Handsome timber chalet shows off the beauty of modern minimalism

June 12, 2017 by  
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The charms of simplicity are celebrated in this beautiful timber chalet tucked in the Alps of eastern France. Designed by French architecture firm Studio Razavi , the recently completed Mountain House carefully sidesteps cookie-cutter design with its modern interpretation of the traditional alpine chalet. Located in the French village of Manigod in a popular ski destination, the Mountain House was subject to strict building codes that the architects say allowed for “very little freedom of architectural expression.” Local guidelines dictated numerous design aspects, including building height and width ratio, roof slope, building material , and even window sizes, in order to preserve the region’s traditional vernacular. The architects skillfully overcame these obstacles by studying the historical buildings and then producing a code compliant design that put a contemporary twist on the local architectural culture. The 200-square-meter Mountain House features the traditional three-story chalet layout with a pitched roof. Unlike its neighbors, however, the new holiday home sits on a lower level made of concrete rather than stone and doesn’t include the ornamental elements that adorn many of the homes in the valley. Related: Mind-bending mountain chalet looks as if it could tip over at any moment The Mountain Home only includes the essential features, making for a simple and utilitarian, yet beautiful design. Pine clads the first and second floor and untreated timber planks line the interior. A few painted surfaces and textures, such as the artificial stone tiles in the bathroom and dark carpet flooring, break up the largely timber palette. Large windows flood the home with natural light while several overhangs protect against harsh sun. + Studio Razavi Via Dezeen Images © Olivier Martin Gambier

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Handsome timber chalet shows off the beauty of modern minimalism

Snhetta’s Norwegian Wild Reindeer Centre Pavilion was Inspired by the Robust Landscape

May 13, 2017 by  
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Norway is perhaps best known for its coastal fjords , but the northern landscape has much to offer in its interior as well. Architecture firm Snøhetta took the opportunity to design a robust but low-impact building for visitors to immerse themselves in the Dovre Mountain plateau, home to musk oxen, arctic foxes and reindeer herds which roam amid a rich variety of plants and killer views. The pavilion is elemental in its use of a steel skin, glass walls and an extraordinary wood core which reads almost like a topographical map. The pavilion was commissioned by the Norwegian Wild Reindeer Foundation to allow visitors to behold the range of the reindeer. Snøhetta’s design for the center may have taken a cue from the Norwegian National Tourist Routes Project, which placed a series of Architectural refuges throughout the country. The pavilion is designed to withstand the harsh elements with a steel encasing protecting its wooden core. A bank of windows overlooks the Snøhetta Mountain from Tverrfjellet, a plateau at the elevation of 1,200 meters. The mythical landscape is reflected in part by a tremendous wooden wall inserted into the core of the pavilion. The robust organic quality of the wall was achieved by cutting large wooden beams on a CNC machine. The 25 cm square beams were then stacked and secured with wooden pegs to create the undulating effect. The wall looks as though it is deeply weathered, eroded by eons of wind and water. A bump out provides seating next to a suspended indoor fireplace, and the exterior has a similar seating arrangement. + Snøhetta Architects Via e-architect Photographs via  Snøhetta  and Klaas Van Ommeren

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Snhetta’s Norwegian Wild Reindeer Centre Pavilion was Inspired by the Robust Landscape

Old mountain retreat renovated into sublime off-grid refuge

April 28, 2017 by  
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The challenges of renovating older buildings are already numerous, but when working deep in 8,100-foot-high mountainous topography and extreme climate conditions, it can be downright perilous. Meeting the challenge head-on, architecture firms Arteks Arquitectura and Ginjaume Arquitectura i Paissatge partnered up to convert a 1930s mountain retreat in the Andorran Pyrenees into the modern, off-grid Illa Mountain Hut that can generate up to four days of self-sufficient energy . Working within the confines of such harsh conditions, reforming the mountain refuge proved to be an uphill battle at every turn. The first hurdle was working under the restrictions imposed by the area’s protected UNESCO World Cultural Heritage status. Additionally, the extreme weather conditions meant that the project team could only access the site – the 4th highest shelter in the Pyrenees – during the summer months. Related: Modern lodge in the Rocky Mountains produces as much energy as it consumes Although the conditions were not optimal for building, it did have its advantages. Working around so many environmental barriers enabled the building team to use the restrictions to their advantage by using eco-friendly materials that were purpose-built for the project. Due to the harsh conditions and topography, for example, the architectural team chose to use light and prefabricated materials that could be flown in by helicopter. With most of the elements prefabricated in workshops and assembled on site, the building now weighs about a third of a similarly-sized conventional building and the execution time of the project was cut down to a surprising six months. Using the existing building as a structural base helped the team to further minimize the cost of the project as well as reduce the waste associated with the project. The wooden frame was reinforced with an extended gabled roof which helps discharge large snow loads during winter. This feature was also strategic to optimize solar energy gain . Thanks to a large array of photovoltaic panels installed on the roof, the refuge can generate up to four days of energy self sufficiency , making the project 100% off-grid. In addition to its solar power, the structure uses an independent water treatment system equipped with coconut filters . Additionally, an efficient ventilation system and ultra-thick insulation keeps the interior spaces warm and cozy, free from the extreme exterior cold. + Arteks Arquitectura + Ginjaume Arquitectura i Paissatge Photography via Pol Viladoms

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Old mountain retreat renovated into sublime off-grid refuge

This village in Arizona has a simple solution to light pollution

April 28, 2017 by  
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Residents of Arizona Sky Village abide by one simple rule: “Turn off your goddammed lights .” The 21-household community near Portal, Arizona is comprised of stargazers and astronomers, and almost every home has its own domed observatory. But some people also wonder if the small community could hold the secrets of fighting light pollution in America. In Arizona Sky Village, clear night skies are a major priority. There are no outdoor lights allowed, and every single window in every home must have blackout curtains. Nighttime driving isn’t forbidden, but it’s discouraged, and most residents are too busy gazing at the stars to drive anyway. Co-founder Jack Newton condensed it all into that one colorful rule: turn off those lights! Related: What City Skies Would Look Like Without Light Pollution Newton, who is nearly 75, said he spends “90 percent of my time up in my dome.” He’s made three supernova discoveries in 2017 alone, and the International Astronomical Union christened an asteroid 30840 Jackalice after him and his wife Alice. He doesn’t even own the largest telescope in the community; that honor goes to neighbor Rick Beno , who has a 24-inch telescope. Many residents once had scientific careers and now spend their retirement in Arizona Sky Village – like retired NASA astrophysicist Fred Espenak – but Newton managed department stores during his career. Few Americans benefit from the starry skies of Arizona Sky Village. The American Astronomical Society says people have a universal right to starlight; but around 99 percent of Americans actually live with a constant sky glow, according to The Guardian. Light pollution isn’t just bad for stargazing; it could have an impact on health as well. Blue lights streaming from cellphones and laptops have led to insomnia in some users and evidence isn’t conclusive yet but some studies suggest changing the light and dark rhythms in our bodies could increase the risk of diabetes, obesity, and cancer. International Dark Sky Association astronomer John Barentine said in Arizona Sky Village, “the people are already practicing what we recommend.” Kitt Peak National Observatory director Lori Allen told The Guardian to help keep skies dark, “There are three simple things people can do. Shield their lights, dim their lights, and use the right color bulbs.” Via The Guardian Images via John Fowler on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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This village in Arizona has a simple solution to light pollution

Modpools turns shipping containers into amazing swimming pools

April 28, 2017 by  
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We’ve seen shipping containers transformed into homes , shops , and even urban farms – but Modpools gives these repurposed structures a whole new life as backyard swimming pools . Modpools are easy to install and transport, and they come with a series of cool features including heaters, jets, portholes, and LED mood lighting you can control with your smartphone. Modpools are available in 8′ x 20′ or 8′ x 40′ container sizes and they can be installed in no time. By adding a divider, users can even create a temporary or permanent hot tub section. These customizable all-in-one pool systems ship with ready-to-use, built-in pool equipment and a high-tech Ultraviolet system that keeps the water clean without the need for chemicals. Related: ScottWhitbyStudio transforms a shipping container into a pop-up cinema You can install Modpools above ground with raised decking, partially underground with retaining walls, or at ground level. This makes them versatile and easy to adapt to different topographies and backyard sizes. You can add a special touch to your prefab swimming pool by adding a window to the side of the shipping container. + Modpools Via Curbed

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Modpools turns shipping containers into amazing swimming pools

Worlds greenest terminal opens at Oslo airport

April 28, 2017 by  
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Nordic Office of Architecture recently completed the world’s greenest airport terminal with their new 115,000-square-meter extension that’s doubled the size of Oslo Airport. As the world’s first airport building to achieve the BREEAM Excellence sustainability rating, the renovated Oslo Airport boasts an array of energy-efficient strategies as well as on-site energy harvesting systems. The most notable energy-saving measure is the airport’s collection and storage of snow for reuse as coolant during the summer. The recent expansion is a continuation of Nordic’s work on the Oslo Airport, which the architecture firm designed in 1998. The Oslo-based design studio’s 300-meter-long extension preserves the building’s simple and iconic appearance while increasing airport capacity from 19 million to an anticipated future capacity of 30 million. New design elements also improve the passenger experience, such as the reduction of walking distances to a maximum of 450 meters, and the overhaul of the existing train station at the heart of the airport. Artificial lighting is minimized in favor of natural lighting to improve passenger comfort and reduce energy demands. Related: Zaha Hadid unveils plans for world’s largest airport terminal in Beijing In addition to the use of natural lighting and the reuse of snow as a summer coolant, the architects reduced the airport’s carbon footprint by 35 percent with the use of environmentally friendly and recycled materials . The new pier is entirely clad in timber sourced from Scandinavian forests, while additional natural materials, green walls, and water features, can be found throughout the interior. Recycled steel and concrete mixed with volcanic ash were also used. Improved insulation has helped the building achieve Passive House-level performance standards and, coupled with on-site energy harvesting, slashed energy consumption by over 50 percent as compared to the existing terminal. + Nordic Office of Architecture Images by Ivan Brodey

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Worlds greenest terminal opens at Oslo airport

Apple’s newest store has Solar Wings" that transform before your eyes

April 28, 2017 by  
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Apple pulled out all the stops for their glamorous new store in Dubai. Designed by Foster + Partners , the recently completed Apple Dubai Mall is unlike any mall we’ve seen before with its giant “Solar Wings” that open and close in a beautiful choreographed display. The kinetic art installation, which ranks among the world’s largest, helps to create an engaging civic space, while providing an innovative response to the culture and climate of the Emirates. Located next to the iconic Burj Khalifa , the two-story Apple Store overlooks the famous Dubai Fountains through its 186-foot-wide and 18-foot-deep terrace. The architects drew inspiration from the traditional Arabic Mashrabiya, or decorative screens, to create the perforated “Solar Wings” that shade the outdoor terrace during the day and open up at night. The wings are made from layers of lightweight carbon fiber mesh and arranged in patterns that minimize solar heat radiation, according to the architect’s solar studies. Related: Apple announces goal to make products from 100% recycled materials “The opening and closing of these majestic Solar Wings is analogous to a delicate ballet recital – but on a monumental scale,” said Stefan Behling, Head of Studio, Foster + Partners. “In some ways it is a very spiritual experience, with the sun streaming through them and creating the most delicate and beautiful patterns of light and shade – a seamless blend of technology and culture.” The shaded terrace features nine large trees with integrated seating. The tree planters rotate mechanically to ensure optimal sunlight conditions for the trees. + Foster + Partners Images via Foster + Partners

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Apple’s newest store has Solar Wings" that transform before your eyes

This Cider Saved Apples from Rotting Away

March 21, 2017 by  
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As Utah’s only hard cider maker, Mountain West prides itself on using as many local ingredients as possible. And now, they’ve taken that to a whole new level, with a sustainable twist. The Salt Lake City–based cidery has teamed up with nonprofit…

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This Cider Saved Apples from Rotting Away

Stunning wooden Oberholz Mountain Hut branches out of the mountainside like a fallen tree

February 6, 2017 by  
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Nestled among Italy’s Dolomites mountains  rests a stunning new mountain hut designed by Peter Pichler Architecture and architect Pavol Mikolajcak . The Oberholz Mountain Hut , which is located near the Obereggen Ski Resort , takes cues from the landscape, fitting into the surrounding natural beauty like a fallen tree. One glance at these photographs will leave you yearning to jump on a plane to Italy to explore the gorgeous wooden restaurant . The cantilevered building sprawls out from the mountain, providing visitors with breathtaking views. Three wings span out from one structure like three tree branches, “creating a symbiosis with the landscape,” in the words of Peter Pichler Architecture . The sloping roofs offer a nod to local hut design. Related: Peter Pichler’s Mirror Houses reflect the amazing beauty of the Dolomites Meanwhile the interior, featuring a picturesque restaurant, is sleek and modern. Each wing ends in a massive glass facade facing peaks to the southwest. Branching roofs along with the interior design express “a new and contemporary interpretation of the classic mountain hut.” The Oberholz Mountain Hut is situated right next to a cable station so visitors can hit the ski slopes and then return to the hut for a meal in the intimate dining space or a drink in the cozy bar near the entrance. The stunning interior is matched by a spacious outdoor terrace filled with more tables for dining and relaxing. The hut is entirely constructed with wood , according to Peter Pichler Architecture. Spruce comprises the structural elements and much of the interior, gray larch adorns the facade, and the furniture inside is made of oak. The firm describes the hut as “a homogeneous sculpture with local materials.” Peter Pichler and Pavol Mikolajcak designed the Oberholz Mountain Hut after winning a 2015 competition. The restaurant is now open to visitors. + Peter Pichler Architecture + Pavol Mikolajcak + Oberholz Images courtesy of Peter Pichler Architecture

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Stunning wooden Oberholz Mountain Hut branches out of the mountainside like a fallen tree

Dinosaur egg museum in China is built from bamboo and concrete

October 26, 2016 by  
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Located in Qinglong Mountain National Geological Park, the dragon egg museum and its form was determined by the placement of the dinosaur eggs laid around 70 million years ago. The 70-meter-long building also pays homage to its more recent past with a roof made from reclaimed tiles left by local villagers and preservation of the natural site, including the undulating terrain and the 800-year-old trees. The double facade of tiles and concrete helps keep the museum naturally cool . Related: Jean Nouvel Unveils Plans for Nature-Filled National Art Museum of China Visitors tour the dinosaur egg exhibitions through a series of raised walkways that snake through the areas where the fossilized eggs are located and dimly illuminated by small lights. Grills punctuate the roof to let in natural ventilation, while blocking natural light . The architect’s minimalist design creates a mysterious atmosphere that aims to immerse visitors in the prehistoric world. The Qinglong Mountain National Geological Park also built a second building, the visitor reception center (not pictured), to accompany the museum that will offer magnificent panoramic views across the Geopark. + Huazhong University of Science and Technology Via Dezeen

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Dinosaur egg museum in China is built from bamboo and concrete

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