A cluster of coast forest cabins brings a nature-loving family closer together

September 9, 2019 by  
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With their grown children living in different parts of North America, Indiana-based couple John and Pat Troth sought a retreat where they could bring their nature-loving family together in one place. To that end, the couple asked Seattle-based architectural firm Wittman Estes to transform a midcentury cabin in Washington’s Hood Canal into a getaway that would immerse their family into the coastal forest. Using repurposed materials, a simple and modern aesthetic, as well as an indoor/ outdoor living approach, the architects created the Hood Cliff Retreat, a cluster of timber cabins where the family can watch birds and take in the nature of the Hood Canal .  Located on a 1.13 acre site atop a bluff, the Hood Cliff Retreat replaces an existing cedar cabin that was originally built in 1962 but was largely closed off from its surroundings. To better accommodate the family’s needs for space and desire to be connected with nature, Wittman Estes demolished the original cabin and repurposed its 20-foot-by-20-foot footprint for the new main cabin. An extension was added to the side of the main cabin and a new bunkhouse and bathroom were placed on the north side of the site.  The three single-story structures were kept deliberately simple so as to keep focus on the outdoors and to minimize the construction budget. Clad in rough-sawn cedar siding and cement panel finishes, the light-filled buildings simultaneously blend into the forest and open up to the landscape with large glass openings, sliding doors, and continuous decking. Reclaimed beams and siding from the original cabin were used for countertops and interior cladding in the new buildings. Related: Danish-inspired holiday cabin is a dreamy Pacific Northwest hideout “We sought to dissolve the barriers between the inside and out, between forest, garden, and structure,” says Wittman, who describes the sustainably minded retreat as an expression of “tactile modernism,” connecting the family to the rich sensory experiences of the Puget Sound ecosystem. + Wittman Estes Images by Andrew Pogue

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A cluster of coast forest cabins brings a nature-loving family closer together

‘The Blob’ returns: marine heatwave settles over Pacific

September 9, 2019 by  
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Rising ocean temperatures are rising in the northeast Pacific, similar to conditions presented in 2015. It is safe to say the marine heatwave known as the “Blob” has returned. This time the Blob’s 2019 return is the second largest to occur in the Pacific in at least 40 years. It encompasses 4 million square miles from Alaska to Canada and as far away as Hawaii, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “It’s on a trajectory to be as strong as the prior event,” said Andrew Leising, a research scientist at NOAA. “Already, on its own, it is one of the most significant events that we’ve seen.” Related: Deadly heatwaves may make parts of China uninhabitable by the end of the century The Blob got its ominous name from Washington state climatologist and University of Washington scientist Nick Bond when the 2015 heatwave happened. The more recent Blob popped up in an area of high pressure stationed over the region. Such an incident forces warm surface waters to swirl around allowing cool, wholesome water from below to rise and takeover. “We learned with ‘the Blob’ and similar events worldwide that what used to be unexpected is becoming more common,” said Cisco Werner, NOAA fisheries director of Scientific Programs and chief science advisor. Without this churning process, surface heat can build up and if there are no nutrients from the cooler water below, the heatwave agitates the food chain. Overall, this creates less food for marine life and compels animals to go beyond their immediate home in search of food or simply die off. Underwater creatures aren’t the only things to suffer as humans who bank on the ocean’s physical condition are also affected. For instance, commercial fishing businesses in some places have shut down like Fisheries and Oceans, Canada, which has limited fishing rights for First Nations. Scientists also report should the Blob stick around it could be a bigger threat than it was in 2015. “There are definitely concerning implications for the ecosystem ,” added Bond. “It’s all a matter of how long it lasts and how deep it goes.” Via Gizmodo, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Image via NOAA

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‘The Blob’ returns: marine heatwave settles over Pacific

A native meadow green roof camouflages a low-impact Hamptons home

August 5, 2019 by  
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When a husband and wife purchased five acres of bluff top property overlooking the Peconic Bay in the Hamptons, they knew from the beginning that landscape preservation would be a major focus of their future home. To bring their vision of an environmentally sensitive residence to life, the couple turned to Mapos , a New York-based architectural studio that they had worked with previously. By treading lightly on the site, the architects crafted a modernist multigenerational family retreat—the Peconic House—that blends into its meadow setting with a lush green roof, Corten steel exterior and timber interior. Designed in part as a reaction against the “insensitive residential development…and reputation for showing off” that has characterized recent real estate development in the Hamptons , the Peconic House is a callback to the modernist legacy of Long Island’s South Fork. Featuring simple and low-slung proportions, the rectangular 4,000-square-foot shuns ostentatious displays and instead uses a roof of native meadow grasses to camouflage its appearance and minimize its impact on the watershed. The residence also embraces indoor/outdoor living with a 2,000-square-foot terrace that faces the Peconic Bay and culminates in a 75-foot-long infinity-edge lap pool. In positioning the building, the architects were careful to preserve the property’s existing vegetation—particularly a 70-foot-tall sycamore located at the center of the meadow. To relate the architecture to the old-growth forest, the architects relied on a predominately timber palette that includes cedar and reclaimed ipe wood that are complemented by concrete and Corten steel. All materials are left unfinished and will develop a natural patina over time. Related: The Beach Box is the First Hamptons Home Built With Recycled Shipping Containers! Inside the open-plan living area “further abstracts the bluff-top landscape, with unfinished cedar and reclaimed white oak,” note the architects. The blurring of indoors and out are also achieved with 100-foot-long walls of glass that slide open and seamlessly unite the indoor living spaces with the outdoor terrace. The cantilevered roof helps block unwanted solar gain and supports a thriving green roof of native grasses that promote biodiversity. + Studio Mapos Via ArchDaily Images by Michael Moran

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A native meadow green roof camouflages a low-impact Hamptons home

A Mumbai industrial complex becomes a modern, mixed-use campus

May 29, 2019 by  
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In the Mumbai suburb of Vikhroli, Indian architectural firm Studio Lotus and GPL Design Studio have given a disused industrial complex new life as a modern, mixed-use center. Dubbed the Imagine Studio, the project serves as an experience center for ‘The Trees,’ a flagship adaptive reuse project for Godrej Properties Ltd. Imagine Studio provides new public and private functions while celebrating the site’s industrial heritage. Located on a one-acre site, the Imagine Studio complex spans 10,763 square feet and comprises a small cluster of renovated industrial buildings. The programming includes a marketing office, sample showcase flats for ‘The Trees,’ meeting spaces, an all-day cafe located within a repurposed Boiler Plant, a multipurpose gallery for cultural events and several outdoor spaces to market the client’s upcoming residential and commercial development properties. The public is also invited to experience the multifunctional space. “The intent was to illustrate an invigorated public realm as a microcosm of the [Trees’] master plan while preserving the essence of the site’s industrial heritage,” the architects said. “Existing buildings and its elements were recycled not only to underline their relevance in the bygone eras but also add meaning as important design punctuations in the narrative. The buzzing public spaces will eventually extend the edge of the gated development to include the community and city in its activities. Buildings of the Imagine Studio will ultimately get absorbed into the commercial hub of the development; continuing to stay on as key markers celebrating the rich traditions of the historic company while taking it strategically forward into its future.” Related: Architects to transform two old railway yards into eco parks in Milan The Imagine Studio is defined with an industrially inspired palette that includes concrete, Corten steel , brass and timber combined to follow the Japanese principles of “wabi sabi,” or a view of beauty in imperfection. The materials are deliberately left unfinished so as to develop a patina over time. Elements from the old buildings were also salvaged and reused, such as the old louvers of the primary industrial plant that were repurposed, coated in Corten steel and perforated with patterns. + Studio Lotus Images via Edmund Sumner, Dilip Bhatia, Studio Lotus, GPL Design Studio

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Modern farmhouse-inspired dwelling in Melbourne is largely self-sufficient

March 29, 2019 by  
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Desirous of a “low-tech, country life,” a couple reached out to Brunswick-based architectural firm MRTN Architects for the design of the Trentham Long House, a contemporary home inspired by the traditional farming structures that once inhabited the Australian countryside. Located north of Melbourne, the dwelling consists of an elongated structure topped with a gable roof. To meet the client’s brief for a largely self-sufficient home, the architects optimized the thermal performance of the build, taking advantage of passive solar principles and installing a high-efficiency fireplace for supplementary heating in winter. Built for a couple that often hosts their extended family, the single-story home spans an area of 2,787 square feet and is oriented east to west. The main living spaces are located on the west side and include four bedrooms evenly split on either side of the central open-plan living area with a dining space and kitchen. Full-height glazing with custom sliding screens open the living space to an outdoor terrace. “The building’s muted material palette subtly and effectively reflects the surrounding environment, echoing buildings of the past,” MRTN Architects explained. “The spotted gum exterior cladding is left to naturally patina , relying on its innate aptitude to develop character and camouflage over time. The owners are not extravagant or wasteful people, they live with a careful intent behind all they do and their family is very important to them. The house is largely self-sufficient, heating costs are low, cooling costs are non-existent and the extended family can be accommodated at all times.” Related: A tiny, rustic, off-grid cabin sits on vast 300 acres in Australia The client’s son, a builder, constructed the project with finishes and materials selected on the basis of their durability, thermal performance and cost-effectiveness. To ensure energy efficiency, the architects kept glazed openings along the south facade at a minimum while roof overhangs and custom sliding screens help protect against unwanted solar gain. Stone tile set on a concrete slab provides  thermal mass . Moreover, all rainwater runoff from the roof is captured and stored in large water tanks and reused for all the home’s water needs and for irrigation. + MRTN Architects Photography by Anthony Basheer via MRTN Architects

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Solar-powered eco hotel in Portugal offers surfers ocean views from green-roofed bungalows

March 29, 2019 by  
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The surf is always up at this gorgeous eco hotel along Portugal’s Silver Coast. Just steps away from the beach, Noah Surf House  has everything you need for a rad surf getaway. The boutique hotel, which is partially made out of reclaimed materials, was designed on some serious sustainable principles , boasting solar panels, energy-efficient systems and appliances, a rainwater harvesting system and even an organic garden that provides delicious meals to guests. Located in the area of Santa Cruz in northwest Portugal, the eco hotel is tucked into a rising hill just a short stroll from the beach. The project is made up of various buildings, but the most popular part of the complex is a restaurant that overlooks the ocean. Guests can enjoy a wonderful meal of organic fruits and veggies grown in the hotel’s garden, which operates on a “closed feeding cycle” with a little help from the hotel’s 12 chickens. Related: The Truck Surf Hotel is a traveling retreat that hits the best surf spots in Europe and Africa The guests rooms are comprised of various boho-style bungalows, most offering stunning ocean views through private decks. The rooms range in size, offering everything from dorm-style with bunk beds to private luxury bungalows that boast fireplaces and private terraces with outdoor showers. Although the setting itself is quite impressive, guests can rest assured that they are also staying in a very eco-conscious retreat. The hotel’s construction used quite a bit of reclaimed materials , such as old bricks recovered from industrial coal furnaces to clad the walls. Additionally, the buildings are filled with discarded items that have been given new life as decoration for the hotel. Plumbing pipes are incorporated into lamps, lockers from an old summer camp are available for storage and an old water deposit is now a fireplace in the reception area. The construction of the hotel implemented various sustainable materials as well, such as cork as thermic insulation. The bungalows are also topped with native plants . For energy, solar panels generate almost enough energy for the all of the hotel’s hot water needs. When there is an abundance of energy, it is used to heat the pool as well as the radiant flooring in the guest rooms in winter. LED lighting throughout the hotel and energy-efficient appliances help reduce the building’s energy use. Noah Surf House also has a rain water collection system that redirects water to a well to be used in toilet flushing, garden watering and linen laundering. + Noah Surf House Via Uncrate Images via Noah Surf House

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Kengo Kuma suspends a cocoon-like timber dwelling for minimal site impact

February 27, 2019 by  
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Prolific Japanese architecture firm Kengo Kuma and Associates recently worked its magic in the tiny Swiss village of Montricher at the foot of the Jura Mountains. There, the architects designed a contemporary family home that’s partly suspended from an existing concrete canopy and wrapped with timber inside and out. Created for the Jan Michalski Foundation, the cocoon-like dwelling — named Suspended Forest — is meant to further the organization’s mission of fostering literary creation and the practice of reading. Set close to the forest, the 120-square-meter abode takes inspiration from its nearby surroundings with an abundant use of timber. The architects collaborated with a local craftsman for the roof and facade system, which combines traditional techniques with contemporary style. Using locally sourced oak and larch, the architects cut out rectangular shingles of varying sizes and arranged them in a checkered pattern with an organic and random appearance to create an eye-catching exterior that doubles as a screen. The wood was left untreated so as to develop a natural patina over time. “It was our intention to organically relate the different spaces of the house,” the architects explained in a project statement. “We designed a cocoon-like, gradual and continuous space containing all the functionalities. A corridor runs from the entrance to the main living space, where the floating balcony connects the interior with the surrounding environment. Then, lateral apertures let the light come into the house.” Related: This spiraling sculpture can absorb the emissions of 90,000 cars An outdoor staircase, also suspended off of the main building, leads to the entrance, which opens up to a long hallway branching off to the home office, bedroom, technical room, master bedroom and finally the living area in the rear. The cocoon-like sensation created by the exterior cladding is echoed in the interior through the use of angular larch panels covering the ceilings and walls. Large windows let in plenty of natural light and views of the outdoors. + Kengo Kuma Photography by CAPimages via Kengo Kuma

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Timber tower taps into an abandoned airfields rebirth as bird nesting ground

January 29, 2018 by  
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An abandoned airfield on a Norwegian island is being reclaimed by nature, and bird lovers are invited to partake in the fun. Norwegian architect Lars J Berge of LJB Architecture and Landscape completed a beautiful viewing platform that punctuates the landscape like a sculpture and provides sufficient cover for discrete birdwatching . Located at the tip of Askøy off Norway’s west coast, Herdla Birdwatching Tower is a timber building constructed atop existing concrete foundations that date back to the Second World War. Set in a relatively flat and sandy landscape popular with migrating and breeding birds, Herdla Birdwatching Tower commands beautiful 360-degree views of distant mountains and seaside from a circular viewing platform. Below the viewing area is a pumping station enclosed in a rectangular volume and an underground water tank. The seven-meter-tall structure is clad in vertical strips of timber, which will develop a silvery patina over time. Related: Pape Bird Observation Tower is a glorious marriage of a bird’s nest and a jewel box Visitors access the birdwatching tower via a L-shaped ramp with a slope gentle enough for a manual wheelchair user to navigate. The ramp also shelters a small amphitheater with timber steps. The ramp leads to a landing with a spiraling metal staircase that opens up to a higher viewing platform. A circular overhanging roof provides shelter from the elements and helps disguise visitors from birds. + LJB Architecture and Landscape Via Dezeen Images by Anders E Johnsson

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Rammed-charcoal home extension is a handsome oasis between the trees

August 8, 2017 by  
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Melbourne-based Branch Studio Architects crafted this dark and handsome number hidden away among the trees in Victoria. Built as a house extension with a master suite, the Pavilion Between Trees features rammed-charcoal walls, clean and crisp lines, and a dark earthy palette of complementary materials. Full height glazing opens the interior up to the outdoors and frames view of the forested surroundings. Connected to the main house via a corridor, Pavilion Between Trees is a semi-detached structure that appears to standalone in the landscape. The 85-square-meter compact extension is simply but tastefully furnished and includes a master bedroom, en-suite bathroom, and extra storage space arranged in a linear plan. The rooms are delineated by subtle changes in floor level rather than walls. Natural light plays a key role in the design and is let in through clerestory windows and full-height glazing. The lighting brings out the texture of the earthy material palette, from the grainy rammed-charcoal walls to the smooth naturally finished timber and steel joinery, that are left exposed to develop a patina over time. Related: Rustic Off-Grid Pump House is a Solar-Powered Weekend Getaway in Australia The home addition was built on a clearing between existing mature trees to reduce site impact. Full-height glazing, which wraps around the western end and that also punctuates the north and south sides, frame views and strengthens connection to the outdoors. The clerestory windows also offer glimpses of the tree canopy. An outdoor washing area also allows the homeowners to enjoy the outdoors in a private space protected by a mesh screen. + Branch Studio Architects Via Dezeen Images via Branch Studio Architects

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Rammed-charcoal home extension is a handsome oasis between the trees

Gorgeous Washington barn house marries rustic elements with modern style

June 19, 2017 by  
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This gorgeous American barnhouse in Washington is the fruit of four years of collaborative architect-client labor. Seattle-based SkB Architects worked together with clients Charlie and Tracey Brown to design and build the Manson Barn, a large and modern multipurpose farmhouse built from the ground up with local materials. The gambrel structure puts a modern twist on traditional American barn vernacular and frames stunning views of the Cascade Mountain Range. Located within twelve acres of apple orchards in central Washington state, the Manson Barn combines a working barn with qualities of a luxury vacation retreat. The 10,000-square-foot barn distinguishes itself from its rural neighbors with its hybrid roof that adds dormers and gull wings to a traditional gambrel roof. The large dormers help break down the scale of the building, increase natural light to the upper levels, and provide additional floor space for guest rooms. Black-stained wood siding clads the exterior, which will develop a silvery gray patina over time, blending into the landscape. The Manson Barn’s ground floor is mostly an open-plan space for entertaining – it includes a commercial kitchen with a custom-design pizza oven, a dining area, and storage for orchard equipment. Large, sliding carriage doors open up to expansive exterior patios on both ends of the building, blurring the lines between indoor and outdoor living. The garage doors beneath the gull wings also open up to reveal stunning landscape views. A wine cellar with sanded cobblestone flooring is on the basement level. Related: Family renovates century-old barn into stunning modern home in Washington state The upper floor houses the master bedroom, guest bedrooms, and a living area that wraps around the building in mezzanine fashion. The center of the upper floor is left open to the ground floor below. Cedar sink wood pulled from the bottom of a nearby lake was milled and reworked into sliding barn doors in the wine cellar and master bedroom. In a nod to the apple orchards, the architects added a solid wall clad in vintage apple crate panels next to the three-story steel staircase. + SkB Architects

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