Locally sourced materials make up a timber home that mimics its forest landscape

September 4, 2019 by  
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On the edge of the southern regional city of Ballarat in Victoria, Australian design practice Porter Architects has completed the Ballarat East House, a modern home that embraces the surrounding treed landscape with large windows and a materials palette of locally sourced Australian timber. Elevated off the ground to mitigate a tricky sloped site, the residence also emphasizes indoor-outdoor living throughout. Spanning an area of 200 square meters on a half-acre lot, the Ballarat East House is divided into two main pavilions — the northern pavilion houses three bedrooms while the southern pavilion contains the master bedroom and an open-plan living area — that are set on either side of an outdoor deck along with a recreational room in the middle. The home is wrapped in locally sourced Australian hardwood board and batten vertical siding to mimic the trunks of the surrounding trees. The cladding also has a three-dimensional effect that creates an attractive play of light and shadow throughout the day. The timber palette is continued in the interior, which includes locally sourced, recycled Australian hardwood floorboards as well as native hardwood joinery and furnishings. White walls, black metal accents and other materials, such as the travertine stone countertops and backsplash in the kitchen, help break up the use of timber. Tall glazed doors visually connect the living areas to the landscape, while a large outdoor courtyard protected from the elements serves as a second living zone. Related: A 1940s home gets a modern update with reclaimed materials “The two main living/private pavilions are defined by a dark stained Australian hardwood shiplap vertically clad entry/circulation area, enlivening the architectural experience from the hideaway laneway view,” the architects explained. “The passerby pedestrian is welcomed with an unassuming surprise in a neighborhood of common suburbia.” + Porter Architects Via ArchDaily Photography by Derek Swalwell via Porter Architects

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Locally sourced materials make up a timber home that mimics its forest landscape

Artist creates a living quilt to commemorate Santa Rosa fires

September 4, 2019 by  
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Memorials and national landmarks are common across the country as a way to respectfully remember events of historical relevance. This often takes the form of a statue or plaque, but following the Santa Rosa fires in October 2017, one artist took her own approach to honor the community following the devastation in the form of a living quilt . With a grant initiated and awarded by the city of Santa Rosa Public Art Program, artist Jane Ingram Allen completed the public art project, which took form in colorful plants grown in the design of a handmade quilt. The outline for the quilt consisted not of your typical fabric squares, but handmade paper. The pattern was then enhanced with seeds embedded into the pulp to match the quilt design. Related: New York Botanical Garden’s new artist residencies connect people with plants The “Living Quilt for Santa Rosa” incorporates the traditional “Wild Geese” pattern. A variety of colors are integrated into the living quilt, and each color uses a different source material and subsequently matches to a wildflower of the same color. Blue is comprised of a pulp made from recycled denim; matching flowers include the California Bluebell and other mixed blue wildflowers. Abaca, a type of fiber from banana leaves, is colored with a non-toxic fiber reactive dye and used for the yellow and orange shades. White also stems from the uncolored abaca and marries well with Baby’s Breath and white poppies. All of the materials, from wildflowers to the dyes, are eco-friendly and biodegradable while offering the hope of continued life for many seasons to come. Although Allen is credited for the work, the project was completed with the help of community members who laid out the paper, planted the seeds and built the “headboard” and “footboard” from locally harvested branches. During the time of construction, air pollution and burnt trees still plagued the area. The original work was dedicated at Rincon Ridge Park in Santa Rosa, California in the fall of 2018, but what began as a temporary art installation just might bloom into a long-term testament to the resolution of both the land and the citizens. The idea to commemorate the destruction from the fires with life in flowers represents the regrowth, perseverance and tenacity of the Santa Rosa community as they recover. + Jane Ingram Allen Photography by Timothy S. Allen via Jane Ingram Allen

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Artist creates a living quilt to commemorate Santa Rosa fires

Passive solar school in Indonesia celebrates the natural landscape

August 19, 2019 by  
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In the Indonesian city of Tangerang, Jakarta-based design studio RAW Architecture has completed the School of Alfa Omega, a new school that emphasizes a connection with the outdoors. Set on a former rice paddy, the project has been a challenging endeavor — not only was the first phase expected to be ready for occupancy just six months from the design commission, but the muddy site conditions and the tight budget of less than $1.2 million also posed concerns. By combining low-cost materials and design inspiration from the local vernacular with easy-to-follow modular designs, the architects were able to successfully complete the first phase in just four months and within budget. The School of Alfa Omega caters to 300 students ranging from preschool to high school and is divided into three levels of preschool, six levels of elementary school, three levels of junior high school and three levels of senior high school. For ease of construction, the architects designed modular classrooms of equal size that are arranged in clusters. Related: Cooling breezes blow straight through a low-energy brick house in Indonesia “The brief of the project was to design a school with a value where ‘every child is [considered] a genius’; to be functioned in a curriculum system that does not rely solely on academic scores,” the architects explained. “The school aims to explore all of the students’ potency — even of those laid outside the ‘formal education realms’ such as craftsmanship, applied art, ecological awareness, social sensibility, etc., hence it is also required the establishment of growing talent classes.” To mitigate the swampy conditions and risk of flooding, the architects elevated the steel-framed school on stilts. In addition to the use of steel and concrete for durability and strength, the architects turned to locally sourced materials to bring down costs and relate the building to its surroundings. Wavy walls of locally sourced red brick — found to be more sturdy than the linear form — add visual interest. A thatched roof of local bamboo with long overhangs help shade outdoor spaces. Tall ceilings, porous brick walls, balconies and large openings were also integrated into the design to promote natural ventilation and optimize natural lighting in the school. According to the architects, the materials and design help the building remain at a stable interior temperature of 27 degrees Celsius year-round. + RAW Architecture Photography by Eric Dinardi via RAW Architecture

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Breezy brick house with a ground-floor cafe mimics the shape of a cuckoo clock

July 16, 2019 by  
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In the coastal Vietnamese city of Da Nang, Ho Chi Minh City-based architectural firm Tropical Space has combined a single-family home with a coffee shop to create an architecturally striking mixed-use building that evokes the playful shapes of a cuckoo clock. Dubbed the Cuckoo House, the home is built predominately from locally sourced clay brick to tie the structure to the local vernacular, while the use of bold geometric shapes throughout the building give it a distinctly contemporary edge. The home also takes advantage of sea breezes with its porous facade that harnesses natural cooling for relief from the tropical heat. Built for a couple and their two children, the Cuckoo House spans an area of nearly 3,000 square feet across two floors and an attic. To make the most of its rectangular east-west plot, the architects split the ground floor into three sections: the entrance gate and parking pad on the east side along with a small storefront and bathrooms; the coffee shop and bar in the middle; and a semi-enclosed courtyard with a pool on the west side. Large arches surround the brick-paved courtyard and bring cooling breezes and views of the surrounding garden into the space, and full-height glazing wraps the coffee shop to blur the line between indoors and out. Related: Solar screen brings beauty and heat relief to a Vietnam home The residential section of the building is located atop the ground floor “base block” and split into three blocks: the double-story Block A with the master bedroom on one floor and the bathroom and walk-in closet on the other; the double-story Block B with the kids’ bedroom above and the living room below; and Block C that contains the kitchen and dining area. All three blocks are connected and open up to outdoor terraces with operable glazing and views. “Like a habit, most of people’s daily activities usually take place in functional spaces. Tropical Space detaches walls, which are used to defined the place and offer the buffer space to urge people to leave their rooms and join together,” the architects explained. “These buffer layers can be used flexibly, connecting the indoor and the outdoor of the house, which could make the family activities be both private and open. Meanwhile, it allows the breeze to go through all corners of the house, and make it chill in the tropical summer.” + Tropical Space Images via Tropical Space

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Breezy brick house with a ground-floor cafe mimics the shape of a cuckoo clock

Porous brick walls keep this bold Vietnamese home naturally cool

July 11, 2019 by  
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In an effort to beat the tropical heat in southern Vietnam’s Long An province, Ho Chi Minh City-based architecture firm Tropical Space created a home that maximizes natural ventilation. Dubbed the Long An House, the residence takes inspiration from traditional Vietnamese architecture but uses contemporary design elements to create an energy-efficient house that follows the local vernacular yet stands out with a minimalist design. Topped with a sloped roof divided in two parts, the home features porous brick walls, an open-sky courtyard and a layout that harnesses the region’s cooling crosswinds. Spanning an area of nearly 3,230 square feet, the Long An House includes two floors arranged around a central courtyard open to the sky. A simple construction palette of brick and concrete defines the minimalist building, which is punctuated by views of greenery throughout. Brick is featured in the home in a variety of ways, not only as a structural and facade material but is also used for cooling the home. The front yard is paved with hollow clay bricks, which can absorb the rain and reduce heat on the floor, while porous brick walls let wind and light through without compromising privacy. “The Vietnam traditional house is stretched from front to back creating continuous functional spaces,” the architects noted in a project statement. “These spaces’ boundaries are estimated by light with different intensity and darkness. The layout utilizes the wind direction of the local area in different seasons.” Related: A “green veil” of plants protects this home from Ho Chi Minh City’s heat Oriented east to west, the Long An House is entered from the west-facing front yard with a vegetable garden that connects to the living area through massive glazed doors that fold open to allow cross-breezes to blow through the length of the home. The courtyard with a pool occupies the center of the home and is flanked by two corridors. The one to the north contains a galley kitchen, while a terrace is found on the south side. The rear of the home comprises a master bedroom and another courtyard (also with folding glass doors) with access to the chicken coop. Two en suite bedrooms are located on the upper floor. + Tropical Space Photography by Oki Hiroyuki via Tropical Space

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MADs ethereal Yiwu Grand Theater will float on Zhejiang waters

July 5, 2019 by  
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Beijing-based architectural firm MAD Architects has won a competition for Zhejiang’s Yiwu Grand Theater with a proposal that’s stunning, sculptural and site-specific. Inspired by the Chinese junks that once sailed on the city’s Dongyang River, the Yiwu Grand Theater mimics the form of a glass-walled boat floating on the river while its subtle curves echo the Jiangnan-style eaves found in the region’s ancient vernacular architecture. Its facade of layered glass sails will be semitransparent to reduce overall energy consumption through passive solar means. As the world’s largest wholesale commodities market, Yiwu has built its reputation on commerce, not culture. In a bid to elevate its soft power, the city hosted an international competition to design the Yiwu Grand Theater, a hub of arts and culture to be located on the south bank of the Dongyang River. The building will include a 1,600-seat grand theater, a 1,200-seat medium theater and a 2,000-person-capacity international conference center. The project will also offer new and easily accessible public green space with an amphitheater and large open plaza that extends into the water on its southern edge. “The ‘Yiwu Grand Theater’ has been designed as a monument for the city that will serve to connect inhabitants to the waterfront from a new perspective,” the architects explained. “In its completion, it will stand as a world-class venue that will attract visitors from around the globe, putting Yiwu on the map as a cultural destination. The transparency and lightness of the glass express the texture of thin, silky fabric, creating a dynamic rhythm that makes them appear as if they are blowing in the wind. They act as a protective canopy around the building, resonating with the river, elegantly floating above the water’s surface, setting a romantic atmosphere.” Related: MAD Architects unveils an “organic” skyscraper piercing Manhattan’s skyline In addition to giving the Yiwu Grand Theater a sense of lightness in spite of its size, the semi-transparent glass curtain wall also helps to reduce heating and cooling costs while letting in ample amounts of natural light. In winter, the glass creates a solar greenhouse effect but can be opened up in summer to promote natural ventilation . The Yiwu Grand Theater is expected to begin construction in 2020. + MAD Architects Images via MAD Architects

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Green-roofed beachfront home fully embraces its coastal surroundings

June 17, 2019 by  
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Topped with green roofs and surrounded by walls of glass, the Beach Front Gardens homes in Costa Rica were designed by Tamarindo-based architectural firm Laboratory Sustaining Design (LSD) to embrace the coastal landscape. The complex, which spans a little over 8,000 square feet, comprises two homes — Casa Sare and Casa Caracali — on beachfront property in an exclusive area of the Nicoya Peninsula facing the Pacific Ocean. Approximately 65 percent of the roof surfaces are covered with vegetation to blend the building into the surroundings and to help reduce energy demands for cooling. To minimize maintenance and ensure structural longevity, the architects designed Casa Sare and Casa Caracali with durable materials and finishes to withstand the corrosive powers of the ocean air and harsh tropical elements. The flat, turf-topped roofs also include long overhangs to protect the interiors from unwanted solar gain . The desire to blend both homes into the environment drove the design of simple architectural shapes, a minimalist material palette and walls of operable glass that open up to completely blur the boundaries between indoor and outdoor living. “Each house was designed for users to experience the tropical weather and beautiful nature, and every single space of both houses has a great relation with the exterior, bringing in the natural light to all the interior areas and looking for cross ventilation using the sea breeze year-round,” the architects explained. “Around 65 percent of the interior areas are covered by green roofs , reducing the footprint of the project in this protected environment.” Related: This Costa Rican treehouse is built entirely out of locally sourced teak wood Organized into a V-shaped layout, Casa Sare was placed closest to the beach on the flattest part of the property. The private areas are separated from the communal areas with an exterior terrace accessible from all rooms. In contrast, Casa Caracali was placed on higher elevation and is segmented to step down on the slightly sloped terrain. The social areas are located near the rear at the higher elevations to take advantage of ocean views, while the bedrooms are placed closer to the beach. + LSD Photography by Fernando Alda via LSD

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Green-roofed beachfront home fully embraces its coastal surroundings

A chic, nature-filled office building in Tokyo boldly brings the outdoors in

May 27, 2019 by  
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In Tokyo, a new office tower stands out from the concrete jungle with its embrace of nature. Designed by prolific Japanese design studio nendo in the centrally located Kojimachi neighborhood, the Kojimachi Terrace is an 11-story high-rise wrapped in a grid-like, timber-faced facade that’s complemented with a bright interior dressed in a warm palette of wood, raw stone and bronze-colored stainless steel. A “Sky Forest” — a three-story, open-air garden — punctuates the building’s top floors and provides employees with a “nature-like hideaway” in the heart of Tokyo . Sheathed in a glass skin, the Kojimachi Terrace still manages to achieve a human scale thanks to its second covering, a grid of timber-clad elements that continues from the exterior to the interior. The grid’s seemingly sporadic pattern helps hide the safety rails and pillars that are required to support window construction and are disguised with wooden finishes to blend in with the grid. Further softening the building’s appearance are the plant-filled balconies placed on six out of the building’s 11 floors. These outdoor terraces can also be turned into private meeting spaces, while the three-story “Sky Forest” at the top of the building offers a more immersive nature escape open to the sky. “Typical office buildings are usually built as closed-off blocks with artificial climate control that do not share any real physical connection with their exterior environments. Therefore, in the ‘Kojimachi Terrace’ design, the external elements were taken into account to allow for a more physical experience of the outdoors, like witnessing the changing weather and yearly seasons,” explained the architects, adding that some of the glass panels that clad the facade are operable to allow for natural ventilation . Related: Cleverly layered compact dirt walls mimic ice cream cakes in this Tokyo patisserie The interior design also references the natural landscape. In addition to the inclusion of raw stone and bronze-colored stainless steel materials, the interiors feature a hand-applied plaster finish on the floors and walls that create a textured and uneven appearance. The woven grid elements from the exterior are also continued into the interior, where they are transformed into lighting fixtures and echoed in the design of the furnishings and carpet patterns. + nendo Photography by Takumi Ota via nendo

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A chic, nature-filled office building in Tokyo boldly brings the outdoors in

Local, natural materials make up this eco-friendly jungle refuge in Tulum

March 28, 2019 by  
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Mexican architectural firm Jaquestudio recently completed a new boutique hotel nestled in a leafy paradise within Tulum, Mexico. Carefully sited to preserve nearly three-quarters of the existing jungle vegetation, the Jungle Keva is an environmentally friendly retreat that minimizes site impact and the use of plastics. Moreover, the hotel is built of locally sourced, natural materials that tie the building to the landscape. Designed to mirror the Tulum environment, Jungle Keva features five beautiful lodges with expansive walls of glass that pull views of the trees into the interiors. Each lodge includes double-height , open-plan spaces flooded with natural light. The communal areas and shared amenities are located in a building at the north of the property. The hotel draws water from an on-site well and includes a newly built, state-of-the-art septic treatment system. The five lodges vary in size, from 505 square feet to 600 square feet, and accommodate three to four guests. All accommodations include a private terrace with a hammock overlooking the jungle and an indoor-outdoor bathroom as well as Wi-Fi, natural bamboo sheets and organic toiletries. Guests also have access to on-site yoga classes, a pool, a restaurant and excursion activities. Related: This breathtaking Tulum art gallery was created by Peggy Guggenheim’s great-grandson The structures are built with low-maintenance and natural finishes that lend the buildings a sense of warmth. The distinctive earthy color found throughout the hotel is achieved with the “chum” finish, a Mayan stucco local to the region that’s made from tree resin. “The objective was to use materials that age with dignity, so that with the passing of time, the architecture acquires character and a deeper sense of belonging,” the architects explained. “The different volumes of the complex are scattered along the lot, between the trees and stone paths, which provide a sensation of being in a small village in the Mayan jungle.” + Jaquestudio Via ArchDaily Photography by César Béjar via Jaquestudio

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A green veil of plants protects this home from Ho Chi Minh City’s heat

February 20, 2019 by  
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In the heart of Ho Chi Minh City’s concrete jungle, a compact family home has been infused with greenery thanks to the work of Vietnamese architecture firm Vo Trong Nghia Architects . Dubbed the Breathing House, the property is located in an extremely dense neighborhood on a plot measuring just 12.8 feet in width and 58.4 feet in length. To provide a connection to nature despite the constrained urban conditions, the architects wrapped three sides of the home in a “green veil” made of creeper plants that grow on steel mesh. Edged in by buildings and accessible only via a tiny alleyway, the Breathing House makes the most of its small footprint with a staggered floor plan arranged around light wells that let natural light and ventilation deep inside the home. To open three sides of the house to the outdoors without compromising privacy, the architects wrapped the facade in a vertical green screen that not only protects against prying views, but also helps mitigate solar heat gain and improve air quality. This “green veil” was constructed using a modularized galvanized steel mesh and planter boxes installed at every floor. “Inside the ‘green veil’, the building consists of five tower-like volumes that are staggered and connected to each other, arranged in between the two boundary walls,” the architects said of the interior layout. “The external spaces created by the staggered arrangement of the volumes, which we call ‘micro voids’, play a role in providing myriad indirect lighting and ventilation routes throughout the building. In the narrow and deep plot shuttered by neighbors on both sides, it is more environmentally effective to promote ventilation for each corner of the house, by multiple ‘micro voids’, rather than having a singular large courtyard.” Related: Fruit trees grow on the roofs of this rammed earth home in Hanoi The “porous” arrangement of spaces helps create a sense of spaciousness in the home while reducing dependence on air conditioning . The “green veil”, which is visible to passersby, continues up to the roof terrace, creating what the architects said is a much-needed green space in a city that’s been losing green spaces at an alarming rate. + Vo Trong Nghia Architects Images by Hiroyuki Oki via Vo Trong Nghia Architects

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