old forms to create intentional imperfections and inconsistencies to produce a more organic look. Jared found and restored a steel pipeline to construct the outdoor shower, and an indoor-outdoor terrace promotes uninterrupted views of the valley. A sense of  minimalism  remains apparent in the home’s design and construction, making it conducive to a low maintenance lifestyle. This style gives the family more time to relax while enjoying the property’s natural environment. + Alloy Development Via Wallpaper

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Cold Spring Residence, a family’s low-impact weekend retreat

A net-zero compact home in Seattle is inspired by Shibui minimalism

October 2, 2020 by  
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Refined, elemental and minimal: these words were the inspiration behind a recently completed net-zero home in West Seattle. Built to endure the test of time and incorporate elegance with an unobtrusive aesthetic and restrained size, the home takes inspiration from the Japanese concept of Shibui. Uncomplicated and honest, the concept of Shibui in design favors simple, subtle beauty. The architectural team followed the client’s suggestion to utilize the technique by creating a minimal -yet-elegant home with few superfluous touches. Though the design is uncomplicated, leading to a sense of peace while inside, it is not lacking in convenience. Despite being on the smaller side when compared to similar luxury homes, the 1,153-square-foot house still has an open-plan kitchen, a living and dining area, a den to be used as an office or guest room, two bathrooms and a garage with electric vehicle charging capability, bike storage and a trash room. Related: Twin timber buildings draw inspiration from traditional Japanese shrines The home also maintains a small carbon footprint with energy-efficient features like Passive House-certified windows for high thermal performance, LED fixtures and WaterSense-certified fixtures. To put more value on privacy, the home is set farther back from the street to create a sense of distance from the public. Setting the house back also gained the additional bonus of preserving an existing cherry tree onsite. There is a non-infiltrating bio-retention tank to collect rain and stormwater, filtering the collected water before applying it to landscaping inside the raised yard. The location of interior spaces, also guided by privacy and control, features diagonal views and sliding doors that block neighbor views. A large roof accommodates a substantial solar panel system and guards the home against the elements. On the upper level, the home opens fully to the west deck through patio sliders while roof overhangs provide protection for occupants. + SHED Architecture and Design Photography by Rafael Soldi via SHED Architecture and Design

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A net-zero compact home in Seattle is inspired by Shibui minimalism

Geothermal-powered timber home glows by an Austrian lake

August 24, 2020 by  
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Locally procured materials and energy-efficient building systems make up the Wohnhaus am Eichenberg (Residence on the Eichenberg), a contemporary timber home designed by Austrian architecture firm Berktold Weber Architekten  in 2019. Built into the mountainside in the Austrian village of Eichenberg, the home opens up to breathtaking views of Lake Constance. At night, the house’s wraparound full-height glazing glows like a lantern thanks to the atmospheric  Nimbus  LED luminaires that complement the minimalist natural material palette.  Designed with flexibility in mind, the Wohnhaus am Eichenberg comprises two floors with separate entrances, allowing the home to take on different uses in the future. For example, the lower level can function as a separate apartment or an office. Both levels of the house use  locally sourced  silver fir cladding, exposed concrete and natural Schwarzachtobler stone. The pared-back material palette gives the home a clean, crisp appearance. This minimalist design ensures that the surrounding mountain landscape remains the main visual focus.  For privacy, the lower level uses an opaque design, and the upper level pushes its wraparound glazing back from the building’s edges. Spaced out vertical strips of timber also form a privacy screen that shields portions of the home. The top-heavy home’s upper level  cantilevers  out toward scenic views of the nearby Eichenberg village and Lake Constance. An overhang provides coverage to the ground level’s cozy outdoor patio space, which features a swing suspended from the bottom of the upper plinth.  Related: Geothermal-powered home fuses high-end luxury with restraint Locally sourced timber accents continue inside the home, with warm-hued wood floors, walls and ceilings creating a seamless indoor/outdoor visual experience. Midcentury modern furnishings punctuate the living spaces, alongside Nimbus’s minimalist LED fixtures. These fixtures, praised for their “discreet appearance, good technical qualities, consistent design and versatility,” provide the home with a warm glow. The interior also features  geothermal -powered underfloor heating and ventilation with heat recovery.  + Berktold Weber Architekten Images by Adolf Bereut

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Geothermal-powered timber home glows by an Austrian lake

This tiny house is insulated with cork and powered by solar

August 10, 2020 by  
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Eco-friendly company The Tiny Housing Co. has added The Natura tiny home to its portfolio of unique designs. The tiny house is powered by 1000W solar panels and built out of natural materials such as cork and wood, making it sustainable from the inside out. Starting at just over $65,000, the design of The Natura is aimed at being as sustainable as possible. The company already includes solar paneling with all of its homes, but it also offers an additional “eco” package with 2000W solar panels and a wood-burning stove. The improved panels mean that occupants can generate enough power to run appliances solely from solar, and the wood-burning stove is connected to underfloor heating to reduce heating costs when coupled with the already-installed efficient insulation. Related: Solar-powered cork house pursues healthy, sustainable living Wood paneling makes up the exterior, while the facade features a thick corkboard layer to create a breathable, fire-retardant area near the loft-style, king-sized bedroom. The organic aesthetic of the exterior is complemented by the inside, which is complete with luxurious modern fixtures, soft tones and natural light. Clean water is filtered from an under-sink system, and energy-efficient appliances help keep utility costs down. As is essential in a minimalist home, there are plenty of space-saving features as well, such as hidden storage under the stairs, between the walls and under the bed. Tight insulation is achieved in the walls, floor and roof using rockwool, lightweight XPS boards and cork. Rockwool is a rock-based mineral fiber usually composed of volcanic basalt rock and recycled steel or copper byproduct, and XPS boards (or polystyrene) does not result in harmful waste with its manufacture. According to the company, these materials can also help reduce harmful VOCs and other chemicals that can come with more common home insulation. + The Tiny Housing Co. Images via The Tiny Housing Co.

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This tiny house is insulated with cork and powered by solar

Solar-powered Brink Tower is a sustainable solution to Amsterdams housing shortage

August 10, 2020 by  
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Dutch architecture firm Mecanoo has won an international competition with the design for the Brink Tower, a new mixed-use skyscraper that will connect Amsterdam’s Van Der Pek neighborhood with the Overhoeks. Designed as a solution to the shortage of high-quality housing for young professionals, international students and young couples in the city, the eye-catching tower will include approximately 400 new residences and offer a variety of shared green spaces to encourage a sense of community. Sustainability has also driven the design of the sleek high-rise, which aims to achieve an EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) score of less than zero through the addition of solar panels and energy-efficient systems.  Slated to begin construction in 2022 with an expected completion date of 2025, the Brink Tower will occupy a prime location in the Overhoeks that is easily accessible from Amsterdam Central Station via the ferry service. The building will comprise 28 floors and rise to an approximate height of 90 meters. Related: Mecanoo unveils stunning glass lake house that harmonizes with nature To accommodate a diverse group of people, the architects have designed the home with a variety of housing types. The approximately 400 homes will include 120 social rental homes (among the social rental limit), 30 care homes and over 250 rental properties in the middle of the building. The residences and neighborhood meeting spaces will be set above an attractive plinth that will house street-level retail facilities and restaurant spaces.  One of the most eye-catching features of the building will be the addition of greenery around the facade. The various terraces and roofs will be installed with “polder roofs” — named after the lush land tracts ubiquitous in the Netherlands — that will be heavily landscaped. The polder roofs will serve as “green enclaves” for residents and rainwater collection sites; collected rainwater will be reused during the growing season to irrigate the roof gardens. The solar-powered building will also encourage sustainable mobility by providing shared electric cars and bicycles. + Mecanoo Images via Mecanoo

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Solar-powered Brink Tower is a sustainable solution to Amsterdams housing shortage

Green-roofed CLT home opens up to a dreamlike garden in Germany

August 10, 2020 by  
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Near Hannover, Germany, Bremen-based treehouse specialist and architecture practice Baumraum has completed the Green Dwelling, a green-roofed , cross-laminated timber home built to achieve a strong fusion between the landscape and the built environment. Located on a large 2,000-square-meter site, the house takes inspiration from its lush surroundings, which include an adjacent forest and a dreamy garden developed by perennial specialist Petra Pelz. Natural materials define both the interior and exterior palettes, while large glazed windows strengthen the connection between the indoors and out. The Green Dwelling was created for young clients who wanted a new home that neighbored their parents’ existing residence. When the clients first contacted Baumraum, the conversation began with talk of building a treehouse that then evolved into a commission for the design of a new house in addition to the treehouse. The overarching design goal was to create “an oasis in the green” filled with natural light, ecological construction and strong visual and physical connections with nature.  Related: Sigurd Larsen completes a luxurious, treetop hotel cabin in a Danish forest The resulting home features a Z-shaped floor plan that begins with a garage, side rooms and entrance area at the front of the house, then transitions to a spacious living room with an open kitchen. The layout culminates with a guest room, bathroom, sauna area and bedroom in the rear. Large windows installed in each room provide garden views. The entire structure was built from cross-laminated timber and the natural, untreated larch surfaces were deliberately left visible throughout almost all of the interior. A lush green roof tops the home. On the western border of the property, the architects have also added the Tree House Green Dwelling, a treehouse perched atop an oak tree that serves as a year-round retreat and playground. Three flights of stairs lead up to the treehouse’s 4-meter-tall terrace and the square treehouse cabin , which rises to a height of almost 6 meters. Highly reflective stainless steel wraps around the facade to render the building almost invisible in the landscape. + Baumraum Photography by Ferdinand Graf Luckner via Baumraum

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Green-roofed CLT home opens up to a dreamlike garden in Germany

Snhetta completes stunning Norwegian cabins for glacier hikers

June 24, 2020 by  
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The breathtaking landscape of Luster in the western part of Norway has recently been joined by Tungestølen, a cluster of timber hiking cabins with cozy interiors and panoramic glacier views. Designed by international design firm Snøhetta for Luster Turlag, a local branch of the Norwegian National Trekking Association, the pentagonal and oblique cabins were built to replace the original Tungestølen Tourist Cabin that had been destroyed by a cyclone in 2011. The new structures are engineered for extreme wind resistance and feature sturdy glulam frames, cross-laminated timber sheeting and ore pine cladding. Perched on a small plateau overlooking the spectacular Jostedalen glacier, Tungestølen is designed to accommodate up to 50 visitors across nine cabins , each of which features a unique, beak-like shape to slow down the strong winds that sweep upward from the valley floor. The sharply pitched roofs give the buildings a playful feel and create dynamic interiors with angular and panoramic windows of varying sizes. Timber lines the light-filled interiors to create a cozy and warm atmosphere.  Related: Elevated, green-roofed cabin minimizes impact on mountain in Norway Because Tungestølen was designed with group hikers in mind, the development is centered on a main cabin that serves as a social hub and meeting spot with its spacious lounge anchored by a large, stone-clad fireplace and panoramic windows that take advantage of the building’s tall ceilings. Built-in benches and furnishings help maximize interior space, which is primarily built of unpainted timber. A restrained color palette that complements the minimalist interiors takes cues from the muted tones of nature and range from charcoal grays to mossy greens. The eight other cabins on site will be used for dormitories and include a single private unit that can accommodate 30 visitors. One of the cabins is based on the original model for the Fuglemyrhytta cabin, another hiking cabin designed by Snøhetta in Oslo that has become a huge hit among hikers since its opening in 2018. Tungestølen was officially inaugurated by Queen Sonja of Norway; the cabins open to the public in June for the hiking season, which spans summer to fall. + Snøhetta Images via Snøhetta

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Snhetta completes stunning Norwegian cabins for glacier hikers

Old Polish barn transforms into a cool contemporary home

May 14, 2020 by  
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Pozna?-based design studio  mode:lina  recently transformed a decrepit old barn into the ?lonsko Cha?pa (Silesian House), a light-filled home that beautifully combines elements of the agricultural vernacular with contemporary design. While the barn’s gabled form and concrete structure were mostly preserved, the architects improved the livability of the building by shortening its length and raising the roof to create a second floor for the bedrooms. The barn’s existing brick, steel and concrete details have been deliberately left exposed and celebrated in the redesign.  Inspired by the austere appearances of the old State Collective Farm buildings, the architects took a minimalist design approach to the Silesian House. In addition to truncating the length of the original building, the existing roof and exterior walls were simplified to create a pure  gabled  shape with no overhangs. New timber cladding was installed to the exterior envelope that was then punctuated with large irregular openings to let in as much daylight to the interior as possible.  Key to the renovation was the addition of a new double-height extension that houses the living room and dining area. “The original structure and shape of the barn is clearly visible from the living room, where we have an exact cross-section of the building in the form of a  mezzanine ,” the architects of the exposed concrete structure explained. A spacious kitchen with black granite countertops and timber cabinetry is located beneath the mezzanine. Related: Mode:lina upcycles construction materials into an industrial-chic eatery The interior is dressed in exposed  natural materials  throughout, including on the upper floor where brick walls are complemented by timber floors and ceilings and exposed beams and columns. The exposed materials and white walls provide a perfect neutral backdrop for the clients’ extensive art collection. The architects also converted the small building next to the 300-square-meter Silesian House into a guesthouse.  + mode:lina Images by Patryk Lewi?ski

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Old Polish barn transforms into a cool contemporary home

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

A contemporary German home celebrates energy-saving, seasonal living

April 28, 2020 by  
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Architecture firms Jurek Brüggen and KOSA architekten teamed up to design Haus am See — German for “House by the Lake” — a minimalist home crafted for seasonal living. Located on the highest point of Werder Island near the border of Germany and Poland, the contemporary residence has been deliberately stripped down to a restrained palette of exposed concrete and wood in striking contrast to its more ornate neighbors. The Haus am See is located among four other houses with very different architectural styles, including Neo-Gothic Belvedere, Art Deco, Neo Classical and a bungalow design from the German Democratic Republic era. In contrast, the new residence has no ornamentation; the building consists of a lower, bunker-like concrete volume and a wooden pavilion on the roof that looks out over views of the Havel River. All the construction materials are left exposed and unpainted. Related: Green-roofed Stonecrop home rises from rural English landscape The interior is likewise minimalist ; however, it feels much warmer thanks to the use of light-colored timber surfaces throughout. The wooden staircase that leads from the ground floor to the roof doubles as a bookshelf. Large windows and sliding doors provide a constant connection to the outdoors, including the garden with a stone outdoor pool. To reduce energy costs, the architects designed the home to follow the concept of seasonal living. In winter, the residents can close off the pavilion using folding doors and a sliding window, thus condensing their living area to the ground floor, which is partly buried into the slope to take advantage of the earth’s thermal mass . In summer, the home’s living space is doubled with the use of the pavilion and terrace. “The seasonal living concept brings a millennia-old cultural technique into the present day,” the architects explained. “In contrast to conventional energy-saving houses, which isolate themselves from their surroundings, it shows how we can effectively conserve resources while living sustainably in connection with the environment. The seasonal concept is a strategy for sustainable living in a time of excessive insulation regulations.” + Jurek Brüggen + KOSA Images via Jurek Brüggen

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A contemporary German home celebrates energy-saving, seasonal living

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