Escape the stresses of city life with the off-grid Into the Wild cabin

August 8, 2018 by  
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Slovakian architecture studio Ark Shelter has recently unveiled the latest iteration of its beautiful Ark Shelter—a tiny, self-sufficient unit that can be placed almost anywhere you please. Dubbed the “Into the Wild” cabin, their newest off-grid shelter typology embraces the outdoors from all sides with large walls of glass. Developed from three years of research and development, the Into the Wild cabin offers modern comforts with minimal landscape impact. Prefabricated in a factory offsite, the Into the Wild cabin encompasses nearly 431 square feet of living space. To recede the tiny cabin into the landscape, the architects used black-stained spruce for the exterior cladding. In contrast, the interior is lined in light-colored spruce and fitted out with lacquered oak furnishings and surfaces with a beige finish. Ark Shelter custom-designed the table, dining table, couch and lamp while the drawing and conference table was sourced from Croatian manufacturer Prostoria. Punctuated with glazing on all sides, the light-filled cabin features an open-plan living area, dining space and kitchen, as well as a bathroom, storage space and bedroom space with a concealed Jacuzzi beneath the bed. An extra module added to the top of the cabin creates space for an upper loft that can be used as a second bedroom. The cabin is equipped with solar panels, batteries and rainwater collection systems for off-grid living. Related: 7 charming off-grid homes for a rent-free life “The Shelter, with its low-tech outlook facade, is created so that it attempts to blend with nature, while refining its complex and sophisticated system that automatically works with space and light,” wrote the architects. “Thanks to an automatic system the heating, cooling and shadings can be pre-programmed. The double bed goes up automatically in the ceiling and beneath the bed there is a hidden jacuzzi, creating a new relaxing area.” + Ark Shelter Images by Jakub Skokan and Martin T?ma / BoysPlayNice

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Escape the stresses of city life with the off-grid Into the Wild cabin

A net-zero modern farmhouse kicks off a sustainable community in Texas

July 26, 2018 by  
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When a pair of retired ordained ministers set their sights on creating a sustainable community for “spiritual renewal,” the couple turned to Austin-based design practice Miró Rivera Architects to bring their vision to life. Located on a 47-acre meadow property in Texas , the recently completed Hill Country House serves as the community’s first housing prototype and as a private residence for the clients. Affectionately dubbed “The Sanctuary” by its owners, the spacious farmhouse-style abode combines rural influences with a modern aesthetic on a very modest budget. Arranged in a linear layout spanning 5,100 square feet, The Hill Country House cuts a striking and sculptural silhouette in the landscape with its zigzagging standing-seam metal roof that mimics the surrounding hilly topography. The home is primarily clad in white corrugated aluminum siding interrupted by vertical planks of warm cedar siding. The tapering limestone chimney, inspired by an existing shed on site, was built of dry-stacked local stone. Natural and locally sourced materials were used to reduce environmental impact and to tie the appearance to the landscape. Inside, the home is flooded with natural light and overlooks framed outdoor views. Crisp white walls and tall ceilings lend the home its bright and airy character. The public and private areas of the home are located on opposite ends. “Particular attention was paid to creating spaces that would enable hosting large groups of friends and family, blurring the line between indoor and outdoor space,” the architects explained. “The stark white aluminum cladding is broken at various intervals by warm cypress siding that defines a series of rooms outside the house, including a temple-like screen porch that extends from the volume containing the main living spaces.” Related: Spectacular wildflower roof grows atop a dreamy Texan cabana The environmentally friendly features of the Hill Country House have earned it a 4-star rating from the Austin Energy Green Building, a precursor of the LEED certification system. An 8 kW solar array meets nearly two-thirds of the home’s annual energy usage, while a five-ton geothermal system supplies mechanical heating and cooling. The homeowners’ water needs are supplied by a 30,000-gallon rainwater collection system. According to a project statement, the owners hope their modern farmhouse will serve “as a model for future off-the-grid development.” + Miró Rivera Architects Images by Paul Finkel / Piston Design

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A net-zero modern farmhouse kicks off a sustainable community in Texas

Lush green roof camouflages the Chameleon Villa into the Indonesian tropics

July 16, 2018 by  
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True to its name, the Chameleon Villa is a residence that seamlessly blends into its forested surroundings in Bali thanks to its integration of a lush green roof. Designed by international architecture practice Word of Mouth House , the contemporary home spans nearly 11,000 square feet, yet deftly hides its bulk with landscaped roofs. The “camouflaged” roofs also help promote natural cooling and are integrated with rainwater collection and recycling systems as well as solar panels. Located in the village of Buwit in southwest Bali, the Chameleon Villa is set on an acre of densely forested land with steep and challenging terrain, including a level change of 36 feet. To blend the building into the site as much as possible, the designers at Word of Mouth House crafted the home as a cluster of volumes that step down the slope and are carefully positioned to follow the original contour lines and to optimize views of the river below and forest beyond. A natural materials palette  — with locally sourced elements like teak wood, iron wood and natural stone — further blends the dwelling into the landscape. Related: Beautiful bamboo pavilion in Bali translates the flexibility of yoga into architecture “We worked on the idea of ‘landscaped architecture’ by blurring the boundaries between natural and built environments,” explained the firm. “As a result, the buildings appear to be a part of the land itself sometimes disappearing within it, and then at other times, emerging from it. As per traditional Balinese architecture the different pavilions accommodate different functions and all communal spaces are kept open towards the elements whereas the bedrooms and other more private spaces such as office, gym and media room are close-able volumes.” The vibrant green roofs keep the lower spaces comfortable through passive cooling, and this vegetation also aids in rainwater collection. The residents can recycle the water for use in garden irrigation. The home also produces clean energy through solar panels, further adding to its sustainable features. + Word of Mouth House Images by Daniel Koh

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Lush green roof camouflages the Chameleon Villa into the Indonesian tropics

UN Environment and Yale present a sustainable tiny home in NYC

July 13, 2018 by  
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U.N. Environment and Yale University’s School of Architecture has unveiled an innovative tiny home that explores the intersection of policy and eco-conscious design. The Ecological Living Module, located at the U.N. Plaza in New York City, is a sustainable dwelling that embodies many of the U.N.’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals , several of which are under review this month at the U.N. High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development. Designed by an interdisciplinary group of engineers, architects and designers from the Yale Center for Ecosystems in Architecture, the 22-square-meter tiny home includes integrated systems for on-site water collection, solar energy generation (using less than 1 percent of toxic semiconductor materials), micro-agricultural infrastructure, natural daylighting, plant-based air purification, passive cooling and cross-ventilation and various other cutting-edge technologies that allow the home to function off-grid. In addition to being powered solely by renewable energy with a net-zero footprint, the housing module is composed primarily of locally sourced, bio-based renewable or recyclable materials. Several of the materials used to construct the particular model on display were reused or repurposed from previous projects. Related: 10 eclectic tiny homes built with 99% scrap At a minimum, the living tiny house module includes a kitchen, bathroom, dining area and sleeping space for four people, and it can be adapted for both domestic and commercial needs. The project demonstrates what can be accomplished in a small space with a minimal environmental footprint. The tiny home symbolizes the objectives of the Sustainable Development Goals and brings sustainability closer to home and to the forefront of our lives. U.N. Environment’s communications officer Sophie Loran said, “We really enjoyed the work that went into this project because it brought together such a wide variety of experts interested in making sustainability real for people.” Related: Architecture students build a tiny CLT classroom in just 3 weeks One billion people currently inhabit informal settlements across the globe, and many more live in structures that are not environmentally friendly. Communities faced by rapid economic growth and urbanization are increasingly facing the need for new infrastructure solutions in order to grow sustainably. “Everybody on this planet has a right to a decent home, but the housing sector uses 40 percent of the planet’s total resources and represents almost a third of global greenhouse gas emissions,” said U.N. Environment Head Erik Solheim. “In the face of a growing world population, smart new housing solutions, such as the Ecological Living Module, will be needed to balance our need to house everybody while protecting our planet’s ability to support life.” In addition to examining where we live, the exhibition calls attention to how we live, namely, how our daily at-home habits impact the planet. As visitors move through the various spaces within the tiny home, they will have the opportunity to learn more about energy-efficient lighting and appliances, urban farming , composting toilets and methods for reducing water consumption and food waste. In the bathroom, visitors will be exposed to information about avoiding hygiene products containing microbeads and videos about various initiatives to protect and restore freshwater ecosystems. In the kitchen, they can explore information on global campaigns to reduce food waste or to redirect it from landfills to livestock food. Some of the Sustainable Development Goals embodied by the tiny house include “Responsible Consumption and Production,” “ Clean Water and Sanitation ” and “Climate Action.” After exploring how eco-conscious home design can directly support these goals, visitors can apply similar sustainable technologies and techniques to their own homes, making sustainability initiatives more personal and approachable. Related: Solar-powered mountain home is a sustainable prototype for Aspen development The tiny home exhibit will be on display at the U.N. Headquarters in New York City until July 18, after which it will be moved to the U.C. Berkeley campus. This first demonstration unit contains location-specific features that consider the climate and context of New York. Plans for future applications, including an adaptation in Kenya, will likewise incorporate features that cater to the local climate and culture. By demonstrating the practicality and benefits of eco-conscious affordable housing, the Ecological Living Module showcases the ability of sustainable design to meet the challenges of the 21st century. + U.N. Environment + Yale University Images via U.N. Environment

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UN Environment and Yale present a sustainable tiny home in NYC

Confluence Park’s new solar-powered pavilions collect rainwater and provide shade from the summer sun

July 12, 2018 by  
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San Antonio’s idyllic Confluence Park just became a little greener and more scenic, thanks to a collaboration between firms Lake Flato and Matsys Design with the support of landscape architect Rialto Studio . The riverfront park now boasts sweeping sculptural pavilions that provide shade from the fierce Texas sun as well as an elegant method for collecting rainwater. Confluence Park is located where the San Pedro Creek merges into the San Antonio River. Covering just over three acres, the public park now features a main pavilion , three smaller pavilions and a classroom. Flowing water and confluence served as strong influences these new structures, which imitate the sculptural atmosphere of the surrounding landscape. The team strategically designed these additions for minimal site impact . The focal point of the park is the main pavilion. This structure is constructed from 22 concrete pieces resembling petals, which were made on site and lifted into place. The pieces form giant archways that are illuminated at night with subtle accent lighting that merges seamlessly into the swooping petal formations. The main pavilion as well as the smaller pavilions are both beautiful and functional. The petal shapes help to funnel rainwater that is collected in the park’s catchment system. This system serves as the park’s main water source. In addition to collecting water, the pavilions provide a cool respite from the fierce summer heat that often plagues southern Texas . The Estella Avery Education Center stands near the main pavilion. This structure generates 100 percent of the energy it uses through solar panels while offering a space for the city’s residents to learn more about the San Antonio River watershed and surrounding environment. The green roof that tops the classroom is planted with native grasses and allows for passive heating and cooling through thermal mass. Thanks to the new classroom and pavilions, Confluence Park now offers more opportunities for park-goers to learn and explore the local environment . “Confluence Park is a living laboratory that allows visitors to gain a greater understanding of the ecotypes of the South Texas region and the function of the San Antonio River watershed,” Lake Flato architects said. “Throughout the park, visitors learn through observation, engagement and active participation.” + Lake Flato + Matsys + Rialto Studio Via Dezeen Images via Casey Dunn

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Confluence Park’s new solar-powered pavilions collect rainwater and provide shade from the summer sun

LEED Gold UBC Aquatic Center boasts innovative water recycling

April 11, 2018 by  
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A striking aquatics center on the University of British Columbia Vancouver Campus melds elite-level swimming facilities with impressive eco-credentials. Designed by Canadian architecture firm MJMA , in collaboration with Acton Ostry Architects , to achieve LEED Gold certification, the UBC Aquatic Center is awash in high water demands with its three pools, hot tub, steam and sauna, drinking fountains, and 34 showers. To meet water efficiency regulations set out by UBC and LEED Gold, the architects employed an innovative water management system that includes water recycling and an underground cistern tank that can store 1.3 million liters of rainwater at a time. The 85,000-square-foot UBC Aquatic Center is more than just a recreational facility for UBC staff and students. Envisioned as a community resource, the swimming center was also created to provide a high-performance training and competition venue for Olympians and includes separated sections for Community Aquatics and Competition Aquatics. In a fitting response to the demanding brief, the architects topped the mostly glazed building with a white angular roof for that gives the facility a sense of eye-catching drama and helps facilitate rainwater collection. Combined with a long skylight that bisects the building, the continuous ceramic fritted glazing that wraps around three elevations brings in copious amounts of natural light . Sensors for zoned lighting control help reduce electricity demands. Healthy indoor air quality is promoted with an air flow system that replaces chloromine-contaminated air from the top of the water surface with fresh air. Related: Flussbad Berlin Wants to Build an Enormous Natural Swimming Pool in the City’s River Water is captured from the roof and reused for plumbing, landscape irrigation and pool top up. Rainwater collection provides the facility with around 2.7 million liters of water each year—an amount equivalent to an Olympic-sized pool. Renewable materials were also used throughout the build with approximately 30% of materials sourced from British Columbia and Washington State. + MJMA Via Architect Magazine Images by Ema Peter

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LEED Gold UBC Aquatic Center boasts innovative water recycling

This self-sustaining Australian home harvests its own food, energy, and water

April 6, 2018 by  
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Building a self-sustaining home can involve a higher upfront investment, but it usually pays off in the long run thanks to increased efficiency and lower energy bills. Sydney residents Geoff Carroll and Julie Young did just that by hiring  CplusC Architectural Workshop  to  renovate their 1980s terrace house into an environmentally friendly home that allows them to grow their own produce and track daily energy consumption . Carroll and Young, who work at a company that helps clients confront the challenges of hyper-urbanization and climate change, wanted a home that would reflect their commitment to sustainability. The result, named Aquas Perma Solar Firma, is a house dominated by sustainable features like a greenery-filled central courtyard , vertical gardens , aquaponics , rain filter systems and even a chicken coop. Related: Historic Belgian farmhouse renovated into a modern solar-powered home The architects significantly enhanced the building’s thermal performance and introduced ample outdoor spaces. They also reduced the number of bedrooms from four to two, relocated the staircase to the front of the building, and converted the existing carport into a permaculture garden. A rain chain going through a large concrete weight funnels rainwater into an underground tank. This rainwater is used for supplying the laundry, toilet and garden. The rear garden features an aquaponics system for fish harvesting, a wicking bed, a compost system, a vegetable garden and chicken coops. Finally, an evacuated glass tube solar system is used for hot water, while a solar array provides clean energy for electricity. + CplusC Architectural Workshop Via Dwell Photos by Murray Fredericks

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Off-grid Fossil Discovery Exhibit camouflages into the Texan desert

March 28, 2018 by  
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Big Bend National Park isn’t just a place of stunning landscape beauty—the Texan park is also paleontological paradise. To tell the story of the area’s rich fossil history, Texan architecture studio Lake | Flato designed the Fossil Discovery Exhibit, a series of interpretive pavilions that draws inspiration from the surrounding topography. The unstaffed, low-maintenance building operates off grid and draws energy and water from solar panels and a rainwater catchment system. Created as a series of open-air pavilions , the Fossil Discovery Exhibit takes visitors on the Big Bend Fossil Discovery Trail: a sequential walkway that covers four paleontological eras from the Early Cretaceous period to the Cenozoic Era. “The complex story of Big Bend’s remarkable landscape can be brought to life through its fossil history and the artifacts found within the park,” wrote the architects. “These characteristics create a unique opportunity for interpretation and education; the trail will describe the world-class diversity and length of Big Bend’s fossil history while directly referencing the breathtaking surrounding landscape.” Related: Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum is sustainably built from CNC-milled beetle-kill timber Elevated on concrete piers, the building is clad in perforated weathering steel for low maintenance and camouflage so as to avoid disrupting views from the road and trails. Interior partitions guide visitors through the spaces, the highlight of which is the Gallery of the Giants where massive bones and recreated skeletons are on display. Solar panels power the buildings, while the angled roof, which evokes a winged dinosaur, is optimized for rainwater collection. + Lake | Flato Via Dezeen Images by Casey Dunn

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Off-grid Fossil Discovery Exhibit camouflages into the Texan desert

Zero-energy tiny home has a near-invisible footprint

March 12, 2018 by  
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COULSON architects designed Disappear Retreat, a tiny, mirrored house that not only appears to disappear into the landscape but also boasts a near-invisible footprint. Created for “triple-zero living,” this prefabricated structure is an off-grid dwelling that’s zero energy, zero waste, and zero water. Built to the Passive House Standard, the 83-square-foot home needs no active heating or cooling systems even in extreme weather climates. Disappear Retreat’s minimal boxy form and design open the home up for a myriad of uses from stargazing in the boreal forests to suburban backyard sauna. Mirrored glass walls allow for privacy and full-height views and are triple-pane insulated with R-values of 32 to minimize energy consumption. The walls will also have a UV reflective coating to protect against bird and animal collisions. COULSON Architects have developed three retreat models with different interior layouts, including: Bed+Bath with a built-in sofa/bed and bathroom; Basic with an open-plan layout for multipurpose use; and Sauna that’s equipped with a sauna heater and built-in benches. Each module can fit on a standard trailer. Related: Incredible glass home stays comfortably snug even in extreme temperatures The airtight and super-insulated homes are powered by solar energy and feature an integrated plumbing system with gray, black, and potable water tanks. The units are also equipped with rainwater collection and composting systems. The Disappear Retreats are open for preorder enquiries now. + COULSON architects Via New Atlas Images via COULSON architects

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Zero-energy tiny home has a near-invisible footprint

This ultra-thin aluminum pavilion evokes a supernatural pine tree

March 12, 2018 by  
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Marc Fornes / THEVERYMANY’s works are both otherworldly and instantly recognizable—and Pine Sanctuary at the entrance to the Riverwood Conservancy in Mississauga is no exception. Like the NYC-based art and architecture firm’s other projects, this vaulted structure combines organic forms with striking coloration in an ultra-thin aluminum composition. The large-scale sculpture was brought to life with computation design and digital fabrication and was funded in part by the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program in celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary. From a distance, Pine Sanctuary’s conical and green appearance evokes the image of an unusual tree. Up close, however, the self-supporting pavilion reveals itself as a porous shelter providing shade and an unforgettable photo backdrop. The curvilinear installation was built from laser-cut pieces of ultra-thin aluminum that were painted in four shades of green, blue, black, and white. The linear aluminum stripes and arching components were installed from the ground up. Related: This incredible building is made from material as thin as a coin “A system of branches rotates around a center point,” wrote the architects. “There’s no trunk holding up this arboreal structure. Instead, it opens up into a shady space. “Branches” touch the ground lightly around a covered grove, like a redwood hollowed out. Its feet, splay in all directions, along the way creating a labyrinth through which one can slip in, out and around. Circling the structure, no facade ever repeats itself. The new, unique angle upon every step forward prolongs the sense of discovery.” Pine Sanctuary is the studio’s second public pavilion in Canada. + Marc Fornes / THEVERYMANY Images via Marc Fornes / THEVERYMANY

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