A minimalist home in Portugal emphasizes stunning valley views

August 8, 2018 by  
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Architects and their clients are often surprised when their visions don’t quite align after the initial ideas are transformed into renderings, specs and floor plans. But when MJARC Arquitectos met with a couple who wanted a house in Douro Valley in Marco de Canaveses,  Portugal , it was a euphoric meeting of minds. All parties shared the same vision — a pristine and absolute articulation of minimalist architecture. With a setting as picturesque as this one, highlighted by sweeping views of the rolling curves of vineyard -covered valleys and the mesmerizing Douro River, the goal was to leave the undulating landscape unscathed. The house was constructed as close to the terrain as possible, with the upper levels providing more encompassing vistas. The “crouching building” concept drove the choices for the size, design and exterior accouterments of the home. Related: Derelict property transformed into a vibrant, sunny hostel in Portugal The interior is warm and inviting, with an open floor plan that gracefully flows from room to room, clad in a combination of deep wood shades, rustic stones, concrete and stark, black accents. The pool is designed to give the illusion of it flowing directly into the river. The views from every level focus on the surrounding forest and foliage and achieves the symbiosis with nature desired by all parties. To accommodate the tastes of the homeowners’ visitors throughout the year, MJARC Arquitectos incorporated sustainable construction and energy sources as well as clever spaces that could easily be adapted for multiple uses. The roof is even topped with lush greenery, a welcome addition to the home. The combined efforts on this project not only thrilled the architects and clients — the house was recently nominated for an award in the Home category by the World Architecture Festival , where it is one of 18 finalists. The winner will be announced at ceremonies scheduled for November 28-30 in Amsterdam. + MJARC Arquitectos Images via João Ferrand

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A minimalist home in Portugal emphasizes stunning valley views

A prefab chapels sculptural form amplifies the Spanish landscape

July 23, 2018 by  
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Perched on a hilltop in a bucolic rural landscape in southern Spain, the Sacromonte Chapel is a minimalist, prefabricated structure designed to coexist with nature in harmony. Designed by Uruguay-and Brazil-based architecture firm MAPA , this sculptural place of worship is set on one of the highest peaks in the traditional Andalusian neighborhood Sacromonte and overlooks unobstructed, panoramic views of its surroundings. The building was mainly constructed from cross-laminated timber panels and steel and was assembled onsite in just one day. Crafted as a “landscape amplifier,” the Sacromonte Chapel takes cues from its surroundings — a rolling landscape of vineyards, lagoons, hills and shelters — and features a relatively simple shape that complements the environment. The chapel comprises two cross-laminated timber panels — measuring nearly 20 by 30 feet in size — angled toward one another, like a pair of hands in prayer, without actually touching. The semi-enclosed structure simultaneously creates a defined interior while remaining open to the environment. “How should the sacred spaces of the 21st century be? The chapel ponders possible interpretations of this and other questions through its ambiguous relationship with matter, space and time,” MAPA said in a project statement. “A peaceful tension reigns when in contact with it. A tension between weight and lightness, presence and disappearance, technology and nature . Enigmatic and mystifying, it leaves its visitors with more questions than answers.” Related: Provocative timber horn explores the hypnotic pull of the unknown The Sacromonte Chapel was prefabricated in a factory in Portugal and then transported to the site for assembly. The architects strived to use as few resources as possible to make a simple and austere design statement. A black metal box faced with a sheet of translucent onyx punctuates one of the timber planes and houses a statue of the Virgin of “La Carrodilla.” A slender timber cross was installed in front of the chapel. + MAPA Images by Tali Kimelman

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A prefab chapels sculptural form amplifies the landscape in Uruguay

July 23, 2018 by  
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Perched on a hilltop in a bucolic rural landscape in Uruguay, the Sacromonte Chapel is a minimalist, prefabricated structure designed to coexist with nature in harmony. Designed by Uruguay-and Brazil-based architecture firm MAPA , this sculptural place of worship is set on one of the highest peaks in the traditional Andalusian neighborhood Sacromonte and overlooks unobstructed, panoramic views of its surroundings. The building was mainly constructed from cross-laminated timber panels and steel and was assembled onsite in just one day. Crafted as a “landscape amplifier,” the Sacromonte Chapel takes cues from its surroundings — a rolling landscape of vineyards, lagoons, hills and shelters — and features a relatively simple shape that complements the environment. The chapel comprises two cross-laminated timber panels — measuring nearly 20 by 30 feet in size — angled toward one another, like a pair of hands in prayer, without actually touching. The semi-enclosed structure simultaneously creates a defined interior while remaining open to the environment. “How should the sacred spaces of the 21st century be? The chapel ponders possible interpretations of this and other questions through its ambiguous relationship with matter, space and time,” MAPA said in a project statement. “A peaceful tension reigns when in contact with it. A tension between weight and lightness, presence and disappearance, technology and nature . Enigmatic and mystifying, it leaves its visitors with more questions than answers.” Related: Provocative timber horn explores the hypnotic pull of the unknown The Sacromonte Chapel was prefabricated in a factory in Portugal and then transported to the site for assembly. The architects strived to use as few resources as possible to make a simple and austere design statement. A black metal box faced with a sheet of translucent onyx punctuates one of the timber planes and houses a statue of the Virgin of “La Carrodilla.” A slender timber cross was installed in front of the chapel. + MAPA Images by Tali Kimelman

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A prefab chapels sculptural form amplifies the landscape in Uruguay

Air pollution levels in national parks rival those of major US cities

July 23, 2018 by  
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Bad news for national park lovers: a new study published in Science Advances  has found that many national parks have levels of of air pollution on par with major US cities. In parks such as Sequoia, Acadia, and Joshua tree, toxic ozone levels breaching the safe limit set by the EPA rivaled those found in cities such as New York and Los Angeles, which has the worst air quality rating of cities in the United States. While the number of dangerous pollution days has fallen for both cities and parks since the 1990 enactment of the Clean Air Act and the EPA’s Regional Haze Rule of 1999, experts are pressing for more regulation after this week’s findings. National parks see an 8% decline in visitor numbers, on average, in months recording two to three days of bad air quality. The statistics suggest that many of the parks’ guests choose to come not only for the sights, but for their health as well. And, while some have criticized Regional Haze Rule regulations, study co-author Ivan Rudik disagrees. An assistant professor at Cornell University, Rudik stated that “some of the arguments that people are making against the Regional Haze Rule are that the benefits are basically zero, that these visibility rules don’t matter much or maybe the health improvements are overstated. But if you look at what people actually do, they clearly do care.” Related: UN creates a new global climate change coalition Recent years have seen record-breaking numbers of visitors to national parks, yet another reason to reevaluate government standards when it comes to air pollution. Speaking to The Associated Press, Rudik remarked that “even though the national parks are supposed to be icons of a pristine landscape, quite a lot of people are being exposed to ozone levels that could be detrimental to their health.” + Science Advances Via Ecowatch Images via Shutterstock

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Air pollution levels in national parks rival those of major US cities

Derelict property transformed into a vibrant, sunny hostel in Portugal

July 16, 2018 by  
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When design firms Aurora Arquitectos and Furo were asked to transform an old building in the Portuguese coastal resort town of Cascais into a hip hostel, they had their work cut out for them. Though the building was still standing, the interiors were completely rundown. Using a laminated steel frame to reinforce the structure, the architects steadily transformed the building from ruin to welcoming lodgings that play up the Portugal vacation theme with tropical prints and bright, sunny colors. Located near the coast just west of Lisbon , the Hostel in Parede is housed in a stately renovated building painted a beautiful sky blue. The interior was divided into nine modules, with the central module housing a skylit spiral staircase painted a vibrant shade of yellow to evoke the sun and the nearby sandy beaches. The sculptural staircase, which connects the three floors, features rounded corners that hide the utilities. “We were asked to consider the project as having a high level of flexibility in terms of future use,” Aurora Arquitectos and Furo said. “A hostel at first, capable of becoming a single-family house with little changes. This is how the autonomous volumes containing the bathrooms came to be, easily removable should one want larger bedrooms. The overall building’s structure also derived from the logic of easy future transformation.” Related: Y-shaped German hostel looks at sustainability from all angles Bedrooms are distributed across all three floors of the hostel. The semi-basement houses two of the dorm rooms, bathrooms and laundry room, and it opens up to the garage and courtyard . The ground floor comprises the main communal areas including the reception, kitchen, dining room, living room and a bedroom space with shared bathroom facilities. Four more dormitory rooms are located on the first floor, with the bathrooms housed in a freestanding unit placed in the center of each room. + Aurora Arquitectos + Furo Via Dezeen Images © do mal o menos

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Derelict property transformed into a vibrant, sunny hostel in Portugal

104% of Portugal’s electricity consumption in March came from renewable energy

April 5, 2018 by  
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March was a good month for renewable energy in Portugal . The country’s monthly clean energy production exceeded demand, according to a report from the Portuguese Renewable Energy Association (APREN) and the Sustainable Earth System Association (ZERO). And this likely won’t be the last time Portugal obtains so much power via clean sources; the report said, “Last month’s achievement is an example of what will happen more frequently in the near future.” APREN, citing data via power grid operator REN , said mainland Portugal’s electricity consumption was 4,647 gigawatt-hours (GWh). In March, there were 4,812 GWh of renewable electricity produced, accounting for 103.6 percent of electricity consumption. It wasn’t a completely clean month —  Reuters  said fossil fuel plants complemented the supply during short periods, but those periods “were nevertheless fully compensated by others of greater renewable production,” according to APREN’s report. Related: This German village generates 500% more energy than it needs Wind and hydropower accounted for 42 and 55 percent, respectively, of the monthly consumption. Portugal’s adoption of renewable energy allowed the nation to avoid 1.8 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions . The average daily wholesale market price dropped to 39.75 euros per megawatt-hour (MWh), compared against the price of 43.94 euros per MWh during the same period the previous year. The report said, “…it is expected that by 2040 the production of renewable electricity will be able to guarantee, in a cost-effective way, the total annual electricity consumption of mainland Portugal. However, it will eventually be necessary, here and then, the use of natural gas power plants, aggregated to interconnections and storage.” IFLScience said Portugal aims to be carbon neutral by 2050. While this recent milestone is exciting, Portugal, home to around 10.3 million people, isn’t large; for comparison, Beijing’s population is more than double that at around 21.7 million people . + Portuguese Renewable Energy Association Via Reuters and IFLScience Images via Depositphotos and Wikimedia Commons

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104% of Portugal’s electricity consumption in March came from renewable energy

Ephemeral timber pavilion doubles as sculpture and film venue in Portugal

February 21, 2018 by  
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This elegant ephemeral pavilion does double duty as a film venue and sculpture that complements the garden grounds of Portugal’s Serralves Museum. Porto-based Diogo Aguiar Studio designed the architectural object, which is made up of curved timber partitions that come together to form two concentric spaces: the main film viewing area and the interstitial space. Diogo Aguiar Studio was selected to design the pavilion, which formed one of Serralves Museum’s five temporary structures for the architectural exhibition Live Uncertainty, 32nd Bienal de São Paulo that concluded this Sunday, February 18. Like depA’s pavilion design for Serralves, Diogo Aguiar Studio’s contribution is a minimalist affair and its all-timber cladding complements rather than detracts from the wooded surroundings. The pavilion nucleus is a dark space where the film “Os humores artificiais” (2016) by Gabriel Abrantes is shown. The addition of a secondary curved skin helps control the amount of daylight that reaches the interior and adds a sense of mystery: the three openings on the outer facade do not match up with those in the antechamber and force visitors to walk along a mulch pathway. The journey through the pavilion to watch the film thus becomes an experience in itself. Related: Mirrored pavilion all but disappears into nature As the architects put it: “Contributing to the control of natural light in the interior space, the juxtaposition of two façade-plans, curved and parallel, which alternately open double-curved arc spans, guides the visitor to walk through the immersive space of mediation – as an antechamber-path – without revealing the central nucleus – as a space-enclosed – the projection place.” + Diogo Aguiar Studio Via ArchDaily Images © 2017 Francisco Nogueira Architectural Photography

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Aging Portuguese granary transformed into a serene sanctuary in the trees

January 29, 2018 by  
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The Dovecote-Granary in Portugal is a temple in the trees where people can reconnect with nature and themselves. The simple structure stands on the granite foundation of what was once a 19th-century maize granary. Tiago do Vale Arquitectos took cues from traditional local architecture while reconstructing the rotting building as a place of serenity and contemplation. The structure combines three vernacular typologies: granary, dovecote, and drying shed. It is built out of oak wood in the same style as the granaries that stood there for centuries. Sadly, the wood of the granaries had rotted beyond salvage, so the architects documented the existing structure and re-constructed it out of fresh wood. By documenting the original building in its entirety, as well as the building techniques used in its construction, the architects managed to successfully re-create the building stronger than it was originally, while preserving its spirit and giving it new life. Related: Salima Naji’s Preservation of Sacred Moroccan Granary Sites Nominated for Aga Khan Award With farming disappearing from the area, the original function of the structure became obsolete. This prompted its current use as a kind of temple, a sanctuary among the tree canopies, and an iconic shape in the rural landscape of the Minho region. The architects reconstructed the two granaries on the original foundation to act as the walls of the new building and topped them with a dovecote, while the interior re-creates the traditional drying shed. + Tiago do Vale Arquitectos Via ArchDaily Photos by João Morgado

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Y-shaped German hostel looks at sustainability from all angles

January 29, 2018 by  
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A newly opened youth hostel in Bayreuth, Germany offers much more than just a clean bed and shower—the 180-bed Y-shaped building embraces community, holistic sustainability, and a passion for sports. Laboratory for Visionary Architecture (LAVA) designed the hostel as an extension of the landscape with natural materials and a curvaceous form that’s organic and contemporary. Commissioned by DJH Bayern, the eye-catching youth hostel takes on a distinctive Y shape chosen “because it cleverly generates a connective central space and interweaves the interior and exterior spaces, offering expansive views and multiple accessible openings to the sports fields and gardens.” Sports are a major focus of the design and the hostel is equipped with sports fields, adventure playgrounds and volleyball terraces. The building’s universal design makes it accessible to all kinds of users for optimum use of the facility. Related: Nha Trang’s first hostel built from recycled shipping containers pops up in Vietnam A central atrium at the heart of the hostel serves as the social hub with a light-filled amphitheater that branches out to the reception, seminar rooms, bistro, kitchen, sport facilities, and bedrooms spread out across two floors. Natural, locally sourced materials are used throughout and were built with local techniques. Renewable energy powers the hostel and pollution reduction is integrated in the design. A highly flexible modular wooden wall system with modular custom built-in furniture was used for the hostel’s 45 rooms. The use of modular, replaceable walls also allows for future reuse of the building as a kindergarten, school or retirement home. + Laboratory for Visionary Architecture Images by HN?fele Huber

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This tent-shaped chapel in Portugal is in tune with nature

January 18, 2018 by  
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This open and inviting tent-shaped chapel by Plano Humano Arquitectos was designed to take full advantage of the majestic views and natural surroundings of Idanha-a-Nova, Portugal. The chapel is a new addition to the National Scout’s Activities Camp (CNAE), and its doors are open to anyone looking for shelter or a space for contemplation and introspection. The chapel, dedicated to Our Lady of Fatima, takes the form of a large tent . The gable roof is lower and narrower at the entrance and it stretches forward and upward towards the rear of the chapel. Related: Modern chapel makes a powerful but minimalist statement in the Austrian countryside The design of the building is aligned with the spirit of communion with nature. Both early morning and late afternoon sunlight illuminate the interior to sustain visitors’ engagement with the space. In fall and winter, the light emphasizes the tranquility of the place and the unadorned symbiosis between building and landscape. A water channel runs through the space on a path that winds past the altar – the central place of any Christian celebratory space – and then into the landscape, directing the user to the cross, which is located outside the chapel. Twelve wooden beams – a reference to the 12 Apostles of the Bible – aims to translate the Biblical numerical symbolism into simple forms, construction principles, and natural building materials . +Plano Humano Arquitectos Photos by João Morgado

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This tent-shaped chapel in Portugal is in tune with nature

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