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

Cozy pop-up Seedpods let you escape into nature with a minimal footprint

April 24, 2019 by  
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Reconnecting with Mother Nature has been elevated to new heights with Nomadic Resorts ‘ latest treehouse initiative — the Seedpod. Shaped like a human nest, these lightweight sleeping pods are designed for minimal landscape impact and can pop up in remote locations in just one day. The pop-up hotel rooms were recently installed in Mauritius’ Bel Ombre Nature Reserve, where they were hung from trees and made to “float” above the forest floor. Founded in 2011 as a reaction against the environmental footprint of traditional hotel development, Nomadic Resorts is an interdisciplinary design and project development company that services the hospitality industry with sustainable and contemporary projects. The Seedpod, developed after years of research, builds on the company’s commitment to low-impact design. Drawing inspiration from the shape of a seed and a bird’s nest, Nomadic Resorts crafted an aerodynamic structure that is not only capable of resisting wind speeds of 120 kilometers per hour, but can also be quickly installed in remote locations without using heavy machinery or power tools. “Our goal was to take inspiration from the humble seed to create a floating hotel room that was both ephemeral and robust — comfortable but exciting to sleep in,” said Louis Thompson, the CEO of Nomadic Resorts. “The idea is that sleeping in the pod is a transformative experience in its own right — a chance to spend a night in a human nest where you can see the movement of the wildlife below and hear the gurgling of the stream. Our team has been striving to find a symbiotic, harmonious relationship with the sites we develop. To achieve that, we need to find a compromise between durability and sustainability, environmental integrity and guest comfort — size was an important consideration in that discussion — it is the place, not the space, that is true luxury.” Related: Nomadic Resorts’ tiny prefab pod homes can pop up anywhere The Seedpod debut at the Heritage Nature Reserve consists of two units set up for a unique picnic experience where visitors can learn about the endemic forest, swim in the natural pools and enjoy a mosquito-free lunch inside each room. The pods, which were attached to trees at the reserve, can also be erected on their own with an optional tripod and equipped with lighting, solar panels , a ceiling fan, a cool box and a charging station for devices. Each unit measures nearly 12.5 feet in height (nearly 7.5 feet for internal height) and slightly over 7 feet in diameter. + Nomadic Resorts Images via Nomadic Resorts and The Heritage Nature Reserve

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Cozy pop-up Seedpods let you escape into nature with a minimal footprint

Green-roofed NY home taps into passive solar with contemporary style

March 13, 2019 by  
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New York-based design firm Slade Architecture has reconciled a client’s need for privacy with their desire for connection with the landscape in the Link Farm House, a contemporary home that splits the public and private areas into two perpendicular volumes. Located on a 220-acre organic farm in Dutchess County, New York, the expansive home engages the bucolic surroundings with a glass public-facing volume balanced atop a grassy knoll and a lower, private-facing volume built of locally sourced stone. The two volumes are optimized for passive solar benefits and heavily insulated, from the lower volume’s thermal barrier-like stonewalls to the upper volume’s triple-glazed facade. Built for a couple with three children, the Link Farm House serves as a family retreat from Manhattan. The home’s two perpendicularly intersecting volumes are positioned so that the lower volume is hidden from view in the entry sequence and only reveals itself in close proximity. The conspicuous upper volume is surrounded by floor-to-ceiling glazed walls and topped with a flat roof with overhangs that shield the walls of glass from unwanted solar heat gain in summer. Geothermal wells power the home’s heating and cooling and are complemented with radiant floors heated with a geothermal heat pump-driven forced-air system. Remote solar cells are tapped for electricity.   “The building uses the site and the unique characteristics of the two volumes opportunistically maximizing the passive benefits of the two conditions as well as the active potential of the site for energy conservation,” the architects explain. “In terms of passive thermal strategies, the upper volume engages the exterior conditions and the lower volume insulates against the exterior environment. The triple insulated glass walls and roof overhang of the upper volume leverage summer and winter sun angles to shade the interior in summer and maximize solar penetration and heat gain in winter. The lower volume uses super-insulated walls and windows to create a thermal barrier. In addition, the stone flooring throughout this lower volume creates a thermal flywheel, stabilizing the temperature.” Related: LEED Gold home celebrates Utah’s brilliant light and beauty To reduce the home’s embodied energy footprint, the architects sourced wood from the client’s farm property for use throughout the house from the solid cherry paneling in the mudroom and study to the locally sourced timber used for the cabinetry and ceiling of the master bathroom. The lower volume, which contains the private areas, consists of five bedrooms, a family room, mudroom, and a study. The upper level comprises an open-plan living room, dining room, kitchen and family room that opens up to a green-roofed terrace. + Slade Architecture Images via Tom Sibley

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Green-roofed NY home taps into passive solar with contemporary style

Architects design gorgeous forest-enveloped home with lounge space on its green roof

March 4, 2019 by  
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Brazilian firm, MF+ Arquitetos have unveiled a beautiful wooden home design with a massive open-air lounge on its sprawling green roof. Located in a lush green forest outside of Madrid, Casa Spain is a 6,400-square-foot family home built to be a refuge in the woods. Designed to seamlessly blend into its forestscape and natural topography, the home’s heart is located on its dual-level green roof, which comes complete with a lounge area and fire pit. Although the gorgeous family abode is tucked into a forest, the home design was inspired by the homeowners’ desire to re-create a bright and airy beach home, but surrounded by greenery instead of ocean views. The result is a spectacular forest refuge that is fully integrated into its surroundings thanks to its contemporary volume and natural building materials. Related: Green-roofed home cantilevers over a remote mountainside in Argentina Using the building site’s natural environment as inspiration, the designers choose to create a organic volume made up of glass, stone, wood and concrete. Made up of two overlapping and perpendicular volumes, the home was strategically orientated to make the most out of the views. Both of the home’s levels make use of the wooden-clad eaves and panels of folding brise soleil to reduce solar heat gain and provide natural ventilation throughout the interior. The bottom level of the home sits on a small hill with an expansive stone platform that wraps around the ground floor. Large floor-to-ceiling glass panels open up to the outdoors and flood the interior with natural light . The upper level of the home is a smaller recessed volume that opens up to the roof of the bottom level, revealing a spectacular green roof that sits up high in eyeline with the dense tree canopy. With a large dining table, lounge area, fire pit and native vegetation, this outdoor terrace space is definitely at the heart of the home’s design. + MF+ Arquitetos Via World Architecture Images via MF+ Arquitetos

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Architects design gorgeous forest-enveloped home with lounge space on its green roof

A solar-powered seaside home embraces contrast and scenic views

February 20, 2019 by  
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Melbourne-based firm  Megowan Architectural has unveiled a beautiful home located in Mount Eliza in Victoria, Australia that uses strategic angles and contrast to make the most of the idyllic seaside setting. The three-story Two Angle House is not only aesthetically stunning — behind its sophisticated concrete and wood facade is a complex system that makes the home incredibly energy-efficient . Located in the seaside town of Mount Eliza on the Mornington Peninsula, the 5,920-square-foot home’s sophisticated design scheme is based on contrasting building materials. According to the architects, “The interior and exterior are a play on the contrast between two angles of internal organization, the contrast between warm and cold materials and a considered contrast between architecture and landscape.” Related: Solar-powered modular retreat design in Melbourne inspired by the local landscape The exterior and interior are made with a number of contrasting materials, namely concrete and wood. Using extensive concrete in the floors and walls was strategic to creating a tight thermal mass while in-slab hydronic heating further helps regulate the interior temperatures year-round. Using a system of cubed volumes, which contain two angles within the layout, the Two Angle House was strategically designed to provide stunning views of the ocean. Additionally, the design saw the home’s large concrete blade wall “stretched” from east to west to take advantage of optimal passive solar gain throughout. This allows the structure to not only benefit from a natural heating and lighting system, but it also reduces energy usage substantially. The roof was also equipped with solar panels to provide much of the building’s energy . Much like the outdoor space and wraparound deck, the interior is focused on the amazing sea views, which can be found from virtually any angle inside the home. In fact, just opening the front door leads the eye to the sea at the other side of the house. Large floor-to-ceiling windows and sliding glass doors naturally brighten the interior and open up the living space to the outdoors, creating a seamless connection to the natural surroundings. + Megowan Architectural Via Dwell Images via Megowan Architectural

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