A timber observation tower with a vertical forest is proposed for Zagreb

July 10, 2019 by  
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Istanbul-based design studio SUPERSPACE has proposed a new landmark for Croatia’s capital of Zagreb that combines an architecturally striking observation tower with a vertical forest in the heart of the city. Dubbed Ascension, the timber structure would serve as a “new gate” between the historic parts of the city and the post-war areas. If built, the tower would be the 10th tallest building in all of Zagreb and one of the tallest wooden structures in Europe. Proposed for the heart of Zagreb , the Ascension tower is optimally positioned to take in views of the natural landscape, from the south bank of the Sava river to the forests of Medvednica Mountain. The tower location also marks the split between the old and the new parts of the city, from which the architects drew design inspiration. The history of Zagreb dates as far back as 1094 A.D. and much of the city prior to the 20th century was developed north of the Sava river. After World War II, a construction boom that took place south of the Sava river resulted in a modern development now called Novi Zagreb (“New Zagreb”). Related: Foster + Partners designs solar-powered Tulip observation tower for London “As the Novi Zagreb is the future and modern face of Zagreb, Ascension represents and empowers the connection with the past and future; nature and man-made; old and new; as though the ground ascended to the sky and created this void, to engage this dialogue with a strong flow and visual relation,” the designers explained in a press statement. “As a connecting and reflective feature of the old and the new city, Ascension greets the landmarks of the downtown with respect and claims a unique form with analogical proportions.” The Ascension tower features three main parts: a white and convex outer “shell” that symbolizes the revitalization of the new city; a timber-lined inner “shell” that symbolizes the identity of the old city; and a vertical forest of trees planted on multiple levels of the high-rise to create a visual link to Zagreb’s forested landscape. Viewing platforms are located on different heights of the tower to overlook select vistas including the Sava river, the city and the mountains. + SUPERSPACE Images via SUPERSPACE

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Two abandoned 1960s buildings in the middle of a desert become a chic eco retreat

May 1, 2019 by  
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London-based practice Anarchitect has breathed new life into two stone buildings from the 1960s that had laid vacant in the United Arab Emirates’ Sharjah desert for years. Using the crimson landscape as inspiration, the firm converted the abandoned buildings into the Al Faya Lodge , a light-filled eco retreat that was built with a variety of resilient materials to withstand the remote area’s extreme temperature fluctuations. Set into the foothills of Mount Alvaah and surrounded by miles of desert, the boutique hotel  required a very strategic design that would enable the structures to be resilient against the harsh climate. According to Anarchitect founder Jonathan Ashmore, the location was challenging to say the least. “Desert conditions present extreme heat in summer with intense and prolonged sun exposure,” Ashmore said. “It is important to consider these factors when first designing the form and mass of the building and secondly the selection of suitable and robust materials, which go hand-in-hand.” Related: Off-grid eco-retreats reconnect you to serene nature in Brazil Using the existing frames of the old buildings (formerly a grocery store and cafe) as a guide for the layout, the architects selected a number of robust materials to create a resilient design that would stand up to the elements for years to come. Locally-sourced stone and concrete were chosen to create a heavy thermal mass, which would help keep the interior spaces at a comfortable temperature year-round. Additionally, using concrete and stone also protects the building from the harsh weather that often sees driving rain, sand storms and freezing overnight temperatures. In addition to these materials, the hotel was clad in a vibrant mixture of weathered steel and teak hardwood to add a refined industrial aesthetic to the design. Large floor-to-ceiling panels let in optimal natural light throughout the interior and provide a strong connection with the amazing setting found outdoors. While guests to the lodge can enjoy stunning views of the mountains and desertscape from the hotel’s dining area, reception room and outdoor fire pit, the rooftop terrace is the place to be at sunrise and sunset. All of the five guest rooms feature large skylights for stargazing. When looking for a little downtime from exploring the area, guests can also take in a luxurious soak in the open-air saltwater pool. + Anarchitect + Al Faya Lodge Via Archdaily Photography by Fernando Guerra via Anarchitect

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Two abandoned 1960s buildings in the middle of a desert become a chic eco retreat

One-room tiny cabin is a minimalist refuge deep in the Brazilian forest

December 20, 2018 by  
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São Paulo-based architect Silvia Acar Arquitetura has unveiled a tiny minimalist cabin tucked into a lush Brazilian forest. Camouflaged in the tree canopy and set off the ground on stilts, the one-room Chalet L is a simple, 67-square-feet one-room cabin, entirely designed to offer the basics while disconnecting from the usual hustle and bustles of life. Located in the most southeastern part of São Paulo, the tiny cabin is located in an idyllic valley, surrounded by a dense forest filled with soaring trees and greenery. The cabin is lifted off the ground to reduce impact on the natural landscape. Being lifted off the ground also gave the architect the opportunity to orientate the cabin’s large glazed facade to face the best views of the mountains across of the valley. Related: Disconnect in these A-frame tiny cabins in the Catskills Chalet L is made out of steel frames and clad in “a cementitious slab on the sides” which were used to insulate the tiny structure to help the interior space maintain a comfortable temperature year round. The roof was built out of metallic layered tiles, which were used to add extra insulation to help keep the interior space cozy. There are no roads or walkways that provide access to the cabin. Instead, a simple walking trail leads to the structure, which is camouflaged into the tree canopy. Inside the cabin is minimalist space with just one room with light plywood cladding used on the walls. At the heart of the design is the large floor-to-ceiling glazed wall that provides unobstructed views of the forest and mountain range in the distance. The furnishings are sparse, just a bed, desk, sink and built-in nightstand provide the basic necessities needed to enjoy the small refuge. + Silvia Acar Arquitetura Via Archdaily Photography by André Scarpa

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Gorgeous, energy-efficient retreat rests among Utah’s mountains

November 9, 2018 by  
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Danish interior designer Mette Axboe spent months searching for the perfect U.S. location for a family retreat, but the hunt came to an abrupt end once she set sights on an expansive lot of 10 pristine acres overlooking Utah’s picturesque Park City. The mountain range in the background inspired the stunning design, which was conceived as a “looking box” to enjoy the scenery from any point in the home. Axboe worked with architect Chris Price and his firm Park City Design + Build to develop the idyllic retreat for long getaways. Although the family was open to ideas about the overall design, they knew that the focus had to be on the surrounding landscape. “We wanted something that would fit our lifestyle and family, and cater to frequent (and long-staying) guests from overseas,” Axboe said. “We asked Chris to ‘architect it up’ — keeping our layout in mind, and ensuring a good fit with both the site and surrounding area. It was very important for us to design a house that fit the landscape and not the other way around.” Related: A historic farmhouse is transformed into a modern home with a green roof Accordingly, the rolling fields and mountain range in the distance became the focal point of the home’s design. The  low-lying horizontal volume  is tucked into the landscape to help blend the structure into its surroundings. To create a “looking box,” the team included sizable windows and multiple outdoor decks to provide stunning views from virtually any angle. To further blend the home into its environment, the architects and designer went with a muted color palette using a combination of natural cedar and board-formed concrete. These materials continue through the interior, where enormous sliding glass doors and windows provide a seamless connection between the indoor and outdoor spaces. An expansive deck with large comfy sofas, a dining table and fire pit is the perfect spot for soaking up the amazing scenery. In addition to bringing nature to the forefront of the design, the residents were also focused on creating an energy-efficient home . As such, the architects employed various Passive Haus standards . Triple-pane windows were installed to allow the home to have access to ample natural light and stunning views without massive heat loss. Radiant heat flooring also provides even temperature control during the freezing Utah winters. As for the interior living areas , Axboe used her native Danish roots to create a modern, Scandinavian-inspired design. The home’s all-white walls and light oak flooring open up the space, providing a welcoming atmosphere throughout. According to Axboe, “This is a family home, not a cold art museum.” + Park City Design + Build Via Dwell Photography by Renan Ozturk via Park City Design + Build

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Natural stone and an expansive green roof blend the stunning Gozu House into the Andes Mountains

August 30, 2018 by  
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When it comes to creating a serene living space, Medellín-based firm Opus Studio put nature first in their design for the gorgeous Gozu House. Located in the small Colombian province of Antioquia, which sits in the Andes mountains, the home blends into its stunning natural environment with help from its natural stone cladding and expansive green roofs . Sitting at an altitude of 7,200 feet, the 5,000-square-foot family home sits nested into a lush, green valley within the Andes Mountain range. The structure is comprised of three main modules, topped with two undulating green roofs meeting at the center module. The home’s jagged silhouette is designed to mimic the the mountains in the background. Related: A striking timber home with a green roof disappears into a Mexican forest The Gozu House has a subtle presence thanks to its low, elongated volume, which, along with the natural pine wood and stone cladding , virtually camouflages the structure into its natural environment. The entrance of the home sits between the two “wings” of the design. Once inside, the entryway extends into a winding corridor that wraps around the interior, leading to the central living area and the exterior. Large glass panels and sliding doors provide a seamless connection with the outdoor space throughout the home’s layout. At the heart of the design is an open-air courtyard with a swimming pool surrounded by a large wooden deck –  a fun entertainment area for socializing. To create a home that was energy-efficient, the architects relied on a number of passive strategies. For instance, the main living space is oriented to the east to take advantage of the day’s sunlight while the bedrooms face the West to provide shade and privacy. Although the dual green roofs certainly play a part in connecting the home to its surroundings, they also provide an insulative thermal inertia for the living space, reducing the home’s energy needs. + Opus Studio Photography and video by Isaac Ramírez Marín via Opus Studio

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Natural stone and an expansive green roof blend the stunning Gozu House into the Andes Mountains

Historic Chinese granary is transformed into a chic mountain resort

August 27, 2018 by  
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A cluster of historic, rural Chinese buildings has been saved from the ravages of time by Shanghai-based architecture and interior design studio Ares Partners . The architects transformed six granary structures into the new MIYA | LOSTVILLA Huchen Barn Resort, an elegant and modern hotel tucked in the mountains of Ningbo’s Huchen township. Surrounded by stunning views, the sensitively restored architecture is complemented by modern furnishings and new buildings, covering a total site area of 5,430 square meters. Set between Tiantai Mountain and Siming Mountain, the old granary station was built in 1956. Five of the seven existing buildings were mainly built with stone masonry ; the lower part of the white-painted exterior featured rock stone, and the upper part was constructed with brick. The original buildings were fitted with very small windows located on the upper part of the facade. The remaining two buildings featured timber construction. The team’s goal was to preserve the architectural integrity as much as possible yet make the interiors more comfortable and inviting for human habitation. To that end, the architects stripped the white paint from the facade to reveal the beautiful stone masonry underneath and added large windows to let in more natural light and breathtaking views of the mountains. The structures were reinforced, and the utility pipes and conduits were hidden. Interior walls were inserted to create 21 guest suites. The architects also added a new building to house the reception and meeting facilities, and one of the former buildings from the 1970s was replaced with a new-build as well. Related: Schmidt Hammer Lassen wins bid to design new Ningbo Library in China “We believe the project is well accomplished to transform between two extreme opposite function spaces,” said the architects, who completed the project in 2017. “The architecture form of the new building is modern and abstract. The contemporary architecture language is yet to be respectful to the existing buildings around as well as to nature. Architecture, people and nature are in harmony.” + Ares Partners Images by Su Shengliang

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SAOTA’s Benguela Cove design takes rooms with a view seriously

July 27, 2018 by  
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When you announce you’ve moved into a home on a cove, the first image that comes to mind is a house with glorious views. And on that front, this house from SAOTA Architecture and Design with interiors by ARRCC does not disappoint. Located within the Benguela Cove Lagoon Wine Estate in South Africa , this modern home affords spectacular vistas from nearly every room on all levels – even from the bathtub. Perched just above the seashore of Benguela Cove Wine Estate in the Overberg region of the Western Cape , the sprawling home looks out over the Botrivier Lagoon and Overberg Mountains. Every material, inside and out, pays homage to natural resources , accented with subdued materials including steel and corrugated aluminum. The cerulean skies and azure water of the cove make the timber exterior and aluminum roof pop against the deep green landscape. The bedroom wing on the first floor sits atop the home’s living areas; each room has a panoramic view of the cove and adjoining greenery. The bathtub in the master bathroom has a window with a clear view of the mountains and cove. The landing below overlooks a courtyard before you step inside the living quarters. Related: One in four of world’s largest cities under water stress Huge blocks of granite flank the kitchen island and contrast with the brilliantly polished countertop, making it the focal point of the room. The light wood cabinets soften the kitchen, which overlooks the flowing design of the lounge and dining areas. The sweeping views go on, as does the theme of wood slats on the ceiling and granite floors. Relaxation is the theme of the living room. A colossal concrete hearth wall surrounds the fireplace and oversized picture window, and finely crafted pre-weathered steel cloaks the flues. Al fresco dining and socializing take place in an outdoor dining and kitchen area with an inviting and spacious sun deck. A staircase with glass railing and a CNC-cut timber screen background adds yet another tactile touch to the décor. + ARRCC + SAOTA Architecture and Design Photography by Adam Letch

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SAOTA’s Benguela Cove design takes rooms with a view seriously

Take a break in this nautically inspired tiny pod on a Scottish island

July 24, 2018 by  
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Airbnb’s roster of unique lodgings has just added a new star to its lineup: this tiny pod retreat located on a remote Scottish island. Designed by Roderick James Architects , the submarine-inspired, aluminum-clad Airship 002 is located on four acres of expansive greenery on the the Isle of Mull and comes equipped with all the amenities needed to disconnect from life’s hustle and bustle. The Airship 002, which rents for $168 a night , stands out in the idyllic landscape thanks to its elongated form capped with two all-glass domes on either side. Clad in  shiny aluminum , the building has a nautical theme – immediately noticeable thanks to multiple portholes in the walls. Inside the tiny pod, wood paneling creates a warm interior enhanced by an abundance of natural light. Related: Escape to this dreamy Airbnb eco retreat in a pristine Yucatan reserve Although the Airship is a compact structure, the contemporary interior design creates a warm and relaxing atmosphere. The kitchen is an open space with all of the amenities needed to create a home-cooked meal. To open up space throughout the tiny structure, space-saving techniques, such as a fold-out table, keep the living area uncluttered. Located just past the kitchen area, the bedroom features a comfy four-poster queen bed. A pair of portholes over the bed allows guests to enjoy a bit of stargazing as they drift off to sleep. At the heart of the interior are the two domed glass walls  on either side of the pod. A serene seating area with a wood-burning stove looks out over the mountains and sea to the west. On the opposite side, a large writing desk faces the beautiful Sound of Mull. A wooden deck with outdoor seating on the side of the pod offers additional views of the incredible surroundings. + Roderick James Architects + Airship 002 Via Uncrate Photography by Nigel Rigden

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Take a break in this nautically inspired tiny pod on a Scottish island

A former ski lift station takes on new life as a bold mountain lodge

July 12, 2018 by  
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A small mountain lodge has replaced an old ski lift station on the Krkonoše mountains in the Czech Republic. Czech studio ADR designed the ?erná Voda, named after a nearby stream, to serve as a place of respite for short-term guests of a nearby lodge’s owner. The isolated retreat stands in a meadow apart from the Horní Malá Úpa village, among tall trees and lush shrubbery that shroud the cabin in serenity. Stepping inside the ?erná Voda, guests will find a bright, minimalist design. Light timber, which covers the walls, floors and ceilings, creates an open, airy feel. The kitchen space offers a sharp contrast with blackened wood cabinetry. The simple interior draws focus to the large windows and their picturesque views of the mountains , including Sn?žka, the highest mountain peak in the country. One window opens to the outdoors and allows a breath of fresh air into the cabin. Upstairs, a sleeping loft outfitted with protective netting offers a quiet space for visitors to rest. As natural light filters into the ground floor at daybreak, the loft benefits from the pitched ceiling and retains some darkness for guests who prefer to sleep in. During cooler months, a small wood-burning stove keeps the cabin toasty and inviting after a long day of exploring the outdoors. The mountain lodge blends into its forested surroundings in the summer with its dark metal and blackened wood cladding. When the landscape becomes blanketed in snow, the gabled cabin stands out boldly in its environment. On the west end of the home, a deck extends the living areas to the outdoors. The ?erná Voda mountain lodge has been nominated for a 2018 Czech Architecture Award , which promotes projects that embrace the public and the environment by both new and seasoned architects. + ADR Images via Jakub Skokan and Martin T?ma / BoysPlayNice

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Scientists uncover giant canyons under the ice in Antarctica

May 29, 2018 by  
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Researchers have discovered three large canyons frozen beneath the ice of Antarctica , each of which is hundreds of kilometers in length. The canyons, which move through tall mountains that lie beneath the snowy surface of the southernmost continent, were discovered through radar and may serve a key function in Antarctic ice flow. “These troughs channelize ice from the center of the continent, taking it toward the coast,” study co-author Kate Winter told the BBC . “Therefore, if climate conditions change in Antarctica, we might expect the ice in these troughs to flow a lot faster toward the sea. That makes them really important, and we simply didn’t know they existed before now.” The three canyons are the Patuxent Trough, the Offset Rift Basin and the Foundation Trough, the largest of the three, which is more than 350 kilometers long and 35 kilometers wide. The bottom of the Foundation Trough is buried beneath two kilometers of ice. All three canyons are located beneath and across the high ice ridge known as the ice divide that runs from the South Pole toward West Australia. This divide is similar to other continental divides, such as those found in North America , in which water, or ice, flows toward different bodies of water based on which side of the divide it falls. Related: Scientists dash to explore Antarctic ecosystem hidden by ice for 120,000 years These newly-discovered canyons have altered scientists’ understanding of Antarctica’s future in a warming climate . “People had called this area a bottleneck,” study co-author Tom Jordan said . “The thought was that if the West Antarctic Ice Sheet were to collapse, then ice could flood out from the east. But the mountains we’ve found effectively put a plug in that bottleneck.” The data, much of which was unobtainable through satellite imagery, was gathered using radar and sensors attached to planes that surveyed the continent from above. “Remarkably, the South Pole region is one of the least understood frontiers in the whole of Antarctica,” researcher Fausto Ferraccioli said. “Our new aerogeophysical data will … enable new research into the geological processes that created the mountains and basins before the Antarctic ice sheet itself was born.” + PolarGAP Project Via BBC Images via Depositphotos (1, 2)

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Scientists uncover giant canyons under the ice in Antarctica

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