Early learning center sustainably embraces rural New Zealand

September 10, 2020 by  
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In the rural New Zealand haven of Dairy Flat, U.K.-based architecture firm Collingridge and Smith Architects has recently completed the Fantails Estate, an early learning center for 154 babies and preschoolers. Designed to sit sensitively within its rural context, the modern building is built primarily of timber and opens up to the outdoors with large windows and areas for outdoor play. Sustainability has also been naturally woven into the design, which includes a rainwater harvesting system, onsite blackwater treatment, a high-insulated building envelope and passive solar principles. Set over 3.5 hectares of land, the Fantails Estate was conceived as a unique “luxury lodge” for children. The center features a radial plan with six individual blocks fanned out around a geometric timber canopy and centrally located car park. The six blocks comprise five individual classrooms as well as a private staff block housing the kitchen, laundry and administrative spaces.  Related: Chrysalis Childcare Centre uses existing trees as symbolic centerpieces Each classroom opens up to a shaded, north-facing terrace that connects to a large playground and countryside views. The integration of all-weather play spaces provides children with seven times the minimum area for outdoor play, with each child allotted approximately 52 square meters of individual play space, according to the architects. The sizing and orientation of the blocks are also optimized for indoor access to natural light and ventilation. Low-E glazed sliding doors emphasize the indoor/outdoor connection. A warm, natural materials palette defines both the exterior and interior, the latter of which is fitted with custom-designed cabinetry and play equipment for a cohesive feel. Steel beams and posts were minimally incorporated into the building’s timber envelope so as to minimize the center’s overall carbon footprint. In addition to a high-performance envelope that minimizes heat loss, the architects oriented the building for solar gains in winter and natural shading and thermal mass cooling in summer. + Collingridge and Smith Architects Photography by Mark Scowen via Collingridge and Smith Architects

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Naturally cooled funicular offers spectacular views of the French Alps

June 8, 2020 by  
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In 2019, French design agency Atelier 360 gave the iconic Les Arcs – Bourg Saint Maurice funicular a dramatic makeover by developing two new funicular cars with wide panoramic windows to frame spectacular views of the French Alps. As with its predecessor, the newly completed funicular traverses 800 meters of vertical distance in a 7-minute climb to connect the village of Bourg Saint Maurice to the Arcs 1600 resort, an area near Mont Blanc renowned for skiing and mid-century architecture by French modernist architect Charlotte Perriand. The interior of the funicular was also designed to take advantage of natural ventilation to avoid installation of an electric air conditioning system. Originally built in 1989, the Les Arcs – Bourg Saint Maurice funicular was renovated and relaunched in 2019 in commemoration of the Les Arcs ski resort’s 50th anniversary. The refreshed funicular comprises two trains, each capable of accommodating 270 passengers, with all-new equipment manufactured entirely in France. The funicular allows visitors — approximately 600,000 people are estimated to use the transport system annually — to reach slopes at 1,600 meters above sea level. The design and construction process took about a year to complete; Atelier 360 collaborated with the Poma / Sigma teams for the interior design. Related: Canada’s newest funicular makes one of North America’s largest urban parklands more accessible “The new version imagined by Atelier 360 is not just a simple transport tool that should offer a large capacity, it is a real immersion experience in the landscape that we discover at as the ascent,” the designers explained. “The original funicular did not offer a view of the outside landscape because of its massive structure, the opaque roof and the ends reserved for the conductors prevented this. Today the roof of the vehicle is fully glazed and an intermediate relief creates a new panorama of the mountains.” The trains have been specially designed to optimize views of the breathtaking scenery from both ends. A system of operable windows and air vents, also located at the end of the trains, promote natural cooling . + Atelier 360 Photography by sylvain THIOLLIER via Atelier 360

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Ancient Mayan-inspired Casa Merida operates off the grid in Mexico

May 22, 2020 by  
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In the hot and humid Yucatán capital of Mérida, blasting air conditioning all day is commonly regarded as a necessity of life. But Mexico City-based Ludwig Godefroy Architecture has rebelled against this belief with its design of Casa Merida, a self-sufficient dwelling that uses passive solar principles to stay naturally cool. Sustainable in both energy use and design, the contemporary, solar-powered home draws references from traditional Mayan architecture and uses locally produced materials wherever possible. Built primarily of board-formed concrete, Casa Merida is organized as a series of “broken” volumes that reads as an 80-meter-long rectangle with 8-meter-wide sections. This lane-like form was created to follow traditional airflow cooling concepts and to evoke the ancient Mayan sacbé , a term that translates to “white path” and describes stone walkways covered in white limestone. All parts of the home open up to the outdoors via large wooden louver doors that let in cooling breezes, natural light and views of green courtyards interspersed throughout the property. Related: This modular, off-grid design can adapt to any landscape The indoor-outdoor connection is key in the design of the home, which was crafted to feel completely disconnected from the city. This is achieved by placing the communal areas — including the living room, kitchen and swimming pool — at the far end and quietest part of the property instead of placing them near the backyard. The backyard is used as a buffer zone from the urban environment. To help the home meet goals of self sufficiency, the architects installed rainwater collection systems with sculptural water collectors that add to the beauty of the residence. A biodigester is used to treat blackwater, which is then used to irrigate the garden. Heating and all of the home’s electricity needs are provided for via solar hot water heaters and solar panels. “The construction is reaching a 90% made on-site, with local materials and built exclusively by Yucatec masons and carpenters, a sort of modern reinterpretation of what could mean vernacular architecture,” the architects said. “Made of massive materials that do not require special treatments or maintenance, accepting aging and time as part of the architecture process, the house has been conceptualized to end up one day covered by a new coat of materiality: a layer of patina.” + Ludwig Godefroy Architecture Photography by Rory Gardiner via Ludwig Godefroy Architecture

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Sustainable city block in Hamburg goes for gold in energy-efficiency

February 18, 2020 by  
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In Hamburg’s HafenCity district, German architecture firm blauraum Architekten has recently completed the KPTN, a new city block that fits about a dozen different functions under one roof. Inspired by the storehouses of Hamburg’s historic Speicherstadt, the mixed-use development comprises five warehouse-like brick buildings engineered for energy savings and long-term adaptability. With energy consumption levels significantly below those mandated by the German Energy Conservation Directive, EnEV 2009, the project has been entered for the HafenCity (Gold) certificate, an environmental accolade. Conceived as a “city within the city,” the KPTN comprises a cinema, the Hafenbühne stage, restaurants, bars, the Pierdrei hotel, shops, a public underground car park and 220 free and subsidized apartments with access to rooftop playgrounds and a landscaped inner courtyard . The residences range from studio apartments to three- or four-room apartments for families. Despite the diverse program, the open and flexible development that is spread over seven to eight stories — with two floors located underground — presents as a unified whole. Related: Kuehn Malvezzi tops a brick office building in Germany with an energy-efficient greenhouse “The KPTN could be seen as a modern hybrid city warehouse that is able to respond to changing requirements,” the architects explained. “Small apartments can be combined to form larger units and shop areas can be flexibly subdivided. Sustainable building is thus defined as long-term adaptability . The materials were selected with a view to a long service life: durable, weather- and abrasion-resistant surfaces and low-maintenance windows and door frames, reversible connection methods of components that can easily be replaced.” To further future-proof the development, the architects surrounded the hotel and cinema complex with a flood protection balcony. Resident comfort is elevated with innovative HafenCity windows with fixed solar screens, soundproof glazing for the sliding doors and operable windows to promote natural ventilation . + blauraum Architekten Photography by Marcus Bredt via blauraum Architekten

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Passive solar community in Brazil combines social justice and sustainability

January 15, 2020 by  
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To empower a marginalized community in Brazil’s Maranhão state, São Paulo-based architecture firm  Estudio Flume  has completed Castanha de Caju, a new headquarters for a women’s agricultural cooperative that doubles as a welcoming community hub. Constructed on a limited budget and a tight timeline, the inspiring project included the refurbishment and extension of a small house as well as the inclusion of traditional construction techniques and materials to reduce costs. Low-cost passive thermal control strategies and considerable community input helped shape the project, which also includes permaculture principles, a biodigester, and rainwater harvesting. Located in Nova Vida, a small impoverished community in Bom Jesus das Selvas, the new agricultural co-op headquarters was primarily built to serve a group of women who make their living by collecting and processing a type of oil-rich Brazilian nut. As a result, the layout of the building was informed by the co-op’s workflows and includes nut cooking and breaking areas as well as an internal courtyard for drying foods. In light of the lack of  public spaces in the town, the architects also added facilities to the project, such as the sun-room and concrete bunch, to encourage community cohesion and knowledge sharing. In addition to  reusing  as much of the original building as possible, the new headquarters is constructed with perforated bricks and ‘brise-soleil’ pivot doors made with traditional techniques to allow for cross ventilation, natural light, and views. Since the area lacks a sewage system and a constant supply of potable water, the architects added a rainwater harvesting system and a septic tank biodigester for sewage treatment as well as a banana circle to filter gray water. The architects hope that through continued use and maintenance, the community will gradually begin to adapt these systems into other buildings in the town. Related: This beekeepers workshop uses sustainable design to minimize its footprint “This project is part of a wider plan for renovation works for small cooperatives and associations in the interior Maranhão and Pará states, in the north and northeast of Brazil ,” the architects said. “In a country with enormous continental diversity and cultural richness, it represents the opportunity to defend some sense of social justice, to ensure job security, comfort in the routine of a group of women. This was an opportunity to work with those who produce food on a small scale and with respect for the environment and, in the end, these products are eaten in the big cities.” + Estudio Flume Images via Estudio Flume

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3XN unveils new, sustainable building for UNSW Sydney

January 10, 2020 by  
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Following a rigorous international competition, Danish architectural firm 3XN has won the bid to design the University of New South Wales’ (UNSW) new Multipurpose Building — a project that the architects say will have a “focus on resilience and environmental sustainability.” Proposed for the northeast gate (Gate 9) of the UNSW main Kensington campus in Sydney, the Multipurpose Building will serve as a vibrant campus gateway close to a soon-to-open light rail station. The building will emphasize healthy indoor environments with carefully chosen materials, passive cooling, and ample daylighting. The UNSW Multipurpose Building marks the first Australian educational facility project for 3XN, which is continually expanding its portfolio abroad. Conceived as the heart of the UNSW campus, the building design combines a tower element with horizontal massing to create an L-shaped volume that’s made all the more distinctive by a staggered facade. “Our concept for this building is really special in that it offers a new  learning environment  for interdisciplinary collaboration and inspiration,” Stig Vesterager Gothelf, Architect MAA and Partner in Charge at 3XN in Copenhagen, said in a project statement. “Students will be able to observe and learn from each other in new ways, thanks to the open design concept used throughout.” Related: BIG’s LEED Gold-seeking school in Arlington features a cascade of green terraces Given the building’s proximity to a planned light rail station, the project will include a large plaza and green space to accommodate increased  pedestrian traffic . Inside, the building will include six distinct teaching and learning environments, common student facilities, event and exhibition space, workplaces, supporting and ancillary facilities and additional amenities. Using passive solar strategies, the design will also aim to minimize the building’s energy use, water use and maintenance costs. + 3XN Images via 3XN

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Architects reveal winning design for Western Sydney Airport

November 6, 2019 by  
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Zaha Hadid Architects and Sydney-based Cox Architecture have won the international design competition for the Western Sydney International Airport, a new travel hub that is slated to become the largest international gateway to Australia by 2060. Located in Sydney’s new western Parkland City region, the greenfield airport draws inspiration for its form and material palette from the unique local flora and nearby mountains. In addition to referencing the natural landscape, the architecture will emphasize energy efficiency through daylighting, natural ventilation and water recycling. Selected from a shortlist of five competitors narrowed down from 40 entries, Zaha Hadid Architects and Cox Architecture’s winning design mirrors the surrounding terrain with its wavy roof and gold-toned color palette. The Western Sydney International Airport — also known as the Nancy-Bird Walton Airport after the famous Australian aviatrix — aims to catalyze the city’s western expansion and cement Parkland City’s position as the third urban hub of Sydney . Related: Zaha Hadid Architects completes futuristic, energy-saving airport in Beijing Under the direction of Zaha Hadid Architects and Cox Architecture, who will jointly serve as Master Architect for the entire airport precinct, the project will be constructed in four phases. The initial phase will accommodate 10 million annual passengers and is slated for completion in 2026. The project will be completed in its entirety by 2060 and is expected to accommodate 82 million annual passengers. The architecture follows sustainable design and construction principles for an energy-efficient, modular build. “We are honored to have been selected for this amazing project,” said ZHA Project Director Cristiano Ceccato in a press statement. “The design is an evolution of Australian architecture past, present and future. It draws inspiration from both traditional architectural features such as the veranda as well as the natural beauty of the surrounding bushland.” + Zaha Hadid Architects + Cox Architecture Images via Zaha Hadid Architects

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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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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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