An angular timber cabin is hidden inside an ancient mountain forest

October 16, 2018 by  
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Rising like a tree out of rich volcanic ash soil is the Shangri-la Cabin, the first structure in a series of mountain cabins in Las Trancas, Chile. Architect Nicolas del Rio of the Chilean architecture firm DRAA designed the geometric cabin that’s clad in timber inside and out and punctuated with large windows. Built of prefabricated structural insulation panels, the compact cabin boasts minimal site impact thanks to its elevated footprint, which also gives the dwelling a treehouse -like feel. Completed in 2016, the Shangri-la Cabin was created in close collaboration with the owners, who directed the construction process and enlisted the help of local workers. Not only did the owners work on assembling the metal stairs and railings, but they also charred the exterior wood siding with the Japanese technique of shou sugi ban to protect the cabin exterior from decay and pests. “All these tasks [were] learned through years of DIY experimentation and pod prototypes on land and sea” the firm explained. Topped with a sharply pitched roof designed to shed snow, the one-bedroom cabin spans three split-levels across 45 square meters of space. A concrete base lifts the living spaces three meters above ground to immerse the inhabitants in the tree canopy. The use of timber throughout — from the charred pine exterior to the interiors lined with planks from locally felled trees — tie the architecture to its heavily forested surroundings. The prefabricated SIP boards and their 212-millimeter polystyrene core provide high-performance insulation, while the layout with the air-lock entrance helps keeps out unwanted chills. Related: This cozy cabin in the woods was once just an old tool shed A small parking pad below the cabin connects to the main living areas via outdoor stairs. The entrance opens up to a small foyer with a sliding pocket door that separates the entrance from the bathroom and bedroom, also concealed beneath a pocket door. A couple steps down from the bedroom level lies the eat-in kitchen anchored by a wood-burning fireplace . A ladder leads to a sitting space that overlooks the kitchen. The architects said, “Cabin Shangri-la is a collaborative project that mingles in the wood with simplicity and respect for nature, surprising the strollers with a bold, geometric and structural proposal.” + DRAA Images by Magdalena Besomi, Felipe Camus

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An angular timber cabin is hidden inside an ancient mountain forest

Adorable prefab nursery in Greece mimics a tiny urban village

July 18, 2018 by  
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For design collective KLAB Architecture (Kinetic Lab of Architecture), one of the biggest challenges with public buildings in Greece is the lack of architect involvement in the construction process. To circumvent the problem, KLAB Architecture turned to prefabrication for its design of a public nursery in the Athens suburb of Glyfada. Drawing inspiration from a child’s archetypal drawing of a house, the modular gabled structures are clustered together to form the appearance of a tiny urban village. Organized around an open landscaped courtyard , the prefabricated nursery comprises a series of repeating modules of three differing sizes and shapes for visual interest. Each module was constructed in a factory and then transported via truck to the site for quick installation. The nursery follows a minimalist and modern aesthetic with its clean geometric lines and all-white exterior. Timber slatted pergolas provide shade and help mitigate solar gain; once they mature, planted shade trees will also help cool the buildings. Related: WeWork and BIG design innovative new school in NYC “We attempted to employ rather common materials and construction methods in order to create a more complicated structure with a small energy footprint,” KLAB Architecture said. “The exterior walls were constructed 10 centimeters thick, allowing us to maximize the available interior area, and were cladded, along with the roofs, with exterior wall insulation. Thus, by taking also into consideration the construction of wooden pergolas along the careful placement of the windows on the exterior walls, the building is sustainable providing comfort to the children.” Related: Lego-like kindergarten sparks creativity with a playful brick facade The energy-efficient nursery is also filled with natural light and warm natural materials to create a healthy and welcoming environment for the children. In contrast to the white exterior, the interior features bright and colorful wall treatments and furnishings that inject life into the various classrooms. All classrooms are open on three sides to engage the outdoors. + KLAB Architecture Via ArchDaily Images by Mariana Bisti

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Adorable prefab nursery in Greece mimics a tiny urban village

LEED Platinum housing for the homeless takes over a formerly vacant L.A. lot

July 6, 2018 by  
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Los Angeles-based design practice Michael Maltzan Architecture  has transformed a vacant suburban lot into the Crest Apartments, a LEED Platinum -certified permanent supportive housing center that assists homeless individuals and veterans. Commissioned by the Skid Row Housing Trust, this striking light-filled property promotes healthy lifestyles with its inviting, community-focused design. In addition to serving the homeless, the 45,000-square-foot development also offers major benefits to the local community and environment with its stormwater management system that captures and treats over 90 percent of the site’s rainwater runoff. Located in Los Angeles’ Van Nuys neighborhood, the $23.6-million Crest Apartments building consists of 64 units, half of which are allocated for homeless veterans. Also included are supportive services and community space for residents such as the social services offices, a communal kitchen, laundry room, conference room, residents’ lounge and an outdoor community garden. The building was constructed with a prefabricated timber frame constructed by CTF California TrusFrame and clad with LaHambra Integral Color Plaster. To let in natural light and views of the city, the architects punctuated the white exterior with aluminum-framed Arcadia windows and glazed sliding doors. The Suniva Optimus Series Monocrystalline solar modules and Heliodyne solar thermal collectors help offset the building’s electricity needs. “The building’s arching form stretches the length of the site, creating a sheltered courtyard with four residential floors above,” says Michael Maltzan Architecture. “The low points of the building touch down at both the front and back of the site, creating a physical relationship to the smaller-scale single-family residences to the south, and the commercial facades to the north. The lobby and reception are positioned at the front to welcome residents and visitors and activate the street. Inviting, light-filled spaces throughout the building form a network of healthy community connections that support residents.” Related: Michael Maltzan’s Prefab Star Apartments in Downtown LA Residents at the Crest Apartments also enjoy access to a landscape of native , drought-resistant plantings that form a self-sustaining ecosystem supportive of a variety of uses. The low-irrigation landscape is also fitted out with two bioswales , infiltration trenches and permeable paving to manage almost all of the building’s stormwater runoff on-site. + Michael Maltzan Architecture Images via Iwan Baan

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LEED Platinum housing for the homeless takes over a formerly vacant L.A. lot

UNStudio designs cocoon-like pavilion made of 100% recyclable materials

May 25, 2018 by  
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If you’ve ever dreamed of cocooning yourself in nature, this woven prefabricated pavilion may be right up your alley. Dutch architect Ben van Berkel of UNStudio has unveiled the Ellipsicoon, a digitally developed and handwoven pavilion that can pop up anywhere as a sculptural and meditative retreat. The curvaceous Ellipsicoon was created as part of the pavilion series for Revolution Precrafted , a collection of limited-edition prefabricated homes and pavilions designed by the world’s leading architects, artists and designers. Inspired by the organic curves found in nature, Ben van Berkel designed the 160-square-foot Ellipsicoon with soft sinuous curves generated from 3D-modeling computer programs. Although the pavilion was designed and developed digitally, production will be done entirely by hand. Highly skilled craftsmen will hand-weave the Ellipsicoon’s continuous sculptural surface using strands of 100% recyclable high-density polyethylene (HDPE). The pavilion measures 18.7 feet in length, 13.45 feet in width and 8.53 feet in height. To enter the Ellipsicoon, users must first step over the raised threshold to reach a sunken area with built-in seating that follows the fluid curves of the space. The round openings on either side taper inwards near the top to create the sensation of being simultaneously inside and outside. Gaps in the woven structure let in natural light while the two differently sized elliptical openings frame views of the outdoors. Related: Ron Arad designs the modular Armadillo Tea Pavilion for indoor and outdoor use “I have long been interested in exploring spaces which extend function to replace the reality of the everyday with the potential for more nuanced, reflective experiences,” van Berkel said. “The Ellipsicoon offers a place of temporary disengagement, where the practicalities, duties and interruptions of daily life can momentarily fade and the imagination can take over.” Revolution Precrafted will produce limited quantities of the Ellipsicoon. The price and additional details about the pavilion are available upon request . + UNStudio Images via Revolution Precrafted

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UNStudio designs cocoon-like pavilion made of 100% recyclable materials

This prefab cabin is designed to take you off grid in the Scottish Highlands

March 30, 2018 by  
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A new piece of prefab architecture will soon bring artists, researchers, and travelers closer to the spectacular Scottish Highlands. Artist Bobby Niven and architect Iain MacLeod designed the Artist Bothy, a multipurpose cabin prefabricated in Scotland from sustainable materials . Conceived as an artist residency space, the gabled hut promises a low-impact and off-grid immersion in nature. The Artist Bothy was born from the Bothy Project , a network of off-grid artist residency spaces that aims to support artist mobility and access to the Scottish landscape. To withstand the elements, the 178-square-foot cabin was constructed from cross-laminated timber panels clad in Corten corrugated metal and Scottish larch. Insulated with 100 millimeters of wood-fiber insulation, the gabled structure frames views through double-glazed windows. Surface water drainage is handled by concealed downpipes. Related: Solar-powered seaside cabin blends prefab design with traditional building techniques Each Artist Bothy can be installed on site in less than a day. While the structures were envisioned for off-grid use, they can also be connected to electricity and water services. The compact interior features a mostly wooden interior and a mezzanine level for sleeping. Optional extras for added functionality include a kitchenette, bench bed, shelving units, tables, a wood-burning stove , and outer decking. The Artist Bothy is available to purchase starting from £39,000 ($54,731 USD) . + Bothy Project Images by Johnny Barrington

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This prefab cabin is designed to take you off grid in the Scottish Highlands

Sprawling nets suspended mid-air turn a forest into a climbing wonderland

March 30, 2018 by  
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You don’t need to know how to climb a tree to enjoy this marvelous climbing maze suspended in a Guangdong forest. When the school affiliated to the Luofu Mountain Chinese Classics Institute wanted to encourage children to pursue more physical activity, the school tapped Chinese design studio unarchitecte to design a place conducive to play in the forested valley. Taking inspiration from nature, the designers created the Climbing Park of Luofu Mountain, a system of white nets and climbing areas elevated into the air that promotes a closer connection with nature. Careful consideration was taken to protect existing healthy trees during the construction process, while precautions were also taken to avoid damaging tree growth. Metal posts were installed to provide extra support. Hundreds of white triangular nets were pieced together to form an undulating surface with dips and rises evoking the surrounding topography. Related: Green Treehouse Provides an Incredible Learning Playground Children can explore the Climbing Park from multiple entrances, while adults (who are also invited to play up above) can supervise down below. In addition to the nets surface, the designers also included other net structures like spiral tubes and hemispherical tents . “A forest can become a place for children to return to nature, to explore and to think, to sweat and to sit still alone. In the nature, they can forget themselves and can also search for their inner selves,” wrote the architects. “Building a climbing system, architects connect all the trees in the valley by hundreds of diverse white triangle nets to constitute a combination of various topological folding surfaces like a “white sea” for children to swim carefree.” + unarchitecte Via gooood Images by Zhang Hetian

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Sprawling nets suspended mid-air turn a forest into a climbing wonderland

Life-saving LifeArk snaps together like LEGO to provide emergency off-grid housing

August 28, 2017 by  
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Architect Charles Wee didn’t have grand plans to save the world—but that’s exactly what his incredible LifeArk could do. Designed for disaster relief, LifeArk is a prefabricated, modular building system for quickly deployable and affordable housing that can operate 100% off the grid . These self-sustainable life-saving homes, which can be scaled up into communities, can pop up virtually anywhere to float on water or be anchored on land. Thanks to its innovative HDPE materials and production methods, LifeArk clicks together like LEGOs in just a few hours and slashes the total design and construction time for prefabricated architecture in half. LifeArk was recently honored as a 2017 BFI Fuller Challenge Semifinalist . Charles Wee’s architectural career spans a start at AECOM to the founding of international firm GDS Architects . In recent years, however, he began thinking about changing his focus in architecture. “I was sick of conventional architecture,” Wee told Inhabitat in an interview. “Then I had a conversation with a family member that became a light bulb moment. Twelve years ago, my cousin moved to Santa Rosa Island in a part of the Amazon River near the borders of Brazil and Peru to work as a missionary. It’s an area of extreme poverty. I didn’t know much about his work until 2013, when my cousin came out to California and we talked about the way the community lives.” “Their entire existence revolves around fighting flooding. It can flood up to 8 meters high—that’s like 3 stories tall. For 8 months out of the year they must live above water in stilt houses but most of the time the water will come way above that. I saw that in person and understood it as a design and engineering problem. I began to think of floating architecture and buoyant solutions—trying to solve this problem is really what started LifeArk.” His meeting and visit with the people of Santa Rosa opened the doors for Wee to see the worldwide need for floating prefabricated housing. “I couldn’t believe the number,” he said. “There are hundreds of millions of people along floodplains around the world who live under threat.” Wee then assembled a team of experts and engineers to create a sustainable modular solution that could be mass-produced, easily deployable, and assembled. Their solution became LifeArk. The LifeArk components are prefabricated using rotational molding technology; their California factory is expected to stamp out 10 modules a day with around 20 components each. The 60-square-meter modules would then be sent to a second factory to be fitted with the fixed features, such as a kitchenette and off-grid elements like solar panels, before the components are packed into a shipping container for transit. Once onsite, each module can be quickly assembled using unskilled labor and standard tools in as little as 2 hours. Approximately 20 to 24 modules would be needed to construct a house, and the modular buildings can be scaled up and infinitely configured to form a community. Related: Peru plans to dam Amazon River’s main source and displace thousands “They’re like LEGOs,” explained Wee. “You just ‘click, click, click’ and you can bolt the parts together. They all fit together in a shipping container and can be transported to site. While manufacturing is being done we would prep the site, and then it’ll be say to bolt the module on top. All the machinery will be inside already so the only skilled labor needed on site is connections to sewers. But there’s also the option for 100% off-grid capability.” After four years of research and development, the LifeArk team is about ready to deploy their first prototype in March 2018. Three or four buildings will be prefabricated in California and installed on a lake near Dallas, Texas, along with an attached hydroponics farm. Wee also plans to sell LifeArk buildings to cities and organizations looking for affordable homeless housing . Profits will fund the construction and deployment of LifeArk buildings across the world for refugee housing, disaster relief, and other humanitarian purposes. LifeArk was selected as one of 17 proposals to advance in the semifinals for the 2017 Buckminster Fuller Challenge , an annual honor known as “socially responsible design’s highest award.” + LifeArk

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Life-saving LifeArk snaps together like LEGO to provide emergency off-grid housing

Trees to grow on the balconies of Pendas timber high-rise in Toronto

August 3, 2017 by  
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A new kind of “vertical forest” has been envisioned for Toronto where trees would grow on every balcony. Architecture firm Penda teamed up with Canadian company Timber to design the Toronto Tree Tower, an 18-story mixed-use tower covered in greenery and built of cross-laminated timber. The large and modular balconies are staggered to look like branches of a tree and to optimize views for every resident. Designed to appear as a giant tree in the city, the Toronto Tree Tower is covered in plants and greenery and clad in wooden facade panels. The tower’s modular cross-laminated timber units would be prefabricated and assembled off-site, and then transported and stacked around the building’s trunk-like central core. The building would comprise 4,500 square meters of apartments as well as a cafe, children’s daycare center, and community workshops. Related: China’s first vertical forest is rising in Nanjing “Our cities are a assembly of steel, concrete and glass,” said Penda partner Chris Precht, according to Dezeen . “If you walk through the city and suddenly see a tower made of wood and plants, it will create an interesting contrast. The warm, natural appearance of wood and the plants growing on its facade bring the building to life and that could be a model for environmental friendly developments and sustainable extensions of our urban landscape.” + Penda Via Dezeen

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Trees to grow on the balconies of Pendas timber high-rise in Toronto

New light-filled learning center celebrates the food history in one of Denmarks oldest towns

August 3, 2017 by  
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Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter just won a competition to design a new cultural center for one of the oldest settlements in Denmark . The winning proposal, called Kornets Hus (“Grain House”), will be an activity-based learning center in Hjørring focused on the importance of grain to Jutland—a region believed to have been populated 10,000 years ago. Kornets Hus will be of a minimalist and modern design built largely from brick and timber that takes inspiration from the region’s diverse landscapes, folk culture, and agricultural heritage. Commissioned by Realdania , the L-shaped 680-square-meter Kornets Hus is set on a site with an existing farm and bakery. The learning center will offer visitors as well as locals and employees engaging educational experiences about the region’s rich food and farming culture. In addition to educational and exhibition spaces, the building will also include a cafe, store, and offices. Related: Norwegian Mountaineering Centre mimics a dramatic snow-covered mountain The building features a simple and flexible plan to accommodate a wide variety of activities. Two brick-clad light wells , reminiscent of baker kilns, bookend the structure’s two ends. Skylights and large windows also help maximize access to natural light . Glazing on the west facade frame views of wheat fields and connect to an outdoor terrace. A large bread oven forms the heart of the public spaces. + Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter Images via Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter

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New light-filled learning center celebrates the food history in one of Denmarks oldest towns

Provocative timber horn explores the hypnotic pull of the unknown

July 24, 2017 by  
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Digital fabrication and traditional woodworking fuse together in Y, a modern sculpture with a provocative and pixelated appearance. A team of international architects and carpenters comprising &’ [Emmi Keskisarja & Janne Teräsvirta & Company Architects] collaborated with the Finnish National Museum to create the funnel-shaped art piece in Helsinki’s Seurasaari open-air museum. The intriguing artwork is built from horizontal prefabricated cross-laminated timber elements interlocked by 568 timber wedges. The temporary Y was built in the historical Niemelä Tenant Farm courtyard , creating a new social space on museum grounds. “Y is an equation of temporality, time and provocative use of wood in the museum milieu,” wrote the architects. “As Y is the mathematical symbol for the unknown, the installation Y points to the future and the possible outcomes of Nordic built heritage. In Niemelä, Y is a variable within the parameter of time.” The funnels-shaped sculpture is large enough to climb into and explore like a cave, and its hypnotic effect encourages meditative practice. Related: Palestinian architects give the ancient stone vault a modern twist in Jericho Architecturally, the most interesting aspect of Y is its combination of digital fabrication with traditional woodworking . The project’s carpenters used traditional handicraft methods to help develop the project, while the architects brought their set of digital design and production tools to the table. The result is a sculpture that functions like a giant wooden joint that’s built from prefabricated cross-laminated timber elements. The use of timber gives the artwork a feeling of familiarity, however the pixelated appearance adds a touch of the futuristic and unknown. + &’ [Emmi Keskisarja & Janne Teräsvirta & Company Architects] Images by SWANG

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Provocative timber horn explores the hypnotic pull of the unknown

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