Rammed earth ties a contemporary home to the rocky New Zealand landscape

March 8, 2019 by  
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Emerging out of the landscape like a series of boulders, the Kanuka Valley House set into a lush valley in Wanaka, New Zealand mimics the large schist rocks that punctuate the pristine landscape. Wellington-based architectural practice WireDog Architecture designed the angular home for a winemaker and his family, who wanted the house to respect the beauty of the natural landscape. To that end, the architects not only modeled the building off of local rock formations, but also used a natural materials palette and rammed earth construction to visually tie the home to the land. Spanning an area of 3,390 square feet, the Kanuka Valley House consists of three northwest-facing volumes carefully positioned to maximize indoor-outdoor living . Floor-to-ceiling windows and sliding pocket doors create a seamless flow between the indoors and out while framing stunning vistas of the Kanuka trees, Lake Wanaka and the snow-capped mountains in the distance. The outdoors are also pulled in through the abundance of timber surfaces used indoors, from the reclaimed native rimu wood used for floors and ceilings to the cabinetry built of bamboo and OSB. The appliances and other materials, such as the steel counters, also follow the earthy and muted aesthetic. Related: Eco-friendly guesthouse in Brazil sports a green roof and rammed earth walls The beautiful rammed earth walls, which have been left exposed and unpainted, not only tie the building to the landscape, but also have the added benefit of thermal mass. During the daytime, heat is absorbed in the walls, which then slowly dissipate the stored warmth at night when temperatures are cooler. This advantage of energy-efficient construction is strengthened with the addition of  triple-glazed windows and deep roof overhangs that mitigate unwanted solar heat gain. The architects said, “The design engages passive house principles , with attention to insulation detailing, materials, ventilation and heating.” + WireDog Architecture Via Dwell Photography by Matthieu Salvaing via WireDog Architecture

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Rammed earth ties a contemporary home to the rocky New Zealand landscape

A giant tree grows inside CRAs renovated farmhouse proposal

October 9, 2018 by  
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Italian design office Carlo Ratti Associati has unveiled designs for the Greenary, a renovated farmhouse that will be designed around a large, leafy, 50-year-old Ficus tree. Rising to a height of nearly 33 feet tall, the perennial tropical plant will anchor the main living area while the various living quarters will be arranged around the upper canopy. The adaptive reuse project is the first step in CRA’s competition-winning master plan and factory for Mutti, one of the leading tomato brands in the world. Located in a bucolic region in Italy’s “Food Valley” close to the city of Parma in northern Italy, the new Mutti master plan “strives to integrate nature and the built environment,” according to the architects. The Greenary will serve as a private residence located a few hundred meters from the new Mutti factory, a massive building that will process up to 5,500 tons of tomatoes a day. Both buildings will be designed around the concept of biophilia and connection with nature. “The Greenary is not a treehouse or a house on a tree, but a house designed around a tree,” explained Carlo Ratti Associati in its project statement. “Life unfolds in sync with that of a 50-year old Ficus, a perennial tropical plant housed in the middle of the farmhouse south hall. All around the tree, a sequence of interconnected rooms creates six domestic spaces — three above the entrance, three below it — each of them dedicated to a specific activity: from practicing yoga to listening to music, to reading and eating together.” Related: Thousands of tomato-sauce jars to turn into “tomato architecture” at Mutti In addition to the Ficus tree, which thrives in indoor environments, the house will feature a mainly timber palette, from the structural beams and stairs to the various furnishings. Large windows will flood the interior with natural light while framing views of the rural surroundings. Completion for the master plan is slated for 2023. + Carlo Ratti Associati Images via Carlo Ratti Associati

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A giant tree grows inside CRAs renovated farmhouse proposal

Charming home uses local, natural materials to pay homage to a chestnut tree

September 21, 2018 by  
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Young Czech architecture firm Valarch Studio has completed a modest yet elegant family house built largely of timber to reference the property’s old chestnut tree in the garden. Named the Chestnut House, the home spans a compact footprint of just 840 square feet and comprises two sections: a larger living area and a smaller, green-roofed technical area united via a multifunctional vestibule. All building materials were locally sourced whenever possible with an emphasis on natural materials. When Valarch Studio was tapped with turning the small site, a former recreation area, into a place for a family home, the team’s attention was captured by the large chestnut tree growing in an overrun field. The architects decided to use that tree as a focal point for the property and allowed it to dictate the orientation and overall atmosphere of the home. “The dark brown house surrounded by the lush green landscape mirrors a chestnut breaking out of its thorny green shell,” the architects said. “It is built of raw, untreated wood with burnt lining to complement the solid chestnut tree.” Timber also lines the minimally detailed interiors, which are fitted with large windows that flood the rooms with natural light and frame views of the lush outdoors. The interior layout is split into two sections joined together with a vestibule that includes wood storage and extends into an outdoor covered terrace with seating. The living areas, located at the heart of the home, are housed in a double-height space with a small loft guestroom above. The master suite and kid’s bedroom are located on the north side of the house. Related: Compact Karst House offers a contemporary twist on classic countryside living in Slovenia Completed for a cost of approximately $160,000 USD, the Chestnut House was built with wood framing and a steel skeleton and elevated on iron and concrete supports. + Valarch Studio Photography by Jakub Skokan and Martin T?ma / BoysPlayNice

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Charming home uses local, natural materials to pay homage to a chestnut tree

Mars candy company plans to fix the "broken" cocoa supply chain

September 21, 2018 by  
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Some big changes are ahead for Mars Wrigley Confectionery. The company, which produces some of the most popular treats in America, is revamping its cocoa supply to help combat poverty, child labor and deforestation . Mars hopes its new strategy will be fully in place by the year 2025 and fix what it referred to as the “broken” cocoa industry. “The cocoa supply chain as it works today is broken,” said John Ament, the vice president of the company, in an interview with Reuters . Related: Colombia to produce free chocolate — deforestation-free, that is… Critics have targeted the cocoa industry this year, because it negatively affects farmers and has contributed to environmental issues like deforestation. Mars Wrigley hopes to change the industry by investing in a new strategy — one that will ensure that all its cocoa is purchased from responsible growers. Although the plan is great for the environment and sustainability, Mars expects to spend around $1 billion to get it done. This is not the first time Mars has initiated a sustainability plan. In previous years, the company promised to buy only certified cocoa . This goal was supposed to be met by 2020, but Mars now says that certification is not enough. Related: Mars Australia to go to 100% renewable energy in just over one year The new strategy means that the company will be able to trace all the cocoa it purchases back to the original source, and a third party will verify that the growers are not contributing to deforestation. Mars will also pay more for cocoa that meets its new standards. Not only will this help fight poverty and child labor among cocoa producers, but it also gives farmers more incentive to practice sustainability. Under the old certification plan, farmers were not paid more for producing sustainable cocoa, which is why the strategy came under fire in the first place. Mars also plans to educate farmers on better growing practices and give them better access to funding. The company hopes this will lead to greater sustainability and increased production. + Mars Via Reuters Image via Mars

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Mars candy company plans to fix the "broken" cocoa supply chain

This chic Moganshan resort celebrates the local Chinese landscape

July 20, 2018 by  
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Blessed with serene mountain vistas and a rich history, Moganshan also boasts a wide array of beautiful resorts including Anadu, a new rural retreat designed by local architecture firm Studio 8 . Located at the northern foot of the Mogan Mountain in Huzhou, about two hours from Shanghai , the luxury resort embraces its enticing surroundings comprised of lush bamboo forests, tea fields and ancient villas. Constructed with natural materials throughout, the hotel is undeniably connected to its rural setting while still offering a contemporary edge. Completed in 2017, Anadu covers nearly 13,000 square feet spread across three floors. Studio 8 was commissioned to oversee the architecture, interior design and visual identity of the luxury resort, which highlights  local resources from the ingredients used in the restaurant to the selection of construction materials. Following the brand’s motto of “Find yourself in nature,” every floor embraces the outdoors through large windows and stunning water features. “Water itself, and especially a very calm water surface, generates immediately a sense of relax,” explained Studio 8 in a statement. “[We] decided that this element would be the core of the hotel, a connection between the rooms that articulates the structure of the entire building. For that purpose, the roof of each floor was turned into an infinity water feature. By bringing natural elements into the architectural spaces, the design fosters a connection between the building and the outside.” Related: Heatherwick Studio wants to build a tree-covered mountain in the middle of Shanghai The resort’s various rooms are organized in four major narratives inspired by the immediate surroundings. The Tea Room, for instance, faces the white tea fields and is dressed in a material palette echoing the tea theme. To the south, the Mountain Room features a dark gray color palette and a water feature that reflects the distant mountain range. On the east side, the Bamboo Room mimics a bamboo forest with its bamboo wood furnishings and a rice-pink palette. The penthouse suite on the third floor follows the theme of Sky and is surrounded by an infinity pool to create the effect of a “floating island.” + Studio 8 Images by Sven Zhang ???

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This chic Moganshan resort celebrates the local Chinese landscape

Lush green roof camouflages the Chameleon Villa into the Indonesian tropics

July 16, 2018 by  
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True to its name, the Chameleon Villa is a residence that seamlessly blends into its forested surroundings in Bali thanks to its integration of a lush green roof. Designed by international architecture practice Word of Mouth House , the contemporary home spans nearly 11,000 square feet, yet deftly hides its bulk with landscaped roofs. The “camouflaged” roofs also help promote natural cooling and are integrated with rainwater collection and recycling systems as well as solar panels. Located in the village of Buwit in southwest Bali, the Chameleon Villa is set on an acre of densely forested land with steep and challenging terrain, including a level change of 36 feet. To blend the building into the site as much as possible, the designers at Word of Mouth House crafted the home as a cluster of volumes that step down the slope and are carefully positioned to follow the original contour lines and to optimize views of the river below and forest beyond. A natural materials palette  — with locally sourced elements like teak wood, iron wood and natural stone — further blends the dwelling into the landscape. Related: Beautiful bamboo pavilion in Bali translates the flexibility of yoga into architecture “We worked on the idea of ‘landscaped architecture’ by blurring the boundaries between natural and built environments,” explained the firm. “As a result, the buildings appear to be a part of the land itself sometimes disappearing within it, and then at other times, emerging from it. As per traditional Balinese architecture the different pavilions accommodate different functions and all communal spaces are kept open towards the elements whereas the bedrooms and other more private spaces such as office, gym and media room are close-able volumes.” The vibrant green roofs keep the lower spaces comfortable through passive cooling, and this vegetation also aids in rainwater collection. The residents can recycle the water for use in garden irrigation. The home also produces clean energy through solar panels, further adding to its sustainable features. + Word of Mouth House Images by Daniel Koh

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Lush green roof camouflages the Chameleon Villa into the Indonesian tropics

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