Off-grid bamboo bungalow embraces nature in Thailand

May 25, 2020 by  
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When Mr. Phol asked Bangkok-based architecture studio  TOUCH  to design for him a private home in Thailand’s north-central province of Petchabun, the brief came with a challenge — the home would have to operate entirely off the grid . Set approximately 1,200 meters above sea level in a rural area, the remote property has no electricity, water supply or even other buildings nearby. As a result, the architects created TREE Sukkasem VILLA, a self-sustaining home that combines traditional Thai design and contemporary elements. Completed in 2013, the TREE Sukkasem VILLA is a one-story  bungalow -style home that spans 450 square meters with a wraparound deck. The three-bedroom, two-bath home also includes an L-shaped open-plan living area, dining room and kitchen oriented toward the south. Each room opens directly to the deck and views of the lush surroundings. The home’s open design takes advantage of cool mountain winds so that no air conditioning is needed.  As the architects explained in a project statement, the “concept of this house is to live without public electricity and water but with the house itself  sustainable . In order to create a “green” architecture, simple functions with clear design and easy to construct are the main point to design this villa, yet it still comfortable because of tropical-design was added into the process.” Related: Low-impact Thai home uses modular design to harmonize with nature To take advantage of passive solar conditions, the architects elevated the building off the ground to promote passive cooling and as a preventative measure against snakes and other wild animals from entering the home. The reinforced concrete roof was also designed with deep overhangs to mitigate solar heat gain and is integrated with a rainwater collection system as well as solar panels. A diesel generator provides supplementary electricity. Locally sourced materials, such as wood and  bamboo , were used throughout the home.  + TOUCH Images by Chalermwat Wongchompoo

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New net-zero LivingHomes capture the future of sustainable living

April 29, 2020 by  
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Koto Design has teamed up with Plant Prefab to create two new incredible net-zero energy homes. Koto LivingHome 1 and Koto LivingHome 2 are modular homes that incorporate sustainable living systems of the future. Under the ethos of creating great architecture that is more sustainable, the dwellings are powerhouses of energy-efficiency, with passive elements to reduce energy demand and active systems that allow homeowners to reduce electricity consumption through an app. Ranging in cost from $419,000 to $830,400, the new homes are available in two modular models, Koto LivingHome 1 and Koto LivingHome 2. Both homes are designed with a Scandinavian aesthetic. With clean lines and solid materials, they are built to have strong connections with the natural world through a variety of passive and active features that also keep energy needs to a minimum. Related: A prefabricated timber facade envelops a gorgeous glass home on a Norwegian island The larger of the two homes, nicknamed Piha (Finnish for “courtyard”), spans 2,184 square feet and features a spacious courtyard that melds the interior and exterior. The second home, dubbed Yksi (Finnish for “first”), is a smaller, two-bedroom residence. Designed to be ultra-resilient to various climates, the homes can be built in virtually any landscape, from frigid mountainous regions to warm beachfront properties. Both designs count on using an abundance of natural light and air ventilation to keep the interior spaces cool and cozy without the need for artificial systems. Although most prefab homes already feature a relatively small carbon footprint, the Koto homes meet net-zero energy targets and are built with eco-friendly materials, such as recycled insulation. The designs also incorporate efficient heating and cooling systems, low-flow water fixtures and LED lighting. Koto LivingHome 1 and Koto LivingHome 2 have monitoring systems accessible via smartphone to ensure all systems are operating at maximum efficiency. + Koto Design + Plant Prefab Images via Koto Design

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New net-zero LivingHomes capture the future of sustainable living

Sweden and Austria close their last coal plants

April 29, 2020 by  
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Europe just gained its second and third coal-free countries. Sweden and Austria have both shut their last coal-fired plants in late April, joining Belgium in going coal-free in favor of renewable energy sources. “With Sweden going coal-free in the same week as Austria, the downward trajectory of coal in Europe is clear,” Kathrin Gutmann, campaign director for Europe Beyond Coal, told PV Magazine . “Against the backdrop of the serious health challenges we are currently facing, leaving coal behind in exchange for renewables is the right decision and will repay us in kind with improved health, climate protection and more resilient economies.” Related: Britain celebrates first week without coal power since 1882 Sweden had originally planned on going coal-free in 2022, but it was able to achieve this goal two years early. A mild Swedish winter meant that energy utility Stockholm Exergi’s last coal-fired plant, located in Hjorthagen, eastern Stockholm, didn’t need to be used this year. The plant opened in 1989. In addition to environmental awareness that decreased the popularity of coal, market forces have driven the operational costs up. Statistics from the U.K.-based think-tank Carbon Tracker show that 40% of EU coal plants ran at a loss in 2017. In 2019, it cost almost 100% more to run a coal plant than to rely on renewable options. More European countries plan to join the coal-free future: France is aiming to be coal-free by 2022; Slovakia and Portugal by 2023; the U.K. by 2024; and Ireland and Italy by 2025. Stockholm Exergi CEO Anders Egelrud told PV Magazine he hopes the utility will eventually go carbon-negative. “Today we know that we must stop using all fossil fuels , therefore the coal needs to be phased out and we do so several years before the original plan,” Egelrud said, according to TheMayor.eu . “Since Stockholm was almost totally fossil-dependent 30-40 years ago, we have made enormous changes and now we are taking the step away from carbon dependence and continuing the journey towards an energy system entirely based on renewable and recycled energy.” Image via Steve Buissinne

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Studio Precht designs a fingerprint-like park for social distancing

April 27, 2020 by  
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Studio Precht has turned the rules of social distancing into a design guideline for Parc de la Distance, an innovative park proposal that ensures all visitors will be separated at least 6 feet from one another at all times. Created in the shape of a fingerprint with spiraling ridges represented by tall hedge rows, the conceptual park takes inspiration from both French baroque gardens and Japanese Zen gardens. The hedge-lined paths slowly spiral toward a center, where fountains are located. With all famous parks across Vienna closed due to the pandemic , Studio Precht wanted to create a safe way for local residents to get access to a brief time of solitude and nature. As a result, it has proposed Parc de la Distance for a vacant lot in Vienna that comprises multiple spaced-out pathways for individual walks. “Although our ‘Park de la Distance’ encourages physical distance, the design is shaped by the human touch: a fingerprint,” the architects explained. “Like a fingerprint, parallel lanes guide visitors through the undulating landscape.” Related: Architects propose produce markets designed for social distancing Each lane is bookended by an entrance gateway and exit gateway to indicate whether the path is occupied or free to stroll . The lanes are spaced 8 feet apart and flanked with nearly 3-foot-wide hedges on either side for visual separation. The height of the hedges vary along the path. Each individual path is 0.37 miles long and takes around 20 minutes to walk from start to finish. Although visitors are often shielded from view from one another, they will be able to hear the sounds of footsteps on the reddish granite gravel that line each path. “For now, the park is designed to create a safe physical distance between its visitors,” Studio Precht founder Chris Precht said. “After the pandemic, the park is used to escape the noise and bustle of the city and be alone for some time. I lived in many cities, but I think I have never been alone in public. I think that’s a rare quality.” + Studio Precht Images via Studio Precht

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Studio Precht designs a fingerprint-like park for social distancing

Rural, modular home in Mexico allows for a wide variety of configurations

August 30, 2019 by  
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Mexico City- and Berlin-based Zeller & Moye has unveiled a unique modular home that allows for multiple horizontal and vertical configurations through its lifespan. Not only is Casa Hilo a flexible, low-cost, modular construction, but it is also a model for sustainable rural home design in that its materials (including locally made adobe) were chosen to create a strong thermal mass to withstand Mexico’s harsh summer climate. According to the architects, the Casa Hilo project was designed as a housing prototype for building family homes in rural areas with warm climates. Located in Apan, Mexico, the 970-square-foot abode is made up of four distinct blocks comprising two bedrooms, one kitchen/dining room and a bathroom. Related: Experimental timber prototype champions sustainable modular housing for the masses Whereas conventional homes normally consist of one large volume, this modular design sees various blocks that can be interconnected according to personal needs. The initial design is a horizontal, single-story home, but it could easily be configured into multi-story arrangements down the road in order to make room for additional family members. In a horizontal arrangement, the rooms have all been connected so that each room is a separate space with its own front door and roof terrace. Joined at the corners, the layout enables the house to embrace the landscape. Each “box” has its separate green space or garden, which becomes an integral part of the entire home. In addition to its remarkable flexibility, the project also boasts a strong sustainable profile . The boxes are framed with concrete and then filled with locally made adobe blocks. The natural materials provide thermal mass to the home, a feature that reduces energy loss and keeps the interiors at a comfortable temperature year-round. The windows and doors are made of bamboo lattice shades, which allow for natural light and ventilation to flow into the interior living spaces. Additionally, they pull double-duty as shade-providing pergolas to create pleasant areas for socializing outside the home. + Zeller & Moye Via ArchDaily Photography by Jaime Navarro and drawings by Zeller & Moye

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This countertop dishwasher promises to wash your dishes in just 10 minutes

January 28, 2019 by  
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Living in a tiny apartment — or tiny home  — no longer needs to mean giving up the luxury of a dishwasher. Meet Tetra, an award-winning countertop dishwasher that’s not only compact and cute as a button, but is also easy to install (no plumbing needed) and affordable with a limited pre-order price of $299. Produced by Heatworks and designed by frog , the small-but-mighty Tetra is marketed with a 10-minute load cycle and was recently demoed at CES 2019 earlier this month. Winner of the CES 2019 Best of Innovation Award, the Tetra dishwasher is unlike its more traditional sibling in that it only requires an electrical outlet — no plumbing needed. As part of Charleston-based Heatworks’ commitment to energy-efficient and resource-saving products, this countertop dishwasher is also designed to save energy and comes with its own reservoir that allows control over the amount of water used, depending on the number of dishes inside. According to Heatworks, hand-washing dishes can use up to 10 times more water than dishwashers. The Tetra countertop dishwasher measures 18 inches in width, 16.75 inches in height and 14 inches deep, and it comes with an internal detergent compartment as well as colorful modular racks that can be swapped out depending on what items need to be washed. The appliance is powered with the Heatworks’ patented Ohmic Array Technology, which the firm said allows for “precise temperature control,” quick cycles and gentle cleaning or even sanitation of baby bottles. Related: Learn which appliances suck up the most energy in your home “Instead of having elements that get really hot and then transfer the heat to the water, we actually pass electrical currents through the water itself,” the firm explained of the technology’s tankless heating. “Using graphite electrodes and electronic controls, we increase the energy state of the water molecules, so they move faster. The faster they move, the more kinetic energy they have. This causes the molecules to begin to bounce off each other; that kinetic energy turns into heat. Through direct energy transfer, your water is heated instantly, within (+/-) 1 degree Fahrenheit of the temperature setpoint.” Pre-orders for the Tetra are slated to open in Q1 2019. + Tetra Images via Heatworks

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Glass building in China is filled with soaring timber pillars in the shape of trees

December 19, 2018 by  
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Beijing-based firm  LUO Studio has unveiled a beautiful, all-glass headquarters for an eco-farm operator in China’s Henan province. The transparent Longfu Life Experience Center features a spectacular interior comprised of multiple soaring timber “trees” that can be easily reconfigured or dismantled entirely. The modular design not only reflects the current company’s commitment to providing clients with greener lifestyles, but it offers future tenants an adaptable building structure with infinite possibilities. According to the architects, the inspiration of the design stemmed from wanting to develop a structure that could offer optimal flexibility for years to come. By using  modular design , the building’s three main volumes can be reconfigured depending on the desired use. The timber “clustered columns,” which were inspired by the shape of trees, can be arranged as singular structures or combined “just like Lego bricks.” Related: Long Lodge is an elegant and sustainable mass timber retreat proposal in the woods “The clustered column was divided into five segments,” the architects explained. “The bottom part of each clustered column is in the shape of a regular polygon. These extend upward from the bottom and form a square outside edge.” Further adding flexibility to the design, the expansive 17,000-square-foot interior is arranged in an open-plan layout that relies primarily on  natural light . The two stories include a multi-functional space on the ground floor that can be used for large events or sectioned off for smaller gatherings. The first floor is a mezzanine gallery protected by series of glass balustrades. On the upper level, the timber structures have table spaces that wrap around their width to provide space for work or play. + LUO Studio Via Dezeen Photography by Jin Weiqi via LUO Studio

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Glass building in China is filled with soaring timber pillars in the shape of trees

3XN unveils a sustainable redesign for the Sydney Fish Market

November 8, 2018 by  
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Danish design practice 3XN has revealed its competition-winning redesign for the Sydney Fish Market, a waterfront marketplace that will undergo a $250 million expansion and, in the process, revitalize the waterfront. Topped with an undulating, wave-inspired roof, the contemporary building will emphasize connections with the outdoors while improving visitor access. Sustainability has also guided the design of the structure, which will feature smart, water-saving strategies including rainwater harvesting , graywater recycling and bio-filtration systems. The Sydney Fish Market, one of the city’s top tourist draws, will be relocated from its existing location in Pyrmont to an adjacent wharf on a 3.6-hectare site at Blackwattle Bay on the east side of the Sydney Harbor. 3XN has proposed upgrades to enhance the visitor experience with the addition of improved public space and circulation, a flexible and modular interior and room for several new features: a seafood cooking school, restaurants, bars, a new promenade and a new ferry stop. At the same time, the Danish architects will strive to preserve the architectural heritage and character of the existing market. Individual stalls will fill the interior’s semi-open layout to evoke traditional marketplaces. Built of timber and aluminum, the undulating roof will sport a fish scale-like pattern. In addition to the new market’s connections and strengthened sight lines with the waterfront , the building also aims to improve the harbor ecosystem through sustainable design. The bio-filtration system, for instance, will filter water runoff while doubling as a habitat for local birds. Industrial food waste will be recycled. Related: 3XN unveils competition-winning designs for Denmark’s Climatorium “Environmental and social sustainability are essential and inseparable parts of the design,” said Kim Herforth Nielsen, founding partner of 3XN. “The roof, landscaped forms, open atmosphere, plantings and materials that characterize the experience of the design are examples of this union. Throughout the course of the new market’s concept and design development, public amenity and environmental sustainability have formed the core of our decision-making processes.” The project is expected to break ground in 2019 and is slated to open in 2023. + 3XN Images via 3XN, Doug&Wolf, Aesthetica.Studio and mir.no

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A gloomy house is revived as a modern solar home built of recycled materials

November 8, 2018 by  
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A dark and gloomy, non-insulated dwelling with zero views to speak of has been dramatically transformed into a bright and sustainable home thanks to the work of local architecture studio Urban Creative . Flanked by 6-meter-tall walls and set on a long and narrow lot in inner Melbourne , 2 Halves Make a Home is a three-bedroom family residence that comprises two structures centered on a light-filled courtyard that allows daylight to penetrate deep into the living areas. Bricks sourced from the original decrepit structure were recycled for the construction of the new home, which features repurposed and sustainable materials throughout, from low-VOC finishes to a solar photovoltaic system and green wall. Faced with a site only 5.5 meters in width, the architects knew that access to the outdoors and light were crucial to making the family residence feel comfortably spacious. To that end, a courtyard was inserted along with walls of operable double-pane glass that blur the line between indoors and out. In addition to allowing natural light to enter the home, the courtyard also promotes passive cross ventilation while the full-height glazing and adjacent masonry party walls help capture early morning solar gain for passive heating in winter. “The original brick party wall has been uncovered and cleaned back to expose its rich warmth throughout the main axis of the dwelling,” the architects explained. “Not only does this avoid the use of new materials to construct this facade, but both dwellings on either side of the party wall serve to insulate each other.” Related: Samurai-inspired home keeps naturally cool in Melbourne Aside from the renovated brick wall and reclaimed brick used for the ground-floor facade, other recycled materials were used wherever possible. Reclaimed timber was used from the stairs and floorboards to the repurposed internal solid timber doors and timber shelves in the living room. Instead of replacing the ground floor structural slab, the architects polished the concrete and added a hydronic heating system. Low-VOC materials and finishes, like Tadelakt — a Moroccan rendering technique based on lime plaster and olive oil soap — promote a healthy indoor living environment. The house is also equipped with a solar array and a rainwater harvesting system. + Urban Creative Photography by Jessie May via Urban Creative

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A gloomy house is revived as a modern solar home built of recycled materials

This tiny shipping container home adapts to your needs

October 15, 2018 by  
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The tiny-living movement is thriving for a variety of reasons. An emphasis on minimalism, financial benefits and location freedom top the list. Many people who consider investing in a tiny home worry about size constraints, but the Calico tiny home by Katz Box offers a solution to that concern by offering a shipping container structure that adapts to its residents’ needs. Sustainability drives the Ohio-based Katz Box company with the goal of lowering the environmental impact of housing through reclaimed and recycled shipping containers. On the manufacturing end, the team is also committed to focusing on processing that minimizes waste. Related: Old shipping container repurposed as a 40-foot-tall parking booth In addition to creating an eco-friendly option through upcycling , the Calico design highlights a modular blueprint, meaning that each section of the interior is customizable to suit a variety of functions. An option for commercial or individual needs, the Calico provides a universal model to suit an endless array of demands, yet is completely tailored for a personal touch. The adaptable components don’t stop with the interior modular variations. In fact, this home can grow or shrink with the needs of the family. When more space is required, an additional shipping container or two can be added, making for a thoughtful and completely scalable design. Similarly, when the kids move out and it’s time to minimize, the added shipping containers can be removed. Mobility is another feature of the Calico, which can be relocated with ease. Appealing for the individual who moves often, it’s also an option for retail locations or temporary housing and offices, such as those on construction sites. Katz Box, the passion project company born from the sustainable mindset of owner Tobias Katz, is a relatively new option in the tiny-living movement. Founded in 2017, the objectives of Katz Box are many, including the goals of universal design elements and an accessible price point. Katz Box also aims to employ ultra-efficient building practices such as renewable energy and water conservation. + Katz Box Images via Tobias Katz

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