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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How high-tech Kasita microhomes could revolutionize homeownership

Future solar technology inspired this bio-sustainability research centers prefab facade

February 14, 2017 by  
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The porous, pale green facade that wraps the Institute of Science and Innovation for Bio-Sustainability at Portugal’s Azurém Campus was created for more than just looks. The holes in the eye-catching cladding reference the shape of titanium nanotubes, which are being studied as a cheaper, energy-efficient alternative to silicon solar cells. Architect Cláudio Vilarinho designed the unique building as an inspiring symbol of the research center’s impact on the future of bio-sustainable technologies. Vilarinho cited the search for future technology themes as the inspiration behind the building’s unusual facade. The porous green skin was made from prefabricated cement-based panels reinforced with micro-fibers. The composite material is low-maintenance , resistant to corrosion, and is very ductile, making it easy for the builders to manipulate and add round openings to the panels. Related: Architects burrow two large eye sockets into the green aluminum-clad Euronews headquarters “We propose a building with a unique image for the campus,” wrote the architect. “A building that breaks the existing gray monotony – referring not only about the pictorial issue of the Campus, but also about the ‘global crisis without end’ – and that, at the same time, is able to captivate.” In contrast to the pale green façade, the interiors feature white cement surfaces and a clean industrial feel. Although landscape views are obscured by the double-skin façade , natural light still penetrates the building through the gap between the prefabricated panels and the building. The project was completed in 2015. + Cláudio Vilarinho Images by João Morgado

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Future solar technology inspired this bio-sustainability research centers prefab facade

Apple design director perfects a prefab home into an ultra-minimal, modern dwelling

January 26, 2017 by  
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It should come as no surprise that when Apple’s Director of Store Design was in the market for a new house, he wanted a home that would be as modern and streamlined as his employer’s impeccable shopfronts. He, along with the team at Alchemy, tweaked the original designs of the Alchemy weeHouse to create the Sonoma weeHouse, a prefabricated home made up of two elevated open-sided boxes. The ultra-minimal home was swiftly assembled onsite between gnarled oaks and boasts fantastic views of the Santa Rosa valley in California. The 970-square-foot Sonoma weeHouse is based on Alchemy’s original weeHouse modified with several customizations and finishing requirements by the San Francisco-based client, who is also an architect. While the home’s design was finalized in Minnesota by the Alchemy team, the structure was mostly prefabricated in Oregon before it was shipped, 90 percent complete, to its California site. The steel accessories, which include stairs, porch railings, and lasercut trim, were prefabricated in and shipped out from Minnesota. The Sonoma weeHouse comprises two main modules—a 640-square-foot main house and a 330-square-foot accompanying guesthouse—set atop horizontally banded, board-formed concrete plinths . Both modules feature steel frames, nine-foot-tall sliding glass walls, custom corrugated weathering steel cladding, and ipe interiors with oiled oak cabinetry. The low-maintenance oxidized steel facade helps blend the home into the landscape of gnarled coastal oaks and seasonal grasses. Related: Alchemy Architects Build Tiny Prefab weeHouses that Connect with Nature The main house contains a whitewashed oak box in the middle that houses the bedroom and divides the open kitchen, dining room, and living room on one end of the box from the toilet and shower on the other. Sliding glass doors connect the interior to an outdoor bolt-on porch that cantilevers into the dramatic landscape valley of Santa Rosa. A rear walkway connects the main house to the small guesthouse. Doors, privacy screens, and insect screens are recessed to minimize visual clutter. + Alchemy Via ArchDaily Images © Geoffrey Warner

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Apple design director perfects a prefab home into an ultra-minimal, modern dwelling

Eco-friendly Syrian refugee housing that anyone would love to call home

January 19, 2017 by  
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Building refugee housing often means fast construction at the expense of beauty and quality, but that doesn’t have to be the case if we take German architect Werner Sobek’s work as any indication. Sobek and the company Aktivhaus recently completed a modular development for 200 Syrian refugees in the German town of Winnenden. Prefabricated in a factory and swiftly assembled on site like Legos, the bright and airy homes are attractive enough for anyone to want to call home. Faced with an influx of refugees fleeing the Syrian civil war , the German town of Winnenden turned to Sobek for a quick way to set up a housing estate for around 200 people in the Schelmenholz district. The development also needed to be flexible enough to be converted for different uses in the future and to be easily expanded on or deconstructed. To minimize costs, construction time, and waste, Sobek installed 38 prefabricated modules from Aktivhaus’ 700 Series. Each 60-square-meter module is constructed using timber frame construction and is stacked to create two stories. The airtight walls, clad in larch , are made with high levels insulation—consisting of hemp and wood fibers—to minimize energy demands. Most materials used are resource conserving and recyclable, with minimal concrete used. The windows are sealed with rubber strips instead of toxic polyurethane foam. Related: Sobek’s Activhaus produces enough green power to light up the house next door Sobek estimates that the modules could last hundreds of years if they are well cared for. The Winnenden development is intended as refugee housing for three years, after which they will be converted into social housing. The development also includes a technology module, two community rooms, and a multifunctional space with washing machines and dryers. The project was initiated and completed last year. + Werner Sobek Via Treehugger , zvw.de Images © Zooey Braun

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Eco-friendly Syrian refugee housing that anyone would love to call home

Tesla’s Gigafactory is getting a $350 million upgrade to build Model 3 parts

January 19, 2017 by  
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Tesla ‘s massive Gigafactory near Sparks, Nevada is expanding weeks after kicking off production of lithium-ion batteries . The electric carmaker and clean energy storage company is planning to invest $350 million in a project to manufacture electric motors and gearboxes for the Model 3 — Tesla’s first affordable EV, which is priced at $35,000 before tax incentives and is expected to hit the assembly line this year. Tesla will hire an additional 550 people for the project on top of the 6,500 workers the company has already committed to employing at the Gigafactory. The expansion news was revealed by Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval during his State of the State address on Tuesday and confirmed by Tesla. Steve Hill, director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, told the newspaper the Nevada Appeal that he expects Tesla will eventually have 10,000 workers at the site, which when completed will be the biggest building in the world with a footprint of 10 million square feet. According to Tesla, the Gigafactory will indirectly create another 20,000 to 30,000 jobs in the surrounding area. Related: Tesla to power Gigafactory with world’s largest solar rooftop installation Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s goal is to make 500,000 mostly Model 3 electric cars by the end of 2018 and one million EVs by 2020. The cars are assembled at the company’s Fremont, California factory. The city recently approved a major expansion of the facility that includes 11 new buildings covering 4.6 million square feet of manufacturing space. The city anticipates that the factory expansion will increase employment by 3,100 workers. Tesla is also planning to build a second gigafactory in Europe, with the location still to be announced. Gigafactory 2 will manufacture both lithium-ion batteries and electric cars. + Tesla Via CNBC Images via Tesla , Wikimedia

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Tesla’s Gigafactory is getting a $350 million upgrade to build Model 3 parts

320-square-foot tiny container home packs a surprising suite of amenities

December 29, 2016 by  
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A tiny home owner and California-based designer combined their expertise and experience to design and build a stylish 40-foot long container home . The resulting structure is a 320-square-foot oasis for those who value both mobility and good design, and it is packed to the gills with every amenity you could possibly need. The Intellectual Tiny Home includes one bedroom with a queen-sized bed, lots of storage space and a closet that can be customized. A full-sized bathroom has a washer and dryer combo and a shower, while the kitchen has a full-sized fridge, induction cook top, convection microwave oven, dishwasher and a countertop extension. Related: KODA is a tiny solar-powered house that can move with its owners The living room features an electric fireplace , which brings both real and aesthetic warmth to the space. The tiny house, available on Tiny House Listings for $62,000, is currently located on a plot of land in Longmont, Colorado , where it was built, and needs to be relocated. Via Tiny House Listings

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320-square-foot tiny container home packs a surprising suite of amenities

Obama creates two new western national monuments in last minute effort

December 29, 2016 by  
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The clock is ticking. Before the United States and the world is snapped by political whiplash on January 20, 2017, the Obama Administration is working quickly to secure its environmental legacy by creating new national monuments in environmentally sensitive areas of the Western United States: Bears Ears National Monument in Utah and Gold Butte National Monument. As usual, the land on which these new public resources have been created has been fiercely contested for their political and economic significance. President Obama has nonetheless pushed forward with the national monuments to cap off an ambitious and sometimes controversial environmental agenda that his successor will likely seek to dismantle. The establishment of Bears Ears National Monument in the Four Corners region of Utah , a state where two-thirds of the land is owned by the federal government, represents a victory for the American Indian tribes that have called the region home. In an historic first, an inter-tribal commission composed of members from the Hopi, Navajo, Uintah and Ouray Ute, Ute Mountain Ute and Pueblo of Zuni will be established to provide management input of the national monument, which contains sacred sites, ancient petroglyphs, and remnants of Pueblo structures over 3,500 years old. Most elected officials in Utah are opposed to the site’s protection, though the state’s congressional delegation had supported a scaled-back plan. “The midnight move is a slap in the face to the people of Utah, attempting to silence the voices of those who will bear the heavy burden it imposes,” said Republican US Rep. Jason Chaffetz. Chaffetz intends to seek assistance from President-elect Trump in abolishing the national monument. Related: President Obama establishes controversial new National Park in Northern Maine The Gold Butte National Monument in Nevada is similarly packed with politics. Supported by retiring Democratic Senator Harry Reid but opposed by Nevada’s Republican Representatives, the national monument outside of Las Vegas will preserve 300,000 acres of ecologically sensitive, pristine land that contains important archaeological sites and rare fossils. Gold Butte carries special significance because of its proximity to the site of the armed standoff led by rancher Cliven Bundy in 2014. The establishment of these national monuments “protect some of our country’s most important cultural treasures, including abundant rock art, archaeological sites, and lands considered sacred by Native American tribes,” said President Obama in a statement. “Today’s actions will help protect this cultural legacy and will ensure that future generations are able to enjoy and appreciate these scenic and historic landscapes.” Through authority granted under the 1906 Antiquities Act, President Obama has protected more land than any president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt. His successor and his supporters seek to use the Act, which allows for the creation of national monuments without congressional approval, to unilaterally remove protections, a policy that has not been attempted in modern times. Via the Guardian  / Washington Post Images via Ron Reiring   (1)

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Obama creates two new western national monuments in last minute effort

Six factories will supply the UK with 25,000 prefab houses every year

December 28, 2016 by  
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Population growth and a housing undersupply have created a housing crisis in the United Kingdom , but a new joint venture will provide desperately needed homes. China National Building Material Company (CNBM) agreed to a $3.36 billion deal with UK-based Your Housing Group (YHG) and renewable energy company WElink Group to build six factories that will produce 25,000 prefabricated homes every single year. The new prefab homes will be built of modern composite materials and steel frames, according to WElink Group . These materials will allow for low-carbon construction and operation. Energy efficient design and solar panels will enable the houses to operate “at least 75 percent off-grid,” according to WElink Group chairman Ajmal Rahman. Construction company Barcelona Housing Systems will also provide environmentally friendly technology and panels for homes. Related: Ecocor starts production on groundbreaking new prefab passive homes YHG CEO Brian Cronin said in a statement, “This is an opportunity for YHG to get back to building more social and affordable homes across a wider geography of the UK; it also ensures new types of employment, new building skills, and the nurturing of additional apprenticeship opportunities are available, which can only be good news for local people and businesses where we develop our housing and supply chains.” The prefab home factories could provide employment for over one thousand people. Even before the factories are complete, the joint venture hopes to build 2,000 homes in 2017 as part of five pilot projects. The company is awaiting planning permission to build its first pilot project in Liverpool this January, and the factories could potentially produce 25,000 homes a year by 2022. Via World Architecture News Images via Your Housing Group and Your Housing Group Facebook

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Six factories will supply the UK with 25,000 prefab houses every year

Cutting-edge Science Center in Lithuania is topped with solar panels

November 7, 2016 by  
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The design treats public spaces as singular open-space volumes. The main entrance hall is arched with a spherical planetarium suspended overhead, while the south hall is a double-height open space for large-scale exhibition . A long-span cantilevering volume is built using structural steel fabricated into box and beam sections that make it appear to float in mid-air. Related: “Eyesore” garage transformed into a stunning waterfall illusion in Lithuania Prefab modular steel elements that make up the structural backbone of the project are efficient and quick to construct and require less labor. The project, which aims for a LEED certification , uses advanced ventilation systems and the adjacent river to cool the building. Solar panels embedded into the facade provide clean energy . + Architects of Invention

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Cutting-edge Science Center in Lithuania is topped with solar panels

Herzog & de Meurons Elbphilharmonie Plaza is the highest public square in northern Germany

November 7, 2016 by  
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The Elbphilharmonie Plaza opening ceremony on November 4, 2016 marks the first of many ceremonies to come counting down to the official opening on January 11, 2016. The plaza features an exterior walkway that wraps around the building and overlooks spectacular views of the city and harbor. The interior of the Plaza comprises stairs to the concert halls , the lobby of The Westin Hamburg hotel, the Deck & Deli cafe, and Elbphilharmonie shop. Related: Herzog & De Meuron’s stunning Elbphilharmonie to finally open in January “Right now, we are standing in the Port of Hamburg, 37 metres above sea level at the highest public square in northern Germany —and there is a skyscraper above our heads,” said Hamburg’s Mayor Olaf Scholz at the opening ceremony. “The Elbphilharmonie is a place for everyone. Hamburg is a city of music, and you could call this its parliament. It is a concert hall that will wow the world.” The Elbphilharmonie will host multiple musical events in the run-up to its official January opening. + Elbphilharmonie + Herzog & de Meuron Images via Elbphilharmonie , by Skynamic GmbH, Michael Zapf, Iwan Baan

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Herzog & de Meurons Elbphilharmonie Plaza is the highest public square in northern Germany

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