First CLT Passive House project in Boston breaks ground

February 24, 2020 by  
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Move over steel and concrete — a pioneering cross-laminated timber (CLT) project that’s set to break ground in Boston could spearhead a greater adoption of mass timber across the country. Local startup  Generate Architecture + Technologies  has teamed up with progressive developer Placetailor to lead the project — the city’s first-ever CLT Cellular Passive House Demonstration Project — and provide live/work spaces in Lower Roxbury. Developed with the startup’s Model-C system for prefabricated kit-of-parts construction, the building will forgo conventional concrete and steel materials in favor of carbon-sequestering engineered wood products. Expected to break ground in June of 2020, the CLT Passive House demonstration project will comprise five floors with 14 residential units as well as innovative and affordable co-working spaces for the local community on the ground floor. In addition to introducing low-carbon, mixed-use  programming to the neighborhood, the project will be a working prototype for Generate’s Model-C, “a replicable system for housing delivery methods designed to address climate and community.”  The Model-C system is not only designed to function at net-zero carbon levels, but is also Passive House certified and built to the new Boston Department of Neighborhood Development “Zero Emissions Standards,” which were developed with Placetailor. As a result, the demonstration project is expected to have a significantly reduced carbon footprint as compared to traditional construction. The  CLT  rooftop canopy is also engineered to make it easy to mount solar panels. Modular units, like the bathrooms, can be prefabricated offsite and then plugged into the building to reduce construction time and waste.  Related: This student housing is the largest Passive House-certified building in the Southern Hemisphere Thanks to  prefabrication  methods and the reduction of interior framing, the Model-C prototype is expected to completed by the end of 2020 and will be available for tours at the Industrial Wood-Based Construction (IWBC) conference in Boston on November 4. Generate is also exploring the possibility of applying the Model-C system to projects that range from six to 18 stories across the U.S. + Generate Images by Forbes Massie Studio

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First CLT Passive House project in Boston breaks ground

Hello Wood unveils a tiny cabin that sleeps up to 8 people

February 19, 2020 by  
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Most cabins are designed to let people enjoy a bit of quiet time, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. However, for those social butterflies who believe that getting back to nature doesn’t have to mean sacrificing time with friends, Hello Wood has created the beautiful Grand Cabin. Located near Csóromfölde, Hungary, the cabin’s looming A-frame volume was built from panels of prefab wood . Although the pitched-roof shape was inspired by traditional Czech-style mountain lodges, the cabin has an undoubtedly modern aesthetic thanks to the two blue and red capsules that flank the cabin’s jet-black exterior. Related: Solar-powered POP-UP Park takes over underused Budapest square The entrance to the cabin is through a cathedral-like entrance created out of multiple glass panels, which flood the interior with natural light . At first sight, the interior living space looks like any typical cabin of a similar build, but this cozy, 324-square-foot retreat actually sleeps up to eight people comfortably, far more than similar cabins of this size. The minimalist interior is comprised of one open central area, which is arranged to be the social, shared space. However, on either side of this main room, there are a number of room dividers that can be used to create additional sleeping quarters. Additionally, the two colorful boxes seen from the exterior are actually two large bedrooms with built-in bed platforms. According to the Hello Wood team, the Grand Cabin was designed to not only provide a serene space for people looking to reconnect with nature from the comfort of a beautiful tiny cabin but also to provide a way that they can do just that while being surrounded by friends and family. The studio said, “Our concept is about a small cabin that contains a fully equipped community space inside by expanding the A-frame with sleeping capsules — fitting 8+ people. It’s a house for you and all your friends.” + Hello Wood Via Apartment Therapy Photography by Tamás Bujnovszky via Hello Wood

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Hello Wood unveils a tiny cabin that sleeps up to 8 people

Bamboo electric bike is designed for Kathmandu locals and tourists

February 19, 2020 by  
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Designer and Fulbright scholar Lance Rake has teamed up with local bamboo builders at Abari in Kathmandu to design an electric cargo bike made out of sustainable materials. The resulting design is the Habre Eco Bike, a three-wheeled bicycle made out of locally sourced bamboo that was strategically crafted to provide locals and tourists with an alternative vehicle that would not only let them move around town easily but would also help reduce the city’s notorious pollution. Kathmandu is considered one of the most polluted cities in Asia. On most days, its hectic streets are filled bumper-to-bumper with gas-guzzling vehicles that add to the air contamination levels, which have begun to affect the city’s famed historic sites. Related: BIY 2 lets you build your own bamboo bicycle in just five hours In 2019, Rake was granted a global Fulbright to develop a solution to the burgeoning pollution issue. Working with local designers from Abari, who are specialists in bamboo architecture, Rake came up with an electric bicycle with a purpose that would be two-fold: help the locals make eco-friendly deliveries around the city and act as a sort of tuk-tuk-like taxi to transport tourists looking to explore various Kathmandu landmarks. Working with local artisans and materials, Rake and Abari founder Nripal Adhikari went through several stages while designing the Habre Eco Bike. Kathmandu’s streets are not always paved smoothly, and there are several steep areas. Therefore, the bike had to be sturdy and rugged enough to withstand the intense urban traffic as well as rough, rural landscapes. Often working with scarce tools and relying on the skills of local builders, the final prototype was developed out of a steel platform that was turned into the frame for the three-wheeled cargo bike. Regional bamboo was then tested in various conditions to find the best configuration that would provide optimal handling and comfort. Once the main frame had been designed, the team went on to build the large front basket, which can be used for passenger seating or cargo space. + Abari + Lance Rake Images via Lance Rake

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Bamboo electric bike is designed for Kathmandu locals and tourists

Stunning new prefab kit home centers on sustainability

December 20, 2019 by  
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Michigan-based Hygge Supply is known as a leader in the world of sustainable home design thanks to its customizable kit homes. Now, the company has unveiled the Birch Le Collaboration House — an incredible house that highlights how the company’s innovative, prefab designs can marry sustainability and high-end luxury. Founded by entrepreneur Kelly Sean Karcher, Hygge Supply creates what it calls “kit homes,” — sustainable, high-end prefab home designs that are customizable to virtually any taste or style. The company ships its kit homes all over the United States. Karcher explained, “What sets Hygge Supply apart is the focus on high design, sustainability and simplicity.” Related: Cube Haus seeks to solve the housing crisis with affordable prefab homes To highlight its unique kit homes, the company recently built a gorgeous, contemporary house in a forest, just steps away from Michigan’s Lake Leelenau. Like all of its projects, Hygge Supply’s Birch Le Collaboration House is made from structural insulated panels (SIPs) and steel framing. This framework allows the prefab home to be built to the owner’s specifications and easily delivered to the building site, leaving zero waste behind. Combining the best of minimalist , Scandinavian design with environmental sustainability, the contemporary home kit includes several high-end materials provided by Hygge Supply’s like-minded partners. The home is clad in Thermory’s responsibly sourced wood panels, while all of the home’s doors and windows were produced using environmentally friendly manufacturing processes. Floor-to-ceiling glass panels wrap around sections of the home, not only creating a seamless connection between the exterior and interior, but also providing the interior with an abundance of natural light. The interior design revolves around the idea that top-of-the-line, eco-friendly furnishings don’t have to be prohibitively expensive. For example, the kitchen features Durat countertops that are made from 30-50 oercent recycled hard plastics and are 100 percent recyclable. Additionally, no-VOC powder coat color was used throughout the home. The beautiful home features one of the company’s most popular layouts, a three-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath space with multiple connections to the exterior. What’s more, the Birch Le Collaboration House can be rented out by potential buyers who would like to test it out before ordering a Hygge Supply kit for themselves. Karcher invites guests to enjoy the sustainable home as a serene retreat that could possibly be their permanent home. “This home highlights the best of Hygge Supply: minimalist design, modern finishes, high comfort and expansive windows that draw the natural world in,” Karcher said. “We invite people to put down the concept drawings and come live immersively in this intimate space. It’s a perfect spot to retreat and it may inspire you to envision your own modern sanctuary.” + Hygge Supply Via Dwell Photography by Will Johnson via Hygge Supply

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Stunning new prefab kit home centers on sustainability

This prefab weekend retreat made from shipping containers can be ordered online

December 16, 2019 by  
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Mexican architects Rodrigo Alegre and Carlos Acosta of the Mexico City-based firm STUDIOROCA have recently launched VMD (Vivienda Minima de Descanso), a new prefabricated housing system for delivering luxurious weekend retreats with reduced ecological footprints. Available to order and customize online, VMD can be fully set up and habitable in just 99 days. Each unit, which can be built as a one- or two-bedroom home, is constructed in a factory using shipping containers and outfitted with ecological materials, smart home technologies and high-end furnishings all created by Mexican designers. Created to answer the question, “What would you do with less?” the compact VMD was designed with a focus on sustainability and the “idea of retreating from noisy, polluted, stressful urban centers.” As a weekend getaway , the VMD also emphasizes low maintenance and an easy lock-up-and-go design. All technologies, from the interior lighting system to video surveillance, can be controlled remotely. Related: Solar-powered cliffside home is a hidden retreat with stellar ocean views The prefabricated homes are manufactured in a climate-controlled factory in Mexico using a shipping container structure clad in Viroc for a non-toxic facade that’s also resistant to fire and water damage. The interiors are dressed in eco-conscious materials, such as Bolon’s Elements Oak flooring made from up to 33 percent recycled materials , and appliances, like the low-flow bathroom fixtures by Helvex. Floor, wall, countertop and bathroom finishes can be customized to meet different style preferences. Customers will also have options to make their VMDs self-reliant by installing solar panels, rainwater harvesting systems and incinerating toilets. From order to delivery, the VMD should take just over three months to complete, along with a week needed for installation on site. Due to the strength of the structure, the house can be placed in almost any location accessible by a large trailer and crane, with no complex foundations necessary and minimal building permissions required. The VMD was launched at Inédito as part of Design Week Mexico in October. Fulfillment of VMD orders will begin next year. + VMD Images via Taller Escape

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This prefab weekend retreat made from shipping containers can be ordered online

Yosemite camping site unveils series of ADA-compliant tiny cabins

September 20, 2019 by  
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Taking a vacation in a tiny cabin in a remote area of the world appeals to all sorts of people, but there’s one group who has been largely left out of the movement — people with disabilities. Thankfully, one forward-thinking firm is changing that with their sleek tiny cabin design that is accessible for all. Los Angeles-based firm, M-Rad has unveiled their new X-suite cabin, an accessible tiny retreat that combines universal design with sophisticated aesthetic. Built specifically for Autocamp Yosemite, a 35-acre glamping site in northern California, the firm installed five X- suite cabins on the edge of a small lake, surrounded by the breathtaking Yosemite landscape. The cabins are all designed to comply with the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). Related: Wheelchair-friendly tiny house proves universal design can be cool The 270-square-foot prefabricated cabins have wooden frames wrapped in  dark-hued metal rainscreens topped with metal roofs. Designed to be transportable, the cabins sit on top of steel chassis with wheels. This enables the cabins to not only be moved easier to another location, but also reduces impact on the landscape. The entrance to each cabin is through a wooden open-air deck that doubles as a ramp. Double-entry French doors that are wide enough for large wheelchairs lead into the interior living space. The interior of the cabins feature rectangular layouts, with a large open-plan living area and a kitchen. Ultra-large glazed walls flood the interior with natural light.  The bedroom, which has enough space for a queen-sized bed, not only has a massive floor-to-ceiling window, but an oversized skylight that allows for stargazing while drifting off to sleep. The kitchens offer all of the necessary amenities that are on a reachable level, as well as a small dining area on the interior. The open-air decks also feature enough space for dining al fresco while enjoying the incredible views. Although the cabins may seem to be a minimalist design, in reality, the cabins were purpose-built to be accessible for everyone without sacrificing on design. Large, spacious thresholds, as well as wide rooms, allow enough space for wheelchairs to turn around in. Additionally, the bathroom was built to adhere to ADA standards such as a shower with a handlebar and seat. Throughout the home, windows, doors, knobs, etc. are also ADA compliant. + M-Rad Via Dezeen Images via M-Rad

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Prefab housing pods pop up with speed at Dyson Institutes modular village

July 8, 2019 by  
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The future of student housing may mean greater energy efficiency, faster construction times, and less waste if developers follow in the footsteps of the Dyson Institute of Engineering and Technology’s newly completed undergraduate village in Wiltshire. London-based architectural practice WilkinsonEyre recently completed the student housing development at the Dyson Malmesbury Campus, which was also masterplanned by WilkinsonEyre. Constructed with modular building technologies, the energy-efficient village for engineering students comprises clusters of prefabricated pods that were rapidly manufactured off-site and then craned into place with fittings and furnishings already in place. The Dyson Institute of Engineering and Technology was created to combine higher education with commercial industry, research, and development. To create an immersive live/work experience, the campus tapped WilkinsonEyre to design student housing that houses up to 50 engineering students and visiting Dyson staff. In addition to the housing pods, the crescent-shaped landscaped site includes communal amenities as well as a central social and learning hub. Related: LEED Platinum UCSB student housing harnesses California’s coastal climate Measuring eight meters by four meters each, the housing pods were prefabricated from cross-laminated timber and then stacked into a variety of cluster configurations ranging from two to three stories tall, with some units cantilevered by up to three meters. Each pod is optimized for energy efficiency, which includes harnessing CLT’s thermal massing benefits, tapping into natural ventilation, and maximizing daylight through large, triple-glazed windows. Aluminum rainscreen panels clad the exterior and some units are topped with sedum-covered roofs. The prefabricated units were fully fitted with bespoke furniture and built-in storage before they were transported to the site. Each cluster consists of up to six prefab units with a shared kitchen and laundry area at the mid-entry level as well as an entry area with reception and storage. “The dynamic variety of configurations lends an informal, residential character to the village,” says the project statement. “Green spaces and pathways determine user movement through the village and mediate connections between the residential accommodation and the communal clubhouse, named the Roundhouse, at the centre.” + WilkinsonEyre Images via WilkinsonEyre

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Prefab housing pods pop up with speed at Dyson Institutes modular village

Scientists confirm tree planting is our best solution to climate change

July 8, 2019 by  
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New research suggests that tree planting isn’t just a feel-good volunteer activity — it could actually be the cheapest and most effective tool against global warming that exists. While environmentalists have been encouraging tree planting for decades, there has been contradicting information about how well nations are adhering to their reforestation pledges and how much they are actually making a difference. A new study, however, calculates just how many trees could be planted in a worldwide reforestation effort and how it would impact climate change if implemented correctly. The researchers concluded that if the entire world organized to plant trees in all available land that isn’t existing farms or urban areas, the new trees could capture two-thirds of all human-related carbon emissions . According to their calculations, there are 1.7 billion hectares available that could support 1.2 trillion additional trees. This area equates to 11 percent of the Earth’s total land surface, or according to The Guardian , “equivalent to the size of the U.S. and China combined.” Related: Philippine students must plant 10 trees to graduate, new law says The researchers calculated the land’s capacity for trees by attempting to reach the goal of 100 percent canopy cover in tropical areas and at least 50 percent tree cover in more temperate zones. “This new quantitative evaluation shows [forest] restoration isn’t just one of our climate change solutions, it is overwhelmingly the top one,” said professor and lead researcher Tom Crowther. “What blows my mind is the scale. I thought restoration would be in the top 10, but it is overwhelmingly more powerful than all of the other climate change solutions proposed.” Even if all 1.2 trillion trees were planted tomorrow, it would take between 50 and 100 years to see the full benefit, and who knows what carbon emissions will look like then? With this in mind, Crowther still emphasized the need to bring emissions from fossil fuels and deforestation to zero. “[Reforestation] is available now, it is the cheapest one possible and every one of us can get involved,” Crowther said. He also noted that each person can make an impact by growing their own trees, donating to reforestation efforts and avoiding companies that are contributing to deforestation. Via The Guardian Image via Valiphotos

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Sculptural YULIN Artistic Center dramatically tops a Chongqing cliff

June 25, 2019 by  
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On the edge of a steep precipice in Longxing, Chongqing, Chinese architectural firm CHALLENGE DESIGN has completed a striking building that looks like a natural extension of the landscape. Defined by its sharp geometric form, the YULIN Artistic Center makes the most of its clifftop location with walls of glass that embrace stunning panoramic views. Not only were the majority of the building components prefabricated in a factory in Yancheng to mitigate the challenges of building on steep terrain, but the architects also used glue laminated timber to reduce the weight of construction. The YULIN Artistic Center consists of two main volumes stacked at an angle to one another and optimally placed for unobstructed views of the landscape. The line between the indoors and outdoors is continually blurred, from the massive wall of glass that runs along the side of the building to the interior spaces that are arranged to face the outdoors. The building consists of an exhibition center, a time-lapse gallery, a spherical video hall and an infinity pool on the cliff’s edge. Visitors access the site via a 30-meter glass elevator and a bridge on the northeast side of the site. “The building topping the paramount cliff reflects the minimalist design concept by following the natural landscape,” the architects said. “By making full use of the dramatic height drop and ingenious angles, the scenery is presented to the full extent. Like a natural part of the mount itself, the Artistic Center can be seen from a mile away, resembling a crane of legend standing on a rock, opening its wings and showing its grandeur and magnificence.” Related: 10 shipping containers make up this modern, mixed-use structure in Shanghai The building’s sculptural appeal is reinforced with the glulam lattice structure exposed in the interior as well as the facade that’s clad in gray aluminum panels laid out in a diamond-shaped pattern. The prefabricated components of the building were created in just three weeks. No tower crane was used to assemble the building onsite. + CHALLENGE DESIGN Photos by Prism Images and Arch-Exist

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Sculptural YULIN Artistic Center dramatically tops a Chongqing cliff

These solar-powered prefab cabins can be set up in just 4 hours

June 25, 2019 by  
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Canadian company DROP Structures is on a mission to allow people to “drop” the company’s incredible cabins (almost) hassle-free in just about any location. One of the most versatile designs is the minimalist Mono, a tiny prefab cabin that runs on solar power and can be set up in just a few hours. Although the minuscule 106-square-foot cabins take on a very minimalist appearance, the structures are the culmination of years of engineering and design savvy. According to Drop Structures, the cabins, which start at $24,500, typically require no permit. Thanks to their prefabricated assembly, they can be installed in a matter of hours. Related: Low-energy prefab cabins are inspired by the Nordic concept of ‘friluftsliv’ Built to be tiny, but tough, the Mono tiny cabins are clad in a standing seam metal exterior, which was chosen because the material is resilient to most types of climates and is low-maintenance. The cabins also boast a tight thermal envelope thanks to a solid core insulation that keeps the interior temperatures stable year-round in most climates. The Mono features a pitched roof with two floor-to-ceiling glazed walls at either side. This standard design enables natural light to flood the interior space and create a seamless connection between the cabin and its surroundings. The interior space is quite compact but offers everything needed for a serene retreat away from the hustle and bustle of urban life. The walls and vaulted ceilings are made out of Baltic Birch panels that give the space a warm, cozy feel. The biggest advantage of these tiny cabins is versatility. The structures can be customized with various add-ons including extra windows or skylights, a built-in loft, a Murphy bed and more. They can can also go off the grid with the addition of solar panels . + DROP Structures Via Dwell Images via DROP Structures

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These solar-powered prefab cabins can be set up in just 4 hours

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