Cover installs its first prefab dwelling for the masses in L.A.

October 12, 2017 by  
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Thoughtful prefabricated design for the masses just moved one big step closer to reality. Tech company Cover just completed and installed its first computer-designed dwelling—and it’s begun taking pre-orders worldwide and delivering in Los Angeles. Cover, which describes their work as “doing for homes what Tesla is doing for the car,” uses proprietary computer algorithms to design beautiful custom spaces crafted to meet the user’s needs and optimized to meet rigorous Passive House standards. Cover is setting out to revolutionize the building industry with its streamlined process that combines precision-made prefabricated panels with proprietary technology. Cover’s computer algorithms create high-quality floor plans customized to the client’s needs as well as property and zoning constraints in as little as three days. The custom-designed units can be built to sizes ranging from 100 to 1,200 square feet and can be used as standalone homes with full kitchens and bathrooms. Energy efficiency is a big component of Cover’s units. Each modular unique dwelling will be built in Cover’s Los Angeles factory to rigorous Passive House standards and boast 80% more energy efficiency than the average home. Floor-to-ceiling windows and sliding doors let in ample natural light, while the low-slope roof is optimized for photovoltaics . Radiant heating and cooling provide consistent and comfortable temperatures inside the airtight building envelope. Its steel structure is 100% recyclable. Related: Cover’s $50k algorithmic tiny houses are 80% more efficient than conventional homes “Unlike other prefab companies and builders, Cover is a technology company first, armed with a team of full-time software engineers, designers, manufacturing engineers, and architects who have developed technology that streamlines the entire process of designing, buying, permitting, manufacturing and assembling Cover units,” said Alexis Rivas, Co-Founder and CEO of Cover. “We focus on the quality of the spaces and the little details – like the way light reflects off surfaces, how a door handle feels or the framing of the view – to transform the living experience for our customers and ensure a more efficient, smarter, and thoughtful way of living.” The first Cover unit is a 320-square-foot space that will be used as a music studio and office. Cover plans to produce 150 units per year in its Los Angeles factory. + Cover

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Cover installs its first prefab dwelling for the masses in L.A.

Oxford, UK to create first zero-emissions zone in the world

October 12, 2017 by  
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Oxford , England, with its history of learning dating back to the 11th century, is now shifting into the future with an electric-vehicle only zone in the city center. In banning all internal combustion engine vehicles, the city is establishing what it says is the first zero-emissions zone in the world. Starting in 2020, six streets in Oxford’s city center will be free of smaller gas-guzzling vehicles, including buses and taxis. By 2035, the ban will have expanded to all fossil-fuel powered vehicles and will encompass the entire city center. While such a dramatic change in the city center’s urban design may encourage less driving, thus less greenhouse gas emissions, the zone was inspired by a need to reduce levels of nitrogen dioxide, most of which comes from car exhaust, by three-fourths. Chronic exposure to nitrogen dioxide can cause respiratory problems and eye irritation. Data from the World Health Organization also indicates that Oxford is one of eleven British cities to exceed the safe limits of toxic particles known as PM10s and PM2.5s. A “step change” is urgently needed to prevent air pollution from “damaging the health” of Oxford residents, said city councilor John Tanner. Related: GM’s plans for “all-electric-future” spell doom for fossil fuel industry The switch-over plan is expected to cost Oxford city government, bus companies, and local businesses approximately £7 million to replace the fossil-fuel consuming vehicles, including all municipal vehicles, with electric vehicles. An additional £7 million will be spent to build compliance infrastructure , such as CCTV cameras with plate number recognition technology. Those who still choose to bring their old fashioned vehicles into the city center after the ban will face a significant fine. To sustain such a project, Oxford would require sustained commitment from local, regional, and perhaps federal government. Via The Guardian Images via  Martijn van Sabben ,  Giuseppe Milo

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Oxford, UK to create first zero-emissions zone in the world

Net-zero prefab home stacks together and expands like childrens blocks

October 10, 2017 by  
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Wish you could expand the size of your home without breaking the bank? A group of architecture students from the University of California, Berkeley and University of Denver created RISE, an affordable and sustainable housing solution that lets you do just that. Conceived for urban infill lots, the adaptable and scalable solar-powered home stacks together like children’s blocks and can expand up to three stories with up to five units of multifamily living. RISE—which stands for Residential, Inviting, Stackable, Efficient—was designed specifically for Richmond, California, a coastal city struggling with a shortage of affordable, sustainable housing. Flexibility is key to the RISE design, which boasts customizable floor plans with moveable walls and windows to meet the needs of diverse occupants. The moveable walls, installed on a track system, can roll to the sides to transform three-quarters of the interior into an open-plan area or can be used to delineate multiple rooms. Transforming furniture and modular cabinetry support this versatile floor plan. Modular, prefabricated construction makes the home scalable and stackable, and gives homeowners the ability to transform their home from a single-story family unit into a multigenerational dwelling. The house can be constructed efficiently without specialized labor. Sustainability is also an important factor to RISE, which is designed to achieve net-zero energy consumption and is powered by solar energy. Daylighting and access to natural ventilation is optimized throughout the home, while wool insulation helps lock in stable and comfortable indoor temperatures. A green wall of moss covers the north facade. RISE was completed as University of California, Berkeley and University of Denver’s entry to the Solar Decathlon 2017 competition, after which the home will be donated to the Denver Habitat for Humanity, which will install it on a permanent lot and sell it to a family in need. Related: Transformable solar building changes shape to teach people how to live sustainably “At $200,000, a single RISE unit is less expensive than 72% of homes in the city,” wrote the students . “Whereas this fact is significant, what really increases the affordability of RISE is that five units can fit onto a single lot that traditionally would host just one home. The RISE home’s stacked design and large open roof-deck spaces allows greater density and a lower price point per unit while preserving the open feel of a neighborhood home, which residents both need and desire to build community. Though designed specifically for Richmond, this approach would translate well to other urban centers that currently face a shortage of affordable housing.” + Solar Decathlon Images via Mike Chino

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Net-zero prefab home stacks together and expands like childrens blocks

Cozy egg-shaped treehouses offer stunning views of the Italian Alps

October 10, 2017 by  
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A pair of adorable egg-shaped treehouses is hidden away in one of Italy’s oldest forests. Architetto Beltrame Claudio designed these dreamy retreats, called Pigna, that overlook stunning views of the Italian Alps. Inspired by the shape and texture of pinecones, these shingled dwellings are carefully designed to blend into the landscape while serving as a cozy and elegant getaway. Pigna was originally conceived for an architecture competition in 2014 but was only recently completed this year in Malborghetto Valbruna, Italy. The 70-square-meter project comprises two treehouses and both are elevated ten meters off the ground with three stories each. The egg-shaped buildings were constructed from cross-laminated timber with wood fiber insulation. Larch shingles clad the curved exterior punctuated by two covered balconies framing views of the outdoors. Related: Egg-Shaped HemLoft Treehouse is Nestled in the Forests of Whistler “The project started from the desire to create a structure that is not only a refuge for man, but also a natural element of its environment, a mimesis of its surrounding,” wrote the architects. “From the tree, for the tree.” The treehouses are anchored to nearby trees. Both the first and second floors can be reached via outdoor stairs or a walkway. The first floor serves as panoramic covered terrace, whereas the second houses the main living areas with a small kitchen, bathroom, and living room. The bedroom with a double bed placed beneath a circular skylight is located on the third floor. Wooden stairs connect all three floors. + Architetto Beltrame Claudio Via ArchDaily Images via Architetto Beltrame Claudio , interior shots by Laura Tessaro

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Cozy egg-shaped treehouses offer stunning views of the Italian Alps

Tiny eco-minded home bathes owners in the dappled light of metal leaves

May 30, 2017 by  
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Who can resist an afternoon nap in dappled sunlight? Sleeping beneath a tree canopy can be wonderful but not always practical, so architect Eva Sopéoglou found a clever way to recreate the dramatic light effects indoors year-round. Inspired by ecological principles, Sopéoglou designed the Olive Tree House, a small prefabricated summer house in Halkidiki, Greece with metal textile-like cladding perforated with leaf patterns. Set on an olive grove hill overlooking the sea and nearby Mount Athos, the Olive Tree House is an experimental, bare-bones summer retreat. To minimize the building’s environmental footprint and waste , Sopéoglou used prefabricated and moveable building components. The 21-square-meter home is wrapped in a lightweight metallic surface perforated with a textile-like pattern inspired by the shade of olive trees. The metallic walls open up and expand the living space to the outdoors, while the interior is bathed in an ever-changing play of light and shadow. Related: Solar-powered Rotterdam home wraps around an olive tree “This building forms part of an enquiry into sustainability and the provision for human comfort in architecture, by questioning the definition of inside and outside inhabitable space,” wrote Sopéoglou. The Olive Tree House was oriented to the cardinal points and carefully placed following several site studies to optimize views, natural ventilation , lighting, and the creation of interesting shadows throughout the day. The home’s metallic textile-like cladding was developed in collaboration with metal fabricator METALSO using a CNC punching machine. + Eva Sopéoglou Via ArchDaily Images © Mariana Bisti

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Tiny eco-minded home bathes owners in the dappled light of metal leaves

Prefabricated lakeside cabin is a beautiful exercise in restraint

May 22, 2017 by  
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Family reunions can be loud affairs, a fact that one Torontonian family patriarch with ten energetic grandkids knows well. To secure peace and quiet while staying close to visiting family, a homeowner on Ontario’s Lake Simcoe hired Superkül architects to design a retreat within a retreat—a modern kid-free cabin separate from his existing bungalow. Dubbed Pointe Cabin, the prefabricated modern dwelling is a beautiful exercise in restraint that fully embraces the outdoors. The two-bedroom, 840-square-foot Pointe Cabin is sited close to the client’s original log cottage, purchased in the 1970s, at the edge of Cook’s Bay on the southern tip of Lake Simcoe. Although the new addition contrasts with its predecessor in its contemporary design, both cabins are linked by their predominant use of timber that blends the buildings into the wooded surroundings. Natural, locally sourced , and low maintenance materials were used in the indoor and outdoor living areas and include a mixture of cedar, white oak, and spruce-pine-fir. Related: Superkül Designs Canada’s First Active House To meet cost and efficiency targets, the single-story cabin was prefabricated offsite. The factory-built wall, floor, and roof panels were trucked to the site and the home was assembled in just a few days. The two-bedroom home is connected to the original cabin with a glazed passageway and contains a private entry, kitchenette, bathroom, and wrap-around deck. Floor-to-ceiling glass frames views of the lake and the landscape. + Superkül architects Images via Superkül architects , by Shai Gil

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Henning Larsen Architects unveils zero energy-targeted civic center for Toronto

May 10, 2017 by  
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Henning Larsen Architects has won a competition for Toronto’s new 500,000-square-foot Etobicoke Civic Centre. Designed in collaboration with Adamson Associates Architects and PMA Landscape Architects , the winning proposal will have a focus on sustainability and feature municipal offices, public gathering spaces, a library branch, recreation center, and a child care center. Build Toronto and the City of Toronto hosted the design competition and evaluated proposals on their environmental sustainability, flexibility, community identity, and pedestrian scale. The competition jury commended the winning team’s proposal for its “flexibility and an iconic design well suited for the community.” The winning design also demonstrates an ability to achieve a net zero target and builds on the context and history of the Etobicoke community. Related: Designers float plan to cover Toronto’s CN Tower with clip-on condos The proposed Etobicoke Civic Centre will break down the development’s large scale using different sized building volumes that help preserve a comfortable pedestrian-friendly scale. Site analysis and local thermal studies also informed building placement to protect against the summer solar heat gain and winter winds. Comfortable microclimates are improved further with green roofs and landscaping, and the total effect will prolong the comfortable outdoor season by up to five weeks, said Henning Larsen Architects. Via ArchDaily Images via Henning Larsen Architects

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Airtight prefab House in the Woods pops up in just ten days

May 8, 2017 by  
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Airtightness , minimal site disturbance, and speedy construction are just a few benefits of the striking House in the Woods. Designed by London-based architecture firm alma-nac , this prefabricated timber home is nestled within a particularly beautiful wooded lot in England’s South Downs National Park. Constructed from structural insulated panels (SIPs), the fully insulated, watertight building frame was erected in a speedy ten days. House in the Woods was built to replace a bungalow that had been in the family for over sixty years. Despite the new home’s contemporary appearance, the design pays homage to its traditional predecessor with its single-story dual-pitched appearance and occupies roughly the same 240-square-meter footprint. Ample glazing and large sliding doors connect the home with the landscape while a large deck and roof terrace extend living spaces to the outdoors. Related: Ancient Party Barn blends historic preservation with energy-smart design The adaptable interior can accommodate up to ten people in five bedrooms thanks to full-height sliding partitions . When not in use by guests, the home can be comfortably transformed to a one-bedroom home with a studio and study. Heat zoning allows for areas of the home to be controlled independently to minimize energy loss. Energy efficiency is further improved thanks to SIPs construction with rigid insulating lining that offer high levels of thermal efficiency and air tightness. + alma-nac Via ArchDaily Images © Jack Hobhouse

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Airtight prefab House in the Woods pops up in just ten days

Snhettas ready-made cabin can fit into any landscape

May 4, 2017 by  
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If you’ve ever dreamed of owning a Snøhetta -designed home, this may be the opportunity you’ve been looking for. The renowned Norwegian design firm just unveiled a beautiful prefabricated cabin designed to pop up in and complement any landscape. Created in collaboration with Rindalshytter , Norway’s leading producer of leisure homes, the Gapahuk cabin features an environmentally friendly footprint with off-grid capabilities. Designed for adaptability, Gapahuk can suit an array of climates and terrains from high mountaintops to lakesides. The cabin is built primarily from wood and uses a twisting roof that protects the interior from the elements. “Focus has been put on using high quality and low maintenance materials that can be locally sourced and are environmentally friendly,” writes Snøhetta. Related: Gorgeous forest home will fulfill your tiny cabin dreams Natural light pours into the Gapahuk through the cabin’s large windows that also frame views of the surrounding landscape. Created with an emphasis on social design, the compact cabin interior prioritizes common areas with its large open-plan kitchen, dining area, and living room. In contrast, the cabin’s three bedrooms are moderately sized. The building also features an outdoor patio space to emphasize connection with the outdoors. + Snøhetta

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Snhettas ready-made cabin can fit into any landscape

How high-tech Kasita microhomes could revolutionize homeownership

March 17, 2017 by  
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America’s affordable housing crisis is squeezing people out of cities, but one Harvard researcher believes he’s developed a beautiful and high-tech solution to the problem. In 2015, Jeff Wilson—also known as “Professor Dumpster” after his year-long dumpster living experiment—unveiled Kasita , a smart microhousing startup that aims at disrupting the housing market with prefabricated tiny homes that can pop up just about anywhere. After a couple years in development, Wilson just debuted the Kasita microhouse at SXSW this week with the announcement that the tiny stackable homes will be ready for nationwide delivery in June. Stylish, smart, and space-saving, the 352-square-foot (33 square meter) Kasita mobile home offers a beautiful split-level living space that uses transforming furniture , white walls, and ten-foot-high ceilings to make its small footprint feel airy and spacious. Most impressively, the home is outfitted with ultra-modern amenities and home automation such as the dynamic curtain-less windows that can be turned opaque with a smartphone app to the Amazon Alexa-powered lighting modes. The high-tech stackable homes can be moved around with a crane, placed virtually anywhere, and can be prefabricated in as little as three weeks. https://vimeo.com/207700762 Envisioned for installation in unused areas of land like vacant parking lots, the Kasita aims to keep land lease costs low by taking advantage of undevelopable real estate in prime urban areas. The flexibility and modularity of the Kasitas lend themselves for use as apartments, multi-family homes, student housing, workforce housing, and more. Related: Meet the Texas Professor Who Lives in a Dumpster The Kasita comes fully equipped with all the traditional home amenities—including a walk-in shower, fridge, convection oven, washer/dryer, cooktop, and queen-sized bed—as well as lots of space-saving storage and access to natural light. Each unit costs $139,000, which according to Wilson’s calculations comes out to an estimated $800 monthly mortgage not including land lease costs. Interested customers can pay $1,000 to hold a spot on the waitlist for preorders. + Kasita

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