Energy-efficient home in Whitefish was inspired by the region’s agrarian vernacular

July 29, 2019 by  
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Whitefish, Montana is known for its spectacular natural scenery, and now a family of four has a beautiful new home that reflects the region. Using an existing barn as inspiration, CTA Group designed the Railway Residence, an impressive, 3,500-square-foot energy-efficient home, to frame the surrounding views from virtually any angle. Tucked into an idyllic landscape of 4.5 acres in the eastern outskirts of Whitefish, Montana, the Railway Residence is surrounded by the mountain ranges to the north and east, connected by the historic Great Northern Railroad, which was inspiration for the home’s name. This amazing, natural setting set the tone for the design, both in its aesthetic and its energy performance. Related: A modern, energy-efficient home is built around a beloved madrone tree From a distance, the barn-like gabled roof and extension pay homage to the agrarian vernacular architecture found throughout the region. But the traditional volume conceals a savvy blend of contemporary features that create a soothing, sophisticated home with an impressive number of energy-efficient features. Clad in light-hued cedar siding, the wooden exterior is a nod to the wooded areas that surround the home. This pleasing envelope contains a strategic, energy-saving profile including ultra tight insulation that provides a 50 percent improvement over code minimums. Additionally, the use of prefabricated wood trusses allowed the structure to be sealed and insulated as well as naturally ventilated. Adding to the tight thermal envelope, the home was also installed with an abundance of high performance glass doors and triple-pane windows. The interior spaces are divided into four spaces arranged around a central glass walkway. The social areas, including a spacious living area, home office and music studio along with a garage and storage, are located on one side, while the private sleeping areas are on the other. The interior design, comprised of no-fuss, sophisticated furnishings, was meant to put the focus on creating a comfortable, bright living space where the family could enjoy the incredible views from anywhere in the home. The concrete flooring was installed with radiant in-floor heating that’s paired with a heat recovery ventilator to significantly reduce energy usage, especially in the chilly Montana winters. Bright windows placed underneath the many roof eaves allow natural light inside while the eaves provide shade from solar gain in the hot summer months. Adjacent to the main home, a separate barn, original to the site, was restored and is now a backdrop for the homeowner’s photography business. + CTA Group Photography by Gibeon Photography via CTA Group

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Energy-efficient home in Whitefish was inspired by the region’s agrarian vernacular

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

A modern reusable pavilion is sustainably designed to pop-up almost anywhere

May 24, 2019 by  
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Combining art, architecture and technology, Los Angeles-based architectural firm Montalba Architects recently completed a temporary pop-up pavilion for the annual Bex & Arts sculpture triennial that’s designed to be easily disassembled and reused for future events. Set on a movable foundation that allows for minimal site impact , the Bex & Arts pavilion briefly served as a fabrication studio, exhibition space and information center on a clearing surrounded by the dramatic Swiss mountains. The lightweight structure was prefabricated in about ten days and installed with a crane on site in less than a week. Measuring just 430 square feet in size, the Bex & Arts Pavilion is one of several small-scale projects of Montalba Architects, which was recently recognized as Los Angeles’ Best Contemporary Architecture Firm in 2019 by Angeleno magazine. “ Small structures and compact spaces present an unparalleled opportunity to exquisitely, and rigorously, realize the interplay between form and substance, and intersect architecture with art,” the firm says. Montalba Architects’ Bex & Arts pavilion was prefabricated with high-performance Kerto wood panels made from peeled spruce, a custom perforated panel facade— comprising narrow, black vertical panels with voids— that lets natural light in while adding visual interest, and mineral-based Swisspearl floor panels selected for their lightweight qualities, durability, fire resistance and sustainability. The lightweight structural wood panels have also been applied to the floor and open shelving, which not only provide exhibition space but also help support the structure. Related: This minimalist timber writer’s studio in Switzerland is suspended in mid-air For the 2017 Bex & Arts sculpture triennial, the pavilion served as a visitor’s center, exhibition space for the work of invited designers and working fabrication studio where FabLab, a small-scale workshop , was open to the public for rapid prototyping. The pavilion received awards from the AIA California Council and American MasterPrize. + Montalba Architects Images by Delphine Burtin

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A modern reusable pavilion is sustainably designed to pop-up almost anywhere

Cambridges first co-housing development fosters sustainable living

May 23, 2019 by  
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Marmalade Lane, the first cohousing development in Cambridge, has recently been completed in Orchard Park and serves as a promising solution to the critical undersupply of houses in the market. Cambridge-based architectural firm Mole Architects designed the development that comprises 42 contemporary homes with shared facilities and garden space for a mixed and integenerational resident group. Billed as a “sustainable neighborhood,” the cohousing community was designed in accordance to passive design principles and with the Trivselhus’ Climate Shield prefabricated timber frame panel system for superior thermal efficiency and airtightness. Marmalade Lane’s 42 homes include a mix of two- to five-bedroom terraced houses as well as one- and two-bedroom apartments. Designed to foster a community spirit and sustainable living, the development has shared public spaces for growing food , playing, socializing and quiet contemplation. The residents— members of K1 Cohousing who have a stake in the common areas and contribute to community management— also have access to a flexible “common house” that serves as the community’s social heart and houses a play room, guest bedrooms, laundry facilities, meeting rooms and a large hall and kitchen for shared meals and parties. A separate workshop and gym are also onsite. “As a custom-build development, each K1 Cohousing household selected one of five ‘shell’ house or flat types which they then configured through the floor-by-floor selection of floorplans, kitchen and bathroom fittings, and one of four external brick specifications,” according to the press release. “Wide and narrow house and ‘paired’ flat shells share a 7.8m-deep plan, allowing them to be distributed in any sequence along a terrace. Homes have been tailored to individual requirements without the risks or complexity of self-build, while balancing personalisation with the harmony of a visually cohesive architectural style based on repeating wall and window proportions, porches and balconies.” Related: LILAC: UK’s First Strawbale Co-Housing Project Opens in Leeds For energy efficiency and flexibility in floorplan configuration, the brick-clad cohousing structures are built with Trivselhus ’ Climate Shield closed panel timber frame system that was prefabricated in southern Sweden. The triple-glazed composite aluminum and timber windows along with electrical ducting were also factory-fitted so that a single house can be quickly assembled on site in just two days. Each home is also equipped with mechanical ventilation and heat recovery as well as air source-heat pumps. + Mole Architects Images by David Butler

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Cambridges first co-housing development fosters sustainable living

Demand for sand: the largest mining industry no one talks about

May 23, 2019 by  
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The world’s largest and perhaps most destructive mining industry is rarely discussed. Approximately 85 percent of all material mined from the earth is a simple and widely available resource: sand. Because it is so cheap and readily available, it is mined by everyone from guy with a shovel, to multi-million dollar machine operations. The majority of sand is used to make concrete, but the displacement of sand leads to the catastrophic destruction of coastal, sea bed and river ecosystems and topography. The United Nations Environment Program estimates that 40 billion tons of sand are mined every year, but since the market is corrupt, hidden and decentralized there have been no comprehensive studies to date. In order to get a rough number, the United Nation’s used global cement production and sales figures to approximate how much sand is collected. For example, every ton of cement requires six to seven tons of sand and gravel in order to make concrete. Related: Mining in Tasmania raises water pollution concerns to a new high The environmental impact Sand mining, especially when done without regulation or oversight, can damage rivers, cause beach erosion and destroy coastal ecosystems . At least 24 Indonesian islands disappeared off the map just to build Singapore. Since sand dredging occurs primarily for construction purposes, miners target river and coastal ecosystems where the sand is ideal. River sand is particularly perfect for concrete because it is coarse and does not contain salt that would otherwise corrode metal and other building materials. In addition to disturbing riverbed and river bank ecosystems, altering the flow and capacity of rivers can cause drought or disastrous flooding– though rarely recognized as a contributing factor. In Kerala, India, flooding was found to be partially caused by sand dredging that took 40 times more sand out of the river bed than the river could naturally replace. Dredging sea grass habitat can also cause sediment to drift for miles causing both coastal erosion and smothering ecosystems like coral reefs . Erosion, land subsidence and the introduction of heavy machinery and vehicles into delicate habitats also threatens the integrity of nearby infrastructure such as roads and bridges. One study found that every ton of sand taken from a river in California cost taxpayers $3 in infrastructure damage. Cities’ demand for sand Development and urbanization are expanding rapidly in every corner of the world to accommodate an exponentially growing population and our insatiable rates of consumption and expansion. According to the United Nations, the number of people living in cities is more than four times what it was in the 1950s. Over 50 percent of the world’s population now lives in urban areas with nearly three billion additional people expected to migrate to cities in the next 30 years. In addition to new buildings, sand is also used for land expansion projects. In China , it is a common practice to dump sand on top of coral reefs to speed the process of building land. Dubai is also famous for its man-made islands, which required millions of tons of sand. Singapore has added over 50 square miles of land in the past four decades and more skyscrapers in the last 10 years than all of New York City— a feat that required over 500 million tons of sand. The creation of Singapore was so rapid that Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam all banned the export of sand, but miners simply moved to Lake Poyang on the Yangtze River. The WWF calls this Lake the largest sand mine in the world, but it is tragically also Asia’s largest destination for migratory birds . Sand dredging activities have more than doubled the river’s capacity in certain areas, draining parts of the lake and reducing key fisheries. “It’s the same story as over-fishing and over-foresting,” says Pascal Peduzzi, from the United Nations Environment Program. “It’s another way to look at unsustainable development .” The scale of the problem is enormous and the consequences of moving massive amounts of life-and land-sustaining material from one place to another is glaring but the world remains functionally oblivious, blinded by the desire for new buildings and up-and-coming neighborhoods. Related: NYC considers Manhattan land expansion to fight climate change Can sand dredging be done sustainably? River ecologists suggest that sand dredging in rivers should only be done up to a pre-determined quota that allows the river to annually replenish sediment. However, this sustainable number will never equal humanity’s unsustainable need for development. There are a number of suggestions to improve the sustainability of the industry, but none are perfect: Offshore sand mining Britain now sources much of its sand further offshore in order to protect river and coastal ecosystems, however, much of this sand is only used for land reclamation projects where the salt content is not a concern. Sandy bottom reservoirs Another untapped source is the sand that collects at the bottom of reservoirs. Dredging reservoirs could not only provide sand but also helps to expand storage capacity. Ecologists, however, argue that this sand should technically be put back into the rivers that feed into reservoirs. Recycling glass and rubble Rubble from demolished buildings can be used to produce concrete, reducing the need for fresh sand. Glass can also be recycled , which again reduces the need for sand. Mining on flood plains Limited mining on floodplains, rather than riverbanks and riverbeds, is thought to be less destructive. However, floodplains also have fragile ecosystems. In Australia, floodplains are home to rare carnivorous plant species that are now at risk from mining activities. Replacing sand in concrete Ash from incinerators and dust from stone quarries can be used in the production of concrete to reduce the demand for sand. Via Yale Environment 360 Images via Shutterstock

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Demand for sand: the largest mining industry no one talks about

The FLEXSE tiny house module is built from 100% recyclable materials

March 21, 2019 by  
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A tiny and deliciously cozy prefab  home has popped up in St. Petersburg, courtesy of local architectural practice Smart Architecture Laboratory (SA lab) . The charming compact building—dubbed FLEXSE—is the firm’s first prototype for tiny modular housing and is modeled after a traditional Scandinavian BBQ house. Designed with flexibility in mind, the FLEXSE prototype was prefabricated in a factory, assembled on-site and built entirely of recyclable materials. Defined by its organic elliptical footprint, the FLEXSE was created to accommodate a wide variety of needs. Although the architects decided to use the first prototype as an all-season grill house, they believe the unit could be adapted for use as a guesthouse, a sauna , a cafe, a shop, or for a myriad of other retail uses. Buyers will have the option to customize the building in a variety of finishes and materials. Moreover, the buyer would also have the freedom to place the building in almost any environment, whether on water or on a rooftop, thanks to the wide range of foundations that can be used to support the structure. The recently installed FLEXSE prototype in St. Petersburg measures nearly 330 square feet in size. “During winter or in a cold weather it is cozy and comfortable to cook and chill inside, while in summer the open terrace is a nice place to spend time,” the architects say in their press statement. Related: A modular classroom for environmental education pops up in a Barcelona park Topped with an angled snow-shedding roof, the tiny BBQ house is lined, inside and out, with vertical strips of wood. The minimalist interior is simply furnished with a dining table and chairs that share the space with an open grill that fills the room with a warm orange glow when in use. A large round window and the glazed doors let in natural light . + SA lab Images by Ekaterina Titenko

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The FLEXSE tiny house module is built from 100% recyclable materials

A modular classroom for environmental education pops up in a Barcelona park

February 21, 2019 by  
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Flexible, transportable and cost-efficient, the modular classrooms created by local design studio Baena Casamor Arquitectes BCQ offer a sustainable new way to activate Barcelona’s public parks. Inspired by timber cabins, the prefabricated pop-up classroom is a multipurpose space sheathed in wood and crafted with a focus on environmental education for school groups and families. The architects recently installed a classroom prototype, AULA K, in the Parc de Can Zam with a built area of nearly 1,200 square feet. Constructed primarily of timber, the prefabricated classroom is designed to blend into the park surroundings with the future aim of providing habitat to certain species of animals, including insects, birds and bats. “It is a pavilion destined to give more life to the parks, complementing the offer of leisure, recreational and sports with the educational dimension,” the architects said in a statement. “It must be a space open to the outside; it is necessary that one could see the trees from the classroom, to perceive the light and feel the climate.” To create flexibility in the design, the classrooms can comprise any combination and configuration of three modules — a service module, classroom module and pergola module — so as to best meet the needs of each site. The modular architecture is prefabricated in a factory and can be installed on site in just a few weeks. The prototype at Parc de Can Zam consists of the service and classroom modules and is topped with sloped roofs optimized for solar panel installation and rainwater collection. Related: Modscape installs a prefab school building that stays comfortable year-round The use of prefabrication helps reduce the time and cost of producing the classrooms, which share a uniform wooden envelope and a large opening on the facade to let in natural light and views of nature. The classrooms can be modified to generate energy, return rainwater to underground aquifers, reuse stormwater runoff as garden irrigation or provide habitat for local fauna. + Baena Casamor Arquitectes BCQ Photography by  Marcela Grassi via Baena Casamor Arquitectes BCQ

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A modular classroom for environmental education pops up in a Barcelona park

The Lantern is a portable home wrapped in a natural woven lattice

February 21, 2019 by  
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London-based firm Emulsion Architecture has designed a serene, portable home to serve as versatile lodging that can be installed in a variety of landscapes. Hosted by Land Stories , the first dwelling is The Lantern, a round structure with a translucent core, which is wrapped in ornate latticework made out of woven willow. The glamping suite is designed to be highly energy-efficient and have minimal environmental impact, leaving no lasting footprint on any of its locations. The portable home was designed to offer a contemporary but inviting sustainable lodging within a variety of landscapes. Whether surrounded by mountains, deserts or grasslands, guests staying in The Lantern will be able to immerse themselves comfortably in the surrounding nature. Related: KODA is a tiny solar-powered house that can move with its owners The round dwelling sleeps up to four, with one double bed and two singles as well as a kitchenette. The living space is surrounded by glass doors that swing open to a beautiful outdoor deck, which winds around the structure. Wrapped in the woven latticework, this area is the perfect spot to enjoy the panoramic views. As a nod to the design’s inspiration, lights on the roof will act as periscopes, reflecting glimpses of the landscape and environment directly onto the mirrored interior. According to the architects, the inspiration for the design came from the simple but ubiquitous lantern. “We were inspired by the simple idea of a lantern acting as a gentle beacon, which can sit sensitively in the landscape,” the team said. “A lattice of woven willow encases the dwelling space, the irregularity of the natural willow contrasting the glowing faces of the enclosure. It will be a very serene and beautiful place to stay in any landscape.” The portable home was originally slated to be built in the North Norfolk coast in the U.K., but the plans fell through at the last moment. Land Stories is currently looking for landowners that would like to collaborate on the project. + Emulsion Architecture + Land Stories Via World Architecture Forum Images via Land Stories

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The Lantern is a portable home wrapped in a natural woven lattice

Modscape installs a prefab school building that stays comfortable year-round

December 27, 2018 by  
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Cheap trailers and portable classrooms can be a quick fix for schools strapped for space, but the trade-off often comes at the expense of student comfort. Aware of the “crazy hot in summer and freezing cold in winter” conditions of these temporary trailers, Australian custom home builder Modscape wanted to create a more pleasant solution to the Keilor Primary School’s need for additional space without compromising on speed and efficiency. The result is a new permanent modular building that was constructed off-site, installed in just a day and built with high-performing paneling to ensure comfortable classroom conditions year-round. Created in collaboration with Victorian project management firm Sensum Group, the new prefabricated building for Keilor Primary School in Melbourne consists of four teaching spaces, a library, an arts space and associated amenities for students and the staff. Modscape designed and constructed the structure as part of the Victorian Government’s Permanent Modular School Buildings Program, an integral part of a multibillion school construction process to precede the government’s Victorian School Asbestos Removal Program that will oversee the largest ever removal of asbestos from Victorian schools. “The new permanent modular building offered a fast and efficient solution for the school,” the firm said. “With less time needed for planning and construction, the replacement of the older buildings containing asbestos could occur quickly — reducing disruption to students, staff and teaching programs. … Gone are the days of the crazy-hot-in-summer/freezing-cold-in-winter ‘portables’ of previous generations. … High-performing acoustic paneling and double-glazed windows are used in forward-thinking volumetric modules, creating a comfortable learning environment for the students of today and for generations to come.” Related: This highly insulated modular home is completely self-sustaining The building was constructed offsite in Modscape’s modular construction hub in Brooklyn in just 10 weeks — approximately half the time required when compared to a traditional build process. The modules were then installed in a day over the weekend, after which onsite and landscaping was carried out. + Modscape Photography by John Madden via Modscape

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Modscape installs a prefab school building that stays comfortable year-round

Solar-powered cabin is designed for ultimate flexibility and mobility

December 11, 2018 by  
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Buenos Aires-based firm  IR Arquitectura  has created a brilliant modular cabin designed to offer not only exceptional flexibility, but also stellar energy efficiency. The cabin is made up of five distinct prefab modules that can be configured in various shapes. Equipped with a solar heating water system, a solar kitchen, a trombe wall and solar lamps, the sustainable cabin can operate completely off-grid in virtually any location. The cabin is built out of prefabricated modules that are manufactured off site and transported to the desired location. The cabin can be configured in a variety of shapes. Various sections of transparent cladding in the roof and on the walls allow natural light into the interior. Additionally, the cabin’s wide swinging doors provide a strong connection between the cabin and its surroundings. Related: This series of modular wood cabins form a rustic retreat in the Catskills The modules are each clad in a thermal and waterproof coating to add a strong resilience to the design , which can be installed in nearly any environment. For example, after recently serving as a central building in an outdoor summer camp in Hungary, the cabin’s modules were dismantled and loaded onto a truck to be used in its next location. According to the architects, the cabin was inspired by the need to provide inhabitants with the basic functions of storing, dressing, cooking, heating and resting. Clad in natural wood paneling and framework, the interior space is light and airy, with a notable minimalist appearance. Behind the simple design is an intricate, sustainable profile. The modules are installed with multiple clean energy features such as a solar heating water system , a solar kitchen, a trombe wall and Moser solar lamps . + IR Arquitectura Via Archdaily Photography by Bujnovsky Tamás via IR Arquitectura

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Solar-powered cabin is designed for ultimate flexibility and mobility

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