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

Experimental prefab home eschews fossil fuels in Geneva

December 4, 2018 by  
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In the centrally located town of Lancy in Geneva, Switzerland, a compact and experimental timber home bucks the local archetype for concrete-based housing in favor of a more eco-friendly alternative. Swiss architect Leopold Banchini collaborated with engineer Marc Walgenwitz to design the light-filled abode — dubbed the Casa CCFF — using a prefabrication system that minimizes construction costs as well as waste. The small urban home was built for energy efficiency and assembled in just a few days by local carpenters.   Built overlooking Geneva’s industrial train station, Casa CCFF references its surrounding industrial environment with a sawtooth shed roof that floods the interior with natural light . Connections to nature, however, dominate the majority of the design, which boasts two interior gardens on the upper level and carefully framed views of the landscape for indoor-outdoor living. The primary living spaces are located on the open-plan upper floor while the ground level features a much smaller built footprint and is mainly used as a covered outdoor space for living and parking. The prefabricated home can be understood as a series of square modules laid out in a square four-by-four module plan. The compact ground floor, for instance, is made up of three modules: a single outdoor living space and a double-width interior space that connects to the upper floor via a spiral staircase. Upstairs, an open-plan layout with a kitchen, living room and dining area takes up roughly three-quarters of the area while the remaining space is dedicated to the two interior gardens, bedroom and bathroom. Related: Yves Béhar designs compact, prefab homes to tackle the housing crisis Casa CCFF is a domestic factory floating above an untouched garden. The house is built almost entirely in wood, pushing the structural capacities of this natural and sustainable material to its limits. The use of wood for the home also helps reduce the use of concrete to a bare minimum. By incorporating high insulation values and maximizing solar gain , a small heat pump allows the modern home to avoid the use of fossil fuels. + Leopold Banchini Images by Dylan Perrenoud

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Experimental prefab home eschews fossil fuels in Geneva

Robotically fabricated Wander Wood Pavilion pops up in just over three days

December 4, 2018 by  
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Traditional materials and futuristic technologies have come together in the Wander Wood Pavilion, a large-scale robotically fabricated structure completed by students at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. Installed as a temporary addition to the campus grounds, the experimental pavilion was fabricated and assembled in just over three days using a state-of-the-art eight-axis industrial robot at the UBC Center for Advanced Wood Processing . Constructed with built-in seating, the sculptural installation was built mainly of wood, a renewable material selected for its sustainable features and ability to store carbon. Completed in October 2018, the Wander Wood Pavilion is the result of the Robot Made: Large-Scale Robotic Timber Fabrication in Architecture workshop led by David Correa of the University of Waterloo, Oliver David Krieg of LWPAC, and SALA professor AnnaLisa Meyboom. A large team of students, staff, faculty and external partners worked on the project as part of the university’s SEEDS Sustainability Program , an initiative that aims to advance campus sustainability through multidisciplinary projects. Forestry Industry Innovation provided the funding. “Starting with computational tools for parametric design, structural principles for wood construction, robotic CNC milling and digital workflow management, participants were provided with a unique insight into the new opportunities and challenges of advanced design to fabrication processes for timber structures,” explains the team in their project statement. “Parametric design and robotic fabrication are disruptive new technologies in architecture that allow us to build high performance structures of unprecedented formal complexity.” Related: Provocative timber horn explores the hypnotic pull of the unknown The sinuous and latticed form of the sculptural Wander Wood Pavilion not only helps activate the surrounding public area, but its curved shape also creates a cocoon-like environment for visitors using the built-in bench seating. The research workshop installation was installed next to the university fountain in the Martha Piper Plaza. + UBC Center for Advanced Wood Processing Images by David Correa

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Robotically fabricated Wander Wood Pavilion pops up in just over three days

Harvard unveils Snhetta-designed HouseZero for sustainable, plus-energy living

December 4, 2018 by  
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The Harvard Center for Green Buildings and Cities (CGBC) at the Harvard Graduate School of Design has just completed HouseZero, an energy-positive living lab for sustainable architecture. Designed by renowned architecture firm Snøhetta , along with Skanska Teknikk Norway , the groundbreaking building aims to produce more energy over its lifetime than it consumes. Hundreds of sensors are embedded inside of HouseZero to continually monitor energy performance and advance data-driven research to help produce more energy-efficient and sustainable architecture. Billed as “an energy-positive prototype for ultra-efficiency,” the HouseZero living lab is set in a retrofitted pre-1940s house in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The renovated structure aims to meet near zero-energy targets for heating and cooling, use zero electric lighting during the day, produce zero carbon emissions and operate with 100 percent natural ventilation. The working prototype will serve as a research tool for understanding energy inefficiencies in existing buildings as a means to curb the current and future building stock’s impact on climate change while simultaneously helping property owners save on energy costs. “HouseZero’s flexible, data-driven infrastructure will allow us to further research that demystifies building behavior, and design the next generation of ultra-efficient structures,” said Ali Malkawi, founding director of the Harvard Center for Green Buildings and Cities and the creator and leader of the HouseZero project. “By creating both a prototype and an infrastructure for long-term research, we hope to raise interest in ultra-efficient retrofits and inspire substantial shifts in the design and operation of buildings.” Related: Snøhetta designs an energy-positive data center to fight climate change A combination of low-tech and cutting-edge technologies is used in HouseZero to meet the ambitious energy targets. In addition to passive design strategies and operable windows, for instance, the building is equipped with a window actuation system that uses sensors and a computer system to automatically open and close windows. Using data collected over time, the building will “adjust itself constantly” throughout the seasons to create a healthy and thermally optimized environment year-round. + HouseZero Photographer Credit: Michael Grimm

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Harvard unveils Snhetta-designed HouseZero for sustainable, plus-energy living

Gorgeous prefab cabin is embedded into the mountainous Norwegian landscape

November 19, 2018 by  
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Located in the mountainous area of Filefjell, Norway, a stunning, solitary cabin peeks out over the snow-covered landscape. Designed by Oslo-based firm  Helen & Hard Architects , the beautiful Gubrandslie Cabin, which is made out of prefabricated solid wood panels, is designed to provide a low-impact shelter that can withstand the extreme climate characterized by harsh wind and snow. Located on the border of Jotunheimen National Park, the private, 1,184-square-foot home is sturdy enough to withstand the weather while simultaneously leaving  minimal impact on the pristine landscape. Large snow falls can wreck havoc on structures in this area, so the architects built the cabin to be inherently sheltered from the elements. Related: Contemporary ski chalet boasts gorgeous panoramic views and a low-energy footprint The first step in creating the  resilient design was to research the local climate and geography. Using extensive wind studies as a guide, the architects formed the home’s volume into an L-shape to mimic the slope of the landscape. Additionally, the cabin is integrated deep into the terrain to protect it from the elements. The roofs are slightly slanted in order to make it easier for the wind and snow to blow over the structure, avoiding heavy snow loads. Using the same climate to the home’s advantage, the architects were focused on creating a serene living space that took full advantage of the stunning, wintry landscape. The volume of the cabin is divided into three levels that follow the topography. The ground floor, which is embedded into the landscape, houses a sauna as well as the garage and plenty of storage. On the first floor, an all-glass facade makes up the entryway, which leads into a spacious, open-plan living area. The living, kitchen and dining space was orientated to face another wall of floor-to-ceiling glass panels , providing breathtaking views of the exterior landscape. On the back side of the cabin, which houses the bedrooms, clerestory windows follow the length of the structure, allowing natural light to flow into the spaces without sacrificing privacy. + Helen & Hard Architects Via Archdaily Photography by Rasmus Norlander and Ragnar Hartvig via Helen & Hard Architects

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Gorgeous prefab cabin is embedded into the mountainous Norwegian landscape

MIT develops a sustainable, mass timber-building prototype modeled after the longhouse

September 27, 2018 by  
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As sustainability measures become increasingly important in new construction, architects around the world are turning toward mass timber — even for large-scale projects. A workshop at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is dedicated to exploring the design and engineering potential of wood-based technologies and recently unveiled one such example that can even be turned into an energy producer. Dubbed the Longhouse, the mass timber -building prototype is modeled after the traditional building type of the same name that has been historically used as a place for community gatherings. Led by research scientist John Klein, the cross-disciplinary team at the MIT Mass Timber Design workshop that developed the Longhouse prototype studied how mass timber products can be used to create modern buildings. Research has shown that mass timber structures have a lower carbon footprint than their conventional building counterparts and can be engineered for substantial strength and fire resistance. Moreover, greater use of mass timber technology could lead to improved forest management and restoration. The MIT Longhouse prototype would serve as a multifunctional building that could accommodate a variety of events, from co-working, exercise classes, social gatherings, exhibitions, lectures and more. To create a flexible and open-plan interior, the building would be engineered with a series of timber laminated veneer lumber (LVL) arches that are 40 feet tall at the central peak and span 50 feet across. Each arch uses a thin-walled triangular profile and would be prefabricated in sections and then assembled on site for a fast and efficient construction process. Related: The nation’s largest timber office building is coming to Newark The building is also designed to follow passive solar principles while its sawtooth roof would allow for ample natural daylighting and could accommodate solar panels. The MIT Mass Timber Design workshop will present its Longhouse design at the Maine Mass Timber Conference this October. + MIT Mass Timber Design workshop Images via MIT Mass Timber Design

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MIT develops a sustainable, mass timber-building prototype modeled after the longhouse

The Clifftop House is dramatically perched atop a challenging cliff edge

September 27, 2018 by  
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When Brisbane design studio Joe Adsett Architects was asked to redevelop a “poorly constructed ‘character house’” in Teneriffe into a modern abode for a family of seven, the team faced several challenges. One was the existing property, which could not be raised or lifted, meaning that the only buildable land left was a small sliver that lay between the existing home and clifftop. Fortunately, the clients were amenable to the idea of building a three-story cliff-edge extension on the challenging site, which led to the creation of the Clifftop House, an energy-efficient home with dramatic views of the river to the northeast. In spite of a landslide that occurred during the design process, the architects said the clients held fast to the idea of a clifftop home, “recognizing the advantages outweighed the risks.” To accommodate the family of seven, the architects began with the floor plan of the existing home and divided it into quadrants — the rear quadrant connects to the extension — and split the bedrooms between the original house and the extension while placing the main communal areas on the ground floor. An additional family room and accessible green roof are located on the third floor. The extension was mainly built of concrete and set on a very thin slab — a feat accomplished thanks to close collaboration with the engineer and 3D modeling software. The concrete facade was deliberately exposed with a weathered finish, while timber window frames and cladding help soften the Brutalist expression. The use of thick concrete also has the advantage of thermal mass. “Clifftop House makes a meaningful contribution to innovation and excellence in environmental sustainability through the concrete structure being used in a manner similar to ‘reverse brick veneer construction’,” the architects said. Related: Modscape’s Cliff House hangs perilously over a cliff’s edge in Australia To minimize unwanted external heat gain, the cladding is isolated from the walls with timber battens and wall wrap. Recessed windows are fitted with low-E glass and solid timber louvers are also shaded with deep concrete eaves. Natural light penetrates deep into the home thanks to central voids, which also allow for cross ventilation. A 22-meter-long swimming pool placed along the cliff edge also promotes cooling breezes. + Joe Adsett Architects Images by Scott Burrows

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The Clifftop House is dramatically perched atop a challenging cliff edge

A modular extension boasts a seamless indoor-outdoor living experience

July 25, 2018 by  
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Modular architecture and sustainable strategies blend together in the Ivanhoe Extension, a bold and contemporary addition to a suburban home in Melbourne. Designed by Australian practice Modscape , the two-story extension not only creates more space for the clients’ growing family, but also offers a new way to embrace their beautifully landscaped backyard. The house is equipped with many energy-efficient solutions such as solar passive heating, rainwater harvesting and double glazing with thermal break frames. Located behind a weatherboard house, the Ivanhoe Extension is a handsome structure clad in sustainably sourced blackbutt timber and Colorbond Diversaclad. The ground floor is fitted with full-height glazing for a seamless indoor-outdoor living experience, while the upper floor is wrapped in a curved battened screen to ensure privacy and protection from the sun. The new addition houses an open-plan living space, dining area and kitchen on the ground floor, and the master suite is found on the upper level. The original house has been turned over to the “kids domain.” “A new double?height entrance space has been created in the middle of the house providing a clean separation and demarcation between existing and new,” Modscape explained. “As soon as you walk in the front door, your eye is drawn up to the circular skylight, which casts directed light to the open stairs below. To accommodate for the sloping site, the extension is terraced down the block with a slight change in levels between the original house (which has now become the kids domain), the entrance way and the new modular living area. This helps to subtly define different zones, while the same oak flooring used throughout provides continuity and flow.” Related: This highly insulated modular home is completely self-sustaining The modular components were prefabricated offsite within a factory so that the clients could continue living in their house free of disruptions. Demolition and site preparation took approximately three weeks — the clients moved out four weeks prior — and installation of the modules took only one day. + Modscape Images by John Madden

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A modular extension boasts a seamless indoor-outdoor living experience

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 Spanish landscape

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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