This net-zero home is inspired by Iceland’s volcanic landscapes

October 25, 2018 by  
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In sunny Santa Monica, local studio Minarc has unveiled one of its latest projects built from mnmMOD panels , its award-winning and patented prefabricated building system that yields net-zero energy efficiency. Dubbed the Dawnsknoll project, the 2,500-square-foot dwelling champions sustainability beyond just building materials. Positioned for optimal passive solar conditions, the single-family home also boasts repurposed and recycled materials throughout, high-performance energy systems and a healthy living environment. Inspired by the volcanic landscapes of Iceland , Dawnsknoll features a color palette evocative of the country’s dramatic vistas, from the bright, lava-like orange used in the multi-gathering space in the heart of the home to the swimming pool that echoes the color of blue lagoons. Iceland’s rocky landscape is further mimicked with translucent, glacier-inspired light fixtures, the abundance of concrete for the floors and walls and the dark-colored cabinets and shelving. “On the Dawnsknoll project, Minarc focuses on a couple of main concepts: sustainability, color and space,” the designers said in the project statement. “Our green practices and selection of sustainable products do not raise the cost of a house. We believe that building repurposed with recycled and reclaimed material should not be more expensive for our clients. Throughout this house, we recycled, repurposed and reused to its extent.” Related: These prefabricated mnmMOD wall panels could revolutionize the way we build In addition to the prefabricated mnmMOD panels — which are recyclable and resistant to fire and termites — the Dawnsknoll house features 90 percent reused furnishings. The designers aimed to “only use materials in their most organic form,” which meant no paint, tile or carpet. One of many recycled materials used was rubber, seen in the bathroom sinks as well as in the kitchen and juice bar cabinetry, where recycled rubber tires were used. Indoor-outdoor living was emphasized through operable glazed doors that also let in natural ventilation. Radiant floor heating and domestic water heating were installed as well. + Minarc Images by Art Gray

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This net-zero home is inspired by Iceland’s volcanic landscapes

An old warehouse is rehabbed into chic apartments in Montreal

October 25, 2018 by  
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A former industrial warehouse in Montreal has been reborn as an airy and modern residential development thanks to the work of local architectural practice Blouin Tardif Architectes . Originally built at the turn of the century, the building has shed its manufacturing persona, yet the adaptive reuse project retains traces of its industrial past with exposed beams, tall ceilings and a brick facade. Dubbed Monument, the renovated building consists of seven contemporary apartments. Located in the heart of Montreal’s Plateau Mont-Royal district at the corner of Colonial Avenue and Demers Street, the building was first erected in 1905 for The Saint Louis Preserving Company. A major overhaul and expansion was carried out in 1933 after lingerie company Grenier took over the building; the company left the location in 2012. To pay homage to the building’s long manufacturing history, Blouin Tardif Architectes followed a minimalist approach that preserved the existing frame and material palette of steel, concrete and wood while creating additional openings to increase access to natural light . Related: Old Sydney warehouse is transformed into an industrial-chic home Renovated to include a new third level atop the existing two floors, the three-story building comprises seven spacious units with parking spaces tucked in the basement. The three units on the ground floor consist of two- and three-bedroom layouts each with a fully wood-finished loggia. Above, the second and third floors house four residential units styled as penthouse-style townhouses with courtyards and terraces. The bedrooms, bathrooms and office are organized around a courtyard on the lower level, and the living spaces and a private outdoor terrace are located in the new extension above. Through the preservation of the building’s historical, architectural details, such as the brick masonry, and the addition of modern design elements, Blouin Tardif Architectes tips its hat to the former preservation company — which was known for making jams, pickles and hot sauce — as well as the lingerie company that called the building home for more than 80 years. + Blouin Tardif Architectes Photography by Steve Montpetit via Blouin Tardif Architectes

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An old warehouse is rehabbed into chic apartments in Montreal

Stunning Costa Rican beach home uses passive features to stay cool

October 25, 2018 by  
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Located mere steps away from idyllic white sand beaches on one side and a coconut grove on the other, this beach house designed by Studio Saxe is giving us major home envy. Situated on Costa Rica’s Pacific coastline, the spacious 3,250-square-foot Villa Akoya’s beautiful aesthetic hides several passive strategies designed to reduce the home’s energy use and impact on the environment. The breathtaking location serves as the principal inspiration for the design. Built using traditional cinder block construction, the one-story home was was raised off the ground to create a continuous sight line with the ocean views. This feature also helped reduce the footprint on the landscape . Related: Triangular beachfront home is a dreamy retreat buried in the earth The beach house’s dimensions are divided into four separate horizontal roof planes that slant slightly upward, covering each of the three bedrooms plus the main living area. This strategy creates distinct volumes within the structure. Additionally, the flat wooden roofs extend out over the exterior walls to create large overhang extensions that shade the interior while creating several indoor-outdoor living spaces around the exterior. The interior layout includes several spaces that are open to the exterior, creating a seamless connection between the indoors and outdoors. All of the bedrooms have their own outdoor spaces, and an all-glass wall in the living room slides completely open, leading to a wooden deck and a swimming pool . Concealed within the design are several passive features to create an energy-efficient beach house. The “elevated” roof lines create a natural system of air ventilation, cooling the home in the hot summer months. The abundance of windows and glass doors brighten the interior during the day, further reducing the need for electricity. The home also operates on solar-generated hot water and has a gray water system. + Studio Saxe Via Archdaily Photography by Andres Garcia Lachner via Studio Saxe

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Stunning Costa Rican beach home uses passive features to stay cool

Elon Musk says first segment of LA tunnel complete

June 30, 2017 by  
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If you ever want to take on a crazy project and see results in under a year, call Elon Musk . He’s already making progress on his stuck-in-traffic daydream of tunnels beneath Los Angeles . This week he tweeted The Boring Company’s tunnel boring machine, cheekily named Godot, completed the first tunnel portion. According to Musk, we’re “no longer waiting for Godot.” Musk seems to be having a lot of fun with his side project he somehow fits into his free time. And he’s making strides towards the dream of clearing out Los Angeles’ notorious congestion by moving vehicles underground. The Boring Company’s new machine has started operating and already finished the first segment of a tunnel. Related: Elon Musk says LA mayor is open to The Boring Company’s traffic tunnels No longer waiting for Godot. It has begun boring and just completed the first segment of tunnel in LA. — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 28, 2017 Godot is around 400 feet long, with a diameter of 26 feet, and weighs 1,200 tons. Musk hinted on Twitter they still hope the machine will bore faster in the future. He said they have a long way to go before they beat Gary, a snail from SpongeBob SquarePants whom Musk referenced in April in a TED talk , saying “Victory is beating the snail.” The project started near the SpaceX parking lot in Hawthorne. And according to Electrek, it appears this first segment simply connects the parking lot to the company’s buildings. But Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti has indicated his interest in Musk’s venture – he name-dropped the tech entrepreneur in an ABC7 interview and Musk said they’d had promising conversations. Electrek also quoted Musk as saying the full length of the first tunnel “will run from LAX to Culver City, Santa Monica, Westwood, and Sherman Oaks. Future tunnels will cover all of greater LA.” It seems this pipe dream might become reality after all. + The Boring Company Via The Verge and Electrek Images via The Boring Company

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Elon Musk says first segment of LA tunnel complete

Green-roofed desalination plant is world’s first to treat both fresh and saltwater

June 30, 2017 by  
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Desalination is an important component of Singapore’s water supply, and the island country has a new desalination plant in the works decked out with green features. The large-scale facility can treat both freshwater and saltwater, and according to Today Online and other local news outlets , it’s thought to be the first one of its kind in the world. The Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant will be the first of its kind in Singapore, and some publications say in the world. It will be the country’s fourth desalination plant, but the first large-scale dual-mode one. It will treat water from the sea or the Marina Reservoir, depending on whether the weather is dry or wet. Keppel Infrastructure is constructing the plant under a 25-year Water Purchase Agreement with Singapore’s national water agency, PUB . Related: Self-sustaining island eco-lodge in Florida has its own desalination system And this plant doesn’t look like your typical industrial facility. It will be topped with a 215,278 square foot green roof and equipped to harvest rainwater for irrigating plants . According to Keppel Infrastructure CEO Ong Tiong Guan, “…the plant’s design also blends seamlessly into the environment , allowing the public to enjoy the green space above the plant along with the surrounding greenery.” Treatment facilities will be underground in the plant PUB described as sleek and modern. According to PUB Chief Executive Ng Joo Hee, desalination plants boost Singapore’s water security. He said in a statement, “As a source independent of weather , desalinated water is capable of strengthening our water supply resilience, especially against prolonged dry spells and droughts . We aim to triple its capacity to meet up to 30 percent of our water needs by 2060.” The Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant is slated to be finished in 2020. The plant will produce around 30 million gallons of drinking water every single day. Via PUB Images via PUB

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Green-roofed desalination plant is world’s first to treat both fresh and saltwater

Land Art Generator Initiative Santa Monica winners address California’s energy needs and drought

October 5, 2016 by  
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John Eric Chung, Pablo La Roche, Danxi Zou, Jingyan Zhang, and Tianyi Deng (CallisonRTKL), a submission to the 2016 Land Art Generator Initiative design competition for Santa Monica Teams from all around the world competed in the competition, and the first place winners are based in Tokyo, Japan. Christopher Sjoberg and Ryo Saito designed the Regatta H2O, ethereal sailboat-like installations that capture energy through “aerostatic flutter wind harvesting” and capture water through fog harvesting. Operating via the energy it collects, the regatta would generate 112 million liters, or nearly 30 million gallons, of drinking water yearly. Related: Solar-powered Pipe desalinizes 1.5 billion gallons of drinking water for California Keegan Oneal, Sean Link, Caitlin Vanhauer, and Colin Poranski, a submission to the 2016 Land Art Generator Initiative design competition for Santa Monica The second place winner is Cetacea, created by a team from Eugene, Oregon. Keegan Oneal, Sean Link, Caitlin Vanhauer, and Colin Poranski from the University of Oregon designed the installation inspired by blue whales’ ability to power themselves by tiny krill. Cetacea draws on three types of energy – wind, solar, and wave – and collects 650 million liters of drinking water yearly via “high efficiency reverse osmosis” ( HERO by Aquatech ). 80 percent of the 4,300 megawatt hours of energy generated by Cetacea would be used to “offset the energy demand” of the HERO system and Santa Monica’s SMURRF facility . Christopher Makrinos, Stephen Makrinos, and Alexander Bishop, a submission to the 2016 Land Art Generator Initiative design competition for Santa Monica Third place goes to Christopher Makrinos, Stephen Makrinos, and Alexander Bishop of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They designed Paper Boats, boat-shaped installations whose sails function as “concentrated photovoltaic collectors.” Paper Boats would utilize Holographic Planar Concentrator technology from Prism Solar Technologies to generate 2,400 megawatt hours of power each year. Matt Kuser, a submission to the 2016 Land Art Generator Initiative design competition for Santa Monica LAGI founding directors Elizabeth Monoian and Robert Ferry said in a statement, “The winners of LAGI 2016 all responded to the design brief with elegant site-specific gestures for the cherished coastal landscape of the Santa Monica Bay. These innovative and artistic solutions that employ the latest wave, tidal, wind, solar, and water-harvesting technologies have resonance for coastal cities around the world.” Aitor Almaraz and Sonia Vázquez-Díaz, a submission to the 2016 Land Art Generator Initiative design competition for Santa Monica There are 21 other finalists, from a desalinizing pipe to a solar-powered rotating farm and desalination plant to a freshwater-creating orb comprised of transparent solar concentrators . + Land Art Generator Initiative Images courtesy of the Land Art Generator Initiative

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Gensler proposes temporary floating structure for UK Parliament

October 5, 2016 by  
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The upcoming refurbishment of the Palace of Westminster means the UK Parliament needs to move – but with minimal disruptions. Gensler has proposed they don’t have to move very far. Instead, the architecture firm has come up with a plan that would allow parliament to conduct business on a floating structure on the River Thames . The modular construction, named Project Poseidon would be both cost effective for taxpayers and visually stunning for passersby. It is estimated the refurbishment may take up to six years to complete, leaving Parliament in a bind and possibly having to work in multiple, separate locations. Gensler ’s solution makes sure government business remains under one roof and enjoys the natural security of the surrounding river. The 8,600 square meter structure would be made out of steel platforms and a wooden frame with a design inspired by the hammer-beam roof of Westminster Hall . Related: Gensler proposes floating Thames Airport to ease airport congestion in London Construction of floating Project Poseidon could take as little as three years, taking place at a handful of shipyards around the UK. The pieces could be shipped across the Thames to be assembled in their final place, only 10 meters away from the Palace of Westminster. Duncan Swinhoe, Regional Managing Principal at Gensler, excitedly boasts the future applications of the floating structure: “Once the refurbishment of the Palace is complete, the modular structure could be relocated and adapted to provide a permanent legacy such as a Museum for Democracy or alternatively a new parliament for an emerging overseas democracy.” + Gensler Via  World Architecture News Images via Gensler

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Gensler proposes temporary floating structure for UK Parliament

Fisker promises a 2017 comeback with a 400-mile range electric sports car

October 5, 2016 by  
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A few months after the announcement that Fisker Automotive will reboot the Karma Revero , the company’s namesake Henrik Fisker says he is starting a new car company, called Fisker Inc., to produce an electric sports car that can travel over 400 miles between charges, a huge jump over existing EV ranges. Although the company hasn’t volunteered a solid launch date for such a vehicle, or any other details to speak of, Bloomberg reports that we’ll all learn more sometime in mid-2017. The Danish automotive designer told Bloomberg that his next EV offering will “look completely different” and will be “sporty and spacious.” While there’s no word on the initial cost of a technologically advanced EV with a 400-mile range, Fisker suggested there will be a mass market version priced around $40,000. That’s a pricepoint low enough to compete with the Tesla Model 3 , which debuted at $35,000 (but ‘only’ has a 215-mile range). Related: The Fisker Karma – a candidate for resurrection or DOA? Fisker has a long history in the automotive industry, having designed iconic cars for BMW, Aston Martin, and VLF Automotive. The CEO announced his new company in a Twitter update on Monday, October 3, saying, “The Original Fisker is back. I am very proud to be launching Fisker Inc. With a game changing battery technology.” Much like Tesla, Fisker will be producing its own electric car batteries as Fisker Nanotech. Reportedly, the company is working on graphene-based battery technology, which is a longer lasting alternative to lithium ion that has also been shown to charge much faster. “For the last two years, I have been looking at battery technologies and wanted to see if there was something that could really give us a new paradigm,” Fisker told Bloomberg. “We had the strategy of developing the technology as fast as possible without getting tied down to a large organization, which would hold us back. Now we have the technology that nobody else has. And there is nobody even close to what we are doing out there.” Via Engadget Images via Fisker Inc and Twitter via screenshot

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Fisker promises a 2017 comeback with a 400-mile range electric sports car

Giant gleaming Orb deploys solar and wave energy to make clean water for California

August 26, 2016 by  
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“Now, more than ever, energy and water are intertwined. As California faces severe water shortages in the coming years, the amount of energy required for water production and transmission is sure to increase,” LAGI writes on their website about this year’s competition for Santa Monica Pier. “For this reason we expanded our definition of sustainable infrastructure artwork to include proposals in 2016 that produce drinking water—either in addition to, or in place of—clean electricity.” Related: Solar-powered Pipe desalinizes 1.5 billion gallons of drinking water for California The Clear Orb is designed to be accessible from the Santa Monica Pier via the beach boardwalk. The pathway to the gleaming sphere gently tips toward the water’s surface, the outer walls harvesting wave energy from the existing breakwater. The inner walls depict a list of animals that have gone extinct, inviting visitors to reflect on humanity’s impact on its fellow inhabitants. About 130 feet in diameter, the glass orb’s surface is comprised of transparent solar concentrators that supply the energy required to circulate water into the Orb. Inside, a solar still converts seawater into fresh water through evaporation and condensation. The resulting clean water pours through a step fountain that supports the structure. The designers say this becomes “an artful interpretation of the power of light and water to give life.” Energy produced by the oscillating water column along the “contemplation walk” would supply further power to the solar distillation pumps and the grid, though, compared to some of the other designs we’ve seen this year, such as The Pipe , the design’s energy and water production goals are relatively small. For example, The Pipe would be able to produce 1.5 billion gallons of water for Santa Monica, while The Clear Orb would only have capacity to generate 3,820 MWh solar energy to distill 500,000 gallons of water. Still, if a primary goal of the design competition is to educate the community and visitors about sustainability, The Clear Orb definitely has potential to bring the conversation mainstream. A frequently-visited site, the Santa Monica Pier would be forever transformed with such a vibrant work of art – demonstrating that energy and clean water production can complement the city, both here and abroad. + LAGI 2016: Santa Monica + Heerim Architects and Planners

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Giant gleaming Orb deploys solar and wave energy to make clean water for California

Solar-powered Ring Garden marries desalination and agriculture for drought-stricken California

August 25, 2016 by  
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With roughly 80 percent of California’s already-scarce water supply going to agriculture, it’s crucial for the state to embrace new technologies that shrink the amount of water required to grow food. Alexandru Predonu has designed an elegant solution that uses solar energy to power a rotating desalination plant and farm that not only produces clean drinking water for the city of Santa Monica, but also food crops – including algae. A finalist of this year’s Land Art Generator Initiative competition , a site-specific biennial design competition that has inspired world-renowned designs like The Pipe and Energy Duck , Ring Garden is capable of churning out 16 million gallons of clean water, 40,000 pounds of aeroponic crops, and 11,000 pounds of spirulina biomass for livestock feed. A desalination plant , rotating aeroponics farm, and algae bioreactor in one, Ring Garden is designed to “harvest seawater, CO2, and the sun’s energy to create food, biomass, and fresh water,” according to Predonu’s design brief. The plant is powered by photovoltaic panels that produce 440 MWh each year. 100 percent of that energy is used to power the desalination process and rotate the garden. “Seawater enters the desalination plant through special screens that protect fish and local wildlife,” he said. “Solar panels power a high-pressure pump to pressurize seawater above the osmotic pressure and through a semi permeable membrane.” Clean water resulting from this process is then divvied up – 60 percent irrigates the rotating plants, 30 percent is sent to the city grid, while the remaining brine water, which would be potentially toxic to marine life, is fed through the bioreactor to cultivate spirulina for biomass . Related: Solar-powered Pipe desalinizes 1.5 billion gallons of drinking water for California “The aeroponics system uses 98% less water than conventional farming and yields on average 30% more crops without the need for pesticides or fertilizers,” says Predonu. “Ring Garden demonstrates that the main elements a plant needs in order to grow—water, sun, nutrients, and CO2— are on site and don’t need to be transported. On a footprint of about 1,000 m2 (10,764 square feet) the farm can produce vegetables that would otherwise take 26,000 m2 (279,862 square feet) of land and 340 million gallons of fresh water per year.” If built, Ring Garden would consume just nine million gallons of water annually, according to Predonu, and redirect 331 million gallons that would otherwise evaporate to 2,300 California households. Every good LAGI design is expected to have a compelling public art and educational component, and Ring Garden delivers. Not only is the design slightly tilted so that the sun will shine right through the middle of the wheel on Earth Day (April 22), but visitors are welcome to visit the facility by boat, and pick vegetables and plant new ones at an outdoor aeroponics garden. There would also be a Eco Awareness Center designed to inform the public about the benefits and necessity of sustainable innovations that promise a more hopeful future. The winners of LAGI 2016: Santa Monica will be announced at Greenbuild in October . + LAGI 2016: Santa Monica + Alexandru Predonu

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Solar-powered Ring Garden marries desalination and agriculture for drought-stricken California

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