Spains first Passivhaus nursing home generates surplus energy

May 13, 2020 by  
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Madrid-based design studio CSO Arquitectura has completed Spain’s first Passivhaus-certified nursing home in Camarzana de Tera. Built as an expansion of the nursing home that the firm had completed in 2005, the new addition provides additional bedrooms and stronger connections with the outdoors. The new, airtight building is also equipped with solar panels to power both the old and new buildings. Conceived as an “energy machine”, the new nursing home extension boasts a minimal energy footprint thanks to its airtight envelope constructed from a prefabricated wooden framework system. The prefabricated components were made in a Barcelona workshop and were then transported via trucks to the site, where they were assembled in one week. This process reduced costs and construction time and has environmentally friendly benefits that include waste reduction. Related: Spanish elderly care center wrapped in a pixelated green facade The new construction is semi-buried and comprises three south-facing “programmatic bands” linked by a long corridor. The first “band” houses the daytime services and a north-facing greenhouse with planting beds for the residents. The two remaining sections consist of the bedrooms, each of which opens up to an individual terrace and shares access to a communal patio. Exposed wood, large windows and framed views of nature were key in creating a welcoming sense of home — a distinguishing feature that the architects targeted as a contrast to the stereotypical cold feel of institutions and hospitals. The new nursing home extension is topped with an 18 kW photovoltaic array along with 20 solar thermal panels and rooftop seating. When combined with the building’s airtight envelope, which was engineered to follow passive solar strategies, the renewable energy systems are capable of producing surplus energy, which is diverted to the old building. The Passivhaus-certified extension also includes triple glazed openings, radiant floors, rainwater harvesting and mechanical ventilation equipped with heat recovery.  + CSO Arquitectura Photography by David Frutos via CSO Arquitectura

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Stunning new prefab kit home centers on sustainability

December 20, 2019 by  
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Michigan-based Hygge Supply is known as a leader in the world of sustainable home design thanks to its customizable kit homes. Now, the company has unveiled the Birch Le Collaboration House — an incredible house that highlights how the company’s innovative, prefab designs can marry sustainability and high-end luxury. Founded by entrepreneur Kelly Sean Karcher, Hygge Supply creates what it calls “kit homes,” — sustainable, high-end prefab home designs that are customizable to virtually any taste or style. The company ships its kit homes all over the United States. Karcher explained, “What sets Hygge Supply apart is the focus on high design, sustainability and simplicity.” Related: Cube Haus seeks to solve the housing crisis with affordable prefab homes To highlight its unique kit homes, the company recently built a gorgeous, contemporary house in a forest, just steps away from Michigan’s Lake Leelenau. Like all of its projects, Hygge Supply’s Birch Le Collaboration House is made from structural insulated panels (SIPs) and steel framing. This framework allows the prefab home to be built to the owner’s specifications and easily delivered to the building site, leaving zero waste behind. Combining the best of minimalist , Scandinavian design with environmental sustainability, the contemporary home kit includes several high-end materials provided by Hygge Supply’s like-minded partners. The home is clad in Thermory’s responsibly sourced wood panels, while all of the home’s doors and windows were produced using environmentally friendly manufacturing processes. Floor-to-ceiling glass panels wrap around sections of the home, not only creating a seamless connection between the exterior and interior, but also providing the interior with an abundance of natural light. The interior design revolves around the idea that top-of-the-line, eco-friendly furnishings don’t have to be prohibitively expensive. For example, the kitchen features Durat countertops that are made from 30-50 oercent recycled hard plastics and are 100 percent recyclable. Additionally, no-VOC powder coat color was used throughout the home. The beautiful home features one of the company’s most popular layouts, a three-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath space with multiple connections to the exterior. What’s more, the Birch Le Collaboration House can be rented out by potential buyers who would like to test it out before ordering a Hygge Supply kit for themselves. Karcher invites guests to enjoy the sustainable home as a serene retreat that could possibly be their permanent home. “This home highlights the best of Hygge Supply: minimalist design, modern finishes, high comfort and expansive windows that draw the natural world in,” Karcher said. “We invite people to put down the concept drawings and come live immersively in this intimate space. It’s a perfect spot to retreat and it may inspire you to envision your own modern sanctuary.” + Hygge Supply Via Dwell Photography by Will Johnson via Hygge Supply

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Stunning new prefab kit home centers on sustainability

Carbon-neutral science museum in Sweden will be powered by bicycles

July 19, 2019 by  
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Danish architectural firm COBE has unveiled designs for a new science museum in the Swedish university city of Lund that will be powered not only with rooftop solar energy but also with pedal power. Museum visitors will be invited to help generate electricity for the carbon-neutral museum by riding “energy bikes” on its concave roof. Constructed primarily from prefabricated cross-laminated timber, the eco-friendly building will be a sustainable landmark and help cement Lund’s position as a science city on the international stage. Winner of an international competition, COBE’s proposal for the science museum will be located in the heart of the city’s new urban district, Science Villa Scandinavia. The museum will be sandwiched between the high-tech institutions ESS (European Spallation Source) and MAX IV, which are currently under construction and slated to become the world’s most powerful and advanced research facilities within neutron and X-ray research. The science museum’s purpose is to make the institutions’ groundbreaking research more accessible and inviting to both children and adults and to promote general interest in natural science and research. Spanning a total floor space of 3,500 square meters, the two-story science museum will comprise exhibition halls, a gallery, a reception area, workshops, a museum shop, a restaurant, offices and an auditorium. A viewing platform and patio will top the concave 1,600-square-meter roof as will energy bikes and a solar array large enough to meet the museum’s electricity needs. A large, nature-filled atrium will sit at the heart of the museum to help absorb carbon dioxide, boost biodiversity and serve as a water reservoir and overflow canal in case of extreme rainfall. Excess heat from ESS will be used to heat the museum through an ectogrid system. The timber building is expected to reach completion by 2024. Related: Industrial building is reimagined as a zero-carbon paragon for Paris 2024 Olympics “Ambitions for the design of the museum have been sky-high, and we feel that we have succeeded in designing a unique and inviting building, whose open atrium and concave roof lend it a dramatic and elegant profile that stands out and offers novel and innovative ways of using a museum,” said Dan Stubbergaard, architect and founder of COBE. “Moreover, we have made climate, environment and sustainability integral aspects of the process from the outset. By choosing wood as the main construction material, incorporating solar cells, using excess heat and creating an atrium with a rich biodiversity and a rainwater reservoir, among other features, we have achieved our goal and succeeded in creating a CO2-neutral building, if the design is realized as intended. Our hope, as architects, is that we can continue to increase the focus on and improve our ability to create sustainable architecture and construction for the benefit of future generations and the condition of the planet.” + COBE Images via COBE

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Entrepreneur sells mushroom suits that decompose your body after death

July 19, 2019 by  
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Sustainability might be the last thought on your mind when a loved one dies, but one entrepreneur believes that everyone can be eco-friendly in life and in death. A remarkable mushroom suit is available to be worn by the deceased during their burial, and it offers a way to limit the environmental impact of traditional funerals. The impact of conventional funeral practices is little known and rarely discussed. Coffins require the harvesting and chemical treatment of wood, including toxic varnishes. Dead bodies are almost always pumped full of formaldehyde, which is a highly poisonous embalming chemical that is released into the environment. Cremation is another option, but it is not without its own negative impact. The cremation process is highly energy-intensive and requires sustained temperatures of up to 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. Related: Washington State becomes first state to allow human composting The “Infinity Burial Suit” weaves mushroom spores into the suit’s threads so that mushrooms grow on the body and swiftly decompose it by feeding off the nutrients. Mushrooms are beneficial decomposers and help to neutralize soil by digesting and filtering contaminants such as pesticides or heavy metals. The suit has been for sale since 2016 on the company’s website . It costs $1,500 USD and is available in both black and natural colors and in three sizes. The team behind the suit also offers alternative burial options for pets. Other companies have attempted to address this environmental issue with the release of a burial pod that grows into a tree and the opening of funeral buildings for communal decomposition. Like the mushroom suit, these ideas have received a lot of controversy. According to Jae Rhim Lee, the owner of the mushroom suit company, society needs to shift how we think about death in general, and the mushroom suit is an important step. “For every person who uses the Infinity Burial Suit, there will be many more who witness the choice to return to the earth and to use one’s body in a beneficial way,” Lee said. “Cumulatively, this will help create a cultural shift toward a cultural acceptance of death and our personal responsibility for environmental sustainability.” + Coeio Via Science Alert and Truth Theory Images via Coeio

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Self-shaping Urbach Tower twists itself into a unique, curvaceous shape

May 29, 2019 by  
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Wood warping typically creates unwanted and undesirable effects, yet the creators behind a unique new landmark in Urbach, Germany have found a way to harness the naturally occurring deformity into an unexpected architectural possibility. The University of Stuttgart completed a nearly 47-foot-tall timber structure that gets its curvaceous form from the “self-shaping process” of its curved wood components. Constructed from spruce wood cross-laminated panels, the Urbach Tower is the first wood structure made from self-shaped components and offers a more sustainable alternative to energy-intensive, mechanically formed structures. Created as one of 16 architecture-designed installations for the Remstal Gartenschau 2019, the Urbach Tower offers high performance and strength with low environmental impact . The landmark building’s prefabricated, self-shaping components are made from spruce wood CLT sourced regionally from Switzerland and CNC cut into 12 flat panels that deform autonomously into predicted curved shapes when dried. Computational models were developed to design, predict and optimize the material arrangement that would achieve the desired look through moisture-induced swelling and shrinking. “The Urbach Tower is the very first implementation of this technology on building-scale, load-bearing timber parts,” the designers said in a press release. “The distinctive form of the tower constitutes a truly contemporary architectural expression of the traditional construction material wood. It celebrates the innate and natural characteristics of self-shaped wood in its upward spiraling shape.” Related: Playful gable-roofed home in Atlanta champions the power of CLT The design team also clad the tower in a custom-made protective layer of glue-laminated larch with a titanium oxide surface treatment to protect the wood from UV radiation and pests. Four craftsmen assembled the tower in a single working day without the need for extensive scaffolding or formwork. The Urbach Tower, which is a permanent installation, serves as shelter, a landscape overlook and a showcase for efficient, economical and expressive wood architecture. + University of Stuttgart Images via University of Stuttgart

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RRA unveils mountain-inspired ski resort that emphasizes nature and community

May 29, 2019 by  
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Oslo-based architectural firm Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter (RRA) has won first place in Alpinco Gondoltoppen AS’ competition for the design of a new master plan for a mixed-use resort in Hafjell, an alpine village famous for its skiing and impressive mountain vistas. The project, called Mosetertoppen, will cover an area that’s slightly over 538,000 square feet and is expected to house approximately 1,000 people. Early design renderings show the buildings built primarily from wood, topped with green roofs and inspired by the mountainous surroundings. Because most visitors to Hafjell come for the stunning landscape, Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter decided to emphasize the site’s natural attributes in its master plan. The timber buildings will feature gabled rooflines of varying heights in reference to the surrounding mountains, while large windows open the interiors up to views of the outdoors. The local vernacular is referenced in the traditional building shapes yet the spacious roof cutouts for balconies, clean lines and green roofs create a more modern interpretation. “The project will emerge as an exciting whole-year-around destination at Hafjell — a place for a multitude of activities and a place where everyone should feel welcome,” the architects explained. “The project will be rooted in both tradition and innovation. Tradition is for implementing the best of the cultural landscape and building art. Innovation to contribute with rethinking in relation to sustainable architecture and how to build in the Norwegian mountain landscape in the future.” Related: Greenery fills this sustainable glass-and-timber tower planned for Oslo Mosetertoppen emulates the feel of a densely populated village with its large buildings clustered together around shared outdoor spaces. For visual interest, the dimensions and designs of the building interiors and exteriors will vary. The ground floor of certain buildings will be given over to commercial use. Cars will also be tucked underground to create a pedestrian-friendly environment. + Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter Images via Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter

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RRA unveils mountain-inspired ski resort that emphasizes nature and community

Atelier COLE completes eco-friendly bear sanctuary in Vietnam

March 1, 2019 by  
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Phnom Penh-based Atelier COLE recently completed an environmentally friendly bear sanctuary that not only promotes wildlife conservation but also champions affordable prefabricated design. Located in Cát Tiên National Park in the south of Vietnam , the inspiring project was in part influenced by the hard-to-reach location that made the delivery of supplies difficult and time-consuming. As a result, the architects turned to lightweight gabion wall construction that has the added benefit of reducing the Vietnam Bear Sanctuary’s environmental footprint. Created in collaboration with Cát Tiên National Park, Free the Bears and Building Trust International, the Vietnam Bear Sanctuary comprises a series of modular and easily replicable buildings that house bears rescued from the illegal wildlife trade and bear bile industry. Drawing from experience working for wildlife organizations worldwide, Atelier COLE adeptly studied the site and oriented the buildings east to west to follow passive solar principles and minimize overheating. The gabion walls — assembled from steel mesh and locally sourced stones — were stacked one meter from the roof line to allow for cross ventilation, while roof cut outs let natural light into the bear dens. “We wanted to reduce the concrete usage, and we started developing wall ideas,” David Cole, director of Atelier COLE, explained. “We knew there were some parameters; it was necessary to keep the steel mesh and concrete finish inside the bear dens, as it was easy to clean down, preventing infection and contamination. We simply took the mesh material and used it to create gabion walls with high thermal mass. The inside could be rendered and the outside could be untreated to give a natural sandy color found around the site. The mesh sheet sizes which were available led to a modular design. This essentially led to the foundation of the building blocks for the whole project. We utilized a steel frame structure to support a green roof and built the bear houses with internal courtyards to give ample space for fruit trees, providing a food source for the bears.” Related: Atelier COLE’s Bamboo Trees combats illegal Moon Bear trade in Laos The Vietnam Bear Sanctuary consists of six bear houses with forest enclosures, an education center, a hospital, quarantine and administrative buildings. Over 40 sun bears and moon bears currently live on-site. As the green roof , which will grow down the roof fascia, and the courtyard plants become lusher, the sanctuary will blend into the forest. + Atelier COLE Images by Elettra Melani via Atelier COLE

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Atelier COLE completes eco-friendly bear sanctuary in Vietnam

Modscape installs a prefab school building that stays comfortable year-round

December 27, 2018 by  
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Cheap trailers and portable classrooms can be a quick fix for schools strapped for space, but the trade-off often comes at the expense of student comfort. Aware of the “crazy hot in summer and freezing cold in winter” conditions of these temporary trailers, Australian custom home builder Modscape wanted to create a more pleasant solution to the Keilor Primary School’s need for additional space without compromising on speed and efficiency. The result is a new permanent modular building that was constructed off-site, installed in just a day and built with high-performing paneling to ensure comfortable classroom conditions year-round. Created in collaboration with Victorian project management firm Sensum Group, the new prefabricated building for Keilor Primary School in Melbourne consists of four teaching spaces, a library, an arts space and associated amenities for students and the staff. Modscape designed and constructed the structure as part of the Victorian Government’s Permanent Modular School Buildings Program, an integral part of a multibillion school construction process to precede the government’s Victorian School Asbestos Removal Program that will oversee the largest ever removal of asbestos from Victorian schools. “The new permanent modular building offered a fast and efficient solution for the school,” the firm said. “With less time needed for planning and construction, the replacement of the older buildings containing asbestos could occur quickly — reducing disruption to students, staff and teaching programs. … Gone are the days of the crazy-hot-in-summer/freezing-cold-in-winter ‘portables’ of previous generations. … High-performing acoustic paneling and double-glazed windows are used in forward-thinking volumetric modules, creating a comfortable learning environment for the students of today and for generations to come.” Related: This highly insulated modular home is completely self-sustaining The building was constructed offsite in Modscape’s modular construction hub in Brooklyn in just 10 weeks — approximately half the time required when compared to a traditional build process. The modules were then installed in a day over the weekend, after which onsite and landscaping was carried out. + Modscape Photography by John Madden via Modscape

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Solar-powered cabin is designed for ultimate flexibility and mobility

December 11, 2018 by  
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Buenos Aires-based firm  IR Arquitectura  has created a brilliant modular cabin designed to offer not only exceptional flexibility, but also stellar energy efficiency. The cabin is made up of five distinct prefab modules that can be configured in various shapes. Equipped with a solar heating water system, a solar kitchen, a trombe wall and solar lamps, the sustainable cabin can operate completely off-grid in virtually any location. The cabin is built out of prefabricated modules that are manufactured off site and transported to the desired location. The cabin can be configured in a variety of shapes. Various sections of transparent cladding in the roof and on the walls allow natural light into the interior. Additionally, the cabin’s wide swinging doors provide a strong connection between the cabin and its surroundings. Related: This series of modular wood cabins form a rustic retreat in the Catskills The modules are each clad in a thermal and waterproof coating to add a strong resilience to the design , which can be installed in nearly any environment. For example, after recently serving as a central building in an outdoor summer camp in Hungary, the cabin’s modules were dismantled and loaded onto a truck to be used in its next location. According to the architects, the cabin was inspired by the need to provide inhabitants with the basic functions of storing, dressing, cooking, heating and resting. Clad in natural wood paneling and framework, the interior space is light and airy, with a notable minimalist appearance. Behind the simple design is an intricate, sustainable profile. The modules are installed with multiple clean energy features such as a solar heating water system , a solar kitchen, a trombe wall and Moser solar lamps . + IR Arquitectura Via Archdaily Photography by Bujnovsky Tamás via IR Arquitectura

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Solar-powered cabin is designed for ultimate flexibility and mobility

Gorgeous prefab cabin is embedded into the mountainous Norwegian landscape

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

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Gorgeous prefab cabin is embedded into the mountainous Norwegian landscape

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