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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3XN unveils new, sustainable building for UNSW Sydney

Bioclimatic design creates a highly efficient and healthy home in Spain

November 20, 2019 by  
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Spain’s Rías Baixas area is a picturesque part of the country. Now, in this idyllic region sits a highly energy-efficient home designed by local firm ARKKE . The architects incorporated several bioclimatic features into the design, taking advantage of the local climate and landscape to help reduce the building’s energy use. The Small Bioclimatic House is a compact, two-bedroom home that sits elevated on a steep hill side overlooking the Ría de Arousa, the largest estuary in Galicia. The area is known for its picturesque landscape dotted with quaint fishing villages, so the architects wanted to create an energy-efficient home that harmonizes with the surroundings and complements the existing vernacular. Related: Brazilian timber home uses bioclimatic principles to reduce its environmental footprint The home is just over 900 square feet and is surrounded by natural landscaping. According to the architects, the layout and size of the house was inspired by the limited building space as well as the stunning views. The firm explained, “The essential premise of the commission was to design a small, highly efficient and healthy house capable of making the most of a very narrow plot but with delicious views of the Arosa estuary.” The architects created a simple, one-story design with two bedrooms, a living room, an open kitchen and a bathroom. The front wall is comprised of floor-to-ceiling windows that open up to a front deck; this helps the family to enjoy optimal natural light as well as unobstructed views year-round. To create a strong thermal envelope for the home, the architects chose to build with CLT . The porch extends laterally, forming eaves that shade the interiors from direct solar radiation, again reducing the home’s energy use. Additionally, the entire envelope has been insulated with a unique exterior insulation system (SATE) to withstand both the region’s frigid winters and the searing summer months. + ARKKE Via ArchDaily Images via ARKKE

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Bioclimatic design creates a highly efficient and healthy home in Spain

Two sustainable rental units dressed in reclaimed brick are self-sustaining through solar power

September 23, 2019 by  
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Melbourne-based firm Breathe Architecture has brought a bit of California flair to a Melbourne suburb. Using the empty space behind two existing Cali-style bungalows, the designers have managed to create two single, light-filled dwellings enveloped in reclaimed brick facades. The two rental properties were designed to offer the area environmentally sustainable and affordable rental housing that homogenizes with the local vernacular. Located in the area of Glen Iris, the Bardolph Garden House was designed as a building comprised of two rental units that blend in with the neighborhood aesthetic and each other. The simple, brick-clad volumes with pitched roofs emit a classic, traditional look while concealing dual contemporary interiors. Related: This home made of broken bricks features a series of rolling green roofs The two units are similar in size, both measuring just over 2,000 square feet. The entrances to the homes are through a covered courtyard and a landscaped garden area. The exterior spaces remain private thanks to several brick screens that also let natural breezes flow into these outdoor areas. When designing the layout of the two properties, the firm was dedicated to creating two energy-efficient units. As such, the project incorporated a number of passive features to reduce the homes’ energy needs. In addition to the greenery-filled pocket gardens that help insulate the properties, the gabled roofs and external steel awnings help maximize northern solar gain during the winter and minimize it during the summer months. Thanks to the region’s pleasant temperatures, the bright living spaces are incredibly welcoming. Vaulted ceilings add more volume to the interior, and an abundance of windows draw in plenty of natural light. The interior design, which features furnishings by StyleCraft and textiles by Armadillo & Co , is bright and airy with a neutral color palette that enhances the natural materials. Concrete flooring and white walls contrast nicely with the timber accents found throughout the living spaces. Additionally, the interior boasts a number of reclaimed materials, such as a repurposed timber bench tops and terrazzo tiles. Carefully designed to maximize thermal performance, the two units are completely self-sustaining. Their energy is supplied through a solar PV array on the roof, and a sustainable heat pump system supplies hot water. A rainwater collection system was also installed so that gray water could be collected and stored on-site for reuse. + Breathe Architecture Via ArchDaily Photography by Tom Ross via Breathe Architecture

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Two sustainable rental units dressed in reclaimed brick are self-sustaining through solar power

Old Paris railway site will transform into a carbon-neutral ecosystem neighborhood

September 23, 2019 by  
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An abundance of green will soon take over the heart of Paris with the transformation of the city’s old railway site, Ordener-Poissonniers, into a lush 3.7-hectare “ecosystem neighborhood.” The mixed-use masterplan will be spearheaded by Danish landscape architecture practice SLA and French architecture firm BIECHER ARCHITECTES , who won an international competition with the “Jardin Mécano” (“Mechanical Garden”) proposal for a sustainable urban development emphasizing bioclimatic design. In addition to the creation of large public parks, the neighborhood will include carbon-neutral architecture and renewable energy systems. Located in the 18th arrondissement, the new “ecosystem neighborhood” will pay homage to the former railway site by preserving its industrial heritage while injecting new functionality to the underused area. The mixed-use masterplan will include housing for 1,000 residents — half of which will be for social housing, 20 percent for intermediate and the remainder for private housing — as well as 13,800 square meters of office space, new school buildings, an industrial design incubator for SME, a nine-screen cinema complex, urban farming areas and plenty of restaurant and retail space. Related: Benjamin Fleury creates affordable, modern apartments with a low-energy footprint in Paris “The Ordener-Poissonniers project will act as a green generous gift to the city of Paris,” said Rasmus Astrup, partner in SLA. “In the transformation of the old post-industrial railway site, we have especially focused on the values and the qualities we want the new development to give back to the neighborhood. By combining the strong industrial character with innovative, nature-based designs and public ecosystem services, we create a new standard for nature in Paris — where nature is everywhere and where humans, plants and animals can live and flourish together.” To minimize the development’s environmental footprint in the long run, the buildings will be optimized for wind and solar conditions. Other sustainable features include photovoltaic panels mounted onto the roofs, planting plans that promote biodiversity and the use of natural materials and prefabricated low-carbon concrete floors. The project is slated for completion in 2024. + SLA + BIECHER ARCHITECTES Images via SLA

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Old Paris railway site will transform into a carbon-neutral ecosystem neighborhood

A Brazilian ‘bear cave’ brewery boasts several passive techniques to stay chill

July 22, 2019 by  
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Summer visitors to searing São Paulo now have a new “bear cave” to cool off in with a cold, frothy craft brewski in hand. Designed by local firm SuperLimão Studio for Brazilian Colorado Brewery, the Toca do Urso Brewery, which is almost entirely embedded underground, uses several passive and vernacular techniques to create a pleasant microclimate achieved through natural ventilation and light, water collection and reuse, permeable floors and plenty of native vegetation. Located in the São Paulo neighborhood of Ribeirão Preto, the Toca do Urso Brewery offers beer-lovers a serene yet vibrant place to test out a wide selection of craft beers. From the start of the project, the architectural team from SuperLimão Studio knew that to create a comfortable spot that was energy-efficient , it would have to battle the extreme heat and humidity common to the region. Related: Eco-minded Melbourne brewery breaks the mold for sustainable beer production The first step in the design process was to create a space that would be partially embedded into the landscape, adding a natural insulating envelope that would cool down the interior throughout the year. Additionally, in going with a circular shape, the team would be able to create a continual system of natural ventilation. The exterior is made out of gabion walls comprised of rocks found on-site that add to the thermal comfort of the structure. In addition, these rock walls reduce sound levels so that when the hall is crowded, noise is directed to the outdoor area. Additionally, it blocks the traffic noise from the adjacent highway. A large, circular hall was buried almost 5 feet underground to create an ultra-tight earthen envelope. The land that was removed in the process was relocated to the front part of the structure and used to create a sloped entryway. Cold air is swept downward into the building to create a cool microclimate , which is enhanced further by the native vegetation that was planted in abundance to provide shade from the searing heat. Visitors enter the building through the sloped walkway, which leads into a covered patio with plenty of seating. Inside the hall, a massive skylight optimizes natural circulation and bathes the interior in sunlight . In the center of the brewery, there is a mirror of water and a set of canals. These canals lead air and water through grates in the floor so that the interior air is humidified by the water and in constant circulation, cooling down the interior significantly in comparison to the outdoor temps. In fact, the building’s various passive measures enable an internal temperature that is approximately 15? Celsius lower than the outside temps. + SuperLimão Studio Via ArchDaily Photography by Maíra Acayaba via SuperLimão Studio

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A Brazilian ‘bear cave’ brewery boasts several passive techniques to stay chill

A prefabricated family home boasts an impressively small carbon footprint

June 28, 2019 by  
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London-based firm Proctor & Shaw has just unveiled a stunning country home that blends a traditional farmhouse aesthetic with sleek, modern touches. Set on four idyllic acres at the edge of a small village in North West England, the Zinc House is not only a stunning design but also boasts an impressively small carbon footprint . The three-bedroom family home is a two-story structure comprised of a hand-laid brick base. On top of the base and to its side are two gabled volumes clad in standing seam zinc finishes . Related: A Victorian cottage gets a stylish and sustainable makeover The two gabled volumes add a modern touch to the home’s farmhouse-inspired aesthetic . Both have projecting box windows as well as glass-enclosed garden rooms that provide stunning views of the orchard and expansive farmland that stretches out for miles. The prefab family home has two stories with the social areas on the bottom floor and the master bedroom suite on the top floor. At the family’s request, the spaces were designed to be highly flexible so that they could be reconfigured to meet the family’s future needs. Thanks to interconnecting living spaces and an open plan, the ground floor could be easily converted into one single living space. In addition to its visually pleasing design, the home is also incredibly sustainable. The cross-laminated timber structure was prefabricated off-site, which reduced construction emissions substantially. The materials arrived to the site via truck and the entire structure was erected in just three days. Thanks to its prefab origins as well as strategic passive and active sustainability features, the house is incredibly energy-efficient . For starters,  quality insulation enables it to have an extremely tight envelope, reducing energy costs and providing a stable interior temperature year-round. The orientation of the building was also an important factor in making use of natural light and air circulation. For energy generation, the residence has a large solar array on one of the gabled roofs, and a ground source heat pump was installed to provide heating and additional electricity that results in minimal net running costs for the home. + Proctor & Shaw Via ArchDaily Photography by David Millington Photography Ltd via Proctor & Shaw

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A prefabricated family home boasts an impressively small carbon footprint

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

Congress reports U.S. will lose $54 billion annually to storms

May 1, 2019 by  
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A recent report from the Congressional Budget Office predicts an alarming $54 billion in hurricane and flood damage over the next few years — much of which can be avoided by spending money upfront to protect and prevent against losses. The frequency of what are called “billion-dollar storms” appear to be increasing. In 2018, there were 39 “billion-dollar” disasters around the world — 16 of which were in the U.S. Already in the first four months of 2019, the U.S. has endured winter storms Quiana and Ulmer, and each one caused more than a billion dollars  in damage to infrastructure and homes. The new report by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) focuses on hurricanes, which are the mostly costly natural disasters according to NOAA. Since 1980, tropical cyclones have caused a combined $927.5 billion in damages and are also the most expensive individual storm events in both financial cost and lives lost. Related: Low-income housing in flood zones traps families in harm’s way Of the annual losses predicted by the CBO, $34 billion is estimated in damage to homes, plus $12 billion for the public sector and $9 billion for private businesses. The direct cost to taxpayers is estimated at approximately $17 billion per year. However, the CBO report also underscores several preventive actions that could significantly reduce these costs. By some analyses , mitigation measures (such as flood prevention or watershed protection) could save Americans $6 dollars in losses for every $1 spent in preparation. Solutions to mitigate hurricane damage The following suggestions from the report include environmental and policy-level recommendations to reduce loss in infrastructure and lives from tropical storms and hurricanes. Reduce carbon emissions Hurricanes, and their rising frequency and intensity, are intricately tied to climate change . Increasing temperatures melt glaciers and cause sea level rise, which leads to higher storm surge levels and more destructive flooding. The rising temperatures have also been linked to increased rainfall. Climate change is a result of greenhouse gas emissions; therefore,  reducing emissions would slow and prevent some of the future damage caused by intense storms and extreme flooding. One primary way to reduce emissions, according to the CBO, is by expanding cap-and-trade programs. These programs incentivize companies to keep emissions below designated thresholds and allow the purchasing of emission credits between companies that pollute less and companies that pollute more. However, the CBO also acknowledges that limiting emissions may negatively impact the economy by increasing the cost of goods and services and reducing jobs. Likewise, the CBO argues that such strategies must be enforced at a global scale, otherwise corporations will relocate to countries that allow unfettered pollution. Increase funding for flood mapping The weather is changing, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is struggling to keep up. Rapid urban development in wetlands and flood zones, combined with sea level rise and erosion, are changing the landscape of flood risk. The scale of this need is overwhelming — in 2018, FEMA spent $452 million on flood mapping and data collection, but it was nowhere near enough. Expand flood insurance coverage Flood insurance agencies need accurate spatial data and maps in order to adequately provide coverage, charge appropriate rates and adequately inform the public about their specific risks. Most people simply do not buy flood insurance and of those that do, 25 percent drop their plan within the first year. More accurate data and delineated risk zones can help inform residents of their direct risks and incentivize homeowners to implement mitigation measure, such as relocating heating and cooling equipment above of the predicted flood level. Accurate risk data will also help justify changes for long-standing insurance policy holders who have been “grandfathered” into plans that grossly underestimated their vulnerability before climate science and spatial mapping were widely available. An estimated 20 percent of insurance policy holders are paying rates lower than their appropriate risk level, which is good news for the policy holder up until a storm hits and they are in need of benefits that correspond to the damage they endured. Encourage local and state governments to share recovery costs When the president declares a disaster emergency, municipalities receive federal dollars to provide basic needs and support recovery efforts. Though the federal government plans to ramp up funding for preventive measures, such as sea walls, the CBO believes that if local and state governments had to foot more of the bill, they would be more inclined to enforce important mitigation policy . For example, if local and state governments expected to have to pay for damage to infrastructure, they would be more strict about limiting new development in flood zones — something they have more power to control from a local level. The message is clear — mitigation efforts are worth every penny. The National Weather Service already predicted more severe flooding this hurricane season than previous years. As evidence piles up in favor of mitigation, the only question remaining is ‘where do we start?’ + CBO Via The Weather Channel Image via Raquel M  and Pamela Andrade ( 1 , 2 )

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Congress reports U.S. will lose $54 billion annually to storms

Two abandoned 1960s buildings in the middle of a desert become a chic eco retreat

May 1, 2019 by  
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London-based practice Anarchitect has breathed new life into two stone buildings from the 1960s that had laid vacant in the United Arab Emirates’ Sharjah desert for years. Using the crimson landscape as inspiration, the firm converted the abandoned buildings into the Al Faya Lodge , a light-filled eco retreat that was built with a variety of resilient materials to withstand the remote area’s extreme temperature fluctuations. Set into the foothills of Mount Alvaah and surrounded by miles of desert, the boutique hotel  required a very strategic design that would enable the structures to be resilient against the harsh climate. According to Anarchitect founder Jonathan Ashmore, the location was challenging to say the least. “Desert conditions present extreme heat in summer with intense and prolonged sun exposure,” Ashmore said. “It is important to consider these factors when first designing the form and mass of the building and secondly the selection of suitable and robust materials, which go hand-in-hand.” Related: Off-grid eco-retreats reconnect you to serene nature in Brazil Using the existing frames of the old buildings (formerly a grocery store and cafe) as a guide for the layout, the architects selected a number of robust materials to create a resilient design that would stand up to the elements for years to come. Locally-sourced stone and concrete were chosen to create a heavy thermal mass, which would help keep the interior spaces at a comfortable temperature year-round. Additionally, using concrete and stone also protects the building from the harsh weather that often sees driving rain, sand storms and freezing overnight temperatures. In addition to these materials, the hotel was clad in a vibrant mixture of weathered steel and teak hardwood to add a refined industrial aesthetic to the design. Large floor-to-ceiling panels let in optimal natural light throughout the interior and provide a strong connection with the amazing setting found outdoors. While guests to the lodge can enjoy stunning views of the mountains and desertscape from the hotel’s dining area, reception room and outdoor fire pit, the rooftop terrace is the place to be at sunrise and sunset. All of the five guest rooms feature large skylights for stargazing. When looking for a little downtime from exploring the area, guests can also take in a luxurious soak in the open-air saltwater pool. + Anarchitect + Al Faya Lodge Via Archdaily Photography by Fernando Guerra via Anarchitect

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Two abandoned 1960s buildings in the middle of a desert become a chic eco retreat

Eucalyptus screens block out the sun’s harsh rays in this off-grid home

April 24, 2019 by  
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São Paulo-based firm Studio MK27 has unveiled a spectacular home made out of a beautiful blend of natural and prefabricated materials. The Catuçaba House is tucked into the remote rolling hills of Catuçaba, its horizontal volume sitting almost 5,000 feet above sea level. Wanting to forge a strong relationship with its stunning natural surroundings, the architects designed the home with a number of sustainable features to be completely off-grid and low-impact. In fact, the home’s sustainability profile is so impressive that it is the first building in Brazil to earn LEED Platinum certification. The 3,300-square-foot home is a beautiful study in eco-friendly minimalism. The residence, which is a wooden prefab structure , is comprised of an elongated form that sits on a series of pillars. These wooden pillars were carefully embedded into the landscape to reduce the impact on the terrain. Related: This off-grid home on a Greek island provides ‘cinematic frames’ of the sea A wooden deck cantilevers over the hilly topography, creating a large platform that is book-ended by two adobe walls made from local soil. As a passive feature , sliding shades made out of eucalyptus branches cover the floor-to-ceiling front facade and filter light through the interior, offering a vibrant movement of shadows and light in the living space. Further integrating the design into its natural surroundings, the architects covered the home’s roof in native greenery. Like the home’s exterior, the interior is marked by wood finishes throughout, all of which are certified as sustainably-sourced lumber . The living and private spaces are designated by interior wooden frames filled with eco-friendly wool insulation. The rustic decor continues with exposed wooden ceilings, clay flooring, white walls and wood-burning stoves. Because of its remote location, the house has no access to grid electricity or water; therefore, it operates completely off-grid. Solar panels on the roof, along with a nearby wind turbine, generate enough energy for the residence’s needs. Drinking water is collected from a nearby spring. Additionally, the house was installed with an integrated rainwater collection system which routes gray water to irrigate the garden. The sustainable Catuçaba home was completed in 2016 and has since earned a number of accolades. It is the first building in Brazil to earn LEED Platinum certification from the Green Building Council. + Studio MK27  Via Dezeen Photography by Fernando Guerra via Studio MK27

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Eucalyptus screens block out the sun’s harsh rays in this off-grid home

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