Solar-powered home stays naturally cool in Keralas tropical heat

April 2, 2019 by  
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In the South Indian city of Kochi, local architectural practice Meister Varma Architects recently completed Maison Kochi, a contemporary home for a family of four that mitigates the region’s intense tropical heat with energy-efficient and cost-effective techniques. Inspired by the concept of chiaroscuro, a Renaissance artistic technique named after the strong contrasts between light and dark, Maison Kochi features a solid white exterior and a dark interior finished in polished concrete to create a cool indoor environment. The interior layout is also arranged to buffer the heat, while the roof is equipped with solar panels and a rainwater collection system. Slotted on a tight, 1,830-square-foot lot, Maison Kochi was commissioned for a family of four who also sought a studio and office space in the home. As a result, the west-facing building is split into two volumes — the volume on the south side is slightly taller to provide shade on the second volume throughout the day — for a clear division of space between the work areas and the primary living spaces. An open-plan layout and large windows allow for cross ventilation, while a vent in the roof access hatch lets hot air escape for natural cooling. On the ground floor, the work areas (a studio, tool shed and flex meeting room that can be used as a guest bedroom) are located on the south side of the house, while an open-plan living and dining room are located opposite; the two volumes are joined by the entry foyer and a compact kitchen. The master bedroom with a terrace, a children’s bedroom, a TV room and a study are upstairs. To soften the polished concrete walls and black oxide floors, the interior is dressed with Kerala sari-inspired fabrics and multicolored baskets that mimic traditional urban crafts. Almost all of the interior furnishings are custom-made. Related: This rammed earth home in India uses recycled materials throughout “ Rainwater channels are integrated in the roof design as are solar panels,” the architects added. “Collected water is used to recharge the groundwater through an injection system. Flat roofs are insulated with hollow clay blocks and sloping roofs with polyurethane sandwich panels.” + Meister Varma Architects Photography by Praveen Mohandas and Govind Nair (drone photography) via Meister Varma Architects

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Solar-powered home stays naturally cool in Keralas tropical heat

An old office is transformed into the Netherlands’ most sustainable renovated building

March 22, 2019 by  
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In Amsterdam South, a newly renovated office building with a shimmering silver roof has achieved BREEAM Outstanding , a green building rating that arguably makes the property the most sustainable adaptive reuse project in the Netherlands. Formerly a neglected office complex, the empty building was transformed in the hands of Dutch architectural firm Benthem Crouwel Architects and now serves as the energy-positive offices for Goede Doelen Loterijen (Dutch Charity Lotteries). A major goal of the new Goede Doelen Loterijen office was to gather the company’s approximately 600 employees — who had been distributed at different branches for years — into a single location. Because sustainability is a core value of Goede Doelen Loterijen , the new office also needed to be highly sustainable and render the company’s social ambitions visible. Therefore, the building design emphasizes accessibility and transparency, communicating the message that it serves both the employees and the neighborhood. In addition to offices, the building includes a public restaurant, an auditorium and a TV studio. “The Charity Lotteries employees were involved in the design from the very beginning,” the architects explained. “Everyone was invited to share their thoughts, and through this unique process of co-creation, a building emerged that fits the unique atmosphere and work practice of this organization like a glove. It was the employees’ wish to bring the green from the park at their old locations to the new office. To fulfill this wish, a roof was created that is green in every possible way.” Related: MVRDV to transform an Amsterdam office complex into a green residential zone Nearly 7,000 leaves made of polished aluminum cover the roof, supported with slender, tree-shaped columns. The new forest-inspired roof shimmers and changes appearance depending on the time of day and is easily recognizable and visible from afar. In addition to the glittering silver leaves, the roof is also integrated with 949 solar panels and a rainwater collection system for green roof irrigation. Materials from the former office complex were reused, while all new materials have been selected for their sustainable and recyclable qualities. + Benthem Crouwel Architects Via ArchDaily Photography by Jannes Linders via Benthem Crouwel Architects

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An old office is transformed into the Netherlands’ most sustainable renovated building

Solar-powered home puts an eco-friendly twist on the farmhouse vernacular

March 14, 2019 by  
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When architect Paul O’Reilly of the Australian architectural practice archterra was asked by his mother to design a modern farmhouse, he delivered a handsome dwelling that not only takes inspiration from traditional barn architecture, but also deftly addresses the region’s climatic extremes with its site-specific, energy-efficient build. Aptly named the Farm House, the roughly 2,000-square-foot abode features a gabled roofline, a veranda and timber cladding to mimic traditional barns, while the interior is decidedly contemporary and dressed in natural materials, including rammed earth and oiled timber cladding. Moreover, the home is energy-efficient , taking cues from passive solar principles and drawing power from a 2.5-kilowatt solar photovoltaic array. Located on a grassy paddock on a working cattle farm near Margaret River, the Farm House is a two-bedroom, two-bathroom abode that places the sleeping areas toward the south and the open-plan living areas to the north. Large outdoor decks open off of the two bedrooms and the living area toward the east. “Primary outlook across paddocks to the east and a need to maintain a passive solar orientation to the north generated a T-shaped plan response with the living pavilion orientated to the north, whilst the sleeping areas align east-west,” explained the architecture firm. “Morning sun is moderated on the sleeping pavilion by the traditional veranda to the east whilst a thick rammed earth wall to the west ensures the thermal lag effect of the earth wall keeps internal spaces cool into the early evening.” Related: Solar-powered Bush House exemplifies chic eco-friendly living in the Australian outback The home’s passive solar orientation mitigates unwanted heat gain and permits cooling cross breezes to flow through the home from all directions. In addition to the thermally efficient envelope, the energy efficiency of the Farm House is bolstered by the addition of an evacuated tube solar hot water heater, a solar photovoltaic array, rainwater collection  and wastewater treatment systems. Recycled timber and bricks lower the embodied energy of the project as well. + archterra Photography by Douglas Mark Black via archterra

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Solar-powered home puts an eco-friendly twist on the farmhouse vernacular

Sydneys vibrant Green Square Library and Plaza collects and reuses rainwater

February 7, 2019 by  
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Former marshland in Sydney has been transformed into the new Green Square Library and Plaza, a striking project that’s not only revitalizing one of the city’s oldest industrial areas but is also a shining beacon for sustainability. Designed by Sydney-based architecture and urban design practice Stewart Hollenstein in association with Stewart Architecture , the Green Square project features a semi-submerged underground library with a plaza on top. Energy efficiency drove the design as well, from the numerous skylights that let in natural light to the library’s low-energy displacement ventilation system engineered by Arup. Created as a central gathering space for the growing Green Square neighborhood, the Green Square Library and Plaza draws the eye with its playful geometric cutouts and pavilions that punctuate the 8,000-square-meter plaza. The triangular-shaped glass pavilion on one end marks the entrance to the 3,000-square-meter underground library , while the large circular opening next to it brings light into the circular sunken garden at the heart of the library. Also on the plaza is a six-story glazed rectangular volume that includes a double-height reading room, computer lab, black-box theater, music room and community space. An outdoor amphitheater is found on the other end of the plaza. The four areas are visually connected with a series of 49 circular skylights that funnel light into the library, while the rest of the plaza is left open for other activities, from pop-up events on the lawn to a water play zone. Underground, the open-plan library is centered on a sunken garden with a children’s circle and “story tree.” Placing the library underground was no easy feat; because the project sits on former marshland, the area came with a permanent water table above excavation level. Waterproofing with four layers of defense was crucial to protecting the library from damage. The feat of engineering allowed for ample green space above — a key detail that earned the design first place in the global design competition for the public library. Related: This canopy walkway elevates Shenzhen library-goers into the treetops Daylight floods the library thanks to the weatherproof skylights that have been engineered to be walked on and to limit external heat gain. At night, the skylights are illuminated to bring visual interest and safety to the plaza. Reduced energy usage is also achieved with Arup’s bookshelf-integrated displacement ventilation system that brings improved indoor air quality and greater cooling efficiency. The landscaping on the plaza was designed to manage stormwater runoff and capture rainwater for reuse in the library. + Stewart Hollenstein Images by Tom Roe and Julien Lanoo via Stewart Hollenstein

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Sydneys vibrant Green Square Library and Plaza collects and reuses rainwater

Clyde Mews eco-village champions sustainable housing alternatives in Melbourne

January 23, 2019 by  
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Melbourne recently became home to Clyde Mews , an inspiring “eco-village” that champions sustainable, community-focused living in close proximity to the city center. Created as an alternative to resource-intensive, car-centric developments, Clyde Mews features attractive, pedestrian-friendly design and energy-efficient housing. Designed by local architecture firm Six Degrees Architects for property development company Excelon Group, the eco-friendly development includes eight contemporary townhouses fitted out with sustainable elements — such as solar panels and water-efficient appliances — inside and out. Located in the center of Thornbury near a mix of services and amenities, Clyde Mews includes eight dwellings clustered around a shared green space with an urban garden and a  reclaimed timber boardwalk. As a medium-density development, the project consists of six double-story, family-centric townhouses and two apartment units ranging in size from one to three bedrooms. In addition to the tight-knit community atmosphere, the design also stresses resident privacy through the careful consideration of layouts and window placements. Clyde Mews’ contemporary yet grounded appearance is achieved through a material palette consisting of recycled brickwork, black steel, stained glass, cyclone fences and sustainably harvested natural wood. All dwellings benefit from a 30,000-liter underground rainwater storage tank that collects and stores rooftop runoff for reuse in flushing toilets, filling washing machines and irrigating the communal garden. Each house is equipped with Canadian Solar photovoltaic solar panels as well as Fronius solar inverters. Related: Zaha Hadid unveils futuristic designs for “New Moscow” Inside, the Clyde Mews homes are outfitted with Aerotron ceiling fans, hydronic heaters and reverse-cycle air conditioners that work in tandem with passive design features to minimize energy use without compromising on comfort. Examples of passive heating and cooling include high thermal mass exposed concrete floors that absorb sunlight during the day and dissipate the heat at night; cross ventilation; an abundance of natural light through double-glazed windows; and a pitched roof design with operable roof vents to allow hot air to escape. Energy-efficient fixtures range from LED lightbulbs and high-star-rating V-ZUG or Miele appliances. + Six Degrees Architects Photography by Alice Hutchison via Six Degrees Architects

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Sculptural Sunset Houses mimic waves with rainwater-collecting roofs

October 9, 2018 by  
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Named after their spectacular sunset views, the Sunset Houses are two seaside homes set into a slope in the idyllic beach town of Tibau do Sul in northeastern Brazil. Architects Mariana Vilela and Daniel F. Florez of the local architecture firm Vilela Florez designed the sculptural pair of homes, which feature bright blue and grounded brown tones to reference the landscape. To reduce the buildings’ environmental footprint, the architects used locally sourced stone and bamboo and engineered the roof to not only collect rainwater but to also promote natural ventilation. Covering a built area of 430 square meters, the recently completed Sunset Houses were sited for stunning vistas of the Guaraíras Lagoon and the dunes of Malemba Beach. Connected by a large pergola , the two homes comprise two floors each with floor plans that mirror each other. On the ground floor is the open-plan living room, kitchen and dining area that opens up to a covered outdoor seating space overlooking a pool. The outdoor living space also branches off to a small bathroom and utility room. Three bedrooms are placed on the upper level of each home, along with two bathrooms. The upper floor is cantilevered to create shade and protection for the lower spaces. Timber features prominently in the project, and treated bamboo sliding panels provide relief from the hot sun. Locally sourced stone was used for the dividing partition and basement walls; volcanic stones were placed atop the concrete-beamed pergola. The double-layered roof was treated as a “fifth facade” that comprises rainwater-collecting, thermoacoustic panels on the first layer and wood shingles for the second layer. Related: Budget-friendly bamboo house completed in just 10 months “The colors are used in a conceptual and sociological way, inspired by the vivid colors of the facades of the local houses and their expression of joy and acceptance,” the architects said. “The tones chosen are mainly bluish tonalities that, due to the condition of being between two bodies of water , seek to reproduce the many variants of tones coming from the sea and the lagoon.” + Vilela Florez Images by Maira Acayaba

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Shipping containers become a spectacular plant-covered gallery

September 14, 2018 by  
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São Paulo-based architecture studio SuperLimão and architect Gabriela Coelho recently completed GSC, a massive multi-use collector’s gallery built from shipping containers and other metal materials. Located in a lush area of São Paulo, the spacious complex also contains an office, a gym, a small workshop, a kennel and additional gallery space for the client’s other prized items. The industrial character of the cargotecture project was softened with the addition of turf and potted plants, while passive solar techniques were employed to maximize energy efficiency. Covering an area of nearly 19,400 square feet, the GSC is a multilevel project that houses the garage on the ground floor and uses a series of reused shipping containers stacked on top to form the upper level. Rather than place all the containers side by side in a row, the architects strategically arranged the 10 containers to promote natural ventilation, lighting and sight lines between the different areas. The interstitial spaces between containers were converted into green space with seating and timber decking. The roofs of the containers were also landscaped with rows and rows of potted plants. “One characteristic that differentiates our project from the usual container projects that we are used to seeing is that this particular project is totally adapted to our climate while utilizing the maximum passive techniques of form to maximize energy efficiency and take advantage of reusable materials from the container itself,” the architects explained. “All of the spaces have windows on three different levels. They not only allow for ventilation , but they also perform at an optimal level on days without wind. The exterior walls are finished in a ceramic paint and work in conjunction with the roof covered in foliage to thermally regulate the internal environment thus reducing the use of air-conditioning equipment.” Air conditioning is only used during the hottest parts of summer. Related: 13 shipping containers are reborn as a new restaurant on Treasure Island The interiors of the containers were renovated to house a variety of rooms, yet the look of the original walls and doors was preserved to reference the building material’s history. Full-height glazing creates a sense of permeability that continues throughout the structure. Outside, rainwater is collected in a large cistern and reused. + SuperLimão Via ArchDaily Images by Maíra Acayaba

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Shipping containers become a spectacular plant-covered gallery

A modern farmhouse in South Africa blends style with sustainability

September 6, 2018 by  
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Strey Architects is bringing a contemporary style to the countryside with its recent project, Link House. The home, which features a plethora of sustainable design elements, showcases simple living at its finest by meshing luxury and minimalism . Features ranging from design for natural ventilation to solar heating and rainwater collection tanks meld seamlessly into the gorgeous modern farmhouse. In designing Link House, Strey Architects was tasked with building a farmhouse that was both aesthetically attractive and humble. The result is a beautiful countryside home that features three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a formal dining room, a lounge, a pool and a large playroom — all in a sustainable design . The house, which takes on a U-shape, also includes a large deck out front, an open kitchen and a garden. According to the architects, the house was designed with two wings and positioned to take advantage of the seasons. During the hotter months, the west wing blocks the sun and acts as a privacy screen. When winter comes, the northern and southern wings allow more sunlight inside the house for optimal heating conditions. The house also features fold-away doors and top-notch ventilation, which eliminates the need for a traditional HVAC system. Even the building blocks for the Link House were made from sustainable materials. The foundation is built from recycled plastic and is designed to air out dangerous radon gas. The walls and ceilings feature board insulation to properly protect the outer brick siding. Inside, the floors are crafted from recycled teak parquet. The stunning modern farmhouse wouldn’t be complete without a rainwater catchment system and solar water heating throughout the residence, making it completely sustainable throughout the year. Although the Link House is sustainable, Strey Architects did not sacrifice anything on design and aesthetics. The end result is a home that will fit in just about any location and fully comply with building regulations while remaining stylish and green . + Strey Architects Via ArchDaily Images via Dook / Strey Architects

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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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