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

Rammed earth addition brings light and energy savings to a Melbourne home

March 29, 2019 by  
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When a growing family needed extra living space, they turned to Australian design studio Steffen Welsch Architects to create an eco-friendly extension for their California Bungalow home. For the main construction material, the architects used rammed earth  — a material with low embodied energy and high thermal mass — and created an arced extension that curves to capture warmth and light from the sun. Passive solar principles also largely dictated all parts of the design process, from the zoning and layout to the material selection and building form. Located in Melbourne , the family home and extension — nicknamed ‘Down to Earth’ after its rammed earth walls — was created for a young family who enjoy entertaining and hosting guests. As a result, the brief called for low-cost operation, evolving privacy needs and future accessibility. Spanning an area of nearly 2,100 square feet, the single-story home is organized into four zones: an area for children and guests, a master suite for the parents, communal rooms and transitional areas. Each “zone” opens up to its own outdoor space. To ensure long-term sustainability and to minimize embodied and operational energy, the architects let passive solar principles guide the design of the building and chose materials with low embodied energy, such as rammed earth, and energy-saving properties, such as insulated glass. Operable windows allow for natural ventilation while the rammed earth walls and timber posts are left exposed to create a connection with the outdoors. Related: Modern rammed earth home embraces the desert landscape “A well performing house extension facing south on a small inner city block built in rammed earth is not easy to achieve,” the architects noted. “The building uses the formal language of a Californian Bungalow with the combination of heavy and light materials and generous roofs without copying it. Rammed earth walls appear free standing and separated from a floating roof with wide overhangs providing shade in summer but letting winter sun inside. The house (including the old) achieves an energy rating 3 stars (6) above target.” + Steffen Welsch Architects Photography by Rhiannon Slatter via Steffen Welsch Architects

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Rammed earth addition brings light and energy savings to a Melbourne home

This Ecuadorian home uses the natural elements of rammed earth as a foundation

March 1, 2019 by  
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Rammed earth is a building technique that uses packed raw materials from the earth like gravel, sand, silt or clay to build walls and foundations. Casa Lasso, designed by Rama Estudio in San Jose, Ecuador utilized the rammed earth approach (or “tapial”) to create five strong walls made of natural elements to both protect the home from strong winds and improve the thermal quality inside the home. The rammed earth provides added support for the wooden-beamed roof every 70 centimeters. Glass windows make up the upper closures of the structure, giving the entire area the potential for  sunlight  to shine through and light up the living areas. Speaking of living areas, there is room for six beds, all built into the rammed earth framework, in the communal area. There is also a master bedroom with pivoting panels to either integrate or close off the spaces. Much of the furniture and shelving in the kitchen and bedroom is built into the structured wall, ensuring that no space is wasted, no matter how small. The designers built the rustic fireplace into the lowest part of the home, with the intention of creating a centralized space that would “embrace” the area. Casa Lasso also uses a waste management system that connects solids and liquids into an internal irrigation and fertilizer network, meaning that there is no sewage system. Using pivoting panels, occupants have the option of closing the doors for added warmth and security or creating an extended and almost unblocked view of the outdoor area beyond the property. The area around the house is surrounded by eucalyptus plantations, making the land arid and soil difficult to grow in. Designers chose to plant native species in small landscaped islands throughout the property in order to combat this dilemma. As a result of the rammed earth building technique, Casa Lasso maintains an organic color. The combination of brown earth tones from the wooden panels, the large beams making up the roof and natural stone work makes this home blend in beautifully with the native landscape. + RAMA Estudio Via ArchDaily Photography by Jag Studio and  Andrés Villota via RAMA Estudio

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This Ecuadorian home uses the natural elements of rammed earth as a foundation

Bamboo community center empowers the local Brazilian community

December 11, 2018 by  
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The beautiful beach town of Camburi, Brazil, has gained a new community center that not only serves as a communal gathering space, but is also an inspiring social development project that was built for and by the local low-income community. Belgium and Brazil-based design practice CRU! architects provided the design as well as technical assistance and financial support, however, it was the community that decided all of the programming. The project started in 2004 and its first completed building is the community center, a low-impact building primarily built of bamboo and rammed earth. Located on the Brazilian coast not far from Sao Paulo , the community center at Camburi is a multi-phase project that includes a computer room, library, preschool, office space, assorted storage space and a bakery that is currently undergoing construction. CRU! architects was careful not to interfere in all of the decision making behind the programming and scope of the project beyond the design and technical details. The firm’s final design was shaped by the local association of Camburi’s brief for a centrally located communal space with space for classrooms and storage that would be visually integrated with the surrounding landscape and the neighboring school. “The entire Bamboostic project was foreseen as an educative training for this cooperative to perfect their techniques, whilst building community infrastructure,” explains the firm of the project, which spans 175 square meters. “The community decided all of the content and program of the building and its different parts built in different times over the last 10 years.” Related: Community hub built of recycled materials spotlights exploitation of nature in Vietnam Set 50 meters in land from the beach, the community center is oriented towards the sea to take advantage of cooling cross breezes that flow unimpeded through the building thanks to the raised roof and minimized perpendicular walls. The rammed earth bricks provide natural insulation and thermal mass, while bamboo was used for the structural frame and on the exterior doors and windows to help shield the interiors from harsh sunlight. + CRU! architects Images by Nelson Kon

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Rammed earth walls tie this modern home to the Arizona desert landscape

August 21, 2018 by  
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Architect Brent Kendle of Kendle Design Collaborative married architecture with the desert landscape in Desert Wash, a site-specific home that sweeps the natural environment indoors through walls of glass and rammed earth construction. Designed for an active family of four, the 6,700-square-foot abode in Paradise Valley, Arizona takes its name from the property’s existing desert dry wash, a biome located at a drainage area prone to severe flooding events. To embrace the natural landscape and mitigate flooding, Desert Wash sports an elevated bridge that traverses the desert dry wash area—an element normally seen as a major obstacle in residential design. Designed to celebrate desert living, the Desert Wash home feels immersed in nature despite its relatively close proximity to the city. The modern house comprises a master suite with three guest bedrooms and plenty of indoor-outdoor entertaining opportunities. The garage, along with the bulk of the home, is located to the north of the dry wash, while the foyer, office and one of the guest bedrooms are located to the south and accessible via the glazed bridge . A simple material palette and neutral tones tie the sprawling residence to the desert landscape. Rammed earth walls, expansive glazing and flat steel and wood roofs with deep overhangs define the home’s construction. Predominately white interior walls help create an airy and bright indoor atmosphere while providing a perfect backdrop for the family’s extensive collection of art. Related: Unusual Kerplunk House is envisioned as a “miniature forest” in the desert “Desert wash uses the indigenous materials of the site to define the main living spaces,” explains Kendle Design Collaborative. “ Rammed earth walls brings the earth to the interior. Welcoming one into the home and unifying it with nature simultaneously. Throughout the home you experience the site sensitivity of the project through its unique pallets and how the residence respects the natural qualities of the site. The home nestles its self into the earth while also respecting the natural topography of the site by spanning over the ancient wash.” + Kendle Design Collaborative Via ArchDaily Images by Chibi Moku and Michael Woodall

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Rammed earth walls tie this modern home to the Arizona desert landscape

This rammed-earth home features a beautiful, spiraling rooftop garden

July 11, 2018 by  
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Japanese firm Ryuichi Ashizawa Architects has unveiled a beautiful round home that is wrapped in a spiraling rooftop garden. The family home, which is located on a remote Japanese island, was built out of woven bamboo lattice and clad with earthen walls . To create a strong connection between the home and nature, a spiraling garden that rises from the ground level provides optimal growing conditions for fresh vegetables and herbs that the family can enjoy year-round. Located on the remote island of Awaji, the home was built for a family of four. The architects designed it with an eye to withstandi the temperate climate on the island, but they also drew inspiration from the family’s nature-conscious lifestyle. Their first objective was to create a fertile area that could help feed the family year-round. Secondly, the master plan called for creating a closed-cycle landscape to make the home self-sufficient , enabling the family to live in harmony with the environment for years to come. Related: This striking concrete home uses mesh walls to connect with nature The architects began by creating a large circular frame out of woven bamboo lattice. They then clad the round form with Sanwa Earth finish. On the interior, they used a technique called Tataki to create a  hard-packed earthen floor  out of dirt, lime and water. The walls were also made out of packed earth . The combination of earthen walls and flooring provides a tight thermal envelope for the home. In winter, the walls and floors absorb heat, which is released at night, keeping the living space warm. In the hot summer months, the home’s stack effect layout (a height difference between the central space and the rest of the home) enables optimal air circulation to cool the interior. Inspired by the family’s eco-conscious lifestyle, the architects wanted to incorporate greenery into the already eco-friendly home design. Accordingly, the roof was turned into a spiral garden whose shape provides optimal growing conditions. Rising up from the ground level, the rooftop garden wraps around the home, providing a perfect blend of sun exposure and humidity to grow a variety of plants and vegetables. Rainwater soaks the top part of the garden, then flows downwards to a series of retaining ponds filled with aquatic plants. + Ryuichi Ashizawa Architects Photography by Kaori Ichikawa via Ryuichi Ashizawa Architects

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This rammed-earth home features a beautiful, spiraling rooftop garden

Fruit trees grow on the roofs of this rammed earth home in Hanoi

April 18, 2018 by  
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Vo Trong Nghia Architects puts a fresh spin on the ancient art of rammed earth construction in the Dong Anh house, a modern dwelling with fruit trees growing on the roofs. Taking advantage of the property’s secure and isolated location in Hanoi, the architects applied an “open garden design” that embraces nature in, around, and even on top of the home. The thick earth walls have the advantage of high thermal mass and keep the home cool by storing heat during the day and then dissipating that heat at night. Although Vietnam has a history of rammed earth construction, particularly in the country’s northwest region, most of the country’s construction relies primarily on concrete, not earth. In hopes of promoting the advantages of rammed earth walls in a modern context, Vo Trong Nghia Architects crafted the walls of the Dong Anh house out of soils taken from a variety of land mines, all within 20 miles of the site. The soils were then filtered, ground and mixed with cement and other additives before being compacted in formwork. The diversity of soils creates a unique striation on the compacted, nearly 14-inch-thick walls. Related: Trees grow on every balcony of this Hanoi university building Designed for a large family, the spacious 5,382-square-foot home covers two stories in a roughly H-shaped plan. The first floor comprises the main communal spaces as well as the maid room, storage, and three bedrooms. The second level includes two additional bedrooms and an outdoor courtyard . The fruit trees grown in large planters are located on both roofs. “Amount of fruit trees on the roof, along with the open garden around the house is another emphasis that makes a green, cool and friendly environment to the people,” wrote the architects. “And sloping roof is also a reasonable design for tropical monsoon climate in Vietnam.” + Vo Trong Nghia Architects Images by Hiroyuki Oki

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Fruit trees grow on the roofs of this rammed earth home in Hanoi

Lush rooftop oasis flourishes on a renovated Art Deco townhouse in Mexico City

April 18, 2018 by  
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Formerly a derelict Art Deco structure, Casa Verne has been reborn as a contemporary family home with a secluded getaway in the center of a busy Mexico City neighborhood. Zeller & Moye renovated the 1930s townhouse and took care to preserve period features while injecting new modern touches. The crowning achievement can be found on the roof, where the architects created a lush garden and oasis of native plants. Zeller & Moye’s renovation of the townhouse stripped away internal walls to create more spacious living areas. New roof lights pull in natural light to the previously dim interior while whitewashed walls create a bright and airy atmosphere. Dark-stained wood used on the floors of the first level and on the staircase to the rooftop terrace provide a grounding contrast. Related: Green-roofed timber cabin floats above the ground in Mexico City The service spaces are located on the ground floor, while the main living areas on the first floor are accessed via a striking pink marble staircase. The architects also added a new top floor that houses the master bedroom suite and garden that’s surrounded by high walls for privacy. The floors of the extension as well as the garden path are finished in cut marble pebbles, a reference to Mexico City’s lost riverbeds and lakes. + Zeller & Moye Via Dezeen Images © Omar Mun?oz, Juan Carlos Garza

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Lush rooftop oasis flourishes on a renovated Art Deco townhouse in Mexico City

Dumping ground reborn as beautiful bamboo and rammed-earth community space

January 26, 2018 by  
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H&P Architects dramatically transformed an informal dumping ground in Mao Khe, Vietnam into a beautiful pavilion built mainly of locally sourced bamboo and earth. Named BE (bamboo & earth) friendly space, the structure comprises a zigzagging rammed-earth wall punctuated with multiple openings and topped with bamboo roofing. The project was created as part of a series of projects to create a “friendly space in suffocating urban areas” increasingly dominated by concrete. Located in the center of the populous Vietnamese town of Mao Khe, BE friendly space is a 220-square-meter pavilion made of local natural materials and constructed by local labor. “The objective of BE friendly space is to help raise social awareness of the need for friendly spaces for community in the context of urbanization and concretization which is gradually suffocating Mao Khe – one of the most populous towns in Vietnam, thereby making contributions to shaping actions of community in the process of creating sustainable spaces for the future immediately from today’s friendliness,” said H&P Architects in a design statement. Related: Plant-covered bamboo structure in Vietnam offers low-cost sanitation and food A 40-centimeter-thick zigzagging rammed-earth wall forms the spine of the project and its short, asymmetric form stands out from the skinny modern apartments that surround it. Randomly placed windows connect the various spaces enclosed by the wall and promote natural ventilation . BE friendly space comprises several multifunctional open areas, while the service room, kitchen, and toilets are located in the fully enclosed rammed-earth building on the east side of the site. + H&P Architects Images by Nguyen Tien Thanh, Doan Thanh Ha

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Dumping ground reborn as beautiful bamboo and rammed-earth community space

Mirrored home in the woods is hidden in plain sight

January 3, 2018 by  
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Mexican architect Tatiana Bilbao has hidden part of a holiday home inside a forest by cladding it in mirrored glass . With a footprint of just under 2,200 square feet, Los Terrenos (Spanish for “The Terrains”) comprises three structures, each built with one of three main materials: mirrored glass, earth, or wood. Despite the diversity in construction materials, beautiful and complementary modern interiors are woven throughout the experimental residence. Located on a forested slope in Monterrey, Los Terrenos currently comprises two structures—the third, which will be built of wood and elevated for treetop views, has yet to be built. The larger of the two completed buildings is clad in mirrored glass and houses an open-plan living room, dining area, and kitchen in a double-height space. The one-way mirrors gives the building a greenhouse feel with floor-to-ceiling views of the forest. Related: Tatiana Bilbao’s $8,000 house could help solve Mexico’s social housing shortage The private areas consisting of two bedrooms and bathrooms are located in the L-shaped building built of clay brick and rammed earth placed diagonally opposite of the mirrored structure. A gorgeous chevron-shaped clay-brick wall in the bedrooms stylistically matches the chevron -shaped ceramic divider found in living room and the paver patterns on the paths around the residence. The bedrooms also look out to sweeping views of the forest. + Tatiana Bilbao Via Architectural Record Images by Rory Gardiner

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