Adorable owl cabins let you camp inside for free and off the grid in France

July 7, 2017 by  
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A giant trio of adorable timber owls has popped up in rural France—and you can sleep inside them for free! Perfect for summer camping in Bourdeaux, these beautiful cabins are the work of Bruit du Frigo partner Zebra3/Buy-Sellf and built as part of the Refuges Périurbains (Peri-urban shelters) in the Bordeaux region. Named “Les Guetteurs” (The Watchers), this sixth unique cabin of the series is located off the grid along the edge of the city and is designed to encourage urban hiking and exploration of lesser-known sites. Zebra3/Buy-Sellf designed and built “Les Guetteurs” in the likeness of Bourdeaux’s ground-dwelling owls that live in open landscapes. The three enchanting owls are huddled together as a single mass, creating a large cabin with three floors. The building features a circular plywood frame clad in strips of curved wood. Shingles cut to look like feathers top the roof, while giant circular windows are installed for the owl’s “eyes.” The shelter is built atop a boardwalk elevated over a wetlands area. Related: MVRDV to upgrade historic French city with modern, ecological design A forest-inspired glazed door opens up to a light-filled interior with faceted timber walls. Operating off-grid without running water or electricity, the cabin is fairly bare bones yet its timber palette creates a cozy environment. Circular white beds built to look like nests are located on the different levels connected via ladders. Like all of the shelters in the Refuges Périurbains project, “Les Guetteurs” can host up to nine people and helps encourage locals and visitors to reconnect with Bourdeaux’s landscape and environment. Bookings for the free lodging can be made on the Refuges Périurbains website. + Zebra3/Buy-Sellf Via Tiny House Blog

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Adorable owl cabins let you camp inside for free and off the grid in France

Minimalist wine-tasting pavilions sustainably embrace Napa Valley

July 7, 2017 by  
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There are few places better to enjoy fantastic wines and views than Napa Valley , and Walker Warner Architects has elevated that experience with a series of elegant wine tasting pavilions. Crafted with environmental sustainability in mind, the pavilions were built for Quintessa Estate Winery, a Napa Valley estate also designed by Walker Warner Architects in 2003. The minimalist structures harmonize with nature with locally sourced and reclaimed materials, as well as prefabricated construction to minimize site impact. Winner of a recent American Institute of Architects San Francisco (AIA SF) Citation Award , the Quintessa Pavilions is commended for exemplifying “the ideal fusion of architecture and nature” on the ridgeline of a beautiful 280-acre winery estate. Carefully placed amongst existing oak trees and surrounded by drought-resistant native grasses , each 250-square-foot pavilion was crafted to provide an immersive, privately hosted wine-tasting experience. The pavilions’ industrial materials palette references the winery’s architecture and will age elegantly over time. Related: The Bardessono is Napa Valley’s Newest Eco Resort and Spa The architects carefully sited each pavilion to shade visitors beneath tree canopies, optimize views, and protect existing mature oaks. Visitors access the pavilion through a doorway carved into a concrete wall, built of fly ash, that runs along the ridgeline. Once inside the prefabricated steel structure, the visitors enjoy plenty of natural light, cross winds, and panoramic views through full-height glazed operable doors. Custom furnishings are built of FSC-certified Afromosia. Reclaimed Sinker cypress was used for casework and ceilings, while locally prefabricated concrete pavers cover the terrace surface and Napa syar stone retaining walls hold back earth. + Walker Warner Architects Photo credit: © Matthew Millman

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Minimalist wine-tasting pavilions sustainably embrace Napa Valley

Snhettas luxury cabin with Aurora Borealis views opens at Treehotel

January 18, 2017 by  
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If a room with Aurora Borealis views sounds like the perfect getaway, you’ll love what’s popped up at Sweden’s Treehotel . The boutique hotel, which comprises designer treehouses near the Arctic Circle, just welcomed its first guests to the 7th room, a luxury elevated cabin designed by architecture firm Snøhetta. Hovering ten meters off the ground, the elevated dwelling is a contemporary take on the traditional Nordic cabin and comfortably immerses guests in the beautiful Lapland landscape. Nestled within the evergreen canopy of a tall pine forest, Snøhetta’s 7th room offers stunning views of the Lapland treetops and the Lule River. The cabin is clad in dark-colored pine and thrust into the air by twelve columns. The architects blur the lines between indoor and outdoor living by adding large panoramic windows , a netted terrace suspended above the forest floor, an opening for a tree to pass through the cabin, and even an optical illusion: the cabin’s bottom surface is covered with a large black-and-white print of pine trees to make the cabin appear invisible from below. The elevated cabin is accessible via a staircase and a small lift. In contrast to the dark facade, the 55-square-meter interior features light-colored ash wood floors and birch plywood walls. Built to accommodate five, the cabin comprises two bedrooms, a living room, bathroom, and terrace spread out across two floors. The bedrooms are located on the upper level. Ample glazing allows copious amounts of natural light to pour in and frame landscape views. Expansive, openable skylights in the bedroom as well as a north-facing floor-to-ceiling window in the living room offer prime viewing opportunities of the Northern Lights. Related: Stunning Swedish Treehotel Opens This Weekend! “The design of the 7th room aims to bring people and nature closer together, extending the cabin’s social spaces to the outside and further blending the distinction between indoor and outdoor,” writes Snøhetta. “With its wooden characteristics and unique location in the treetops, the 7th room is a celebration of the Nordic cabin and the pine tree forest.” + Snøhetta Images © Johan Jansson

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Renovated 1960s bungalow in Belgium is more energy-efficient than ever

January 18, 2017 by  
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A few simple steps can turn an average home into a modern marvel. Architecture firm Urbain Architectencollectief gave this 1960s bungalow in Belgium a contemporary renovation , transforming it into a daylit family house that maximizes the use of its garden. The team introduced an extension, repurposed the garage into a kids’ playroom, and vastly improved the home’s overall energy-efficiency. The new plan blurs the line between interior spaces and the garden, accentuating the connection through the use of large windows and offering direct access to terraces . The existing rooms on the northern side of the house now function as the entrance hall, bathroom, storage rooms and a private office space. The living room was placed facing the south, benefiting from large windows and sliding doors also connected to the garden. Ensuring an abundance of natural light also helps to reduce energy use. Related: Rescued 1927 Austin bungalow gets new life as a sweet new solar-powered home Exposed wooden beams and timber cladding give warmth to the renovated bungalow, while a steel profile, resting on two steel columns, helps support the new flat roof. A new layer of insulation ensures superior energy efficiency. + Urbain Architectencollectief Via Plataforma Arquitectura Photos by Filip Dujardin

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Renovated 1960s bungalow in Belgium is more energy-efficient than ever

Sierra Nevada brewery installs 1 MWh Tesla Powerpack system

January 18, 2017 by  
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Sierra Nevada Brewing company just installed 500 kilowatts/1 megawatt-hour of Tesla Powerpack batteries at its Chico, California brewery. The Powerpack energy storage system is being used by the craft beer maker for peak shaving (reducing energy purchased from the utility company during peak demand hours) during the energy-intensive brewing process. Sierra Nevada can brew 1.4 million gallons of beer onsite at a time. The beer company is powered by solar energy — 10,751 solar panels on rooftops and the parking lot generating 2.6 megawatts of solar electricity, the largest onsite solar installation of any US brewery. The facility also includes two megawatts of Capstone microturbines. The battery storage system, solar array and microturbines allow the company to offset 20 percent of its annual electricity usage. Related: Tesla to power Gigafactory with world’s largest solar rooftop installation The Powerpacks are designed for utilities and businesses while the Powerwalls are made for residential usage. Both the Powerpack and the Powerwall is assembled at the Tesla Gigafactory near Sparks, Nevada. Tesla recently began large-scale battery production at the Gigafactory. Tesla is also building a massive 20 megawatt/80 megawatt-hour Powerpack system at Southern California Edison’s Mira Loma substation in Ontario, California — the largest lithium-ion battery storage project in the world. Tesla CEO Elon Musk is upbeat on the energy storage industry, saying recently that the commercial and residential stationary battery storage market will “have a growth rate probably several times that of what the car business is per year,” calling it a “super-exponential growth rate.” + Sierra Nevada + Tesla Via The Verge Images via Sierra Nevada

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MIT and Google design a temporary office meeting space that drops down from the ceiling

September 30, 2016 by  
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MIT’s Self-Assembly Lab and Google teamed up to design this innovative system called Transformable Meeting Spaces. The structure can be pulled down from the ceiling to enclose a 10-feet-wide and 8-feet-tall space that can fit up to eight people. Users can simply push the structure up once the  meeting ends. Related: Stacked timber beams act as multi-use office furniture in this renovated barn in Belgium https://vimeo.com/183045783 The retractable shell is fixed to the ceiling and constructed from 36 interconnected fiberglass rods. Felt lines its interior in order to muffle the outside noise, while plywood sheets envelop the structure as an exoskeleton. + Self-Assembly Lab Via ZDNet

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21 unarmed Dakota Access Pipeline protestors arrested during prayer ceremony

September 30, 2016 by  
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Protesters demanding the end of construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline had another run-in with police this week when the Morton County Sheriff’s Department interrupted a peaceful prayer ceremony at two sites on the reservation. About 40 law enforcement officers arrived in armored vehicles and arrested 21 protestors total. The ceremony apparently involved the planting of willow and corn – hardly actions that could be mistaken by law enforcement as violent or threatening. In a press release , the police department alleges that a protester on horseback charged at an officer. However, video of at least three riders on horseback doesn’t seem to match the description made by the officers. According to the Indian Country news site, Kyle Kirchmeier, the sheriff of Morton County, has come under fire in the past for spreading false information about the protests – including allegations that the protesters had pipe bombs. (As it turns out, the objects he claimed were bombs were actually sacred pipes used in ceremonies.) Related: What is the Dakota Access Pipeline project? We explain… The arrests follow multiple standoffs between the police the peaceful protestors who have gathered to air their concerns over the proposed oil pipeline , which could destroy sacred Sioux sites and poses a danger to the soil and groundwater that the Standing Rock tribe depends on. In early September, the oil company backing the project, Energy Transfer Partners, unleashed security dogs on the protesters, resulting in several injuries. In the past month, there have been dozens of arrests for trespassing on construction sites and blocking equipment. While the US government has attempted to block the pipeline , the continued conflict shows that the battle is far from over. Via EcoWatch Images via Tomas Alejo and Tony Webster

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Temporary pavilion by Frank Havermans references traditional Dutch farmhouses

September 22, 2016 by  
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Overlooking a newly built channel in The Netherlands, the pavilion stands out from the tranquil, pastoral surroundings as a rib cage-like structure with sharp angles. It combines corrugated steel , plywood and plastic that make up its shell, roof and siding, referencing traditional wooden-truss frames and gabled roofs of the old local residences. Related: Floating timber pavilion transforms a Swiss lake into an exciting new public square “By charging this construction with several elements from classic farmhouse typology in combination with simple low budget materials I created an experimental hybrid construction,” said Havermans. “This pavilion references the architectural heritage and also has a futuristic appearance in the landscape,” he added. Related: Dutch studios RAAAF and Studio Frank Havermans build ominous futuristic mobile shelter in the name of peace The platform is made from rough-sawn douglas wood boards, while the corrugated metal frames and plastic wrap around the base and shelter a seating structure. Another bench is formed along the exterior of the pavilion. The architect coated the plywood trusses with black rubber to protect it from the elements. + Frank Havermans + Stichting Fabrikaat Via Dezeen Photos by René de Wit

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Temporary pavilion by Frank Havermans references traditional Dutch farmhouses

17th Century Parisian apartment with a hidden slurry pit transformed into an open plan studio

January 12, 2016 by  
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Outdoor living classroom constantly evolves to bring children closer to nature

November 9, 2015 by  
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