MVRDV designs a Dutch office building covered in potted plants

August 15, 2019 by  
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MVRDV has unveiled designs for the Green Villa, a striking mixed-use building draped in greenery for the Dutch village of Sint-Michielsgestel. Created in collaboration with Van Boven Architecten , the four-story Green Villa will be located on the town’s southern edge and will use a grid “rack” system to host a wide variety of potted plants, bushes and trees, including the likes of forsythia, jasmine, pine and birch. The project will be a landmark project for the village and will promote sustainability with improved biodiversity and carbon sequestration. Located on a corner lot next to the Dommel River, the 1,400-square-meter Green Villa will house a new ground-floor office space for real estate developer and client, Stein, as well as five apartments on the three floors above in addition to underground parking. The building shape relates to the existing urban fabric with its adoption of the mansard roof shape used on the neighboring buildings. A new architectural typology is also put forth with the use of a strikingly lush facade that will help the structure blend in with the nearby river, fields and trees. Related: MVRDV designs BREEAM excellent-seeking sustainable research lab for Amsterdam “This design is a continuation of our research into ‘facade-less’ buildings and radical greening,” explained Winy Maas, founding partner of MVRDV. “The idea from the nineties of city parks as an oasis in the city is too limited. We need a radical ‘green dip’: as will be shown soon in a book by The Why Factory with the same title, we should also cover roofs and high-rise facades with greenery. Plants and trees can help us to offset CO2 emissions , cool our cities and promote biodiversity.” The Green Villa will be defined by a square grid four bays wide and three bays deep, in which modules for bedrooms and living spaces will slot inside. The facade will be made up of a “rack” of shelves of varying depths to support a “three-dimensional arboretum,” and each plant will have its own nameplate with additional information. The plants will be watered year-round with a sensor-controlled irrigation system that uses recycled rainwater . Construction is scheduled to start in 2020. + MVRDV Images via MVRDV

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MVRDV designs a Dutch office building covered in potted plants

Award-winning B-Austin Community Project champions communal and sustainable living

August 9, 2019 by  
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Solar collection, EV charging and gray water recycling are just a few of the environmentally features offered at B-Austin Community Project , an innovative mixed-use development designed by local design practice Clark | Richardson Architects . Created with the goal of becoming one of Austin’s greenest buildings, the co-housing project considers more than just energy-efficiency—the health and wellness of its occupants have also been prioritized in the design. The mixed-use complex was awarded with a 2018 Austin Green Award and is in the process of receiving a 4-star Austin Energy Green Building Rating. Located in South Austin, the B-Austin Community Project spans 22,000 square feet across three stories. The timber-framed building comprises 14 modern apartment units as well as amenity spaces—such as community gardens, an on-site gym and a community center—and leasable white box office suites marketed towards heath and wellness businesses, such as those in the massage and physical therapy industry. As part of the City of Austin SMART building program, the development also reserves a fraction of the apartments for low-income occupants earning less than 80 percent of the median income. “B-AUSTIN was conceived as a place to foster community in a sustainable , environmentally friendly setting,” says a B-Austin statement on their website. “In this spirit, we offer residents easy access to a wide variety of professional wellness resources and programs to encourage in-reach among community members.” Related: Austin passes law banning restaurants from throwing out food waste In addition its emphasis on healthy and communal lifestyles, the mixed-use development reduces its environmental footprint with sustainable systems such as a solar array that offsets a quarter of the facility’s electricity needs, LED interior lighting, electric car charging stations, an Integrated Landfill Diversion Plan to make it easier to recycle and compost, a rainwater harvesting system and an adaptive greywater harvesting program to conserve potable water. According to the architects, B-Austin is set to become “the first mixed-use multifamily community in Austin, and possibly the first in the state, to use greywater recycling.” + Clark Richardson Architects Images via Clark Richardson Architects

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Lush greenery blankets a passive solar community center in Singapore

July 8, 2019 by  
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In a bid to revitalize Singapore’s Bedok Town Centre, international design firm ONG&ONG has completed HEARTBEAT@BEDOK, an award-winning, mixed-use development that serves as a key civic and community space for Bedok residents. The community building is also a beacon for sustainability and follows passive design principles to minimize energy demands as well as building operation and maintenance costs. A cooling microclimate is created with lush landscaping used throughout the site and around the building, which is draped with greenery on every floor. Located on Singapore’s east coast, the HEARTBEAT@BEDOK was commissioned as part of the Housing and Development Board’s ‘Remaking Our Heartland’, an initiative that was announced in 2007 to ensure older towns and neighborhoods are adequately modernized to keep pace with the nation’s development. To bring new life to the area, the architects transformed a public park in the heart of the Bedok neighborhood into the site of a new community center that brings residents of different backgrounds together and cultivates community spirit. “The Heartbeat@Bedok is an architecturally distinctive community building that is defined by the highest standards in modern sustainability,” the design firm explained. “Featuring an inverted podium-and-blocks design strategy, spaces within the new building are predicated on functionality. The elevated podium allows for optimized natural ventilation, with a group of microclimates created around internal public spaces. A covered area extends 145 m diagonally across the site, creating a 3-story atrium that enhances porosity between floors, while also working to improve overall connectivity and visual integration of the internal spaces.” Related: Singapore’s first new-build, net-zero energy building opens its doors Completed in June 2017, the mixed-use development includes a community club, sports and recreation center, public library, polyclinic, a senior care center and public green space. In addition to the abundance of greenery, solar heat and radiation is mitigated with tapered facade glazing, solar fins and optimized passive solar conditions. A rainwater collection system and gray water system were also integrated into the building to ensure responsible and sustainable water use. + ONG&ONG Images via ONG&ONG

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Selfie-seekers are destroying California farmers’ sunflower fields

July 8, 2019 by  
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A rush of tourists seeking the perfect selfie is putting California flora at risk. In the spring, masses of visitors flocked to small towns in southern California to snap photos with the super bloom of poppies along the roads and hillsides. Now, visitors are traveling miles to say cheese next to vibrant, sky-high sunflowers in Solano County. One or two photos might be okay, but when so many people trample — and trespass — on farmers’ fields, the entire farm suffers. Residents of the county made multiple calls to the local sheriff’s department after private property and crops were repeatedly trampled by eager amateur photographers. The sheriff’s department dispatched a public service announcement via social media: “As alluring as a picturesque sunflower field may be to a dedicated selfie seeker, farmers in Solano County are asking visitors to PLEASE respect their property when they’re trying to snap that perfect shot.” Related: Surges in unsustainable tourism are destroying islands in the Pacific During the poppy super bloom, Borrego Springs ran out of food, gas, hotel rooms and cash in the ATM just trying to handle the surge of tourists. The line of cars was backed up at least 20 miles down the road as visitors stopped to snap their photos of the blooming flowers . But many of the sunflower fields are part of private land and businesses and are critical to farmers’ livelihoods. Sunflowers are often sold as fresh-cut flowers but also for sunflower seeds and sunflower butter. Many farmers rely on the sunflowers for cross pollination and to feed important pollinators that their crops rely on, like native bees and honey bees . In Solano County, both farmers and residents are distressed that the visitors have little respect for private property signage and boundaries. Some tourists are going so far as to bring picnics and set up on farmers’ land like it’s a national park . “They’re having picnics, wine and cheese right there in the corner and I’m going ‘Really?’” a sunflower farmer, Craig Ginos, told CBS Sacramento . Via The Guardian and CBS Sacramento Image via Peter de Vink

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Prefab housing pods pop up with speed at Dyson Institutes modular village

July 8, 2019 by  
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The future of student housing may mean greater energy efficiency, faster construction times, and less waste if developers follow in the footsteps of the Dyson Institute of Engineering and Technology’s newly completed undergraduate village in Wiltshire. London-based architectural practice WilkinsonEyre recently completed the student housing development at the Dyson Malmesbury Campus, which was also masterplanned by WilkinsonEyre. Constructed with modular building technologies, the energy-efficient village for engineering students comprises clusters of prefabricated pods that were rapidly manufactured off-site and then craned into place with fittings and furnishings already in place. The Dyson Institute of Engineering and Technology was created to combine higher education with commercial industry, research, and development. To create an immersive live/work experience, the campus tapped WilkinsonEyre to design student housing that houses up to 50 engineering students and visiting Dyson staff. In addition to the housing pods, the crescent-shaped landscaped site includes communal amenities as well as a central social and learning hub. Related: LEED Platinum UCSB student housing harnesses California’s coastal climate Measuring eight meters by four meters each, the housing pods were prefabricated from cross-laminated timber and then stacked into a variety of cluster configurations ranging from two to three stories tall, with some units cantilevered by up to three meters. Each pod is optimized for energy efficiency, which includes harnessing CLT’s thermal massing benefits, tapping into natural ventilation, and maximizing daylight through large, triple-glazed windows. Aluminum rainscreen panels clad the exterior and some units are topped with sedum-covered roofs. The prefabricated units were fully fitted with bespoke furniture and built-in storage before they were transported to the site. Each cluster consists of up to six prefab units with a shared kitchen and laundry area at the mid-entry level as well as an entry area with reception and storage. “The dynamic variety of configurations lends an informal, residential character to the village,” says the project statement. “Green spaces and pathways determine user movement through the village and mediate connections between the residential accommodation and the communal clubhouse, named the Roundhouse, at the centre.” + WilkinsonEyre Images via WilkinsonEyre

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Prefab housing pods pop up with speed at Dyson Institutes modular village

Scientists confirm tree planting is our best solution to climate change

July 8, 2019 by  
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New research suggests that tree planting isn’t just a feel-good volunteer activity — it could actually be the cheapest and most effective tool against global warming that exists. While environmentalists have been encouraging tree planting for decades, there has been contradicting information about how well nations are adhering to their reforestation pledges and how much they are actually making a difference. A new study, however, calculates just how many trees could be planted in a worldwide reforestation effort and how it would impact climate change if implemented correctly. The researchers concluded that if the entire world organized to plant trees in all available land that isn’t existing farms or urban areas, the new trees could capture two-thirds of all human-related carbon emissions . According to their calculations, there are 1.7 billion hectares available that could support 1.2 trillion additional trees. This area equates to 11 percent of the Earth’s total land surface, or according to The Guardian , “equivalent to the size of the U.S. and China combined.” Related: Philippine students must plant 10 trees to graduate, new law says The researchers calculated the land’s capacity for trees by attempting to reach the goal of 100 percent canopy cover in tropical areas and at least 50 percent tree cover in more temperate zones. “This new quantitative evaluation shows [forest] restoration isn’t just one of our climate change solutions, it is overwhelmingly the top one,” said professor and lead researcher Tom Crowther. “What blows my mind is the scale. I thought restoration would be in the top 10, but it is overwhelmingly more powerful than all of the other climate change solutions proposed.” Even if all 1.2 trillion trees were planted tomorrow, it would take between 50 and 100 years to see the full benefit, and who knows what carbon emissions will look like then? With this in mind, Crowther still emphasized the need to bring emissions from fossil fuels and deforestation to zero. “[Reforestation] is available now, it is the cheapest one possible and every one of us can get involved,” Crowther said. He also noted that each person can make an impact by growing their own trees, donating to reforestation efforts and avoiding companies that are contributing to deforestation. Via The Guardian Image via Valiphotos

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Scientists confirm tree planting is our best solution to climate change

7 tips for decorating a tiny home

July 8, 2019 by  
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Tiny homes mean less room for items of all kinds, but that doesn’t mean you can’t add decor that fits your personality and lifestyle. Decor includes furniture but also those little touches that gel your interior design style, whether that be eclectic, zen or cultural. With a few tips in mind, you’ll be able to pull together a look while adding function and flair. Pick a theme Your tiny home doesn’t have to fall into one category of interior design, but take the time to think about what makes you happy. Do you want to be surrounded by images of waterfalls or native objects from your travels? Is it more important to have a vase of flowers, a jar of paint brushes or a fruit bowl? The easiest way to funnel down the myriad decor options you face is to choose a theme of sorts. Select certain colors, fabrics or styles that appeal to that theme, at least in a general way. If you’re aiming for a beach-y feel, incorporate shells, sand and the natural tans and blues of the coastline. If southwestern appeal is your thing, opt for cacti, rock art and tribal prints. For a retro vibe, add in some old records, classic small appliances and a vinyl cover for the sofa. Related: Is a tiny home right for you? Think multipurpose With exceedingly limited space, every item in a tiny home should serve dual functions — especially those related to decor . There are endless ways to achieve this goal, so aim to source decor items that serve multiple functions. For example, that adorable small trunk you just have to have for the bookcase can hold candles, office supplies, paperwork, medicine or any number of other needed household items. Any bench, bed or table should allow for storage, too, so while it’s functional on its own as furniture, it also doubles as a storage cabinet. Be selective If you’ve begun your tiny living lifestyle, you’ve already whittled down the kitchen accessories, clothing options and bathroom clutter. The same process applies to decor. Be selective so that each item you choose has the impact you want without adding clutter. Don’t keep any items out of guilt, say those you feel obligated to keep because it was a family heirloom or a gift. Items kept out of guilt will not bring joy to your space. Let it go, and replace it with an item that brings positive feelings of contentment, satisfaction or inspiration. Choose versatile pieces With minimalism and tiny living becoming increasingly more popular, modern designs aim to offer two or more products in one. Look for wall art or tapestries that have a different design on each side. This offers an easy way to change your decor by simply flipping it over. For the kitchen, tile art in a frame can be swapped out with different tiles to freshen the look or welcome a new season. You can even use this idea at the front door with rubber mats that allow you to switch out the carpet in the center to accommodate different holidays without replacing the mat altogether. Go big In a small space, one large item creates a cleaner look than several smaller items grouped together. Plus, that larger ottoman on the floor or stainless steel canister on the counter can provide a storage option that small items cannot. This is an idea that also allows you to display larger items that you may not have cupboard space for, such as a colorful water pitcher or an appealing serving platter on a stand. Embrace the light Tiny spaces can mean less windows and natural light . Take advantage of the windows you do have by making sure the light isn’t blocked out by furniture or bulky window coverings. Counterbalance the dark with light colors throughout your decor theme. From sand to white walls to soft textiles, create a foundation of neutral colors for a brightening effect on the entire space. You can fulfill your desire for color with a sprinkle here and there throughout the home. Your color splashes will have a bigger impact against a muted background than in a bold space. While we’re on the topic of light, make sure to add plenty of lighting options to your decor, too. LED strip lighting on stairs and ladders adds a cozy touch and a safety measure. Task lighting in the kitchen and bathroom will aid in your daily activities, and efficient overhead lighting will provide a general glow to the home. Use wall space While attempting to find adequate storage in your tiny space, remember the walls go all the way to the ceiling. Use that vertical space to your advantage, but make sure you keep it from becoming overly cluttered. Attach hooks for your more attractive shopping bags, umbrellas, canes and coats. Add shelving and line it with attractive baskets that discreetly hide hats, gloves and scarves. Also use wall space to mount hanging plants so that you don’t have to rely on the limited surfaces available in the living area. Save the kitchen counter and tables for daily activities instead of decor. Mount canning jars filled with herbs to the wall, and provide a hanger for a hot pad and kitchen towel. Tiny living doesn’t have to equal tiny decor. In fact, streamlining your selections with a focus on the overall design can easily provide a homier feel than a large house crammed with clutter. Images via B&C Productions , Tiny Home Builders , Perch & Nest , Modern Tiny Living , A Tiny House Resort , Mint Tiny Homes , Borealis Tiny Homes and Tiny Heirloom

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10 shipping containers make up this modern, mixed-use structure in Shanghai

May 10, 2019 by  
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Yiduan Shanghai Interior Design has transformed 10 shipping containers into a striking mixed-use structure on Shanghai’s Chongming Island in China. Located on an open grass field, the building has been named “The Solid and Void” after the staggered arrangement of the shipping containers, which seamlessly connect to outdoor spaces framed by angular timber elements. To further tie the building to the outdoors, the architects used a predominately natural materials palette and white-painted walls to blend the structure into the landscape. Challenged by the site’s remote location and constrained by the narrow interiors of the shipping containers , Yiduan Shanghai Interior Design decided to think outside the box — literally. The designers expanded the project’s usable floor area to 19,375 square feet by adding “void boxes”: outdoor platforms framed by timber elements that extend the interiors of the containers to the outdoors. “The added boxes, framed by grilles, increased usable area, met the functional demands and formed a contrast of solidness and void with the containers ,” the designers explained. “Natural light can be filtered through grilles, generating a poetic view of light and shadows. The containers, and the new boxes generated from them, together produce staggered and overlapping architectural form, making the building look modern and futuristic.” Related: Ennead designs a striking nature preserve to protect China’s most important river The three-story building consists of a reception and display area on the first floor, a cafe and restaurant on the second floor and office space with meeting rooms on the third floor. Large windows pull the outdoors in; the thoughtfully designed indoor circulation guides users to different views of the landscape as they move through the building. The modern and minimalist appearance of the building helps keep the focus on the natural surroundings. Elements of nature also punctuate the building, from artfully placed rocks that line the walkways to the winding stream that runs through the middle of the building. + Yiduan Shanghai Interior Design Photography by Zhu Enlong via Yiduan Shanghai Interior Design

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Vincent Callebaut wins bid to sustainably revive Aix-les-Bains ancient thermal baths

April 15, 2019 by  
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The defunct National Baths of Aix-les-Bains will receive a vibrant and sustainably minded revival in the hands of the Paris-based practice Vincent Callebaut Architectures . Selected as the winner of a competition following the popular vote, the firm’s proposal — dubbed “The Foam of Waves” — will not only restore the ancient thermal baths, but also introduce a sustainable, energy-producing paradigm that follows the carbon-neutral guidelines as recommended by COP 21. The project will adopt a mixed-use program that incorporates residential, commercial, tourist, educational and urban agriculture spaces. The Foam of Waves focuses on the renovation of the Pellegrini, Revel and Princes buildings while staying respectful of the existing Roman remains. To inject new energy into the space, the architects have created a mixed-use program designed to attract locals, tourists and business investment. The scope includes a tourist office, a Center of Interpretation of Architecture and Heritage, a wellness center, a teaching space for the Peyrefitte School, a wellness-focused shopping center with restaurants, coworking spaces, 185 “green apartments” and parking. An urban educational farm integrating permaculture and aquaponics will be located on the green roof . “The whole architectural project is the carrier of the new paradigms of our society,” the architects said. “It offers future residents and visitors the opportunity to adopt new lifestyles that respect the environment, health and urban well-being in order to simply live better. It is a resilient architecture, innervated by nature. It is an ode to biodiversity, renewable energies and the circular economy that advocates the construction of post-carbon, post-fossil, post-nuclear and even post-insecticidal cities.” Related: Historic Luxembourg building is metamorphosed into an eco-friendly powerhouse In addition to an expansive green roof, the buildings will feature updated wave-like facades with balconies large enough to accommodate trees and private garden spaces for residents. The building envelopes will be also be optimized for airtightness, insulation and passive solar conditions . The project aims to produce more energy than it consumes and will include a solar photovoltaic and thermal roof, a mini-biomass plant on-site and a co-generation system with rapeseed oil. Rainwater harvesting systems and gray water recycling will also be implemented. + Vincent Callebaut Architectures Images via Vincent Callebaut Architectures

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Vincent Callebaut wins bid to sustainably revive Aix-les-Bains ancient thermal baths

BIG unveils a sustainable floating city in response to rising sea levels

April 9, 2019 by  
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BIG and a coalition of partners have unveiled Oceanix City, a visionary proposal for the world’s first resilient and sustainable floating community for 10,000 people. Presented at the first UN high-level roundtable on Sustainable Floating Cities, the conceptual design was created as a potential solution to the perceived threat of climate change and rising sea levels. Conceived as a “modular maritime metropolis,” Oceanix City is engineered for self-sufficiency with features from net-zero energy and zero-waste systems to a sharing culture. According to UN-Habitat, 90 percent of the world’s largest cities will be exposed to rising seas by 2050. As part of UN-Habitat’s New Urban Agenda, BIG teamed up with MIT Center for Ocean Engineering, Mobility in Chain, Sherwood Design Engineers, Center for Zero Waste Design and other partners to propose Oceanix City. This is a 75-hectare floating city  that is meant to grow and adapt organically over time — from neighborhoods to cities — with the possibility of scaling indefinitely. To that end, Oceanix City uses a modular design with two-hectare modules serving mixed-use communities of up to 300 residents centered on communal farming. Larger 12-hectare villages comprise six neighborhood modules clustered around a protected central harbor accommodating social, recreational and commercial functions for up to 1,650 residents. For a city of 10,000 residents, six villages are connected around a larger protected harbor. Construction materials will be locally sourced whenever possible, and components would be prefabricated on shore and then towed to their final site to keep construction costs low and thus permit affordable housing. Related: How the world’s first floating city could restore the environment “The sea is our fate — it may also be our future,” Bjarke Ingels said. “The first sustainable and self-sustained floating community, Oceanix City, is designed as a human made ecosystem channeling circular flows of energy, water, food and waste. Oceanix City is a blueprint for a modular maritime metropolis anchored in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The additive architecture can grow, transform and adapt organically over time, evolving from a neighborhood of 300 residents to a city of 10,000 — with the possibility of scaling indefinitely to provide thriving nautical communities for people who care about each other and our planet.” + BIG Images via BIG

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