Foldable prefab cabin offers endless possibilities

February 18, 2021 by  
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Latvian startup Brette Haus has created an incredibly versatile tiny cabin that can unfold and be installed within only three hours. These foldable prefab cabins are inspired by Scandinavian style and come in three models: Compact, Rustic and Urban. The models range from 237 to 506 square feet and each comes with a kitchen, living-room, bathroom and bedroom. Perfect for businesses that need to set up and move facilities quickly, these tiny cabins can also be used for events or to house seasonal workers. They would work great as an option for glamping or as pop-up stores as well. The separate units can even be attached to one another to create a larger structure thanks to the hinging mechanisms. Related: The top 7 amazing tiny homes we’ve seen this year When it comes to the versatile design, the secret is in the hinges. According to the company, the unique hinge system allows the cabin to fold up and reinstall up to 100 times. There’s also no need for a permanent foundation, because the building can be placed on any leveled base (though it suggests incorporating a screw pile foundation, which is removable and relocatable right along with the cabin). The installation process takes two people about three hours (all you need is a crane truck to move it). Plus, if buyers want to set up in a spot without electricity or water hook-ups, solar battery kits or water pumping stations are easy additions. For materials, the company chose durable cross-laminated timber and natural, recyclable materials. These wooden panels are manufactured with precise measurements for low construction waste and are made of renewable wood from sustainably managed forests . The CLT panels also offer natural ventilation and efficient temperature balance. Inside, the homes offer a blank slate for buyers to add their personal touches. Thanks to the simple design, the company is able to keep construction costs down with prices starting at just $23,000. + Brette Haus Via Dwell Images via Brette Haus

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Foldable prefab cabin offers endless possibilities

Tourists could spread COVID-19 to gorillas in East Africa

February 18, 2021 by  
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A study by researchers at Oxford Brookes University shows that tourists may be spreading COVID-19 to gorillas in the wild. The study was carried out through an analysis of about 1,000 photos from Instagram posts. The researchers noted that tourists were taking photos too close to gorillas, a situation that may lead to disease transmission. Most of the photos analyzed were from people visiting mountain gorillas in East Africa. “The risk of disease transmission between visitors and gorillas is very concerning,” said Gaspard Van Hamme, lead author and Oxford Brookes University Primate Conservation alumnus. “It is vital that we strengthen and enforce tour regulations to ensure gorilla trekking practices do not further threaten these already imperiled great apes.” Related: 2 gorillas at the San Diego Zoo test positive for COVID-19 The researchers’ concerns draw from the fact that apes have been infected by the virus from humans before. In January, gorillas at the San Diego Zoo were infected with the virus, which was passed on from their caretakers. Magdalena Svensson, biology lecturer at Oxford Brookes University, noted that most tourists do not wear masks when interacting with the animals . “In the photos we analyzed, we found that face masks were rarely worn by tourists visiting gorillas, and that brings the potential for disease transmission between people and the gorillas they visit,” Svensson said. “With people all over the world getting more used to wearing face masks we have hope that in the future wearing face masks will become common practice in gorilla trekking.” Mountain gorillas are native to East Africa, with the largest population in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda. Their population had been on a downward trend due to hunting and other human activities. In recent years, legislation and strict policies have seen the numbers start to climb. Today, there are 1,063 gorillas in the region that must be protected. According to Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka of Conservation Through Public Health, Uganda, the new study shows the need for responsibility from tourists. “This research provides a valuable perspective on how much tourists are willing to share their too-close encounters with mountain gorillas through Instagram, which creates expectations for future tourists,” Dr. Kalema-Zikusoka said. “It highlights a great need for responsible tourism to provide adequate protection while minimizing disease transmission, especially now during the COVID-19 pandemic.” + People and Nature Via Oxford Brookes University Image via Thomas Fuhrmann

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Tourists could spread COVID-19 to gorillas in East Africa

This prefab tiny house is designed to be indestructible

February 15, 2021 by  
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Designed by Argentina-based Grandio, a company run by a group of architecture and engineering teachers, HÜGA House is a safe, strong tiny home with the added benefits of affordability and flexibility. The prefab tiny house is made out of precast concrete to make it nearly indestructible, and it can be installed in just one day without a foundation. After noticing their students’ intense aspirations to explore the world unhindered by debt or roots, the designers at Grandio used their 77 years of combined experience to create a transportable tiny home that can withstand even the harshest of environments. Inspired by the bitter landscapes of Patagonia, HÜGA House’s concrete shell gives it enough strength to combat anything from snow and fire to humidity and mountain terrains. According to the architects, the house can even stay intact after being buried. Related: The top 7 amazing tiny homes we’ve seen this year Looking inside, you’d never know that HÜGA House was built to almost bunker-style standards. The 45-square-meter plan is complemented by a set of large, panoramic windows, giving it plenty of natural light. There’s enough space for a small bedroom, a living room complete with a couch, bar-style seating and several other creature comforts. The sliding windows can be shuttered with folding metal screens that act as an awning when folded upward. The prefab tiny house comes in one- or two-bedroom models, though both options include the supplementary mezzanine , bathroom, built-in storage, a kitchen and a dual living or dining space. HÜGA House borrows its name from hygge, the Danish word for comfort in one’s own space, in nature and in the company of others — a concept that is all too apparent in the cozy atmosphere Grandio has created in such a small footprint. Currently available for preorder in North America, HÜGA House is manufactured offsite and installed virtually wherever the client desires within just 24 hours. Additionally, the prefab tiny house doesn’t require any type of foundation, so it can be easily picked up and moved to multiple locations. + Grandio Photography by Gonzalo Viramonte via Grandio

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This prefab tiny house is designed to be indestructible

Hyper-efficient prefab home hovers above a wetland in Minnesota

January 28, 2021 by  
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Minneapolis-based prefab purveyors Alchemy Architects has completed the Lake Elmo weeHouse, one of the newest additions to its growing portfolio of weeHouses, a series of eco-friendly homes built with the firm’s patented prefabricated housing system. Named after its location in Minnesota, the Lake Elmo weeHouse demonstrates efficient and space-saving design by fitting three bedrooms, two bathrooms and an open layout in 990 square feet without compromising a sense of spaciousness or views. The home is elevated above the ground on helical piers embedded 22 feet underground to minimize site impact. Completed in 2019, the Lake Elmo weeHouse was commissioned by clients who split their time between Australia and Minnesota. As a result, the architects wrapped the home in low-maintenance and durable weathering steel as well as black cedar cladding to recede the building into the forested landscape. The simple, boxy design responds to the project’s constraints that include a modest budget as well as a maximum zoning height of 16 feet above the flood plain, which was also a major factor of the project. Related: Alchemy Architects build tiny prefab weeHouses that connect with nature Surrounding views of the forest and the need for privacy from neighboring plots informed the placement of Lake Elmo weeHouse’s many windows, including the full-height glazed doors that slide open to connect the living spaces to a wide, enclosed deck for a seamless indoor/outdoor living experience. A spacious entry porch provides additional elevated outdoor space. Inside, the bright, light-filled interiors provide a striking contrast with the dark, weathered steel facade. A kitchen located in the open-plan heart of the home draws the eye with its silver accents, while a built-in bench provides views of the wetland at the end of the hallway. To minimize visual clutter, mechanical equipment is tucked underneath a trap door in the kitchen. In-floor hydronic heating keeps the home warm and cozy during Minnesota’s long winters.  + Alchemy Architects Photography by Brooks Geenen via Alchemy Architects

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Hyper-efficient prefab home hovers above a wetland in Minnesota

Stefano Boeri Architetti designs prefab COVID-19 vaccination centers for Italy

January 15, 2021 by  
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Stefano Boeri Architetti — the Milan-based architecture firm best known for the Vertical Forest skyscrapers — has partnered with a team of consultants to design and develop the architectural and communication concepts for Italy’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign. All aspects of the project, which was completed free of charge, are united by a floral logo of a pink primrose and the motto “With a flower, Italy comes back to life.” The campaign also includes the design of solar-powered, prefabricated pavilions that are designed to pop up with speed across Italy’s squares and public spaces to serve as vaccination distribution centers.  The COVID-19 vaccination campaign was commissioned by Domenico Arcuri, the Italian Special Commissioner for the COVID-19 emergency. Arcuri unveiled the conceptual designs to the public in mid-December. In addition to the designs of a campaign logo and temporary prefabricated pavilions, the project also includes proposals for informational totems and communications strategies for combating vaccine skepticism. Related: Modular Emergency Hospital 19 pops up in Italy in just 3 months “With the image of a springtime flower, we wanted to create an architecture that would convey a symbol of serenity and regeneration,” Stefano Boeri said in a press release. “Getting vaccinated will be an act of civic responsibility, love for others and the rediscovery of life. If this virus has locked us up in hospitals and homes, the vaccine will bring us back into contact with life and the nature that surrounds us.” Circular, prefabricated pavilions would be set up in public places to administer the vaccine; these pavilions are designed for easy dismantling and reassembly. Each timber-framed structure would be wrapped in textiles made of different recyclable, naturally biodegradable and water-resistant materials. Self-supporting fabric partitions would also be used to organize the interior. The circular roof, which would feature a large-scale floral logo, would also be topped with enough photovoltaic panels to generate all of the building’s electricity needs. + Stefano Boeri Architetti Images via Stefano Boeri Architetti

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LAVA designs a cyclist bridge to make Heidelberg bike-friendly

September 7, 2020 by  
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LAVA , schlaich bergermann partner and Latz + Partner have been awarded first prize in an international competition for their design of a cycle and pedestrian bridge in the German university town of Heidelberg. The winning proposal weaves together functionality with beautiful, minimalist design that is visually appealing both up-close and from afar. The 700-meter-long bridge will cross over the Neckar River and connect urban developments from north to south. Commissioned by the City of Heidelberg and the International Building Exhibition (IBA) Heidelberg, the winning proposal was praised by the jury for its “large, curved gesture.” The bridge will be built with seven spans measuring 60 meters each and a steel superstructure connected to slender prefabricated supports of ultra-high-strength, fiber-proven concrete. The steel-and-concrete construction with LEDs embedded in slender steel handrails will be elegant, minimalist and restrained in appearance. Related: LAVA designs carbon-neutral LIFE Hamburg with an edible green roof The inner-city bridge also responds to the different neighborhoods it traverses. For example, the bridge widens above the Neckar River — 105 meters of the bridge will be above water — to form a seating landscape with viewing balconies of the water. When crossing Genisenau Park, the bridge’s curved and column-free form is designed to frame the landscape and shield it from traffic. Earth ramps and stairs will make the bridge fully accessible to all users, while pedestrian and cyclists can enjoy fast transit thanks to the intersection-free design. “It’s LAVA’s first major bridge project and continues our efforts to make infrastructure of high public value contributing both to liveability and sustainability,” said Tobias Wallisser, director of LAVA. “Anything that contributes to the reduction of car traffic and provides pedestrian promenades increases the quality of life.” The new bridge will connect the train station and districts to the south with the Neuenheimer Feld and the express bike path in the north. + LAVA Images via LAVA, schlaich bergermann partner and Latz + Partner

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LAVA designs a cyclist bridge to make Heidelberg bike-friendly

Modular hanging suites are built to drop into any setting

August 21, 2020 by  
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Located in the tourist-friendly Spanish village of Santa Maria de Palautordera, the Drop Box N-240 is a transportable, modular suite that is ready to “drop” into practically any location via crane. The models, designed by In-Tenta, are manufactured offsite, transported and quickly assembled. Along with wood as a renewable and sustainable building material for the frame, suites come with either natural wood cladding or composite panels made of cement and wood particles as exterior finish. The hotel property provides views of the Montseny Massif mountain range in Montseny Natural Park, included in the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves. This park is located in the Catalan pre-coastal mountain range, 25 kilometers from the stunning Mediterranean Sea and 50 kilometers from bustling Barcelona. Related: This prefab treehouse can be assembled in merely a few days In a project designed to increase in size without interfering with the natural environment, the prefab suite is suspended in the middle of the forest with a panoramic view over the trees. The floor plan includes a living room, a fully equipped bathroom and a platform with space for a queen-sized bed. The pod-like suite and attached terrace is installed like a treehouse , elevated over a metal structure to adhere to the sloped terrain while minimizing impact upon the site. The entire layout is designed for minimal occupation of land, giving the rooms a small, yet comfortable, ambiance. The cement-wood combination panels are low-maintenance, non-toxic, impermeable to water and aren’t susceptible to damage from living organisms. There are also several colors to choose from to customize the suite. The design company can also customize the floor plan depending on a client’s needs. In the case of the Santa Maria de Palautordera property, the entrance door is made of the same cement and wood mixture that makes up the rest of the facade, rather than the default transparent glass. The standard Drop Box N-240 layout includes a kitchen and a shower, but this particular suite ditched the kitchen and swapped a shower for a bathtub to save space. + In-Tenta Photography by estudibasic via In-Tenta

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Modular hanging suites are built to drop into any setting

Luxury prefab Costa Rican home features dramatic wing-like roof

June 25, 2020 by  
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In a remote jungle on the hilltops of Costa Rica’s Santa Teresa province, San José-based architecture firm  Studio Saxe  has completed Santiago Hills Villa, a luxury home that embraces nature in more ways than one. To ensure that all rooms of the villa have access to ocean views, the architects created a zigzag floor plan that turns the bedrooms and living spaces sideways to face the shoreline. The unconventional home, which resembles a series of interconnected villas, is topped with a large white roof that protects the interior from unwanted solar gain .  Given the project brief’s emphasis on a connection with nature, Studio Saxe sought to minimize the home’s environmental footprint. The architects decided to  prefabricate  the home’s light steel frame off-site to minimize site intervention and ensure quality construction for the remote property. The use of a steel frame with sturdy I beams allowed the architects to install full-height glazed openings with enough support for the angular roof.  “Every space in the home has been angled to view the ocean, and this twist creates a geometric relationship between the roofline and the spaces that became the primary element of design that both addresses the need for large overhangs (for  climate control  and comfort) but also generates a literal connection between the view and every space,” Studio Saxe explains on its website. Related: Costa Rican surf hotel gets stunning new athletic center Contrasting with the lush green surroundings, the minimalist and modern home is predominately white, serving as a canvas that reflects the changing colors of the jungle. In addition to featuring incredible views and a reduced site impact, Santiago Hills Villa also embraces nature with its adherence to  passive solar  principles. The home is oriented to take advantage of winds for natural cooling, while the wing-like roof’s long overhangs protect the interior. The roof is also engineered to allow for rainwater collection. + Studio Saxe Images by Andres Garcia Lachner

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Scientists support use of reusable containers during COVID-19 pandemic

June 25, 2020 by  
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Since the start of the pandemic, there have been concerns that using reusable containers and bags at grocery stores and cafes could enhance the spread of the virus. However, such claims have now been refuted by a team of 119 scientists. The team, which includes scientists from 18 countries, has published a document stating that reusable containers are safe. Many cafes, restaurants and grocery stores around the world have stopped accepting reusable cups, bags and other containers for fear that these items would spread COVID-19. Environmentalists have pushed for a long time to have restaurants and other businesses adopt the use of reusable containers. But these gains made over the years risk being eroded almost overnight if people continue to revert to single-use containers. Environmentalists are now accusing plastic manufactures of exploiting the coronavirus pandemic to lobby for single-use plastics. Related: COVID-19 leads to plastic ban reversals The scientists involved in reassuring the public include epidemiologists, virologists, biologists and doctors. They have compiled a statement that encourages restaurants and individuals to continue using reusable containers as long as public health requirements are observed. The team said that reusable items are safe as long as high standards of hygiene are observed. One of the signatories to the statement, professor Charlotte Williams of Oxford University, explained that COVID-19 should not stop the efforts made toward a sustainable future. “I hope we can come out of the COVID-19 crisis more determined than ever to solve the pernicious problems associated with plastics in the environment,” Williams said. According to the scientists’ statement, the coronavirus primarily spreads through aerosol droplets and not from contact with surfaces. Although surfaces can transfer the virus, washing reusable containers is much safer than relying on single-use ones. The scientists explained that most people do not bother cleaning single-use containers under the assumption that they are safe. Unfortunately, the virus can get in contact with any surface, including single-use containers. Europe plans to ban all single-use plastics starting next year. There is concern that plastic manufacturers are now using the coronavirus pandemic to delay the ban. Such a move would be detrimental, considering that plastic waste contributes 80% of all marine pollution . + Health Expert Statement Via The Guardian Image via Goran Ivos

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Scientists support use of reusable containers during COVID-19 pandemic

Research facility minimizes its carbon footprint to attract international talent

June 16, 2020 by  
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Spain’s coastal city of Badalona has recently welcomed the Centre for Comparative Medicine and Bio-Image, a new research facility designed to meet high standards of energy efficiency and sustainability. Pilar Calderon and Marc Folch of Barcelona-based architecture firm Calderon-Folch Studio teamed up with Pol Sarsanedas and landscape designer Lluís Corbella to create a site-specific building that would offer the highest levels of comfort as a means to attract and retain both local and international talent. Embedded into the landscape, the compact facility was constructed with a prefabricated wooden framework and clad in larch to blend in with the nearby forest. Because the Centre for Comparative Medicine and Bio-Image is located on sloped terrain, the architects placed the portion of the building containing the research floors partly underground to take advantage of thermal mass for stable climatic conditions year-round. Building into the landscape has also allowed the architects to create two access levels: one used as a general entrance for the administrative area, and the other for logistic purposes for the scientific-technical area. The separation of areas by levels optimizes building operations and adheres to the strict requirements of biological containment. Related: Green-roofed Honey Bee Research Centre targets LEED Gold “The new Centre for Comparative Medicine and Bio-Image holds a research center of the first order,” the designers explained in a project statement. “A research facility based on ethical research criteria, technical and functional complexity, and comfort features that have been resolved in an efficient and sustainable way that strongly considers its relationship with the environment.” Natural materials, large glazed openings and naturalized exterior spaces visually tie the research facility to the environment. Eco-friendly considerations were also taken with the use of a modular , lightweight wooden framework with loose-fill cellulose and structural insulated panels that minimize material waste. Moreover, the building follows passive solar principles. The research facility is equipped with high-performance energy and air-flow recycling technologies as well as a 250-square-meter rainwater collection tank for sanitary and irrigation purposes. + Calderon-Folch Studio Photography by José Hevia via Calderon-Folch Studio

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Research facility minimizes its carbon footprint to attract international talent

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