A prefab home in Sydney celebrates indoor-outdoor living

February 8, 2019 by  
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Constructed in a Melbourne factory in just 12 weeks, this elegant, prefab home in Sydney offers indoor-outdoor living without compromising thermal comfort. First designed by Sydney-based architectural practice Fox Johnston, the home’s concept was later refined by Australian design/build firm Modscape while honoring the architect’s design intent and the client’s demands. The prefabricated, two-story family home taps into solar design principles to prevent solar heat gain and to ensure comfortable indoor temperatures year-round. Spanning an area of 340 square meters, the modern, prefabricated home was commissioned by clients who needed extra space for their growing family and wanted to take better advantage of the property’s proximity to the beach in Tamarama, NSW. Taking cues from the original dwelling, the architects designed the new home with a similar footprint but added large expanses of glass to strengthen the building’s connections with the front and rear gardens . The existing sandstone plinth has also been integrated into the house to anchor it to the landscape. The material palette echoes the environment with its abundance of timber, which can be seen from the movable timber battened screens on the exterior to the light wood surfaces woven throughout the interior. “As soon as you walk in the front door, you’re welcomed by a generous double-height foyer featuring a staircase that reflects the timber battens used externally,” Modscape explained in a project statement. “In the living room, timber extends up the wall and across the ceiling to help to subtly define the space and beautifully complement the oak flooring. Opting for quality materials that will withstand heavy use from the children rather than ‘showy’ finishes ensure the result is a design that is durable and humble yet elegant and timeless.” Related: A modular extension boasts a seamless indoor-outdoor living experience The living spaces are located on the ground floor while the upstairs sleeping quarters consist of five bedrooms and two bathrooms. To mitigate Sydney’s harsh summers, the home is punctuated with numerous windows and skylights that maximize light and cross ventilation. The home was prefabricated at Modscape’s Melbourne factory in 12 weeks and then transported in 10 modules to the site, where the home was completed after an additional six weeks’ time. + Modscape Images by John Madden via Modscape

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Reclaimed timber clads a chic pool house near Californian vineyards

February 4, 2019 by  
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California-based architecture and design firm Ro Rockett Design recently added a pool house to a Sonoma County retreat that’s become so alluring, the clients decided to turn it into their full-time residence. Located in the northern California town of Geyserville, the property boasts stunning views of rolling vineyards and the rugged coastal landscape. The Dry Creek Pool House is carefully situated to take advantage of these impressive vistas and features a natural materials palette and minimalist design to blend in with the surrounding environment. Built as part of a narrow holiday home , the Dry Creek Pool House is the latest addition to the property’s growing amenities, which include the saltwater pool, outdoor living area, gardens, bocce court and guest arrival with overflow parking. To obscure views of the adjacent busy roadway, the architects sited the pool high on the property so that the raised pool edge would obstruct views of the road from the pool house, which boasts panoramic views of the landscape. “Nestled into the hill with it’s back to the trees, the new, earthen ground plane acts as a primitive plinth that supports a rustic enclosure,” the architects said in their project statement. “The prime program of the pool house is wrapped in grape stakes gathered from the property and re-sawn to operate as a shroud to the private innards of the building. This cladding provides solid walls where necessary and opens to the view where desirable.” Related: A lush green roof of native plants breathes life into this Texan cabana The modern and minimal design of the Dry Creek Pool House combined with a natural materials palette grounds the building into the landscape. The vine stakes that partly clad the building, for instance, were reclaimed from the fencing that had surrounded the site. The structure is also built of plaster and topped with a floating cedar roof. A stone terrace connects the saltwater pool with the pool house. The pool house celebrates indoor/ outdoor living and consists of an outdoor living space with a dining area and bar. Another sitting area can be found inside in addition to a mini-bar and bathroom. + Ro Rockett Design Images by Adam Rouse

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Time-saving supersonic airplanes could be a disaster for the environment

February 4, 2019 by  
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Supersonic airplanes might be making a major comeback, but environmental scientists warn these time-saving transports will add even more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere than ever before. A group of regulators from around the world are scheduled to meet in Canada next week to discuss the impacts of supersonic travel on the environment. Ahead of the meeting, the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) published an article about how supersonic planes impact the environment . According to USA Today, the ICCT discovered that supersonic airplanes consume significantly more fuel than a standard commercial aircraft. In fact, these jets will use around five times the amount of fuel as a normal jet flying the same route. Supersonic jets consume more fuel because they are faster and carry fewer travelers. Companies in the aviation business previously agreed to cut down on carbon emissions by the year 2050, but with the threat of supersonic jets returning to the skies, ICCT director Dan Rutherford believes those goals will not be met in time. Related: Greenhouse gas emissions rose during 2018 after three year decline “Adding these planes, which could be five to seven times as carbon intensive as comparable subsonic jets, on top of that just to save a few hours flying over the Atlantic seems problematic to me,” Rutherford explained. The appeal of these jets is that they fly at a much faster rate than typical airliners and can cruise at higher altitudes. For example, a supersonic airplane could make it from New York to Paris in under four hours while a normal jet takes about eight hours to complete the same trip. This effectively cuts air travel time in half. There are three corporations from the United States that are seeking to build a new generation of supersonic airplanes for commercial use. This includes Boom Supersonic, which plans on building around 2,000 aircrafts, Aerion Supersonic and Spike Aerospace. The latter two companies are only planning on offering supersonic jets for business travel. This, of course, is not the first time supersonic jets have graced the skies. Air France and British Airways had a line of supersonic jets between the years 1976 and 2003. The companies stopped offering the service after an accident in 2000 took the lives of 113 passengers. They also had trouble selling tickets because the price of a flight was much higher than a conventional jet. Via USA Today Image via Jacek Dylag

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Time-saving supersonic airplanes could be a disaster for the environment

LEED Gold Gateway Arch Museum sports a 3-acre green roof in St. Louis

February 4, 2019 by  
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Praised for its use of sustainable materials and energy-saving features, the recently renovated Visitor Center and Museum at the Gateway Arch in St. Louis has just been awarded LEED Gold certification. Currently one of only eleven other LEED-certified National Park Service sites, the newly expanded development is the work of Cooper Robertson and James Carpenter Design Associates , in collaboration with Trivers Associates , and marks the centerpiece for the renewal of the 91-acre Gateway Arch National Park. The updated 150,000-square-foot building is tucked almost entirely underground and is topped with a 3.1-acre green roof. Opened to the public in July of last year, the Visitor Center and Museum at the Gateway Arch is designed to maximize park space and provide improved visitor amenities without drawing attention away from Eero Saarinen’s iconic arch. By tucking the building underground beneath a vegetated roof, the architects not only preserves unobstructed sight lines to the Gateway Arch, but also helps reduce the heat island effect and maximizes the amount of open space. The energy cost savings for the project is estimated to be 24 percent below the baseline while the overall project’s potable water usage is estimated to have been reduced by over 31 percent from the baseline thanks to low-flow water features. “The National Park service has ambitious sustainability goals that the design team embraced enthusiastically,” Director of Cooper Robertson Scott Newman FAIA says. “In addition to a 3.1-acre extensive green roof , the building features further sustainable and resilient design components such as LED lighting, high-efficiency HVAC systems, and close connections to local public transportation networks. These features bring a high level of efficiency that matches the National Park Service’s ambition. The LEED Gold certification recognizes that commitment and design innovation.” Related: The first Active House in North America is now complete near St. Louis Other factors that contributed to the project’s LEED Gold certification include the use of regionally extracted and manufactured (within 500 miles) construction materials that were selected based on their recycled content; low-emitting materials were chosen for the interior. Over 80 percent of the construction waste generated was diverted from landfills. Multiple recycling collection points and storage areas are located throughout the building. Water cisterns collect and recycle stormwater on site. + Cooper Robertson + James Carpenter Design Associates Images via Gateway Arch Park Foundation

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LEED Gold Gateway Arch Museum sports a 3-acre green roof in St. Louis

A recycled brick wall runs through this breezy home in Australia

October 19, 2018 by  
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Bright, breezy and surrounded by nature, the Cedar Lane House is a place of peaceful respite on the southern coast of Australia. Sydney-based architect and photographer Edward Birch designed the light-filled residence at the base of a mountain in Meroo Meadow. Spread out across 280 square meters, the linear home is anchored by a recycled brick wall that runs the length of the building and imbues the interior with warmth and softness. The Cedar Lane House is organized into three pavilion-like spaces linked by a central east-west hallway. While indoor-outdoor living is celebrated with ample glazing and a natural materials palette, the views are deliberately obscured from the entrance to create an element of surprise when visitors turn the corner and see spectacular landscape vistas through the living room’s walls of glass. In addition to the whitewashed recycled brick wall, the home interiors are dressed in Australian hardwood, white surfaces and other minimalist materials to keep the focus on the outdoors. The open-plan living spaces — including a living room, dining area and kitchen — occupy the heart of the home and branch off to an outdoor terrace and an indoor lounge on either side. The easternmost side of the home is defined by a master en suite with an outdoor shower and a spa. Three additional bedrooms, a rumpus room and an outdoor courtyard are located on the west side. The arrangement of spaces makes it easy for the homeowner to close off portions of the house depending on the number of people staying. Instead of main water connections, the house relies on recycled rainwater , which is collected in underground tanks and re-circulated around the building. Related: Passive solar home stays naturally cool without AC in Australia “From the recycled bricks, rough oak floor to the zinc bench top in the kitchen, the internal materials are intended to be imperfect, to mark and scratch and to tell the story of the lives lived inside the house,” Birch said in a project statement. “As the timber cladding silvers and the wash on the bricks get eroded away, the house ages gracefully and settles into the landscape around it.” + Edward Birch Via ArchDaily Images by Edward Birch

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A recycled brick wall runs through this breezy home in Australia

The adorable Acorn tiny cabin is made of wood salvaged from an old mansion

October 19, 2018 by  
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We’ve seen a lot of tiny homes over the years, but the Acorn has to be one the most adorable designs we’ve ever come across. Created by the team from Ojai-based Humble Hand Craft, the sweet tiny home on wheels is built from reclaimed wood and felled trees, including the western cedar shingles that were salvaged from a mansion in Montecito, California. At just 16 feet long and 8.5 feet wide, the Acorn is one seriously tiny home on wheels, but its strategic and space-efficient layout makes the interior seem much bigger. Built on a trailer of the same dimensions, the Acorn takes us back to the basics of traditional cabin design with its warm facade of cedar shingles, a corrugated metal roof and a welcoming front porch. Related: This charming, solar-powered tiny home is handcrafted from reclaimed wood According to the builders at Humble Hand Craft, like most of their cabins, the Acorn was made out of wood salvaged from various sources. The Western Red Cedar shingles used to clad the small structure were reclaimed from an old mansion in California. The porch posts were made out of a dead tree that had fallen near one of the builder’s favorite hiking trails in Ojai. Much of the cabin’s interior, such as the trim and the front door, were made out of reclaimed redwood salvaged from a 5,000-gallon wine barrel found at a vineyard in Santa Cruz. The all-wooden interior creates a homey living space, enhanced with an abundance of natural light . A space-efficient layout was essential in designing the interior. To create more living space on the ground floor, a sleeping loft was installed on a platform. The living room, which is big enough for a small sofa and table, is kept warm and cozy thanks to the small wood-burning fireplace. The kitchen features a beautiful redwood countertop finished with a natural bio resin as well as plenty of storage and shelving to avoid clutter. + Humble Hand Craft Photography by Luke Williams via Humble Hand Craft

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The adorable Acorn tiny cabin is made of wood salvaged from an old mansion

Urban Nouveau proposes to turn a historic Stockholm bridge into housing and a park

October 19, 2018 by  
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In a bid to save the historic Gamla Lidingöbron bridge in Stockholm from demolition, Swedish studio Urban Nouveau has proposed transforming the structure into 50 luxury apartments topped with a High Line -inspired linear park. Created as part of a petition to protest the tearing down of the structure, the design aims to spark greater dialogue and media attention in hopes of galvanizing support for the bridge’s preservation. The design practice has also proposed using the sale of apartments to fund the restoration process. Built in the 1920s, the Gamla Lidingöbron bridge has served as a rail and pedestrian connector between Stockholm and the island of Lidingö. The City Council of Lidingö has announced plans to demolish the bridge in 2022 and thus far rejected Urban Nouveau’s proposal to repurpose the historic bridge on the grounds of potential “risks and delays.” The studio has launched a petition to counter the decision with the backing of the project’s master structural engineers Adão da Fonseca and Cecil Balmond who say the project is “both structurally sound and entirely feasible.” “Our architectural understanding of the bridge has inspired us to come up with a plan for saving Gamla Lidingöbron that not only creates a striking public park but in the process also saves the government a minimum of 113 million crowns (€11m),” said Urban Nouveau chief executive Sara Göransson. “We believe demolishing a landmark bridge like this is truly a backward step, particularly when we have a fully costed and technically sound alternative that means we can save the bridge and provide a beautiful park for the whole of Stockholm.” Related: Spectacular town hall doubles as a bridge in Denmark’s Faroe Islands In the  adaptive reuse proposal, the bridge could experience new life as a residential complex of 50 apartments embedded within the steel structure, while the bridge deck would be converted into a linear park with tram and bicycle access. Each apartment would be equipped with a private elevator and staircase for access. The west-facing apartments would feature double-height living spaces and glazed facades on either side to frame sweeping views of the water. + Urban Nouveau Via ArchDaily Images by Urban Nouveau

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Urban Nouveau proposes to turn a historic Stockholm bridge into housing and a park

This bold, sustainable home will age gracefully near an Indiana wetland

October 16, 2018 by  
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Compact, energy-efficient and built with locally sourced materials, this hillside home takes a low-impact approach to its wetland surroundings in the city of Valparaiso in northern Indiana. Local design firm Bamesberger Architecture completed the home for a client who wanted a relatively small dwelling overlooking a pristine 400,000-square-foot wetland site. Named The Box after its boxy appearance, the home boasts low-energy needs and does not rely on air conditioning, even in the summer Completed in 2013, The Box spans an area of 960 square feet and consists of a main house, a screened porch and a small storage building. All three structures are slightly offset from one another to offer varied views of the landscape and are connected with two square timber decks. In response to the client’s wishes for a “very affordable” house with wetland views, the architects selected a budget-friendly yet attractive natural materials palette — including blackened steel, stone, concrete and birch plywood — to complement the property’s native trees and grasslands. “To set the house into the site, the main living space was built into the hillside,” the architecture firm explained. “Excavated rocks were reused as a base for the steel encased fireplace as well as a stepping stone inside the front door. The front door was built from a walnut tree found dead on the site.” Related: Charming home uses local, natural materials to pay homage to a chestnut tree The main dwelling includes an open-plan kitchen, dining area and living area on the ground floor. Above, a small loft offers space for sleeping and a home office. A two-story shower takes advantage of the double-height volume, adding what the architects call “a spatial surprise in the otherwise small space.” To minimize energy needs, The Box is wrapped in high-performance insulation and built into the side of the north-facing hill. Radiant underfloor heating and natural ventilation also help keep the home at comfortable temperatures year-round with minimal utility bills. + Bamesberger Architecture Images via Fred Bamesberger

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Meat consumption must drop by 90% to avert a climate crisis

October 16, 2018 by  
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While the meat industry’s negative impacts on the environment have proved troublesome for some time, an assembly of scientists from various European research institutes have released a thorough analysis of the Earth’s food system that shows if farming practices and food trends continue unchecked, the planet’s capabilities of feeding the global population will be decimated within the coming decades, and global warming will not be able to stay under 1.5 degrees Celsius. Greenhouse gas emissions, land and water consumption, deforestation , biodiversity loss and aquatic dead zones are the central burdens of agriculture evaluated by experts. However, this year’s research study determined a new problem — food supply — to be the most concerning of all. With a booming population that is expected to reach 10 billion by 2050, the environmental damages are enough that widespread food insecurity is knocking on our door. Related: Look out, meat industry – flexitarianism is on the rise “It is pretty shocking,” said Marco Springmann, lead researcher from the University of Oxford. “We are really risking the sustainability of the whole system.” The team examined precise data from every country to assemble the most comprehensive assessment of food production and global environment to date. Their diagnosis? Surviving within environmental limits requires a drastic reduction in meat consumption. “Feeding a world population of 10 billion is possible, but only if we change the way we eat and the way we produce food,” explained Professor Johan Rockström from Germany’s Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. “Greening the food sector or eating up our planet: this is what is on the menu today.” While the problem requires multi-dimensional confrontation from technological , governmental and social standpoints, the experts are encouraging dietary changes on an individual level. The study recommends an astounding 90 percent reduction in meat consumption and a 60 percent cut in milk consumption for people in countries such as the U.S. and U.K., as well as the adoption of more sustainable farming practices, in order to keep temperature rise under control. “There is no magic bullet, but dietary and technological [farming] change are the two essential things, and hopefully they can be complemented by reduction in food loss and waste,” Springmann said. Calling it the “flexitarian” diet, the researchers recommended a surge in bean , pulse, nut and seed consumption to replace the standard meat intake. Taking the average world citizen, the diet stresses a 75 percent cut in beef, a 90 percent cut in pork and a 50 percent cut in egg consumption to halve livestock emissions and help the planet return to sustainable levels. “Ultimately, we live on a finite planet, with finite resources,” said University of Leeds professor Tim Benton on the study, in which he did not take part. “It is a fiction to imagine there is a technological solution allowing us to produce as much food as we might ever want, allowing us to overeat and throw food away.” + Nature Via The Guardian Images via Andrik Langfield and Deryn Macey

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Solar-powered cork house pursues healthy, sustainable living

October 10, 2018 by  
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Berlin-based architecture office rundzwei Architekten recently completed a light-filled home that showcases the many material benefits of cork . Named the Cork Screw House, the sustainably minded abode boasts a facade and roof clad in natural cork, a material that not only gives the building a highly textured appearance, but also contributes significantly to the home’s energy efficiency thanks to high insulation values. The cork home is set on a base of rammed concrete and comprises a series of split-levels for flexibility. The decision to clad the home in cork emerged from the client’s desire for a house with good acoustic performance. Initially drawn by the acoustic insulation properties of cork, the architects were ultimately convinced by the sustainable benefits of the material, which is made from granulated cork waste that has been pressed into naturally weather- and mold-resistant panels without any artificial additives. In addition to insulating cork panels, the architects carefully chose a natural materials palette and steered clear of chemical adhesives. Wood fiber and cellulose were used as additional insulation, while timber and gypsum fiberboards were selected for their ability to absorb humidity and create a comfortable indoor environment. Created for a family of three, the Cork Screw House is organized around a central, atrium -like staircase illuminated by a skylight. To side-step planning regulations that mandated a maximum floor size of 100 square meters, the architects lowered the base floors and designed the timber-framed upper floors as a series of split-levels, bringing the gross floor area to over 320 square meters. On the ground floor, full-height glazing floods the interior with natural light. The home also includes an exterior sunken pool that’s surrounded by rammed concrete walls for privacy. Related: Elegant cork-clad artists’ studio slots into a bijou London garden Due to the selection of natural materials and ample daylighting, the building “doesn’t need an active ventilation system despite the very low energy standard,” the architects explained in a project statement. “Through a stratified heat storage system supplemented by roof integrated solar panels, the heating supply is almost self-sufficient adding to the efficiency of the building’s overall performance.” + rundzwei Architekten Photography by Gui Rebelo

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