Architects use simple, low-cost and efficient materials to create spectacular home with ‘flying roof’ in Chile

October 17, 2019 by  
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Modern homes come in all shapes and sizes, but it seems that architects are opting to take a simpler route these days when it comes to creating amazing designs. Case in point is the beautiful BL House by Mas Fernandez Architectos . Located in a coastal area in Chile’s Valparaíso region, the gorgeous home was built using prefabricated and modular materials, then topped with an eye-catching, origami-inspired metal roof. Tucked into a hilly landscape covered with trees and vegetation, the almost 2,000-square-foot home was designed to embrace its idyllic, quiet setting. Using the surrounding nature as inspiration , the team at Mas Fernandez used simple, cost-effective materials to create a design that would offer the homeowners a peaceful respite away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Related: Breezy, prefab home stays naturally cool in tropical Costa Rica The single-level home is gently nestled into the topography of the land in order to minimize impact. Using concrete pillars, part of the home is elevated over a gentle slop. The home is topped with a fun, origami-inspired aluminum roof that gives off the impression that it is about to take flight at any moment. The roof juts out over the home’s frame, shading the interior from harsh sunlight during the hot summer months. The roof also has two triangular cutouts that allow for natural light to filter into the two interior courtyards. The house was built using prefabricated materials that allowed the architects to keep construction costs down and minimize construction time. The project is clad in a dramatic, dark pine cladding with some walls made of glass panels. The five-bedroom home features an open-concept living, dining and kitchen area that is filled with simple, rustic decor reminiscent of a contemporary cabin. Massive, floor-to-ceiling glass walls provide a seamless connection between the outdoors and indoors. Additionally, the walls and ceilings are lined with native treated pinewood, adding warmth to the atmosphere. For outdoor space, the home has an enviable, open-air deck with plenty of space for seating and dining. + Mas Fernandez Arquitectos Via Dezeen Images via Mas Fernandez Arquitectos

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Architects use simple, low-cost and efficient materials to create spectacular home with ‘flying roof’ in Chile

Breezy, prefab home stays naturally cool in tropical Costa Rica

September 5, 2019 by  
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Sustainable design practice A-01 (A Company / A Foundation) has combined traditional tropical architecture elements with modern prefabrication to produce the No Footprint House, a contemporary and energy-efficient abode that boasts a minimal environmental footprint. Developed for mass production, the first No Footprint House prototype was installed last year in Ojochal, a small village at the edge of a tropical rainforest in Costa Rica. To keep cool in the region’s humid climate, the home relies on passive climate control strategies, from the double-layered facade with operable panels to the slanted solar shades. Spanning an area of 108 square meters, the first No Footprint House prototype is the largest in the No Footprint House series, which also includes a “tiny” version at 36 square meters and a mid-size version at 81 square meters. All housing types can be customized with different finishes and layouts and will be available for purchase in 2020. Related: Low-budget, bioclimatic home boasts a minimal energy footprint in Costa Rica The No Footprint House in Ojochal was prefabricated in the Central Valley of Costa Rica based on a structural grid of 12 by 9 meters and comprises a combined living and dining area, two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a multifunctional terrace. The home was transported to its current location on a single truck bed. Key to the design of the No Footprint House is the centrally located service core, which houses the utilities and machinery and thus groups together the bathrooms, kitchen and laundry area into the heart of the house. The compression of utilities into a centralized location opens up the rest of the steel-framed home to an open-plan layout. Glass sliders and “curtain walls” allow homeowners to reorganize the residence as they see fit. “The NFH is designed to blend with its natural surroundings and minimize the impact of construction on the environment,” explained the design team, who used a natural materials palette with bamboo and wood and topped the building with a solar water heater. “It offers a wide range of adjustable, affordable and replicable solutions to cater for a broad customer segment. The project seeks for integral sustainability in terms of its environmental, economic, social and spatial performance.” Future building configurations will also offer off-grid capability. + A-01 Photography by Fernando Alda Fotografi?a / Fernando Alda via A-01

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Breezy, prefab home stays naturally cool in tropical Costa Rica

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

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