Mud and recycled materials make up this sustainable Kerala home

April 30, 2019 by  
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When Ramanujan Basha decided to build a modern, eco-friendly home in Kerala, he turned to Wallmakers , a local design practice with a decade’s worth of experience designing sustainable architecture. Unlike its more conventional neighbors, the house, dubbed Chirath, is built primarily of mud, recycled elements and natural materials . Passive solar principles were also applied to the design to let in light and much-needed natural ventilation for relief from Kerala’s tropical climate. In addition to wanting a sustainable home, the client told the architects that he wanted to steer clear of the traditional Kerala home system. To combat the heat and the monsoon rain, most conventional homes feature sloped roofs with thick overhangs that protect against the elements but also lead to an undesirably dark interior. Moreover, the client felt that the traditional architectural systems’ delineation of space promoted gender inequality. “Thus during the early days of the project, the client had made a point that the house should be a symbol of a new light, or a new outlook to our age-old systems and beliefs,” the architects said. “‘Chirath,’ which denotes a traditional lamp in Malayalam, is the name given by Mr. Ramanujan Basha for his house at Pala, Kerala. The client thus asked for a solution by throwing away the bad and utilizing the good. We decided to break the roof, split it open and let the light flow in, all while using waste and mud to build the house. This is the concept of Chirath.” Related: Solar-powered home stays naturally cool in Kerala’s tropical heat Clad in locally sourced earth, Chirath’s structural walls were constructed with a mix of cement, soil and recycled coarse aggregate for strength, while ferrocement was used for the roof and partition walls. Other recycled materials include waste wood repurposed to make furnishings, such as the beds and kitchen cabinets, as well as unwanted steel given new life as beautiful window grills and ventilators. Locally sourced tiles were assembled into the terracotta tile jali that lets in cooling breezes and light. For added passive cooling, the architects installed a pool in the living area that connects to a rainwater harvesting tank, which collects runoff for reuse in the home. + Wallmakers Photography by Anand Jaju, Jino and Midhu via Wallmakers

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This beekeepers workshop uses sustainable design to minimize its footprint

April 22, 2019 by  
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In a bid to save northern Brazil’s rainforests from deforestation and land exploitation, São Paulo-based architecture firm Estudio Flume has recently completed Casa do Mel, a beekeepers workshop that serves as a self-sustainable business alternative to logging operations. Located in the Canaã dos Carajás in the Pará Estate of Brazil, the workshop serves a co-operative of beekeepers formed by 53 rural producers. To reduce site impact, the building follows passive solar principles and incorporates a variety of sustainable strategies such as a bio-digester and a rainwater harvesting system. Set on a steeply sloped site, Casa do Mel deftly navigates the 23-foot height difference with a concrete slab suspended on piers, a more cost-effective solution to the more conventional ground works approach. Elevating the building also helps to naturally ventilate the interior; the raised double-layered roof (slab and corrugated metal sheeting) and perforated walls made of concrete blocks backed with insect mesh also bring cooling cross-breezes into the workspace. The long roof overhang provides shade and protection from the harsh Brazilian sun. “The orientation of the Casa do Mel was designed with consideration to the local climate, prioritizing the thermal comfort and natural lighting of the workspace,” the architects explain of the 2,583-square-foot building. “The most permanent premises, such as the container and process rooms for honey, were located facing East to get the early morning sunlight.” Related: Flow Hive lets beekeepers harvest honey without disturbing the bees To responsibly handle gray water , the architects planted a circle of banana trees (Circulo de bananeiras) that uses the root system to treat the water and prevent soil contamination. Organic waste is treated in a bio-digester where it is turned into fertilizer and organic compost. The butterfly roof helps facilitate the collection of rainwater, which is used for non-potable uses such as flushing toilets. + Estudio Flume Images via Estudio Flume

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This beekeepers workshop uses sustainable design to minimize its footprint

LEED Platinum fire station is powered with solar energy in Seattle

April 11, 2019 by  
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The north end of Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood has recently become home to a new, contemporary fire station that’s also a beacon for sustainability. Certified LEED Platinum, Fire Station 22 was designed by local architectural practice Weinstein A+U to harvest solar power, as well as rainwater , which is used for all of the station’s non-potable water uses. The building also has an enhanced civic presence with a super-scaled and illuminated “22” on its facade and large walls of glass that invite the neighborhood in. Due to its location on a long and narrow corner lot confined by two freeways and a heavily trafficked road, Fire Station 22 forgoes the conventional back-in configuration in favor of a drive-through layout for better visibility and safety. However, this configuration and the constraints of the space meant that the two-story support and crew spaces needed to be put at the front of the site, thus blocking views of the fire station’s apparatus bay, which has always traditionally been visible to the public. To reengage the community, the architects added a public plaza at the main entry, a super-scaled “22” sign on the concrete hose-drying tower and a glazed lobby and station office. “The station needs to mediate this complex site while maintaining rigorous programmatic requirements and balancing users’ desire for privacy,” said the architects , who completed the project as the last full-building replacement project under the 2003 Fire Facilities and Emergency Response Levy. “It does so with a sculptural facade along E. Roanoke Street, which provides privacy for the building’s users while creating pedestrian interest and texture. The station opens up to the future 520 Lid at the northeast corner, with a fully glazed lobby, the iconic Apparatus Bay egress doors, and a hose tower that acts as a landmark on the singular site.” Related: LEED Platinum fire station boosts firefighter wellness in Seattle Built to meet current program standards, Fire Station 22 features highly efficient mechanical and plumbing systems in addition to a solar PV system and rainwater harvesting systems. The project has earned three 2018 AIA Merit Awards. + Weinstein A+U Images by Lara Swimmer

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Rammed earth Kopila Valley School is the greenest school in Nepal

April 10, 2019 by  
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In Nepal , access to education doesn’t just improve job prospects — schools can save lives, whether it’s rescuing children from malnourishment or delaying the age of marriage to reduce rates of HIV, maternal death and suicide. That’s why American nonprofit BlinkNow has dedicated itself to building community infrastructure in Surkhet, Nepal, including the Kopila Valley School. Powered entirely by solar energy and built of rammed earth walls, the campus is billed by the founders as the “greenest school in Nepal.” Located on three acres of land, the recently opened Kopila Valley School serves more than 400 students from nursery through 12th grade. The campus was built to expand on the nonprofit’s existing primary school and create a safe and nurturing environment that is not only a place of learning (with school uniforms and books provided), but also offers children nutritious meals, basic medical and dental care and after-school activities, such as sports and cooking classes. The school employs more than 100 Nepalese teachers and administrators. The campus also includes a Mental Health and Counseling Center, the Kopila Valley Health Clinic, a tutoring room, a computer lab, a stage and a small library. Sustainability is at the forefront of the campus design. Locally sourced rammed earth , chosen for superior thermal mass and temperature control, was used to construct the 18-inch-thick walls reinforced with steel bars for stability and earthquake resilience and a small amount of PPC cement to protect against dampness during monsoon season. Natural ventilation and lighting were also optimized in the positioning of the buildings and windows, while covered terraces at southern-facing walls provide shade. The campus is 100 percent solar-powered with a 25.2 kWp solar PV system and a 20 kVA off-grid battery system. Related: UK architect helps locals rebuild Nepal temple destroyed by earthquake A 300,000-liter underground cistern stores rainwater harvested from the rooftops that is filtered for potable use. The landscaping and permeable paving ensure rainwater is also used to replenish the groundwater system. All wastewater is treated on site with constructed wetlands and then recycled. Gray water from sinks is used to flush the toilets; black water is filtered for plant irrigation; solids are converted in a pressurized tank into biogas fuel for cooking. Solar cookers are also used for cooking. + BlinkNow Images via BlinkNow

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Rammed earth Kopila Valley School is the greenest school in Nepal

A Victorian cottage gets a stylish and sustainable makeover

January 17, 2019 by  
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In one of its latest eco-conscious retrofits, Australian architecture firm Green Sheep Collective has given a single-fronted timber Victorian cottage a sustainable transformation in inner Melbourne. The renovation and expansion project combined recycled and eco-certified materials with low-tech, passive solar principles to reduce the carbon footprint of the home while improving livability. Filled with light and contemporary flourishes, the updated house — named Magnolia Soul — has also been designed to embrace the outdoors. Commissioned by a young family with pets, Magnolia Soul was designed with an emphasis on spacious indoor-outdoor living as well as healthy and eco-friendly materials. During the renovation, the architects preserved a mature magnolia tree — a stunning Magnolia x soulangeana — and turned it into a main focal point. In addition to the tree, the existing property conditions also informed the building’s siting, mass and volume, which were all optimized to follow passive solar principles. Moreover, the building footprint is minimized in favor of maximizing the garden area. “A unique folding roof form envelopes and cradles robust living spaces, whose lowered floor level is embraced by adjacent decking,” the architects explained, having created a flexible open-plan interior layout with strong sight lines to the outdoors. “Views of the magnolia tree are intentionally framed by the roof structure, through a high-angled window and bay window seat. The generous and versatile window seat creates a lovely place to relax, read a book, admire the flowering magnolia or sit on the edge of the garden. High angular ceilings offer views of the magnolia, allow dappled light to penetrate deep into the residence and provide stack effect ventilation.” Related: Smart Home targets affordability and eco-friendly design in Australia The home is oriented for optimal thermal comfort : north-facing windows draw in natural heat for winter, while deep eaves and strategically placed windows for cross ventilation combat unwanted summer heat gain. Low-E double glazing and effective insulation also accommodate a temperate climate. Recycled, low-emission and ethnically procured materials were used wherever possible. For added resource savings, the home is equipped with a rainwater tank that reuses roof runoff for the laundry and toilets. + Green Sheep Collective Photography by Emma Cross via Green Sheep Collective

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Futuristic eco-city powered with renewable energy is unveiled for the Maldives

December 7, 2018 by  
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Beijing and New York-based design studio CAA Architects has placed first in the “Maldives Airport, Economic Zone Development” competition with their design of a futuristic, energy-producing eco-city on the east coast of the reclaimed island Hulhumalé, Maldives . Named Ocean’s Heaven after its nature-inspired design connecting the ocean with the city, the project features striking, sinuous buildings covered in green roofs and solar panels and will be capable of producing almost all of its own energy on-site. Commissioned by the Beijing Urban Construction Group Co. in partnership with the Maldives central government, the eco-city is yet another example of China’s increasing influence over the archipelago country. Global warming and rising sea levels are serious concerns for the Maldives, a tropical paradise famed for its pristine beaches and aquamarine waters. In response to the climate change threats and to celebrate the island country’s natural beauty, CAA Architects crafted Ocean’s Heaven with organically inspired buildings integrated with energy-producing systems to reduce reliance on fossil fuels. The mixed-use development will cover nearly two-thirds of the 100,000-square-meter site and include residences, an airport company service center, international trade center, convention center, island transport hub, shopping centers, a business hotel, dining, along with a centralized cultural center that will serve as the island’s “nervous system”. Ocean’s Heaven will promote high-density urban living and public transportation that includes both surface and water commuting. Ample green space, including sky gardens, will strengthen the community’s ties with nature. Related: This stunning underwater art museum is now open in the Maldives In addition to the solar photovoltaic arrays mounted on the buildings and the sculptural canopy elements along the boardwalk, Ocean’s Heaven will also draw power from tidal waves to generate over 70 percent of the electricity needed to power the development. Rainwater harvesting and passive cross ventilation are also woven into the design. The project, which will be carried out in two phases, is slated for completion in 2021. + CAA Architects Via ArchDaily Images via CAA Architects

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Modern, self-sustaining home blends into a rocky landscape

November 13, 2018 by  
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Zagreb-based architectural office PROARH completed Issa Megaron, a family retreat in Croatia that’s disguised inside a rocky hillside with a zigzagging road. Due to its remote location and lack of surrounding infrastructure, the modern home operates off the grid by necessity and includes self-sustaining technologies from rainwater collection tanks to solar photovoltaic panels. Going off grid, however, hasn’t compromised the architect’s pursuit of luxurious living, made evident by the contemporary interior design, large pool and spacious footprint of 420 square meters. Completed in 2016, Issa Megaron began with the conceptual combination of a cave, a megaron (a great hall in ancient Greek palaces) and stone dry walls. “The house is envisioned as a dug in volume, a residential pocket between the stretches of space forming walls, an artificial grotto, a memory of a primitive shelter,” explained the architects, who split the house into two floors. The upper floor contains six bedrooms and bathrooms organized around a central living room and book-ended by two offices. The master bedroom and bath, the  open-plan dining room, lounge and kitchen, the game room, the gym and storage are located on the lower floor, which opens up to the pool and outdoor terrace. The traditional stone dry walls have been reinterpreted as reinforced concrete retaining walls topped with rocky green roofs . When viewed from above, Issa Megaron appears to blend into the steep terrain. “The design that emerges from such conditions is subtle, creates a symbiosis with the new/old stonewall topography,” the firm noted. “The newly built structure is man-made but unobtrusive in intent, material and ultimate appearance.” Related: Croatian freshwater aquarium by 3LHD is built right into the hillside In addition to green roofs and solar panels, the house minimizes its energy footprint by following passive solar design principles that promote natural cooling. A concentrating solar power system is used for heating, while harvested rainwater is filtered and reused in the house and for the pool. + PROARH Via ArchDaily Photography by Damir Fabijani? and Miljenko Bernfest via PROARH

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3XN unveils a sustainable redesign for the Sydney Fish Market

November 8, 2018 by  
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Danish design practice 3XN has revealed its competition-winning redesign for the Sydney Fish Market, a waterfront marketplace that will undergo a $250 million expansion and, in the process, revitalize the waterfront. Topped with an undulating, wave-inspired roof, the contemporary building will emphasize connections with the outdoors while improving visitor access. Sustainability has also guided the design of the structure, which will feature smart, water-saving strategies including rainwater harvesting , graywater recycling and bio-filtration systems. The Sydney Fish Market, one of the city’s top tourist draws, will be relocated from its existing location in Pyrmont to an adjacent wharf on a 3.6-hectare site at Blackwattle Bay on the east side of the Sydney Harbor. 3XN has proposed upgrades to enhance the visitor experience with the addition of improved public space and circulation, a flexible and modular interior and room for several new features: a seafood cooking school, restaurants, bars, a new promenade and a new ferry stop. At the same time, the Danish architects will strive to preserve the architectural heritage and character of the existing market. Individual stalls will fill the interior’s semi-open layout to evoke traditional marketplaces. Built of timber and aluminum, the undulating roof will sport a fish scale-like pattern. In addition to the new market’s connections and strengthened sight lines with the waterfront , the building also aims to improve the harbor ecosystem through sustainable design. The bio-filtration system, for instance, will filter water runoff while doubling as a habitat for local birds. Industrial food waste will be recycled. Related: 3XN unveils competition-winning designs for Denmark’s Climatorium “Environmental and social sustainability are essential and inseparable parts of the design,” said Kim Herforth Nielsen, founding partner of 3XN. “The roof, landscaped forms, open atmosphere, plantings and materials that characterize the experience of the design are examples of this union. Throughout the course of the new market’s concept and design development, public amenity and environmental sustainability have formed the core of our decision-making processes.” The project is expected to break ground in 2019 and is slated to open in 2023. + 3XN Images via 3XN, Doug&Wolf, Aesthetica.Studio and mir.no

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A gloomy house is revived as a modern solar home built of recycled materials

November 8, 2018 by  
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A dark and gloomy, non-insulated dwelling with zero views to speak of has been dramatically transformed into a bright and sustainable home thanks to the work of local architecture studio Urban Creative . Flanked by 6-meter-tall walls and set on a long and narrow lot in inner Melbourne , 2 Halves Make a Home is a three-bedroom family residence that comprises two structures centered on a light-filled courtyard that allows daylight to penetrate deep into the living areas. Bricks sourced from the original decrepit structure were recycled for the construction of the new home, which features repurposed and sustainable materials throughout, from low-VOC finishes to a solar photovoltaic system and green wall. Faced with a site only 5.5 meters in width, the architects knew that access to the outdoors and light were crucial to making the family residence feel comfortably spacious. To that end, a courtyard was inserted along with walls of operable double-pane glass that blur the line between indoors and out. In addition to allowing natural light to enter the home, the courtyard also promotes passive cross ventilation while the full-height glazing and adjacent masonry party walls help capture early morning solar gain for passive heating in winter. “The original brick party wall has been uncovered and cleaned back to expose its rich warmth throughout the main axis of the dwelling,” the architects explained. “Not only does this avoid the use of new materials to construct this facade, but both dwellings on either side of the party wall serve to insulate each other.” Related: Samurai-inspired home keeps naturally cool in Melbourne Aside from the renovated brick wall and reclaimed brick used for the ground-floor facade, other recycled materials were used wherever possible. Reclaimed timber was used from the stairs and floorboards to the repurposed internal solid timber doors and timber shelves in the living room. Instead of replacing the ground floor structural slab, the architects polished the concrete and added a hydronic heating system. Low-VOC materials and finishes, like Tadelakt — a Moroccan rendering technique based on lime plaster and olive oil soap — promote a healthy indoor living environment. The house is also equipped with a solar array and a rainwater harvesting system. + Urban Creative Photography by Jessie May via Urban Creative

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A gloomy house is revived as a modern solar home built of recycled materials

A gloomy house is revived as a modern solar home built of recycled materials

November 8, 2018 by  
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A dark and gloomy, non-insulated dwelling with zero views to speak of has been dramatically transformed into a bright and sustainable home thanks to the work of local architecture studio Urban Creative . Flanked by 6-meter-tall walls and set on a long and narrow lot in inner Melbourne , 2 Halves Make a Home is a three-bedroom family residence that comprises two structures centered on a light-filled courtyard that allows daylight to penetrate deep into the living areas. Bricks sourced from the original decrepit structure were recycled for the construction of the new home, which features repurposed and sustainable materials throughout, from low-VOC finishes to a solar photovoltaic system and green wall. Faced with a site only 5.5 meters in width, the architects knew that access to the outdoors and light were crucial to making the family residence feel comfortably spacious. To that end, a courtyard was inserted along with walls of operable double-pane glass that blur the line between indoors and out. In addition to allowing natural light to enter the home, the courtyard also promotes passive cross ventilation while the full-height glazing and adjacent masonry party walls help capture early morning solar gain for passive heating in winter. “The original brick party wall has been uncovered and cleaned back to expose its rich warmth throughout the main axis of the dwelling,” the architects explained. “Not only does this avoid the use of new materials to construct this facade, but both dwellings on either side of the party wall serve to insulate each other.” Related: Samurai-inspired home keeps naturally cool in Melbourne Aside from the renovated brick wall and reclaimed brick used for the ground-floor facade, other recycled materials were used wherever possible. Reclaimed timber was used from the stairs and floorboards to the repurposed internal solid timber doors and timber shelves in the living room. Instead of replacing the ground floor structural slab, the architects polished the concrete and added a hydronic heating system. Low-VOC materials and finishes, like Tadelakt — a Moroccan rendering technique based on lime plaster and olive oil soap — promote a healthy indoor living environment. The house is also equipped with a solar array and a rainwater harvesting system. + Urban Creative Photography by Jessie May via Urban Creative

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