The prefab Plugin House turns ruins into livable dwellings in just one day

December 14, 2018 by  
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Beijing-based design studio People’s Architecture Office has proved yet again its knack for innovation and socially conscious design with its recent project, the Shangwei Village Plugin House. Made with a modular building system of prefabricated panels, these customizable homes can slot into existing structures to make formerly uninhabitable spaces both livable and attractive for far less than the cost of a typical renovation. The experimental dwellings were installed in the Chinese village of Shangwei near Shenzhen and can be assembled with unskilled labor using just one tool in less than a day. The local government, the Shangwei Village Cooperative, along with local nonprofit Leping Foundation and Future Plus, tapped People’s Architecture Office to renovate a series of centuries-old structures into houses for supporting a budding community of local artists and craftspeople. Having been left vacant for decades, the structures had become uninhabitable ruins with caved-in roofs. Since renovation could adversely affect adjacent buildings, the architects decided to rehabilitate the spaces by inserting new construction — with added structural reinforcement — inside the existing structures, a typology that the firm calls the ‘Plugin House.’ “Industrial manufacturing allows the use of high quality materials that drastically increase energy efficiency and economies of scale ensure the Plugin House remains inexpensive,” the architects explained. “Although the Plugin Panels are mass produced, each Plugin House is customized to fit its particular site.” The Huang Family Plugin House, for instance, slots into a tiny 160-square-foot space. The space-saving construction features a mezzanine bedroom with a corner window cantilevered over a collapsed wall as well as a new skylight where the original roof once was. The Fang Family Plugin House, on the other hand, is slightly larger at 215 square feet. Related: Hydroponic gardens and a “mini mountain” promote fun and well-being in this creative office The architects added, “For both locations, the Plugin House System raises living standards by adding efficient mini-split units for heating and cooling, modern kitchens and off-the-grid composting toilet systems.” + People’s Architecture Office Images by ZHAN Changheng and People’s Architecture Office

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The prefab Plugin House turns ruins into livable dwellings in just one day

BIGs dramatic hillside apartments officially open in Stockholm

November 9, 2018 by  
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Bjarke Ingels Group has announced the official opening of the long-awaited 79&Park, a residential development with a striking, stepped design. Located in Stockholm’s Gärdet district, the sculptural complex consists of 169 foliage-covered apartments constructed from prefabricated 3.6-meter by 3.6-meter modules that are arranged around an open courtyard. The cascading design was developed to optimize access to natural light as well as views toward the city and Gärdet’s parklands. Inaugurated on the same day as OMA’s Norra Tornen — another spectacular structure and the tallest new building in the city — 79&Park occupies a prominent location bordering the city park. To tie the building into the urban fabric and adjacent nature, Bjarke Ingels Group crafted the building in the image of a gently sloping hillside and clad the exterior in vertical strips of cedar. An abundance of greenery has been incorporated as well, from the modular rooftop terraces to the lush central courtyard. “79&Park is conceived as an inhabitable landscape of cascading residences that combine the splendors of a suburban home with the qualities of urban living: the homes have private outdoor gardens and penthouse views of the city and Gärdet,” said Bjarke Ingels, founding partner at BIG. “The communal intimacy of the central urban oasis offers peace and tranquility while also giving the residents a feeling of belonging in the larger community of 79&Park. Seen from a distance, 79&Park appears like a man-made hillside in the center of Stockholm .” Related: BIG completes low-income “Homes for All” project in Copenhagen In addition to the 169 apartment units — nearly all of them have a unique layout — the development also houses commercial spaces open to the public on the ground floor. Resident amenities include a doggy daycare and preschool. Like the exterior, the Scandinavian design-inspired interiors were dressed in a natural material palette including white oak floors and natural stone. Large windows blur the boundary between the indoors and out. + BIG Photography by Laurian Ghinitoiu via BIG

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BIGs dramatic hillside apartments officially open in Stockholm

Reclaimed materials and a massive green wall transports Denali shoppers to the great outdoors

November 9, 2018 by  
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Earlier this fall, Connecticut-based, multidisciplinary design practice Pirie Associates completed a biophilic store that evokes the image of a romantic, aging barn bursting with lush greenery. The newly opened Providence, Rhode Island store was created as the eighth brick-and-mortar location for the outdoor clothing and gear retail chain Denali . The store sits next to Brown University on Thayer Street and brings together a massive, low-maintenance vertical green wall with a predominately timber material palette to pull the outdoors in. Most of the materials were reclaimed in keeping with the company’s commitment to environmental stewardship. Sheathed within a brick-and-steel envelope that complements the surrounding urban fabric, the new Denali Providence store greets passersby with full-height glazing on the ground floor. Though the shop might seem like the average brick-and-mortar building from the outside, shoppers are treated to a visual surprise in the woodland-inspired interior with a double-height space filled with 20 birch tree poles — with the bark intact — as well as a large vertical green wall filled with New England plants and overhead skylights that provide natural light. The design aims “to transport customers to a new state of mind with a biophilic interior ‘kit-of-parts’ [that Pirie Associates has] now used in several locations,” the firm said in a press release. To lure people upstairs, two 32-foot-tall birch tree poles were strategically positioned through the U-shaped stairwell and stretch upward from the ground floor to the ceiling of the second level. Related: Nearly 10,000 plants grow on NYC’s largest public indoor green wall Apart from the paint, electrical equipment and HVAC, most of the materials used to construct the store were reclaimed or recycled and were often locally sourced. Salvaged materials include the barn doors, corrugated sheet metal and the nearly two dozen birch tree poles. The vertical green wall that spans two stories was designed for low maintenance and is integrated with a self-irrigation system. + Pirie Associates Photography by John Muggenborg via Pirie Associates

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Reclaimed materials and a massive green wall transports Denali shoppers to the great outdoors

A dark, damp house becomes a sustainable, sun-soaked abode

November 9, 2018 by  
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Formerly cold, dim and damp, a terrace house in Northcote, Victoria has been reborn into a vibrant and welcoming dwelling with an emphasis on gardening. Designed by Green Sheep Collective for a client named Jill, the compact project, named Jill’s House, saw a modest expansion of just 22 square meters of space yet gained its bright and spacious feel thanks to a thorough renovation. Created to meet the client’s aspirations for a “very healthy home,” Jill’s House embraces recycled materials, low VOC finishes and passive solar principles for a minimal energy footprint. Having developed deep ties with her local community, the homeowner wanted the renovated house to be suitable for long-term living and retirement. As a result, the redesign prioritized accessibility, low maintenance and durability. Tapping into its extensive experience in eco-friendly retrofits, Green Sheep Collective opened the home to greater amounts of natural light while improving energy efficiency with the reorientation of the living areas to the north and the installation of high-performance materials, such as improved insulation and low-e double glazing. The open-plan living area also enjoys a seamless connection with the outdoors to support the client’s hobby of gardening. “The comfort, energy efficiency and longevity of the house have been improved immeasurably,” the designers noted. “Despite an existing north wall along the boundary, sunlight is brought deep into the house via a raked ceiling paired with electric-operated clerestory windows that soar above the kitchen and dining areas, doubling to encourage the ‘stack effect’ for ventilation and distinguish the extension from the original Victorian home.” Related: Smart Home targets affordability and eco-friendly design in Australia Adding to the overall sense of vibrancy, bright pops of color woven throughout were inspired by the client’s favorite Derwent pencils from childhood. A natural materials palette  — including plantation timber flooring and recycled red bricks — lend additional warmth and complement the restored furnishings that include the dining table, dining chairs and lounge suite. + Green Sheep Collective Photography by Emma Cross via Green Sheep Collective

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A dark, damp house becomes a sustainable, sun-soaked abode

MUJIs $26k prefab huts are finally available for sale

November 7, 2017 by  
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The wait is over— MUJI’s microhomes are now officially on sale to the public. Ever since MUJI debuted their line of tiny prefabricated homes in 2015, fans of the minimalist design brand have eagerly awaited the chance to get their hands on one of their tiny prefabricated homes, called MUJI Huts , starting at a little over $26,000 USD. Per MUJI’s famous minimalist aesthetic, the MUJI Huts are elegant and understated. Timber surfaces and a light-tone color palette creates a cozy and welcoming character. The first MUJI Hut to hit the market is a compact 9-square-meter cabin clad in blackened timber and lined in domestic fir wood. Sliding glass doors let in ample natural light and open up to a small covered patio. The simplicity of the design makes it easy for the microhome to adapt to variety of environments and uses. Related: MUJI to sell eagerly awaited $27k minimalist tiny homes this fall Base pricing for the MUJI Hut starts at 3 million yen (approximately $26,340 USD), tax and construction costs included. Insulation and electrical outlets are optional add-ons. Unfortunately, MUJI Hut is presently only available for sale in Japan—lucky residents can order a microhome from MUJI’s global flagship store at Yurakucho —but fans of the microhome are always welcome to test drive a MUJI Hut at the MUJI Camp in Tsumagoi , about an hour out of Tokyo via bullet train. + MUJI Hut Via SoraNews24

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MUJIs $26k prefab huts are finally available for sale

Mobile Smartdome homes pop up almost anywhere starting at 20k

May 31, 2017 by  
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Dome homes are durable, efficient, and—above all—fun to live in. Now you can get your hands on your very own mobile dome home with Slovenian firm smartdome construction . Available in a variety of styles, the Smartdome consists of prefabricated modules engineered for energy efficiency and designed for the enjoyment of nature lovers and DIY enthusiasts. Built on a set of adjustable steel legs, the elevated Smartdome sits lightly on the land with the option of placement in degraded and difficult terrain. Thanks to its modular design , the homes can be easily expanded, dismantled, and transported to new locations with little technical knowledge needed. The base Smartdome model measures 25 square meters with a starting cost of 19,900€. Related: These gorgeous glass homes can pop up in 8 hours for under $50k “The project is really something fresh and different […] for every nature lover,” said Željko Ho?evar of smartdome construction to Inhabitat. “It’s the first printed dodecahedron structure in the world.” The modules are constructed from galvanized steel and a laminated and moisture-resistant timber framework sealed with UV-resistant rubber gaskets. Buyers can choose between transparent modules with two or three-layer thermoformed polycarbonate or opaque versions filled with mineral wool or space-tech foil. All Smartdome homes are designed, engineered, and manufactured in Slovenia. + smartdome construction

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Mobile Smartdome homes pop up almost anywhere starting at 20k

Minimalist prefab home hides a sculptural light-filled interior

March 17, 2017 by  
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Berrel Berrel Kräutler Architekten designed a minimal prefabricated house with a modest appearance that belies a sculptural interior. Located in Rodersdorf, Switzerland, this single-family home has a deceptively simple design with its gabled roof and facade clad in metal and timber. The interior is divided into four levels with split-levels that maximize space and access to natural light. Constructed with a timber frame , the 172-square-meter home sits high on a slope overlooking views across the Alsatian landscape. The asymmetrical gabled roof and shape of the home, which steps down on the landscape, was designed to meet local building code specifications. To make the most of the slope change, the architects added split-levels and inserted a wooden shell mounted beneath the roof. Like a house-within-a-house concept, the wooden shell houses the two upper floors and is accessible via a set of minimalist wooden stairs. Related: Ant House hides an innovative wood interior behind a metal-clad cube in Japan The over-height space below the suspended wooden shell is the highlight of the home. Bathed in natural light from a skylight and full-height window that overlooks the outdoors, the over-height space connects to the ground floor via a slight level change . The ground floor contains the entrance, cloakroom, kitchen, dining area, living room, and lounge, all of which appear to be seamlessly connected through precise carpentry work. The fluid connections between the different spaces, from the partly sunken basement level to the topmost floor cradled in the timber shell, gives the home a sculptural quality. + Berrel Berrel Kräutler Architekten Via ArchDaily Images © Eik Frenzel

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Minimalist prefab home hides a sculptural light-filled interior

See how the "Kiss-Kiss House" snaps in half like a branch to embrace the landscape

March 2, 2017 by  
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Homes built to embrace the landscape, rather than working against it, always seem to have a good story to tell. The Kiss-Kiss House, a prefabricated home that gets its name from its linear shape broken into two bars kissing at an angle to frame the existing bedrock, is no exception. Designed by Minneapolis-based Lazor Office , the cedar-clad home is perched above bedrock on the shore of the remote Rainy Lake in Ontario. Inspired by driftwood, the Kiss-Kiss House is clad in unpainted cedar panels that also help blend the home into its forested surroundings. The home’s main structure, made up of two modules set at an angle, is set atop bedrock and is thus raised with elevated pathways that also preserve and frame the rock. Views of the water were prioritized and embraced through floor-to-ceiling , full-length glass on the lakeside facades of the two modules. The home’s elevated position and uninterrupted views create the sensation of floating over water when in the home. Related: Apple design director perfects a prefab home into an ultra-minimal, modern dwelling “At the kiss line between two prefabricated modules, the lineal form of the house snaps like a branch held together only by bark,” writes Lazor Office. “The open break forms a V-shaped outdoor room facing the water.” The larger of the two modules contains the master suite, kitchen, and lounge, while the other module houses the playroom, mudroom, and two bedrooms. The private areas are located at the ends of the modules, whereas the communal areas are closely linked together by the breezeway . Elevated walkways connect the modular home to a walled vegetable garden, dock house, and garage. + Lazor Office Images via Lazor Office

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See how the "Kiss-Kiss House" snaps in half like a branch to embrace the landscape

Research reveals the Earth may have once had a solid egg-like crust

March 2, 2017 by  
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Extending the symbolism of eggs as a metaphor for life and reproduction, recent research reveals the Earth itself may have once had an egg-like structure. According to a report from the University of Maryland , the plate tectonics that now define the Earth’s geology may have begun later in the planet’s history. Before the plates began moving and colliding to define the surface we know and love today, the Earth’s crust likely consisted of a solid but deformable shell encasing a molten liquid interior. The research, a joint effort between the UMD’s College of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences, Curtin University and the Geological Survey of Western Australia , was recently published in the journal Nature, and represents the latest in a longstanding debate over the Earth’s geological history. One side of the debate says plate tectonics began right after the Earth started to cool (known as uniformitarianism), while the other proposes the planet went through a long phase with a solid shell enveloping it. This latest study clearly favors the latter view. Models for how the first continental crust formed generally fall into two groups: those that invoke modern-style plate tectonics and those that do not, says Michael Brown, a professor of geology at the University of Maryland and a co-author of the study. “Our research supports the latter ‘stagnant lid’ forming the planet’s outer shell early in Earth’?s history. Related: Geologists find seventh continent hiding in plain sight Coming to this conclusion was no easy task. Brown and his team studied rocks collected from the East Pilabara Terrane – a large area of ancient crust located in Western Australia . As old as 3.5 billion years, these rocks are some of the oldest on the planet. The researchers looked at the granite and basalt rocks for signs of plate tectonic activity, such as subduction of one plate beneath the other. As UMD explains it: “Plate tectonics substantially affects the temperature and pressure of rocks within Earth’?s interior. When a slab of rock subducts under the Earth’s surface, the rock starts off relatively cool and takes time to gain heat. By the time it reaches a higher temperature, the rock has also reached a significant depth, which corresponds to high pressure – in the same way a diver experiences higher pressure at greater water depth.” In contrast, a stagnant lid regime would be very hot at relatively shallow depths and low pressures. Geologists refer to this as a “high thermal gradient.” According to Brown, the results showed the Pilabara granites were produced by melting rocks in a high thermal gradient environment and the composition of local basalts shows they came from an earlier generation of source rocks supporting the ‘stagnant lid’ theory of the Earth’s early formation. Images via Robert Whitehead , domdomegg

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Research reveals the Earth may have once had a solid egg-like crust

New net-zero Solar Farmhouse from Deltec generates all its own energy

January 24, 2017 by  
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In these uncertain times of erratic weather and changing climate patterns, net-zero energy (or NZE) is quickly becoming the gold standard in green building. If you can generate all of your own energy on site, you never need to rely on the grid or worry about energy bills. The North Carolina prefab builders at Deltec launched a line of affordable net-zero energy homes last year to great fanfare from off-grid buffs around the U.S. Now we’re thrilled to see them introduce a brand new design to this collection; a charming, classically-styled Solar Farmhouse with all of the old-fashioned curb appeal, plus the futuristic technology that makes this home achieve net-zero energy.

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New net-zero Solar Farmhouse from Deltec generates all its own energy

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