Villa in Vietnam prioritizes natural light and green space

July 1, 2020 by  
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Step into K-Villa+, located in C?n Th?, Vietnam. Finished in 2020, this villa maximizes open spaces for natural light and prioritizes environmentally-inclusive design with a  green roof  and tropical-style garden. The villa is located near the Mekong River in the center of H?ng Phú, a newly-established residential area close to public transportation. Designed by Space + Architecture, the roughly 19,375-square-foot villa boasts a low building density, a green roof and a rainwater collection system. K-Villa+ is one of few private residences in the country to be certified by the Vietnam Green Building Council. The garden space incorporates a variety of  trees  native to the local area, including mango, palm, milkfruit, bougainvillea and plumeria. An ecological fish pond on the property features aquatic plants such as lotus, water lily and centella. Related: A rich vegetable garden grows atop a unique home in Vietnam Going with the overall eco-friendly theme, the designers paid specific attention to  natural ventilation  for the project. This area of Vietnam experiences a typical monsoon season with natural circulating air, which the designers worked with, using wide-open spaces, breeze block walls and a specific door layout to maximize airflow. Controlled air flows into the building to help keep the interior cool, and the green roof helps reduce thermal radiation. Additionally, the tropical weather in the region presents excellent opportunities for  natural light . Large windows and openings work harmoniously for regulated airflow and light, along with an indoor garden and skylight. An artfully-designed spiral staircase exposes the interior to even more light, while the property fence is made of a combination of cut out steel and glass. At nighttime, occupants can switch to an automatic lighting system and energy-efficient LED lights. The villa employs a  rain reuse system  to help irrigate its many plants, with plans to turn the system into a drinking water source. The gardens are landscaped with grasscrete brick to reduce concrete surfaces, increase natural plant composition and help to drain rainwater. Eco-friendly materials such as un-baked brick and certified-sustainable wood were painted with non-VOC paint to avoid harmful emissions. + Space + Architecture Via Archdaily Images via Space + Architecture

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Villa in Vietnam prioritizes natural light and green space

Organic vegan restaurant named to raise awareness for deforestation in Brazil

June 9, 2020 by  
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Recently opened in the Brazilian city of São Paulo and designed by local architecture and design practice VAGA, the Cajuí Restaurant offers a menu of vegan , organic and natural ingredients supplied by small farmers from different regions of Brazil. Cajuí was named after the native species of cashew found in the Cerrado biome grasslands in central Brazil. Lesser known yet right next door to the Amazon rainforest , the Cerrado biome encompasses almost 800,000 square miles of savannas and grasslands — roughly the size of Alaska and California put together — and is one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems on Earth. It is home to 5% of the planet’s biodiversity, and many of the country’s indigenous people who live there rely on the ecosystem’s resources for sustainable livelihoods. According to the World Wildlife Fund , deforestation in the Cerrado is responsible for an estimated 250 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year; this is the same amount that 53 million cars would emit in one year. Related: Modular materials make up an eco-friendly restaurant in Taiwan Cajuí Restaurant is the brainchild of plant-based chef and São Paulo-native Natalia Luglio, who wanted to open an accessible restaurant in her hometown that prioritized organic , local ingredients. The unique biome of Cerrado serves not only as inspiration behind the name but also as an inspiration behind both the menu and the ambiance. Because of this, the designers wanted to pay special attention to the vibrant interaction between color, light and material in ways that alluded to the Cerrado. The architects concentrated on creating ample natural light in between the exterior and the interior spaces by attaching an additional wooden structure to the body of the main building, which had been renovated. VAGA also added translucent roof tiles lined with organic jute on the ceiling so that the sunlight could shine through and influence the color depending on the time of day. The red pigment in the cement floor of the restaurant mirrors the color of the Cerrado soil. Large plant beds were added to the staff area to hold some of the ingredients used on the menu. To keep the construction as sustainable as possible, almost all of the waste generated from the renovation was reused for additional projects, such as the waiting area deck, floor leveling and the bamboo ceiling in the back of the building. + VAGA Photography by Pedro Napolitano Prata via VAGA

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Solar-powered Lowell Justice Center will be Massachusetts first LEED Platinum courthouse

June 4, 2020 by  
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Half-an-hour north of Boston, the Massachusetts city of Lowell has recently welcomed the new Lowell Justice Center, a modern facility on track to become the state’s first LEED Platinum-certified courthouse. Designed by Boston-based Finegold Alexander Architects , the $146 million courthouse has consolidated a series of courts and service offices that had formerly been located in outdated and dysfunctional buildings across Lowell and Cambridge. The Lowell Justice Center also serves as a new and welcoming civic landmark that emphasizes transparency, local history and community. Located on a 3.2-acre site within Lowell National Historic Park, The Lowell Justice Center serves as the cornerstone of the city’s Hamilton Canal District development masterplan. The 265,000-square-foot modern building comprises 17 courtrooms , a variety of office spaces and a two-story entrance lobby that can accommodate waiting lines of over 100 people at any time. Related: Renzo Piano reveals designs for Toronto courthouse targeting LEED Silver “The justice center is designed to create a welcoming and calming environment, featuring generous natural daylight, warm finishes and public art that reflects the diverse history and culture of Lowell,” said Moe Finegold FAIA, principal in charge for Finegold Alexander Architects, in reference to the quadrilingual quotations and words about justice that decorate the building as well as the natural material palette and artwork that pay homage to Lowell’s textile history. The courthouse is also universally accessible with sloped walkways and offers easy access via public transportation, car or bicycle. Ample glazing reflects the courthouse’s values of transparency while letting abundant natural light into the building to minimize reliance on artificial lighting. The center has also been designed in response to its site and to follow passive solar principles to meet high standards of energy efficiency. In addition to highly insulated walls and high-performance mechanical and lighting systems, the courthouse also contains a chilled beam HVAC system and photovoltaic panels to help achieve performance targets 40% better than code. + Finegold Alexander Architects Photography by Anton Grassl Photography via Finegold Alexander Architects

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Solar-powered Lowell Justice Center will be Massachusetts first LEED Platinum courthouse

Climate change, deforestation lead to younger, shorter trees

June 4, 2020 by  
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Recently published research in  Science  magazine warns that older, taller  trees  are quickly becoming a thing of the past, consequently leaving forests in disarray. Forest dynamics being disrupted like this spells trouble for ecosystem equilibrium and  biodiversity .  While natural disturbances —  flooding , landslides, insect infestations, fungi, vine overgrowth, disease, wildfire and even wind damage — negatively impact  forests , they do not compare with the magnitude of harm humans have precipitated. Consider how over-harvesting trees for more land use has altered forest landscapes. The felling of numerous tree stands has severely dwindled the carbon sinks required to fix excess atmospheric carbon resultant from human-induced  greenhouse gas emissions .  Related:  What’s causing the decline in monarch butterfly populations? Without the necessary  carbon  storage from forest trees, global temperatures will continue to rise and intensify consequent climate change damage.  Climate change  exacerbates conditions through insect and pathogen outbreaks that further compromise tree health and development. In fact,  research  has shown that annual “carbon storage lost to insects” equals “the amount of carbon emitted by 5 million vehicles.” This illustrates how substantial tree decline due to insects can be.  Why are biologists worried about the adversely shifting forest dynamics? As the  U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL)  explained, “Wood harvests alone have had a huge impact on the shift of global forests towards younger ages or towards non-forest land, reducing the amount of forests, and old-growth forests, globally. Where forests are re-established on harvested land, the trees are smaller and  biomass  is reduced.”  Conservationists  subsequently admonish that continuing with business as usual will only worsen the conditions that increase tree mortality rates and the accompanying biodiversity crisis. As  NPR  reported, “Researchers found that the world lost roughly one-third of its old growth forest between 1900 and 2015. In North America and Europe , where more data was available, they found that tree mortality has doubled in the past 40 years.” It is believed these worrying trends will persist unless changes are made and new protection policies enacted.  Research team lead, Nate McDowell of PNNL, realized there was a major problem as he studied how global temperature rise affected tree growth and the changes occurring within a forest. Satellite imagery and modeling data unveiled a comprehensive view of the state of global forests and their shifts from older, taller trees to younger, shorter ones. The overall picture is of extensive loss. “I would recommend that people try to visit places with big trees now, while they can, with their kids,” McDowell advised. “Because there’s some significant threat, that might not be possible sometime in the future.” McDowell’s research ties in closely with last summer’s study from  National Science Review , which showcased how exposure to both rising temperatures and extreme temperature ranges have decreased  vegetation  growth throughout the northern hemisphere. The finding upended previous beliefs that  global warming  would increase vegetation photosynthesis and extend the photosynthetic growing season. Instead, global warming was seen to increase the chances of  drought  and wildfire, which reduced water availability and therefore distressed forest vegetation. + Science Via NPR and PNNL

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Charles Library boasts one of Pennsylvania’s largest green roofs

May 20, 2020 by  
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Contemporary, sustainable and welcoming, Temple University’s new Charles Library in Philadelphia raises the bar for research libraries around the world. Completed by  Snøhetta  for $135 million in 2019, the new LEED Gold-targeted Charles Library is not only a beacon of energy-efficient design, but also integrates a diversity of collaborative and social learning spaces that are typically left out of traditional research libraries. The new library also boasts a 47,300-square-foot green roof — one of the largest in Pennsylvania — that covers over 70% of the building’s roof surface and is part of a stormwater management system designed to manage all rainwater runoff on the approximately three-acre site, plus an additional acre of off-site impervious ground.  Built to replace the Paley Library, the Charles Library offers more than double the number of study spaces compared to its 1960s predecessor. The 220,000-square-foot  library  is located at the intersection of two major pedestrian pathways, Polett Walk and Liacouras Walk, and responds to its high-traffic location with an inviting public-facing design that includes generous plazas sloping up to the library entrances. Large expanses of glazing and grand wooden arched entrances cut into the split-faced granite facade help emphasize a welcoming atmosphere. Inside, the building is centered on a large domed atrium lobby that offers views of every corner of the building. Natural light is a key feature of the new library, particularly on the sun-filled fourth floor where visitors are encouraged to wander through stacks of the library’s browsable collection. The fourth floor also looks out on views of the lush  green roof  and gardens, which are planted with over 15 different species to provide a rich urban habitat for pollinators.  Related: LEED Gold-targeted library and community park has otherworldly appeal The 47,300-square-foot green roof is part of the library’s  stormwater management  system that also includes pervious paved plazas and paths as well as landscaped planting beds. Rainwater that infiltrates these permeable surfaces are directed into two underground catchment basins that can store and process nearly half a million gallons of water during storm events.  + Snøhetta Images © Michael Grimm

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Old Polish barn transforms into a cool contemporary home

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

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5 Clever Ways To Maximize Natural Light in Your Kitchen

May 13, 2020 by  
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The kitchen often gets more use than any other room … The post 5 Clever Ways To Maximize Natural Light in Your Kitchen appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Cool, California ranch house in San Francisco is a sustainable gem

April 17, 2020 by  
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San Francisco-based firm Malcolm Davis Architecture  has managed to combine the cool vibe of Cali design with the energy-saving principles of  sustainable living . Their latest design is a modern ranch home that was built using reclaimed materials and boasts several active and passive strategies that reduce the home’s environmental impact. According to the architects, the design for the beautiful home was inspired by Northern California’s stunning landscape. From the beginning, the team worked to establish an eco-friendly approach when it came to protecting the home’s  natural vegetation . As one of the first steps, the team worked in collaboration with  Ground Studio Landscape Architecture  to ensure that the existing redwood and oak trees found on site would be protected during the construction process. Additionally, the landscape architects added an olive grove just steps away from the home. Related: Reclaimed wood home resembles barns in Sonoma Valley The home’s construction itself also followed a sustainable outline that included repurposed materials and passive elements. Instead of demolishing the existing home that was on site to make way for the new design, for example, the team carefully dismantled the building materials to be re-used in the new design. As such, the new home was built using salvaged lumber  and several other repurposed building materials such as brick and glass. A green walkway leads up to the one-story ranch, which is flanked on both sides by massive walls of sliding glass doors. On one side, the doors lead into a charming interior courtyard, while on the other side, the doors lead out to the heart of the home — an outdoor patio with a swimming pool. Throughout the interior spaces, the home boasts a stunningly modern, but casual design that focuses on letting the homeowners enjoy a casual, indoor-outdoor lifestyle. The combination of bright white walls, large swaths of glass,  exposed concrete  (used on the flooring and walls) and wooden accents gives the home a bright, healthy atmosphere. Concealed within the home’s stunning design are several sustainable elements. The home uses several  passive concepts  to reduce artificial energy use, such as orientating the home to make the most out of southern sun exposure. Additionally, the extended flat roof with overhangs shields the interior living space from the strong summer sun. The operable glass doors and ultra-large windows provide optimal cross ventilation for natural cooling throughout the home. In addition to its passive elements, the home uses several active elements as well. For example, the home was installed with a solar array to produce clean energy, and solar thermal panels heat the home’s water supply and pool water. The home also has an integral  greywater harvesting system  that reroutes rainwater to be used to flush toilets and irrigate the landscaping. + Malcolm Davis Architecture Photography by Bruce Damonte Photography Via v2com

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Cool, California ranch house in San Francisco is a sustainable gem

Contemporary Camp O communes with nature in the Catskills

April 1, 2020 by  
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Humble natural materials and modern sensibilities combine in Camp O, a light-filled house-studio nestled in the middle of the Catskills’ preserve. Designed by New York City-based designer  Maria Milans del Bosch  as a private getaway for herself and her husband, the holiday home pays homage to the local vernacular with a distinctly contemporary twist. The forested landscape also inspired the home, which is wrapped in a cedar rain screen treated with the Japanese charring technique “Shou Sugi Ban.” Carefully placed on an existing clearing to minimize site impact, the 2,190-square-foot Camp O takes cues from the local vernacular architecture for its palette of low-maintenance  natural materials , such as the concrete foundation, wood siding, plywood sheathing, wood stud walls, beams and joists, and metal double-pitched roof. Where the home differs from the neighboring barns and cabins is in how those materials are combined to create a sculptural geometric abode defined by natural light, clean lines and minimalism. The  charred cedar facade  that gives the home its contemporary appeal also protects the building from water, fire and insects and doesn’t require maintenance. Sustainability is further integrated into the design through the strategic orientation of the home for natural ventilation and optimal sun exposure to minimize energy consumption. Insulation was placed outside the building envelope to maximize interior comfort and to allow the interior elements to remain exposed. Bathed in natural light from multiple directions, the airy home appears to change throughout the day and seasons. Related: Beautiful solar-powered minimalist cabins are clad in locally sourced charred timber “At Camp O, the dialogue between the stereotomic and the tectonic together with its haptic qualities transcend the mere appearance of the technical in much the same way as its place-form withstands the passing of time rooting the building into the Nature that surrounds it,” explained the architect in a press release. “The building becomes a resonance box that intensifies the experience of the outdoors indoors : Its insertion into the site, its volumetry and its materiality express the site’s calling into matter.” + Maria Milans Studio Images © Montse Zamorano

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Contemporary Camp O communes with nature in the Catskills

A cluster of serene bungalows is tucked into Vietnamese rice fields

April 1, 2020 by  
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When it comes to serene vacations, the hospitality sector is finally realizing that true luxury comes in different forms. For those looking to enjoy peace and quiet while being completely immersed in nature, the beautiful Ruong resort in Vietnam, designed by studio H.2 , features an intimate complex of bungalows built with natural materials  and tucked behind miles of expansive rice fields. Located near a popular beach resort in the Phuoc Thuan commune, the Ruong complex is set off the beaten path into expansive rice fields that have been harvested by generations of local families. According to the architects, the idyllic location set the tone for the project’s design, creating a tranquil “place to return, rest and escape from the smog, noisy, hustle and bustle life in the city.” Related: Solar-powered eco hotel in Portugal offers surfers ocean views from green-roofed bungalows The small-scale resort features several individual bungalows arranged around a central area. Although the bungalows vary in size, they are all crafted from natural materials, such as wood and iron truss frames covered with tile and straw roofs, that have been used in traditional Vietnamese constructions for generations. H.2 collaborated with local workers to construct the buildings. Each bungalow is positioned to provide stunning views of the surroundings. Most of them have sliding glass doors that open up to wooden decks. These outdoor areas, as well as the glass walls that line the bungalows, create a seamless connection with nature while also welcoming natural light into the guest rooms. The duplex suites, which are directly connected to the rice fields via elevated decks, feature slanted roofs that mimic the silhouettes of kites soaring over the landscape. When guests can finally manage to pull themselves away from the spectacular views and comfy rooms, they can enjoy the resort’s communal spaces. At the heart of the complex is a thatched-roof restaurant and a large swimming pool. + H.2 Images via H.2

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