This luxe, solar-powered, prefab home was completed in 6 months

April 24, 2020 by  
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High-end luxury meets energy efficiency in the Jesolo Lido Pool Villa, a 320-square-meter Venetian villa in the Italian seaside resort of Jesolo. Designed by Milan-based architecture firm JMA , the holiday home was prefabricated, installed and furnished in just six months. The high-performance building envelope has been engineered to guarantee near net-zero energy usage throughout the year. Located on a compact plot, the Jesolo Lido Pool Villa makes the most of its small property size by emphasizing indoor-outdoor living and a sense of openness with long sight lines. The open-plan living area, dining room and kitchen are flanked by floor-to-ceiling glass that open up the home to outdoor terraces on either side. The larger of the two spaces, located on the west side, features a long swimming pool that takes up the entire length of the terrace as well as two square planting beds and an olive tree next to the basement stairs. The smaller terrace on the east side includes two planters and another olive tree.  Related: Prefab Danish home was built from CLT and weathered steel in just 3 days Despite extensive glazing, the Jesolo Lido Pool Villa manages to minimize energy loss thanks to the use of argon-gas insulated glass and 31-centimeter perimeter insulation. The prefabricated timber structure also avoids thermal bridges and boasts flexible and anti-seismic benefits. The interior is bathed in natural light during the day — a 4-meter roof overhang protects against solar gain — and is illuminated with LED fixtures at night. A 10 kW rooftop solar array powers the home’s electricity needs. While the house is designed for indoor-outdoor living, the architects made sure the villa could be comfortably used in the cold winter months. A radiant floor heating system installed throughout is powered with an electric heat pump that draws energy from the photovoltaic panels. The luxurious interiors were also designed by JMA and include seamless audio/visual walls, a custom-designed, solid-surface kitchen and motorized roller shades that disappear into the dropped ceiling to maintain a sleek, streamlined appearance. + JMA Images via Jacopo Mascheroni

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This luxe, solar-powered, prefab home was completed in 6 months

Grade II listed Victorian home undergoes a green renovation

April 24, 2020 by  
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London-based firm Will Gamble Architects has breathed new life into a dilapidated building in the small village of Gretton, U.K. The complex consisted of a Grade II listed Victorian house, a disused cattle shed and a set of ruins of a former parchment factory. Although the project presented several challenges, the architects managed to strategically incorporate the existing structures, as well as several reclaimed materials found onsite, into the new design in lieu of complete demolition. The Parchment Works House represents the best of green renovation that incorporates a deep respect for the past. Because the project involved restoring a Grade II listed Victorian home, the architects had to work within several building restrictions. Buildings listed as Grade II are legally protected from being demolished, so the designers were forced to get creative with a redesign. Related: A Victorian cottage gets a stylish and sustainable makeover The original plan called for renovating the home while incorporating the  disused cattle shed. The adjacent complex, which only had stone walls remaining and was in complete ruins, was initially going to be demolished. However, Will Gamble Architects saw the value in incorporating the ruins into the new design via a “sensitive but well-conceived intervention.” With a new green renovation plan underway, the project centered around using what was onsite for construction. Working within the focus of creating “a building within a building”, the process began by inserting two modern volumes within the complex’s existing structures. Using the old masonry walls as an envelope, the new house consists of a modern interior wrapped solidly in the site’s history and rural setting. The two volumes are clad in a blend of weathered steel, oak and reclaimed brick. Additional materials found onsite were also upcycled for use throughout the Victorian home, enabling the architects to save on costs and make the renovation more sustainable. The interior of the home is thoroughly minimalist and modern. Each room is filled with natural light. The kitchen is the heart of the home and doubles as a space for gathering. Despite the house’s modern design, the interior stone walls were repaired and washed in lime to create a mottled effect while the exposed ceiling beams were repurposed from the old cattle shed for a striking contrast between past and present. + Will Gamble Architects Via ArchDaily Photography by John Dehlin via Will Gamble Architects

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Grade II listed Victorian home undergoes a green renovation

Dark Chalet in Utah will generate over 350% more energy than it needs

April 24, 2020 by  
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Los Angeles-based Tom Wiscombe Architecture will be putting the final touches on its “Dark Chalet” by October 2020. Located about an hour north of Salt Lake City on the slopes of Summit’s Powder Mountain in Eden, Utah, the mysterious, net-positive energy building will generate 364% more power than it needs thanks to an integrated commercial-grade solar panel system. Net-positive energy in architecture refers to a building that generates more power than is needed for the structure to operate, going a step further than traditional net-zero energy systems. The extra energy can be utilized for features such as electric vehicle charging and hosting large events or even as a long-term plan to help offset the energy it took to construct the building in the first place. Excess energy can also be returned to the grid. Related: Kendeda, a net-positive Living Building, opens at Georgia Tech The 5,500-square-foot Dark Chalet is meant to act as both a single-family residence and a venue for the Summit Powder Mountain community events. The main structure, which looks like a massive black diamond against the snowy white backdrop, is fitted to follow the natural slope of the mountain with a lifted section contoured to allow skiers to pass through. The entire exterior is constructed with a woven patchwork of matte and glossy solar panels embedded into each other. This design fades the system into the background unlike traditional solar panels; the arrangement helps draw little attention to the fact that energy is being generated and instead presents a sleek exterior. At the forefront of the interior, a mega-scaled fireplace will connect all levels of the house through a network of strategically embedded staircases, a design meant to inspire images of grand ski chalets and castles. The 28-foot-wide fireplace is made of black steel. Both the staircases and the fireplace will have elements including bookshelves, walkways and storage spaces. The completion of the Dark Chalet in October will mark the first phase of a 10,000-acre Summit Powder Mountain ski resort . + Tom Wiscombe Architecture Via The Architect’s Newspaper Images via Tom Wiscombe Architecture

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‘Tiger King’ drama overshadows abuse of captive tigers in U.S.

April 24, 2020 by  
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Netflix’s wildly popular “Tiger King” documentary series has been progressively sweeping the nation since it first aired on March 20. As an outrageous, binge-worthy drama released when self-isolation and uncertainty were spreading around the world, the show certainly came at the right time to provide an escape from the news. Overnight, it seemed, conversations that didn’t revolve around the coronavirus or Joe Exotic were hard to come by. Photos of celebrities who’d visited the zoos were flooding the internet, Joe Exotic’s power-ballads were hitting it big on Spotify and even President Donald Trump was fielding questions about the gun-toting zookeeper during press briefings. While the eccentric documentary reveals some disturbing truths about the enigmatic underworld it portrays, the show’s colorful characters tend to overshadow serious animal welfare issues. The dizzying murder-mystery component camouflages animal cruelty behind a jaw-dropping “you have to see it to believe it” drama. Now that the initial buzz of the show has started to die down, animal conservationists are begging the public to take a closer look at what the series failed to address: why, and how, these types of animal “sanctuaries” are legal in the United States. Related: Bronx Zoo tiger tests positive for coronavirus The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) believes that the illegal wildlife trade presents the most substantial incentive for exotic animal breeding and estimates that a vast majority of the captive tigers in the U.S. are living inside people’s backyards, roadside attractions and private breeding facilities. “Tigers should not be kept or bred for entertainment or trade in their parts and products,” said Leigh Henry, director of wildlife policy for WWF USA. “As a leader in promoting the conservation of tigers globally, the United States has a responsibility to manage the staggering 5,000 estimated captive tigers within its own borders.” The tigers remaining in the wild currently number around 3,900 and are continuing to be threatened due to poaching , illegal trade and habitat loss. Surprisingly, only an estimated 6% of the captive tiger population in the U.S. live inside zoos and facilities accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Because tigers in the United States are regulated by a combination of federal, state and local laws, there is no single government agency monitoring the location, ownership or sales of the tigers or what happens to their parts when they die. According to Henry, any supply of tiger parts into the black market stimulates trade and customer demand, posing additional risks to the wild tiger population. Tiger abuse in the U.S. was on the radar well before Netflix aired “Tiger King.” In 2006, Joe Exotic’s GW Exotic Animal Park was fined $25,000 by the USDA for not providing adequate veterinary care or sufficient staff. Back in 2011, the Humane Society put an investigator undercover as an animal caretaker inside the park for about four months. They found hundreds of animals caged in barren conditions, cared for by workers with little-to-no experience and tiger cubs that were “punched, dragged, and hit with whips.” During that time, GW Exotic Animal Park was under investigation by the USDA for the deaths of 23 tiger cubs between 2009 and 2010. Even Emmy Award-winning comedian and political commentator John Oliver recently recalled learning about Joe Exotic in 2016. “Our researcher went back through his notes and did say, ‘It seems like the park he’s running is a little bit dangerous, we may not want to hold hands too closely with this, “ Oliver said . “Plus he started ranting about a woman named Carole.’” For the places that make their money from public encounters with tigers, continuous breeding is key in maintaining a constant supply of cubs for entertaining guests. Because of this, tigers are often inbred, causing birth defects and health issues that make them unsuitable for reintroduction into the wild . Most of the privately owned tigers in the U.S. are of mixed or unknown lineage, making them unable to participate in legitimate captive-breeding efforts in accredited zoos and institutions as well. “Facilities like Joe Exotic’s and Doc Antle’s masquerade as rescue or conservation operations, but in fact they breed tigers and subject the cubs, who are torn from their mothers immediately after birth, to stress and abuse,” said Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States and the CEO of Humane Society International. “After a few months, when the cubs are too large for close encounters with the public and the opportunity for profit is over, the cubs are caged, sold into the pet trade or die. This cycle of breeding for temporary use leads to a surplus of unwanted animals who languish in horrible conditions.” When it comes to ethical animal sanctuaries, the leading authority is the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS). This accrediting organization requires sanctuaries to meet animal-welfare standards exceeding the federal Animal Welfare Act minimum. National Geographic also outlines several things to look for when participating in wildlife tourism . According to the GFAS, sanctuaries must provide lifetime care for abused, injured or abandoned animals, and rehabilitation or rescue centers are meant to provide temporary care with the goal of either releasing animals back into the wild or placing them in permanent care. To be accredited in the AZA, the leading non-profit organization connected to zoos and aquariums in terms of conservation, companies must go through a rigorous application process . Both the AZA and the GFAS provide lists of accredited facilities on their websites. Since the documentary was filmed, 39 of Joe Exotic’s tigers have been rescued and are now living peacefully inside The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Colorado (you can see a video of the tigers’ new living conditions here ). WWF and the Humane Society are continuing to call for greater supervision and protection of captive tigers with the introduction of the Big Cat Public Safety Act . The act and its accompanying bill prohibiting cub petting are scheduled to be voted on by the end of the year. One could argue that “Tiger King” inspired viewership in ways that a more deliberate, expose-style documentary simply could not accomplish. Though the more severe components of the documentary have been masked by a barrage of memes and Twitter-fueled jokes, the ones who suffered the most in this human drama were actually the animals . Hopefully, what begins to come out of “Tiger King” will be the public’s refusal to let spectacle overpower mindfulness and that we all learn to see beyond the flashy images to realize that animal abuse is wrong — no matter how captivating the abusers are. Via National Geographic and World Wildlife Fund Images via Pixabay

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Minimalist TRIPTYCH house pulls the Quebec outdoors in

December 12, 2018 by  
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Nestled in the Laurentian Mountains about a hundred kilometers from Montreal is TRIPTYCH, a crisp and contemporary home that blurs the boundaries of indoor and outdoor living. Designed by Montreal-based architecture firm yh2 , the residence was built in the image of three interconnected pavilions fitted out in a natural material palette as well as full-height glazing to pull the forested landscape indoors. Envisioned as a “theatrical stage for the surrounding nature,” the sculptural abode was carefully situated and angled for optimized views accentuated by the roofs that slope upwards in three directions. Constructed over the span of two years in Wentworth-Nord, Quebec, TRIPTYCH includes 2,500 square feet of living space spread out across two floors. The main living spaces—comprising an open-plan kitchen, dining room, and living room—are centrally located on the first floor in addition to an office, spacious outdoor terrace, and a guest suite located in the west wing. The master bedroom, on the other hand, is found on the ground floor’s east wing beneath the living room and is separated from the interior parking garage on the east end by centrally located storage and utility rooms. “The architects designed this building with a classical triptych in mind,” explains the firm in their project statement. “It features a central piece, with direct views of Lac St-Cyr, and two side pavilions meant to be in more intimate contact with the nearby trees. The project is about the idea of fragmentation; it evolved from the desire to integrate three discrete shapes among existing trees on naturally sloping grounds.” The three pavilions are connected with two glassed-in passageways. Related: Decrepit lumberjack shack transformed into a beautiful retreat with minimal site impact Natural materials were predominately used in construction. Eastern cedar planks clad the exterior facade and continue into the entrance area to blur the line between the indoors and out. The interior walls and ceiling are mainly gypsum board or white cedar while the floors are white oak or polished concrete. Black aluminum casings on the wide patio doors and windows provide a pop of contrast against the light-colored wood. + yh2 Photo credit: Maxime Brouillet

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Minimalist TRIPTYCH house pulls the Quebec outdoors in

Architects recycle shipping containers into a breezy Dhaka home

October 30, 2018 by  
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In Dhaka, Bangladesh , local architecture firm River & Rain transformed four shipping containers into a light-filled, three-story house spanning 134 square meters. Completed in 2017, the cargotecture dwelling doesn’t hide its shipping container roots yet manages to exude a welcoming and livable atmosphere through strategically cut openings, terraces that emphasize indoor-outdoor living and greenery that grows up, around and through the building. Recycled materials were also used throughout the home, which is named Escape Den after its tranquil setting on the outskirts of the city. Spread out across three floors, the Escape Den organizes the kitchen and dining spaces on an elevated ground floor and places the living room and bedroom areas on the upper levels. Accessed via a side gate off of a dirt road, the property features an entry sequence that begins with a short flight of stairs from the parking pad to a sheltered deck. The deck consists of the dining area and other seating options oriented to face views of the lawn, which takes up approximately two-thirds of the site. The covered deck also connects to a shipping container converted to house a small media room, kitchen and bathroom. The caretaker’s room is located in the back. A flight of stairs traverses the central atrium space — anchored by an almond tree and a veil of green vines that hang from the ceiling — and connects to a glass-enclosed living room. Another flight of stairs leads up to the third floor, where a third shipping container, housing the two bedrooms, is set perpendicular to the bulk of the building in a dramatic cantilever and is topped with a green roof . One of the bedrooms also connects to an outdoor terrace . The green-roofed shipping container can be reached via a spiral staircase. Related: German company converts old shipping containers into gorgeous living spaces “The hefty look of those containers has become dramatically airier with some skillful ensemble of architectural details,” the architects explained. “The floated platforms of the house, intertwining stairs and diverse direction of container placement have made the project more visually eye-catching.” + River & Rain Photography by Maruf Raihan , Hasan Saifuddin Chandan  and Snahasis Saha via River & Rain

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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

A green-roofed ski cabin blends into the lush Canadian landscape

September 26, 2018 by  
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Wrapped in black-dyed cedar planks and topped with a lush green roof , the Cottage in Sutton appears to meld into the landscape from afar. Montreal-based architecture firm Paul Bernier Architecte designed the 2,400-square-foot residence as a weekend retreat for a family of four avid skiers. Modern yet minimalist, the home prioritizes views of the outdoors, in particular the vistas toward Mount Sutton in the south. Set on a north-south axis, the rectangular home appears to emerge from the sloped site with an angled roof slope inverted to the site’s topography. As a result, the north side of the residence, which houses the entrance, only has a single level, which then widens to two floors on the south end. The home’s northern end is also defined with a thick concrete wall that protects the house from runoff waters. In contrast to the black-dyed vertical plank cladding, the interior walls and ceiling are painted a luminous white. Pops of color are introduced into the otherwise monochromatic palette through vibrant furnishings and indoor plants. The full-height wall of glass that frames views of Mount Sutton also opens up to a covered outdoor terrace . The upper floor houses the main entrance, master suite and living spaces while two additional bedrooms and a sitting area can be found on the lower level. Related: This beautiful Washington cabin meets net-zero targets even in extreme temperatures “The plank siding is displayed horizontally, with a vertical plank corresponding to the position of each of the structural columns inserted in the side walls,” the architecture firm noted. “Inside, one can see the roof beams supported by these columns which give rhythm to the space. Seen from the road, the green roof is the cottage’s most visible element, the house being downwards. When seen from the north, during summer and winter with its snow cover, the house thus melts itself through the landscape.” + Paul Bernier Architecte Via ArchDaily Images by Claude Dagenais

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A green-roofed ski cabin blends into the lush Canadian landscape

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

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

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

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