UNStudio installs new energy-generating facade for solar producer Hanwhas HQ

May 4, 2020 by  
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UNStudio has completed renovations of the Hanwha headquarters in Seoul — all without disrupting the building’s normal business operations. The impressive feat was achieved thanks to efficient and low-impact construction methods that the international design firm dubs “remodeling in place.” In addition to renovated interior spaces and a redesigned landscape , the Hanwha headquarters is now home to a completely new, energy-generating facade with integrated solar panels to express the company’s identity as an ambitious global leader in the solar panel industry.  Located along the Cheonggyecheon in Seoul , the 57,696-square-meter Hanwha headquarters building had been suffering from a disconnect between its dated appearance and the company’s desire to be seen as a leading environmental technology provider. UNStudio won a competition to lead the redesign along with sustainability and facade consultant Arup and landscape design firm Loos van Vilet. Critical to the redesign was the replacement of the original facade, which included horizontal bands of opaque paneling and single-paneled dark glass. The new facade features clear, insulated glass with aluminum framing and integrated solar panels. Related: MVRDV to transform Seoul’s concrete-dominated waterfront into a vibrant, green oasis The renovation takes inspiration from nature and the surrounding environment. For example, the facade opens up along the north side to enable daylighting while the southern facade is more opaque to mitigate unwanted solar gain. The openings in the facade and the placement of facade panels also respond to views and the programs within the rooms. The solar panels are placed on the opaque panels on the south and southeastern facade and are angled for optimal solar harvesting. Glazing has also been positioned to reduce direct solar impact. “By means of a reductive, integrated gesture, the facade design for the Hanwha HQ implements fully inclusive systems, which significantly impact the interior climate of the building, improve user comfort and ensure high levels of sustainability and affordability,” Ben van Berkel, founder of UNStudio, said. “Through fully integrated design strategies, today’s facades can provide responsive and performative envelopes that both contextually and conceptually react to their local surroundings, whilst simultaneously determining interior conditions.” + UNStudio Photography by Rohspace via UNStudio

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UNStudio installs new energy-generating facade for solar producer Hanwhas HQ

Are these zero-carbon domes the future of sustainable housing?

March 20, 2020 by  
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When design and architecture start-up Geoship met its $100,000 equity crowdfunding goal in just five days in January 2020, founder and CEO Morgan Bierschenk knew the fledgling company had something special on its hands. The product? Sustainable, affordable housing in the form of unique geodesic domes that are also zero-carbon. Geoship built its first prototype dome in 2015, and in 2019, it partnered with Zappos in an effort to address the homelessness crisis in downtown Las Vegas, where the company is headquartered. The partnership has since created a scalable model of villages specifically aimed at helping to eliminate homelessness in the United States by 2030. Related: Create your own backyard geodesic dome with these super affordable DIY kits So what makes these domes so special? A 100% bioceramic material combined with basalt and hemp fiber (similar to bone and shells) is used to construct the framing, insulation and panels to provide an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional building materials. This ceramic composite is designed to withstand extreme temperatures, making it fireproof up to 2,300 degrees Fahrenheit. The dome shape distributes pressure evenly throughout the structure, a feature that makes it both earthquake- and hurricane-proof, according to Geoship. Additionally, the material doesn’t attract mold or insects and won’t rust, rot or deteriorate. The minerals used to create the bioceramic can be harvested from sustainable, natural resources, such as seawater desalination plants and non-toxic sewage treatment plants. Old material can either be turned into new panels or used as fertilizer. Currently, estimated turnkey prices for the domes range from $45,000 to $230,000, depending on the size. The price includes everything from delivery, permitting, installation, mechanical systems, interior finishing, appliances and materials for passive solar heating and cooling. Geoship is unique in that it is structured as a “Social Purpose Corporation,” a multi-stakeholder cooperative where customers will be major owners in the company in addition to the investors and employees, a model that Bierschenk believes consumers were all too ready for. “Old school capitalism makes rich people richer, and everybody defers responsibility, while our planet pays the price,” Bierschenk said. “We’re shifting that paradigm by making our seed investment widely accessible, and distributing equity to customers and the Earth.” + Geoship Images via Geoship

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Are these zero-carbon domes the future of sustainable housing?

Green-roofed Stonecrop home rises from rural English landscape

March 6, 2020 by  
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London-based architecture firm  Featherstone Young  recently completed Stonecrop, a new home in Rutland, East Midlands that’s also an example of how thoughtful architecture can draw new interest to declining rural communities. Topped with a sloping green roof that touches the ground, the sculptural building features two wings — one that houses the main living areas and the other for guest quarters — that wrap around a central courtyard. To reduce the home’s environmental footprint , the architects used locally sourced Clipsham limestone and oriented the home according to passive solar principles.  When the architects were asked by their clients to design a home on the edge of a village designated as a conservation area, they were initially met with pushback from the local planning authority. In response, the firm created a successful two-stage planning approach that not only detailed designs for a 347-square-meter sustainable home, but also showed how sensitive new construction could protect and enhance the surrounding countryside by preventing linear sprawl.  “Releasing overlooked sites such as these helps keep villages compact and distinct, and kicks against the usual housing development we see sprawling into the countryside,” explained Sarah Featherstone, architect and co-director of Featherstone Young. “This, coupled with the house’s two-wing strategy, makes for a more sustainable approach to building in  rural settings .” Related: Contemporary barn-inspired home adheres to passive house principles Stonecrop’s two-wing design also helps clients save on energy costs. When the secondary wing for guests is not in use, the clients can choose to only heat the main wing for day-to-day living. The principal wing is defined by its “buffer” wall of textured dry stone that provides privacy and thermal mass. In contrast, the three-bedroom guest wing, which is also constructed from the same locally sourced Clipsham  limestone , features a smooth ashlar finish. The two wings wrap around a central courtyard that helps funnel natural light and ventilation indoors. Large glazed walls frame views of the garden and meadow, while a natural material palette further ties the interiors to the outdoors.  + Featherstone Young Images © Brotherton-Lock and © James Brittain

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Green-roofed Stonecrop home rises from rural English landscape

Recycled shipping container cafe utilizes passive cooling in India

February 24, 2020 by  
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Southeast of New Delhi, in Greater Noida City, Rahul Jain Design Lab (RJDL) has transformed recycled shipping containers into a dynamic new cafe and gathering space for ITS Dental College. Named Cafe Infinity after its infinity loop shape, the building was created as an example of architecture that can be both economical and eco-friendly. The architects’ focus on sustainability has also informed the shape and positioning of the cafe for natural cooling. Cafe Infinity serves as a recreational space for ITS Dental College students, faculty and patients. The team deliberately left the corrugated metal walls of the 40-foot-long recycled shipping containers in their raw and industrial state to highlight the building’s origins. The rigid walls of the containers also provide an interesting point of contrast to the organic landscape. Related: Shipping container retreat in Brazil is inspired by tiny homes “The idea of using infinity was conceived to emphasize on the infinite possibilities of using a shipping container as a structural unit, regardless of the building type and site,” the architects explained of the building’s infinity loop shape that wraps around two courtyards. “The flexibility, modularity and sustainability makes shipping containers a perfect alternate to the conventional building structures, to reduce the overall carbon footprint while also being an ecologically and economically viable solution.” In addition to two cafe outlets and courtyards, Cafe Infinity also includes viewing decks, bathrooms, seating areas for faculty and visitors and a student lounge. To promote natural cooling , the architects turned the shipping container doors into louvers and installed them on the south side of the building to minimize unwanted solar gain while providing privacy. The building was also equipped with 50-millimeter Rockwool insulation, a mechanical cooling system, strategically placed openings and tinted windows.  + RJDL Photography by Rahul Jain via RJDL

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Recycled shipping container cafe utilizes passive cooling in India

Energy-efficient Indian home features beautiful greenery

January 24, 2020 by  
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Mumbai based architecture and design firm,  unTAG  has just unveiled a stunning home built for a retired teacher looking to spend retirement in his home village of Dakivali, India. Working within the man’s limited budget, the architects employed several low-cost,  passive strategies  such as building the home in the middle of a lush bamboo field to use the vegetation as natural insulation. Spanning two levels, the 1,400 square feet home was constructed using  low-cost , locally-sourced materials, with the main material being concrete. The resulting aesthetic is a monolithic exterior, which contrasts nicely with the surrounding vegetation. Related: A modern home in India stays naturally cool without AC In addition to the concrete’s innate  sustainable aspects , the home boasts several passive strategies to achieve optimum thermal comfort. Strategically located westward, the home was built in the middle of an existing bamboo grove. Abundant greenery envelopes the home, adding an extra layer of insulation that protects from the harsh summer sun. According to the architects, the large trees also help create a comforting microclimate for the interior, lowering the temperature by up to 5°C. The house’s entrance is through a landscaped courtyard with a large concrete  jaali  screen. A common feature in Indian architecture, the screen helps keep interior spaces private, while allowing pleasant breezes to flow through the interior. Additionally, the home was built with several seating areas, both covered and open-air, which let  natural light  filter into the living space. Adding to the home’s thermal mass, the various terraces are painted white to reduce heat gain. For the interior, large walls were built with  locally-manufactured bricks  and covered with natural plaster, while the floors were made out of natural stone. The home also features several rain collection drains that channel runoff into tanks where it is used as irrigation for landscaping. According to the architects, the main objective of the home was to provide a comfortable family home for a retired man to spend his years reconnecting with nature. The home’s simple but effective  passive strategies will also let him live with low operating costs, adding to his quality of life. The architects explained, “Inhabiting this meek abode, our dear client is a proud owner of a village home, exemplary of an affordable luxury, which he enjoys residing, nurturing and aging gracefully with it. This humble home of a farmer exemplifies that sustainability need not always come at huge costs, but can be practiced at grass root level too, through simple DIY solutions.” + unTAG Via Archdaily Images via unTAG Architecture & Interiors

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Energy-efficient Indian home features beautiful greenery

EWG warns forever chemicals are contaminating US drinking water at levels far worse than expected

January 24, 2020 by  
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Toxic ‘forever chemicals’ known as PFAS, per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, persist in the environment , grossly tainting the drinking water of many United States cities, like Miami, New Orleans and Philadelphia. More specifically, findings by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) reveal that the a 2018 estimate of 110 million U.S. citizens being contaminated with PFAS is far below actual numbers. “It’s nearly impossible to avoid contaminated drinking water from these chemicals,” shared David Andrews, a senior scientist at EWG and co-author of the report. “Everyone’s really exposed to a toxic soup of these PFAS chemicals.” Related: Climate change-induced melting of mountain ice threatens global supply of freshwater PFAS are highly fluorinated chemicals that do not break down in the environment. The most infamous PFAS are those associated with Teflon and 3M’s Scotchgard. Much of the PFAS contamination is legacy pollution . In fact, both Teflon and Scotchgard were phased out years ago, but these harmful PFAS still persist in the environment — in soils and especially in water , such as the rainwater that supplies drinking water. Despite the original PFAS chemicals being taken off the market, they’ve been replaced by modern PFAS chemicals that might still be just as harmful, if not more so. These modern PFAS chemicals lurk in packaging, stain-resistant furnishings, water-repellent clothing and items, cosmetics and personal care products and firefighting foam. What’s worrisome, too, is that PFAS can accumulate in the human body, thus compromising health . Cancer, disease, endocrine disruption, reproductive issues, low birth weights and a host of other compromised health incidences are some of the consequences of drinking PFAS-tainted water. EWG is advocating for tougher regulations and laws to reduce PFAS chemicals in drinking water and consumer products to help reduce human exposure to these toxins . Some states are ramping up their efforts to reduce PFAS in the drinking water by banning PFAS-based food packaging or firefighting foam. But more work is still needed. + EWG Via The Guardian and Reuters Image via Arcaion

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EWG warns forever chemicals are contaminating US drinking water at levels far worse than expected

Stunning, sustainable lodge blends into beautiful landscape

January 16, 2020 by  
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Romanian architecture firm BLIPSZ has created a near-autonomous holiday home that combines the charms of rural Transylvanian architecture with a sustainable and contemporary design aesthetic. Surrounded by gently rolling hills and valley views, the Lodge in a Glade comprises two barn-inspired structures with green-roofed surfaces that appear to emerge from the earth. South-facing solar panels generate about 90% of the building’s energy needs, which are kept to a minimum thanks to its passive solar design and underfloor heating powered by a geothermal heat pump. Located in a Transylvanian mountain village, Lodge in a Glade is a luxurious retreat that seeks to embrace its surroundings while minimizing its visual impact on the landscape. To that end, the architects used mostly natural building materials, including locally molded clay bricks and mineral gabion wall cladding, as well as gabled roof profiles that recall the region’s rural vernacular. The expansive size of the four-bedroom home is partly hidden by its horizontal massing and the local grasses that cover the non-pitched roof sections.  The green roofs provide insulating benefits that are reinforced by cellulose, wood fiber, and compacted straw bale insulation. Triple-glazed windows frame views of the outdoors while locking in heat. The thermal mass of the timber house also benefits from the clay brick wall fillings and thick polished concrete floors throughout. Thirty-three solar panels generate the majority of the home’s energy needs and are complemented by a safety back-up electrical grid connection for very cold and cloudy days. Rainwater is collected and reused for automated irrigation.  Related: Solar-powered Dutch home produces all of its own energy with surplus to spare “The challenge of the project was experimenting with a multitude of alternative techniques and materials to seamlessly integrate traditional and high-tech elements demanded by the clients along with the sustainable , green solutions,” the architects said in a statement. “The required interior area is quite impressive, especially compared to the modest, traditional local households nearby. Shapes and materials were chosen to blend the expansive building in the special scenery.” + BLIPSZ Via ArchDaily Images by Makkai Bence

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Stunning, sustainable lodge blends into beautiful landscape

Travertine and teak sustainably ground a modern home into a harsh coastal climate

October 3, 2019 by  
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Built to look like an extension of the landscape, the Point Nepean Residence in the town of Portsea, Australia is a sustainably crafted home designed to withstand extreme coastal weather. Melbourne-based design practice B.E Architecture created the home for a retired couple who wanted a beachside abode that would highlight the site’s natural beauty. In addition to a natural material palette that complements the coastal aesthetic, the home also uses site-specific, passive solar design principles to reduce energy demands. Set amongst thick tea tree parklands, the Point Nepean Residence enjoys sweeping views of Portsea Pier and Port Phillip Bay. In a nod to the rocky breakwater located below the site, the home features a facade made of imported Travertine from Eco Outdoor, a stone material selected for its weathered texture and ability to withstand the harsh coastal climate. Sustainably sourced plantation teak wraps the lower portion of the building and is also used for the mechanically operated screens on the upstairs windows. “The house is set back from the road with only glimpses of the building details being evident from the entranceway,” explain the architects in a press release. “It is only on approaching that slowly the house reveals itself, and one becomes more aware of the materiality of the elements used. Once inside the tall front gate, occupants and visitors are guided down a long walkway next to an atrium style internal courtyard that opens out into the main living area with views over the pier and ocean beyond.” Related: Locally sourced materials make up a timber home that mimics its forest landscape The thick travertine walls provide beneficial thermal mass for regulating internal temperatures, which is further stabilized with insulation in the walls and roof. Natural sea breezes are also maximized throughout to ventilate the building, while daylight streams in from multiple openings. The simple palette of timber and stone create a minimalist and modern appearance that’s also low maintenance.  + B.E Architecture Images by Derek Swalwell

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Travertine and teak sustainably ground a modern home into a harsh coastal climate

Eco-sensitive community in northern India harvests rainwater

September 4, 2019 by  
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Near the Himalayas, a new eco-conscious residential development known as the Woodside has taken root in the mountains of Kasauli, a small town in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. Indian architectural firm Morphogenesis used a site-sensitive approach to design the luxury development, which not only follows the contours of the landscape to minimize site disturbance but also makes use of passive solar conditions and rainwater harvesting systems to reduce energy and water usage. Envisioned as a nature retreat for city dwellers, the Woodside is perched on extremely steep terrain that includes level differences of approximately 100 meters within the site boundaries. The development’s 37 cottages and the internal roads were strategically placed to minimize cut and fill operations as well as to preserve the existing vegetation and body of water on site. Locally sourced natural materials, such as stone, timber and slate, were primarily used for construction. Related: Passive solar school in Indonesia celebrates the natural landscape “The cottages are positioned on the slope in a manner that ensures unobstructed panoramic views of the scenic hills of the Shimla valley; the largest ones enjoy the farthest view,” the architects explained. The lush landscape is left mostly untouched save for agricultural uses. “This is achieved by maintaining a minimum height difference between the roof level of each cottage and the ground level of the preceding cottage uphill.” To minimize energy usage, the cottages, which come in four different types, all feature thick outer walls to provide a thermal mass to reduce reliance on air conditioning. The community’s rainwater harvesting systems also help reduce water use. The collected water is used for irrigation or is stored in a sump downhill for later use. + Morphogenesis Photography by Suryan & Dang via Morphogenesis

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Passive solar school in Indonesia celebrates the natural landscape

August 19, 2019 by  
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In the Indonesian city of Tangerang, Jakarta-based design studio RAW Architecture has completed the School of Alfa Omega, a new school that emphasizes a connection with the outdoors. Set on a former rice paddy, the project has been a challenging endeavor — not only was the first phase expected to be ready for occupancy just six months from the design commission, but the muddy site conditions and the tight budget of less than $1.2 million also posed concerns. By combining low-cost materials and design inspiration from the local vernacular with easy-to-follow modular designs, the architects were able to successfully complete the first phase in just four months and within budget. The School of Alfa Omega caters to 300 students ranging from preschool to high school and is divided into three levels of preschool, six levels of elementary school, three levels of junior high school and three levels of senior high school. For ease of construction, the architects designed modular classrooms of equal size that are arranged in clusters. Related: Cooling breezes blow straight through a low-energy brick house in Indonesia “The brief of the project was to design a school with a value where ‘every child is [considered] a genius’; to be functioned in a curriculum system that does not rely solely on academic scores,” the architects explained. “The school aims to explore all of the students’ potency — even of those laid outside the ‘formal education realms’ such as craftsmanship, applied art, ecological awareness, social sensibility, etc., hence it is also required the establishment of growing talent classes.” To mitigate the swampy conditions and risk of flooding, the architects elevated the steel-framed school on stilts. In addition to the use of steel and concrete for durability and strength, the architects turned to locally sourced materials to bring down costs and relate the building to its surroundings. Wavy walls of locally sourced red brick — found to be more sturdy than the linear form — add visual interest. A thatched roof of local bamboo with long overhangs help shade outdoor spaces. Tall ceilings, porous brick walls, balconies and large openings were also integrated into the design to promote natural ventilation and optimize natural lighting in the school. According to the architects, the materials and design help the building remain at a stable interior temperature of 27 degrees Celsius year-round. + RAW Architecture Photography by Eric Dinardi via RAW Architecture

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