Green-roofed luxury home blends historic Spanish influences with contemporary design

August 2, 2019 by  
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In between the Mediterranean Sea and the coastal mountain range in northern Spain, Tarragona-based architect Guillem Carrera has completed Casa VN, an energy-efficient luxury home that pays homage to the region’s historic heritage. Set on a steep slope, the modern home uses terraces to step down the landscape and is faced with walls of glass to take advantage of panoramic views. To reduce energy demands, the house follows passive solar principles; it is also topped with insulating green roofs and equipped with home automation technology. Casa VN is located in Alella, a village near Barcelona that was historically used for farming and marked by large estates and stonewall terraces. However, in recent years, changes in the economy have led to increased urbanization in the area. Given the landscape history, Carrera strove to conserve the original character of his client’s property while introducing modern comforts. Related: Minimalist home in northern Spain uses geothermal energy to reduce energy consumption The goal was to “preserve the soul and the morphology, to preserve each one of those things that make it unique and characteristic: the terraces, the retaining walls, the different elements of pre-existing vegetation and the dry stone chapel ,” Carrera said. “These elements are delimited and identified to be preserved in the plant, and once they have been delimited, a respectful implementation of housing directly on the existing land is established, so that the house coexists and interacts spatially and functionally with these elements. The resulting ensemble seeks to be a whole, timeless and heterogeneous, that is part of the place and the landscape.” At 869 square meters, Casa VN recalls the large estates that were once typical in Alella. Locally sourced stone — the same used in the preserved stone chapel — and native Mediterranean landscaping also respect the local vernacular. Meanwhile, the residence features modern construction with a structure of reinforced concrete, steel and glass. Passive solar principles also guided the design and placement of the house to reduce unwanted solar gain and promote natural cooling. + Guillem Carrera Photography by Adrià Goula via Guillem Carrera

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Green-roofed luxury home blends historic Spanish influences with contemporary design

Shark fin soup on menus of nearly 200 restaurants, despite state bans

August 2, 2019 by  
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On land, the world is tuning in for Shark Week celebrations, but out in the oceans, the reality for sharks is much more grim. A recent update of the digital database maintained by the Animal Welfare Institute indicates that almost 200 restaurants across the country offer shark fin soup and other shark products despite being banned in more than 12 states. Shark fins are festive delicacies, especially for East Asian communities, but the practice of removing fins from sharks is an abusive tradition condemned by conservationists and animal rights activists around the world. “The United States is a major producer, exporter and trade stop for shark fins,” said Cathy Liss, president of Animal Welfare Institute. “Clearly, the existing patchwork of state laws and uneven enforcement have failed to shut down a lucrative billion-dollar industry. When shark fin soup is on the menu, so is animal cruelty.” Related: Shark fins still being sold in US restaurants amid ban California has the highest number of restaurants offering shark dishes (59 restaurants) despite a full ban on shark fin possession, sale, trade or distribution in 2013. New York passed a similar ban in 2014 but still has 19 restaurants that offer shark products. Bans are also pending in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Florida, Rhode Island and Connecticut. Approximately 73 million sharks are killed every year just to harvest their fins. The practice often includes the capture of sharks and the bloody removal of their fins while they are still alive. The sharks are then tossed back in the water, where their chances of survival are nearly impossible. This widespread method is considered inhumane and cruel because of the suffering that the sharks endure during and after the removal of their fins. Despite their reputation, sharks are absolutely essential for healthy marine ecosystems . According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, all species of warm-water flat sharks are considered critically endangered except for one. This year, Canada passed a national ban on shark imports and exports, but in the U.S., legislation is still on a limited state-by-state level. + Animal Welfare Institute Image via Alondav

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Shark fin soup on menus of nearly 200 restaurants, despite state bans

Sculptural Slab House creates ecological corridors in the Brazilian mountains

May 30, 2019 by  
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Belo Horizonte-based Tetro Arquitetura e Engenharia has completed the Inclined Slab House, a contemporary residence on a steep slope with full-height windows that blur the boundary between indoors and out. Set parallel to the terrain’s natural topography, the glass-walled home is defined by an angled concrete roofline that gives the abode its sculptural appeal. The home also forgoes the enclosure of walls and fencing typical to the area to allow for free movement of wildlife around the house, creating what the architects call “ecological corridors.” Elevated off the ground, the Inclined Slab House features an L-shaped floor plan spanning an area of 3,100 square feet that’s protected from the slope by a curved stone retaining wall framing a grassy backyard. An open-plan living, dining and kitchen area takes up one side of the home, while the other half houses three en suite bedrooms, all of which enjoy floor-to-ceiling views of the mountains and the city of Belo Horizonte in the distance. Above these spaces is the “terrace” that sits at-level with the road, where the parking pad and main entrance are located. Two pillars protrude from the terrace to support the concrete slab that provides shade and solar protection to the spaces below and includes an observation deck and an outdoor pool. “Further down the slab slopes downward, connecting to the terrace where the pool and the large wooden deck are located, which defines the main spaces of the ground floor,” the architects explained. “The deck covers the whole course of the slab, shading it and hiding the inverted beams, giving lightness to the whole structure. There are no barriers or fences on the ground floor. The house is inserted in the neighborhood as light and permeable element, counterpointing the set of fences and walls that are so regular in the surrounding. This strategy transforms the free areas around the house into ecological corridors, allowing the free circulation of wildlife on the ground.” Related: This elevated prefab home in Chile takes in striking volcano views Surrounded by glass, the home is filled with natural light and views throughout. The interiors are outfitted in a muted and natural material palette to complement the surroundings, while furnishings are kept minimal so as to not detract from the landscape. + Tetro Arquitetura e Engenharia Via ArchDaily Photography by Jomar Bragança via Tetro Arquitetura e Engenharia

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Sculptural Slab House creates ecological corridors in the Brazilian mountains

A Melbourne workers cottage gets revamped into a solar-powered family home

May 30, 2019 by  
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When a young family with two children approached Melbourne-based practice Gardiner Architects for a renovation and extension of their existing worker’s cottage, sustainable design was at the forefront of their minds. Not only would a small footprint ease the building’s environmental impact, but it would also help the family stick to their modest budget. Consequently, the architects combined passive solar principles with energy-efficient technologies to create the Allan Street House, a solar-powered home full of daylight and contemporary character. Located on a quiet side street in the Melbourne inner suburb of Brunswick, Allan Street House was transformed from a “pokey terrace house” into an open, light-filled house that embraces both indoor and outdoor living. In renovating the property, the architects retained the existing worker’s cottage and added a single-story extension to the rear. In order to ensure the thermal performance of both the new and old structures, the architects compartmentalized the two sections with operable doors, which also offers the added benefit of noise separation. “A tight budget demands lateral thinking to optimise the amount of space, or amount of function, that can be inserted within the least amount of building,” explain the architects. “We employed a few design tricks, such as having the corridor into the new extension expand out to become part of the dining and living room. There is also a study nook at the end of the living area, which is within the same building form, the roof of which continues to the rear boundary to create an external storage area– a cheap, efficient way to gain extra space.” Related: Green-roofed Ruckers Hill House gives curated views of nearby Melbourne Also key to the design was maximizing natural light and creating connections to the outdoors, whether with full-height glazed sliding doors that open up to the backyard or sight lines that bring the eye up and out beyond the cottage. Moreover, the large windows were oriented toward the north for warmth and light, while a large overhang and pergola helps block out the harsh summer sun. For energy efficiency , all the walls and ceilings have high levels of insulation, cross-ventilation is optimized and exposed concrete was used for the floor and equipped with an in-slab hydronic system that provides heating in the communal areas. The home is also topped with solar panels on the roof. + Gardiner Architects Images by Rory Gardiner

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A Melbourne workers cottage gets revamped into a solar-powered family home

Green-roofed house blends beautifully into a Mediterranean landscape

February 16, 2018 by  
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Giuseppe Gurrieri Studio completed a beautiful new home for artists in Sicily complements its Mediterranean environment using natural materials and landscaping. The home, called Casa ECS, was also created with a major focus on sustainability. Powered by renewable energy, the building is topped with a green roof and built with thick earthen walls that ensure effective insulation. . Located in the town of Scicli, the 230-square-meter Casa ECS is set atop a series of terraces that gently cascade down towards the Mediterranean Sea. Olive and carbon trees grow atop the dry stone retaining walls that visually tie the structure into the landscape. Solar and wind studies informed the placement of the building for the optimization of natural daylighting and ventilation. The large roof overhang shields the interior from solar heat gain and a pool on the south side of the home also helps cool the home. The architects wrote: “The central idea focuses on the construction of a retaining wall covered with the local stone, reproducing the typical receding terrace, which generates a natural step that allowed to plan the insertion of the building into the environment, creating a noticeable continuity with the country-side view and the traditionally cultivated land.” Related: Charming Italian farmhouse hides a surprisingly modern interior in Tuscany The main living areas are arranged linearly, while two courtyards are placed to the north of the main structure. The master en suite is located in the center of the home and separates the living room on the home’s east end from the kitchen on the opposite side that also extends to a covered outdoor dining area to the north. A secondary bedroom is placed on the far west end. The use of simple natural materials throughout ties the building into the landscape. + Giuseppe Gurrieri Studio Via ArchDaily Images © Filippo Poli

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Green-roofed house blends beautifully into a Mediterranean landscape

Minimalist Summer Home by Lode Architecture Blends Into the Landscape of Brittany, France

February 20, 2013 by  
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Read the rest of Minimalist Summer Home by Lode Architecture Blends Into the Landscape of Brittany, France Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: “energy efficiency” , Brittany , D House , Daylighting , eco design , france , green design , holiday home , House D , light wells , Lode Architecture , minimalist design , natural light , Nature , retaining wall , sustainable design

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Minimalist Summer Home by Lode Architecture Blends Into the Landscape of Brittany, France

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