Solar-powered cube home in Australia hovers over the landscape

June 21, 2018 by  
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Optical illusions go hand-in-hand with architecture, but this tiny cube structure by  Matt Thitchener Architect  truly hovers over the landscape — with some help from embedded supports. Cantilevered on a hill, the North Avoca Studio is completely powered by the large array of  solar panels  on its roof. Located just southeast of New South Wales, North Avoca is an idyllic coastal neighborhood. Architect Matt Thitchener designed the 645-square-foot cube to be both an office and entertainment space for a family who primarily works from home. The studio is merely steps away from the family’s main residence. Related: Tiny Space-Age LoftCube Prefab Can Pop up Just About Anywhere The structural design of the studio was primarily influenced by the challenging landscape. Very steep terrain as well as limited building space required the team to embed 20-foot pillars into the bedrock to create a cantilevered design . Also due to the complexity of the location, building materials for the project had to be craned in piece by piece. The result, however, is a gorgeous multi-use space that looks out over the Pacific Ocean. Clad in dark corrugated Spandek panels, the exterior is modern and sleek. The otherwise monolithic structure is only interrupted by an entire glazed wall that provides the interior with natural light and breathtaking ocean views. The studio’s roof is covered in solar panels , which provide 100 percent of its energy. It’s also equipped with a rain harvesting system that is used to irrigate the garden planted under the structure. The interior of the home counts on an open floor plan to provide ultimate flexibility for different uses. The design is contemporary and airy, also providing an appropriate feel for any occasion. The space can be used as a work studio during the day, but can be easily be converted into an entertainment area for friends and family at night. + Matt Thitchener Architect Via Apartment Therapy Photography by Matt Thitchener Architect and Keith McInnes Photography

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Solar-powered cube home in Australia hovers over the landscape

Green-roofed vacation home embraces old-growth trees in the San Juan Islands

June 20, 2018 by  
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When Prentiss Balance Wickline Architects was asked to design a vacation home on the San Juan Islands of Washington state, the Seattle-based design firm didn’t take the easy way out. The site, which overlooks stunning views of Griffin Bay, includes three beautiful old-growth trees that the architects wanted to preserve — a different approach to that of the client’s previous architect, who suggested chopping down the trees. With the existing trees kept intact, the North Bay house celebrates the beauty of the landscape while complementing the surroundings with a natural materials palette. The North Bay house serves as a family’s holiday retreat with plenty of space for entertaining yet feels like an intimate home when the couple vacations there alone. The 2,505-square-foot contemporary home embraces the outdoors with its abundance of glazing, an expansive green roof  and the predominate use of timber and stone. To meet the brief for a low-maintenance home that could withstand periods of non-use when the clients were off the island, Prentiss Balance Wickline Architects used hardy materials like concrete panels for the chimneys and steel-framed windows sheathed in powder-coated steel. Siting the home proved to be one of the project’s most difficult challenges. In addition to preserving the old-growth trees, the architects faced property setbacks and needed to establish privacy from a relatively busy nearby road. The solution came in the form of a stone wall that serves as an organizing element of the vacation home and a shield that blocks unwanted views and noise pollution. The stone wall is offset by the glazed pavilion that overlooks views of the water. Related: Pine Forest Cabin achieves beautiful modern design on a budget “The delineated concept is a stone wall that sweeps from the parking to the entry, through the house and out the other side, terminating in a hook that nestles the master shower,” the architects said. “This is the symbolic and functional shield between the public road and the private living spaces of the home owners. All the primary living spaces and the master suite are on the water side; the remaining rooms are tucked into the hill on the road side of the wall.” + Prentiss Balance Wickline Architects Images by Jay Goodrich

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Green-roofed vacation home embraces old-growth trees in the San Juan Islands

Solar-powered home boasts an upside down layout for an expansive feel

June 19, 2018 by  
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When a couple finally decided to fulfill their dream of living by the beach, they reached out to Sydney-based architecture firm Rolf Ockert Design to bring their vision to life. To make the most of the property’s views that overlook the nearby lagoon and beach of North Curl Curl, the beach home was designed with an “upside down” layout where the living areas are stacked on top of the lower level bedrooms. Energy efficiency was also a key driver in the design of the North Curl Curl House, which is powered with solar energy and built with low-energy, recyclable and low-emission materials throughout. Located on one half of a new subdivision on a double-size block, the North Curl Curl House enjoys great waterside views as well as privacy thanks to its siting on a quiet street. “Council regulations asked for a steep angled setback from a rather moderate height on, aiming to encourage pitched roof forms,” explains Rolf Ockert Design in their project statement. “We employed that rule differently, designing instead a two-layered roof within the given envelope, gaining light and 360 degree sky views as well as natural breeze and a ceiling height that adds to the feeling of generosity.” The North Curl Curl House’s “upside down” layout organizes the open-plan living areas on the top floor, with the kitchen occupying the heart of the room. The living room and dining area, which also open up to a large outdoor deck and BBQ area, are placed on the east side of the home to overlook panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean . The floor includes a study area for the family as well. Downstairs, the master bedroom suite also faces east towards stellar vistas of the Pacific Ocean, while the two bedrooms for the kids take up the central space. On the west side is the rumpus room, which connects to the garden and pool. The two-car garage with laundry and storage is discreetly tucked underground so as not to detract from the views. Related: Stormwaters sweep beneath this coastal beach house raised above dunes To ensure energy efficiency, the North Curl Curl House makes use of natural light and ventilation over artificial sources wherever possible. The home is also equipped with a rainwater harvesting system and a solar array. The walls in the lower level of the home were constructed from brick to provide high thermal mass. + Rolf Ockert Design Images by Luke Butterly and Rolf Ockert

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Solar-powered home boasts an upside down layout for an expansive feel

An ever-evolving, growing home in Indonesia adapts to its owners’ needs

June 6, 2018 by  
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Indonesian architecture firm Studio SA_e recently completed its most dramatic renovation yet on Rumah Gerbong, a home that has evolved and undergone many expansions since the owners purchased it 18 years ago. Located in the planned township of Bintaro Jaya in Jakarta , the home has evolved from a strictly residential building to a multifunctional dwelling that accommodates residential, office and entertainment spaces. Described as a “multistep development” or “growing house” (rumah tumbuh), this adaptive typology has become increasingly popular in Indonesia. The origins of Rumah Gerbong began in 2000, when the owners, then a young couple, purchased the 387-square-foot two-bedroom building set on a plot of about 968 square meters. Three years later, the couple realized that they needed to expand their living space — they had recently given birth to a child and the husband, an architect, needed an office of his own where he could work with clients. Thus, the couple expanded the built footprint of their home to the corners of the plot and added a second floor to make room for a ground-floor office at the front of the house. The second evolution took place between 2006 and 2007, when the home expanded yet again to incorporate the neighboring house to accommodate four additional bedrooms and living spaces. Ten years later, the husband wanted to expand his office, while the wife wanted a space of her own to run a business from home. Their growing children also wanted places to bond with family. Thus, Studio SA_e designed a home compartmentalized into three sections: living, working and interacting. The bedrooms are concentrated on the second floor to open the ground and third floors for communal activities. The “business compartment” is mostly located on the north side and is divided among the three floors. The architects retained space for a planted interior courtyard to let in daylight. The home also connects to an accessible green rooftop. Related: Village-inspired office in Jakarta is topped with living trees and a green roof “The end of 2017 has turned into the climactic peak in the construction of Rumah Gerbong, with several additional functions in compartment space,” the architects wrote. “The strategy of breaking the density and contrast of functions (living and working) by adding new functions in the form of empty space and interaction space produces a new distinctive typology with strong functional synergism … [we] named this strategy as krowakisme (krowak = perforated , partially hollow).” + Studio SA_e Via ArchDaily Images by Mario Wibowo; Aerial photography by Mario Wibowo & George Timothy

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An ever-evolving, growing home in Indonesia adapts to its owners’ needs

Tudor-inspired tiny house blends old-world charm with minimalist functionality

June 6, 2018 by  
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From climbing walls  to movable walls , the prolific tiny house team from Tiny Heirloom is well known for creating unique tiny homes , but they’ve outdone themselves with their latest design, bringing a touch of old-world charm to the modern movement. The house, which was built for a private client, draws inspiration from Tudor-style architecture and comes complete with a timber-accented facade, dual gables and dark hardwood floors. The client came to the tiny house builders with an idea to create a small home that would be timeless; “The exterior of [owner] Jenn’s house was very important to her,” according to Tiny Heirloom. “She wanted it to look and feel like you were back in time whenever you laid eyes on it. So together, we drew inspiration from…different architecture but decided Tudor was the best fit. It’s such a unique style but it really finished off the design quite perfectly.” Related: Tiny Heirloom’s luxury micro homes let you live large in small spaces The home has an interior layout of just 220 square feet, but its sophisticated design creates a comfortable and spacious interior. The classic Tudor-inspired theme is reflected in the dark hardwood flooring, all-white shiplap walls and curved windows that flood the interior with natural light . The living room is compact but inviting, with a charming mosaic-clad fireplace and reading chair. The interior living space was equipped with plenty of shelving and storage to avoid clutter. The kitchen, which is just steps away from the living space, features a beautiful hammered copper sink, a propane three-burner hob and oven, and a matching mosaic backsplash. A gorgeous steel spiral staircase next to the kitchen leads up to the sleeping loft , which has a decorative railing that overlooks the bottom floor. The space fits a double bed and is also well-lit thanks to arched windows and a skylight. + Tiny Heirloom Via New Atlas Images via Tiny Heirloom

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Tudor-inspired tiny house blends old-world charm with minimalist functionality

Asheville, North Carolina proclaims 7-Day Vegan Challenge

June 5, 2018 by  
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Asheville, North Carolina has announced a week-long vegan challenge. The City of Asheville 7-Day Vegan Challenge invites residents and businesses to eat plant-based foods between June 4 and 10 “to promote good health, animal justice, social justice, environmental justice, and climate justice,” according to a proclamation signed by mayor Esther Manheimer. The city of Asheville describes the effort as the “first ever ‘city-proclaimed’ vegan challenge in the US.” A no-kill animal rescue organization, Brother Wolf Animal Rescue , is spearheading the movement to try out vegan living for a week in Asheville. They’ve made it easier for people to test out veganism by working with Mission Health Weight Management to create a guide with a seven-day meal plan , grocery store shopping list, and tips for going vegan. Sample meals include dishes like a Quinoa Green Goddess Bowl, Carrot Cake Overnight Oats, or Veggie Fajitas. Related: Vegan diets deliver more environmental benefits than sustainable dairy or meat Brother Wolf Animal Rescue is presenting the Asheville VeganFest on June 8 to 10, so the seven-day vegan challenge leads up to the festival. The event’s theme is “to bring awareness to the impacts of global animal agriculture on mass species extinction , climate change , and human health,” according to the challenge’s website, and speakers will discuss “how the transition to the vegan diet is the single most effective change we can make as individuals to help mitigate these crises.” The rescue shelter hopes other cities get involved, too — they’re offering a 7-Day Challenge Start-up Kit including a sample press release, marketing plan, and proclamation; a custom challenge website they’ve created; a guide to securing partnerships and sponsorship; and access to a training webinar. If your city is interested, you can find out more on the 7-Day Vegan Challenge website . + City of Asheville 7-Day Vegan Challenge + City of Asheville Proclamation Images via Depositphotos

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Asheville, North Carolina proclaims 7-Day Vegan Challenge

A 1940s home gets a modern update with reclaimed materials

May 26, 2018 by  
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Australian studio Porter Architects has sensitively restored and updated a 1940s dwelling in Lake Wendouree, Australia into a modern and light-filled family home. Large windows, contemporary furnishings and finishes breathe new life into the Ballarat property, but the clients and architects were also careful to preserve the home’s original historic elements as well. As a result, recycled and reclaimed materials were used throughout the renovation. Renovations can often be stressful affairs, especially when it comes to older properties like the Lake Wendouree House. Fortunately, however, clients Tom and Meeghan McInerney bought a home that had been extremely well looked after. Its previous owners were two sisters who had lived there for 60 years and kept detailed records for maintenance. Careful upkeep also meant that the original timber paneling and decorative plasterwork were kept in pristine condition. However, the home felt too dark for the couple, who wanted a home that not only was filled with natural light , but would also embrace the outdoors. To preserve the existing architecture as much as possible, Porter Architects created a contemporary extension that opens up to the north-facing backyard and timber patio through large windows and a folding operable glass wall. The Lake Wendouree House’s original front, which they kept intact, contains bedrooms, bathrooms and a study, while the new addition serves as the heart of the home with an open-plan kitchen, dining area, and living room. Unsurprisingly, the client’s favorite room is the light-filled kitchen that features a marble backsplash and counters. Related: Mid-century Dutch farmhouse gets a bold contemporary makeover To match the existing hardwood floors found in the original structure, the architects installed recycled floorboards in the rear extension. To give the traditional brick exterior a modern refresh, the architects added timber paneling and added reclaimed 1940s bricks in a contemporary pattern. The extension’s minimalist interior features whitewashed walls, timber paneling and furniture, and contemporary furnishings and fittings. + Porter Architects Images by Derek Swalwell

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Warming seas could shift fish habitats out of the reach of some fishers

May 18, 2018 by  
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Climate change is doing more than causing  sea levels to rise or sea ice to dwindle — it’s pressuring  fish to move far away from their typical habitats. Warming waters have already prompted some fish to migrate south or north. As the climate continues to change, marine species’ shifts could be challenging for fisheries as the fish potentially move into new areas altogether — some hundreds of miles away. Fish are already seeking more favorable habitats in a changing world, and a team of six scientists at institutions in the U.S. and Switzerland decided to predict how they might move in the future. In research published this week in PLOS One , the team modeled the habitat of 686 species. Ecologist and co-author Malin Pinksy of Rutgers University told NPR they have high certainty for how far around 450 of those species will shift in the future. Related: Bottlenose dolphins spotted in Canadian Pacific waters for the first time “We found a major effect of carbon emissions scenario on the magnitude of projected shifts in species habitat during the 21st century,” lead author James Morley of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill said in a statement . “Under a high carbon emissions future we anticipate that many economically important species will expand into new regions and decline in areas of historic abundance.” Some species might just shift a few miles. But others might move so far that they become out of reach for some fishers. For example, the Alaskan snow crab could move north as far as 900 miles. A shift of just a couple hundred miles could place lobster or other fish out of the range for fishers with small boats — and limited time and fuel. The scientists aren’t sure when the shifts might happen; it depends on how much the waters warm. But the movement could pose challenges for resource management — co-author Richard Seagraves, formerly with the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council , told NPR that states get a catch limit, or quota, for fish. The catch limit is based on where the fish were decades ago. Seagraves said, “Some of the Southern states are having trouble catching their quota, and states to the north have more availability of fish.” + PLOS One Via NPR and EurekAlert! Images via Depositphotos (1, 2)

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Warming seas could shift fish habitats out of the reach of some fishers

In the UK, wind energy provides more power than nuclear for the first time

May 18, 2018 by  
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For the first time, wind energy provided more power than nuclear energy to the United Kingdom grid. In the first three months of 2018, wind provided 18.8 percent of all power; only  natural gas was a larger energy source. This milestone may herald the arrival of an energy economy in which renewable energy is the most cost effective option. During the first three months of the year, there was even one point — the night of March 17 — when wind energy provided nearly half of the electricity used in the U.K. Even during extremely cold weather, the wind farms continued to provide energy. Meanwhile, two of the U.K.’s eight nuclear plants were nonoperational due to maintenance, while another was offline because seaweed was stuck in its cooling system. In the last three months of 2017, wind and solar combined had contributed more to the U.K. power supply than nuclear did. Now, wind is capable of outperforming nuclear all on its own. “There’s no sign of a limit to what we’re able to do with wind in the near future,” Dr. Rob Gross, co-author of a report on wind power’s recent success, told The Guardian . Wind energy received a major boost last December when a power cable between Scotland and northern Wales came online, allowing energy produced by Scotland’s wind farms to be shared across a wider range. “It is great news for everyone that rather than turning turbines off to manage our ageing grid, the new cable instead will make best use of wind energy,” RenewableUK executive director Emma Pinchbeck told The Guardian. Related: UK fracking measures could make exploratory drilling “as easy as building a garden wall” Even as the U.K. reaches new heights in its renewable energy production, it has faced a steep decline in renewable energy funding in recent years. Investment in renewable energy suffered a 56 percent decrease in 2017. “Billions of pounds of investment is needed in clean energy, transport, heating and industry to meet our carbon targets,” Mary Creagh, Labour Member of Parliament and chair of the environmental audit committee, said. “But a dramatic fall in investment is threatening the government’s ability to meet legally binding climate change targets.” Via The Guardian Images via Depositphotos (1, 2)

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A spike in tailless whale sightings worries scientists

May 8, 2018 by  
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People have occasionally glimpsed tailless whales in western North America, but a recent spike in sightings has troubled scientists. This year alone, at least three flukeless gray whales have been spotted near California. Ship collisions or killer whale attacks probably aren’t to blame for the injuries; entanglement in fishing equipment is likely the cause. National Geographic reported that when whales are feeding in areas with debris, man-made objects or fishing gear, nets or ropes can get stuck at their tail’s base, slowly sawing off their flukes. Ropes and nets can also cut off blood circulation, causing a whale’s tail to wither away. Entangled whales may not survive, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ‘s (NOAA) California stranding network coordinator Justin Viezbecke. “The majority of them — if not all of them — are going to most likely die from these injuries,” Viezbecke said. Related: Unusually high number of humpback whale deaths prompts NOAA inquiry Losing a tail makes life difficult for whales. Feeding becomes a challenge; the limb serves as a propeller as they navigate to the seafloor and seek out crustaceans. The long migration from Mexico birthing grounds to Arctic feeding grounds can also be hard without a tail. Flukeless mother whales are less capable of defending their babies from killer whales . According to whale biologist Alisa Schulman-Janiger, some whales can adapt to the handicap. Brooke Palmer — who posted a YouTube video of a tailless whale near Newport Beach, California earlier this year — said in the video description that the whale was doing “seemingly well as it adapted to the loss of an integral limb. It is sad, but inspirational how resilient and adaptive these beautiful mammals can be.” The increase in tailless gray whale sightings matches up with what National Geographic called a general increase in whale entanglements. There was an average of 10 incidents a year between 2000 and 2012, but in 2017, there were 31 incidents, according to NOAA whale disentangler Pieter Folkens. Folkens said the reason behind the rise is unknown, although it could be possible that people are better at spotting the whales. Via National Geographic Images via Depositphotos (1, 2)

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