Net-zero Sawmill House is 100% self sufficient in California’s high desert

June 28, 2018 by  
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Building a comfortable self-sufficient dwelling is no easy task, especially when in a harsh climate. But when Seattle-based firm Olson Kundig was tapped to design an off-grid home in the high desert in California, the architects rose to the challenge and delivered an elegant, net-zero dwelling known as the Sawmill House. Located in Tehachapi, California, the Sawmill House serves as a family retreat that weathers the harsh climate with durable materials and sustainable strategies. Completed in 2014, the Sawmill House is named after the valley in which it resides—a scrubby and remote landscape that had been used for mining, ranching and logging. In a departure from the site’s past, the homeowners wanted a family retreat with minimal environmental disturbance that would “give back to the land, rather than take from it.” With that guiding principle in mind, Olson Kundig crafted a self-sustaining, net-zero  vacation home that maximized connections between the indoors and outdoors. Spread out across 4,200 square feet, the Sawmill House is built mainly of concrete blocks, steel and glass, materials chosen for their durability against the harsh and fire-prone landscape. The living space with a central hearth marks the heart of the off-grid home and features a stunning 12-by-26-foot window wall that completely retracts with a few turns of the wheel, opening up the interior to the outdoor patio . The three bedrooms are housed in the three wings that branch off from the central living space. The longer wing, which houses the master bedroom, also includes the kitchen and dining area. Related: Floating Olson Kundig home makes way for Washington wildlife “Tough as nails, Sawmill is made from durable materials that can withstand the harsh climate, where fires are a major hazard in summer and winters are extremely cold,” says Olson Kundig Architects. “The design approach was driven by a scavenger mentality, seeking always to do more with less, including using salvaged and recycled materials whenever possible.” The home is powered with a photovoltaic solar array and comes with backup propane and generator; water is supplied by an on-site well. + Olson Kundig Images by Gabe Border and Kevin Scott / Olson Kundig

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Net-zero Sawmill House is 100% self sufficient in California’s high desert

A massive five-ton plastic waste whale breaches in a Bruges canal

June 28, 2018 by  
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Five tons of plastic waste has been pulled from the oceans and transformed into the Bruges Whale, a gigantic sculpture that highlights the staggering amount of trash floating in our oceans. Designed by Jason Klimoski and Lesley Chang of the Brooklyn-based multidisciplinary practice StudioKCA , this massive environmental artwork was created for the 2018 Bruges Triennial with the theme of “Liquid City.” The Bruges Whale, also called the Skyscraper, was positioned to appear in mid-breach in a canal opposite the city’s iconic Jan Van Eyck statue. Installed in the UNESCO World Heritage City Center of Bruges, the Bruges Whale was created to draw attention to the unrelenting flow of plastic waste into our oceans — with an estimated eight million tons added every year. Teaming up with Hawaii Wildlife Fund and Surfrider Foundation, StudioKCA collected more than 5 tons of plastic waste from the ocean in four months. After cleaning and sorting the trash, the team also launched a successful Kickstarter campaign to bring the project to life and to fund fabrication of the steel and aluminum structural system created in collaboration with Thornton Tomasetti. “Skyscraper is a physical example of why we need to change how we use and dispose of plastic in the world today,” said Lesley Chang, Principal of StudioKCA. Principal Jason Klimoski continues, “[The sculpture] is 5 tons of plastic waste that we’ve pulled out of the ocean to create a four-story tall whale to help raise awareness about the other 150 million tons of plastic waste still swimming in our oceans. The more people know about a problem, the better, as it takes all of us working together to change the way things are done. This is a real opportunity to help bring awareness to a large audience about this global issue.” Related: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is growing at an exponential rate Located in the historic Jan Van Eyck Square, the Bruges Whale is one of 14 other installations selected for the 2018 Bruges Triennial , a free event that’s expected to welcome more than two million people. The art and architecture event is held from May 5 to September 16, 2018. + StudioKCA Images via StudioKCA

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A massive five-ton plastic waste whale breaches in a Bruges canal

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