A playful home built of recycled materials takes in sunrise views in Ecuador

August 19, 2019 by  
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Built largely from recycled materials, the home that architect Daniel Moreno Flores recently completed for an artistically inclined client in Ecuador oozes playfulness and creativity as well as a reduced environmental footprint. Located in the town of Pifo less than an hour’s drive east from Quito, the House of the Flying Tiles is strategically sited to embrace views. The house is named after its massive installation of hanging tiles — reclaimed and new — placed at the entrance to create visual interest and help shield the glass-walled home from unwanted solar heat gain. When deciding where to place the home, Flores began with a site study. Along with the client, he arrived early at the site to observe the direction of the sunrise and the best positions for framing landscape views. To make the home look “as if it had always been there,” Flores also let the site-specific placement of the home be informed by the existing trees and fauna. No trees were removed during the construction process. Related: This staggered, residential tower is draped with greenery in Quito “The house is oriented to the view, for the contemplation of the mountain, of the neighborhoods, and of all the plants and trees of the place,” Flores explained. “These spaces seek an intensification in the relationship with some externalities such as the mountain, the low vegetation, the sky and with the Guirachuro (a kind of bird of the place).” Using a mix of new materials and reclaimed wood and tiles from three houses in Quito , the architect created a 130-square-meter home with three main spaces: a double-height living area that opens up to an outdoor reading terrace and connects to a mezzanine office space; the bedroom area that overlooks mountain views; and the ground-floor bathroom that is built around an existing tree. The roofs of the structure are also designed to be accessible to create a variety of vantage points for enjoying the landscape. + Daniel Moreno Flores Photography by JAG Studio , Santiago Vaca Jaramillo and Daniel Moreno Flores

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A playful home built of recycled materials takes in sunrise views in Ecuador

Greenland’s ice sheet lost 197 billion tons of ice in July

August 19, 2019 by  
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What melts faster than an ice cream cone on a sweltering summer day? Greenland’s ice sheet. In July, the world’s second biggest ice sheet lost 197 billion tons of ice and increased sea levels by about half a millimeter. On August 15 alone, Greenland’s ice sheet had a major meltdown, losing 11 billion tons of surface ice to the ocean, scientists reported. While it’s not unusual for Greenland’s ice sheet to melt during the summer, it usually starts at the end of May but began weeks earlier this year. Meteorologists reported that July has been one of the hottest months around the world ever recorded. For instance, global average temperatures for this July are in line with and possibly higher than July 2016, which holds the current record, according to preliminary data reported by the Copernicus Climate Change Programme . Related: Iceland will unveil monument for the first glacier lost to climate change According to Ruth Mottram, a climate scientist with Danish Meteorological Institute , Greenland’s ice sheet lost 197 billion tons of ice in July, enough to fill nearly 80 million Olympic swimming pools. Mottram told CNN the expected average of ice melt this time of year would be between 60 and 70 billion tons. What could it mean? All this wacky weather may ultimately result in one of Greenland’s biggest ice melts since 1950. With the melt season typically lasting to the end of August, Mottram said the ice sheet could see substantial melting; however, it might not be as much as in recent weeks. Melting ice isn’t the only issue facing the Arctic, as the area has also experienced wildfires , which scientists said could be because of high temperatures. Since June, Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service has observed more than 100 intense wildfires in the Arctic Circle. The recent wildfires and ice melt in the Arctic Circle could be strong indicators of more climate change -related issues ahead. Via CNN Image via NASA

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Greenland’s ice sheet lost 197 billion tons of ice in July

MADs ethereal Yiwu Grand Theater will float on Zhejiang waters

July 5, 2019 by  
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Beijing-based architectural firm MAD Architects has won a competition for Zhejiang’s Yiwu Grand Theater with a proposal that’s stunning, sculptural and site-specific. Inspired by the Chinese junks that once sailed on the city’s Dongyang River, the Yiwu Grand Theater mimics the form of a glass-walled boat floating on the river while its subtle curves echo the Jiangnan-style eaves found in the region’s ancient vernacular architecture. Its facade of layered glass sails will be semitransparent to reduce overall energy consumption through passive solar means. As the world’s largest wholesale commodities market, Yiwu has built its reputation on commerce, not culture. In a bid to elevate its soft power, the city hosted an international competition to design the Yiwu Grand Theater, a hub of arts and culture to be located on the south bank of the Dongyang River. The building will include a 1,600-seat grand theater, a 1,200-seat medium theater and a 2,000-person-capacity international conference center. The project will also offer new and easily accessible public green space with an amphitheater and large open plaza that extends into the water on its southern edge. “The ‘Yiwu Grand Theater’ has been designed as a monument for the city that will serve to connect inhabitants to the waterfront from a new perspective,” the architects explained. “In its completion, it will stand as a world-class venue that will attract visitors from around the globe, putting Yiwu on the map as a cultural destination. The transparency and lightness of the glass express the texture of thin, silky fabric, creating a dynamic rhythm that makes them appear as if they are blowing in the wind. They act as a protective canopy around the building, resonating with the river, elegantly floating above the water’s surface, setting a romantic atmosphere.” Related: MAD Architects unveils an “organic” skyscraper piercing Manhattan’s skyline In addition to giving the Yiwu Grand Theater a sense of lightness in spite of its size, the semi-transparent glass curtain wall also helps to reduce heating and cooling costs while letting in ample amounts of natural light. In winter, the glass creates a solar greenhouse effect but can be opened up in summer to promote natural ventilation . The Yiwu Grand Theater is expected to begin construction in 2020. + MAD Architects Images via MAD Architects

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U.S. produces more waste and recycles less than other developed countries

July 5, 2019 by  
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Compared to the rest of the world, the waste and recycling stats in the U.S. just can’t compete. Although the U.S. is just 4 percent of the world’s total population, the country produces 12 percent of the total solid waste of 2.1 billion tons per year. When researchers from the global risk firm Verisk Maplecroft compared the numbers, they found that the U.S. lags behind other developed nations in terms of its capacity to handle and recycle waste. The average American generates 1,700 pounds of trash every year, including 234 pounds of plastic waste. That’s three times more than what the Chinese produce and seven times more than Ethiopians. But the problem isn’t just waste generation — what happens to all the waste is where the U.S. is embarrassingly behind the times. Related: Even the most remote islands are victims of plastic pollution “Where the U.S. is doing badly is the relationship between what it generates and its capacity to recycle,” said study author Niall Smith. “And relative to it’s high income peers, that’s where it is performing poorly.” On average, the U.S. is able to recycle 35 percent of all solid waste produced. Germany, in the lead for recycling efficiency, is able to recycle 68 percent of all waste. According to the researchers, the U.S. lacks the proper infrastructure to sustainably handle the waste and process the recycling and needs to find new places to send its plastic waste, with China refusing to accept more and the Philippines sending waste ships back at its shores. Much of the plastic in the U.S. is still burned in incinerators rather than recycled. While increased recycling and recycling infrastructure is paramount, Smith argues that there is already enough plastic in the world to cause a massive crisis for human and ecological health and that recycling is not enough. “There’s too much focus on recycling being the kind of silver bullet solution, which it is not,” Smith said. Instead, Americans need to focus on transforming into a zero-waste culture. Via BBC and The Guardian Image via Pexels

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U.S. produces more waste and recycles less than other developed countries

MVRDV introduces a psychedelic blend of art and architecture in Paradise City

September 25, 2018 by  
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Dutch design firm MVRDV recently completed its latest project: The Imprint, an art-entertainment complex near Seoul’s Incheon Airport that toes the line between art and architecture. Completed as part of the city’s Paradise City complex, The Imprint features strikingly sculptural facades painted white and gold that can be easily recognized from the sky as passengers land at Incheon Airport. The eye-catching visuals of the windowless exteriors are echoed in the interiors, which were installed with mirrored ceilings and glass media floors for a psychedelic effect. MVRDV’s The Imprint complex includes a nightclub in the building marked by a golden entrance spot as well as an indoor theme park in the other building. Both structures featured dramatic lifted entrances designed in such a way to mimic the look of draped fabric. Despite the facades’ malleable appearance, glass-fiber reinforced concrete panels were used to construct the exteriors, and the 3,869 panels are unique and individually produced from the architects’ 3D modeling files. The panels were painted white to highlight the relief in the design. “Two months ago most of the cladding was done and the client said, ‘this is an art piece,’” said Winy Maas, principle and co-founder of MVRDV. “What is interesting about that is that they are looking for that momentum — that entertainment can become art or that the building can become artistic in that way. What, then, is the difference between architecture and  art ? The project plays with that and I think that abstraction is part of it, but it has to surprise, seduce and it has to calm down.” Related: MVRDV will transform the Tirana Pyramid, a former communist monument, into an education center Connected with a shared central courtyard , the two buildings were heavily influenced by the site context. Features from the neighboring buildings, such as window and door shapes, were replicated in the relief as if they were imprinted on, while the massing and height of the new construction also respond to the existing architecture. + MVRDV Images © Ossip van Duivenbode

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This striking, gorge-inspired Sydney home celebrates outdoor play

August 27, 2018 by  
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Soaring ceilings and natural light define the Iron Maiden House, a contemporary home that pays tribute to the local site context in Sydney’s lower North Shore. Designed by Darlington-based CplusC Architectural Workshop , the Iron Maiden House was created for a family of five and offers generously sized rooms that spill out to outdoor-facing areas. The dwelling’s asymmetrical mountain-like forms mimic the appearance of a natural gorge and even feature a series of linear ponds that cut lengthwise through the center of the home. Covering an area of 3,089 square feet, the Iron Maiden House consists of metal-clad angular volumes that the architects describe as their modern take on the gable houses typically found throughout the region. A solar study determined the orientation as well as the overall layout of the home to fill the interior with natural light. Meanwhile, the architects also added flowering creeping plants to the exterior for seasonal variation and to heighten the home’s likeness to a natural gorge. The interiors feature cathedral -like spaces with tall ceilings and white walls. Massive walls of glass and the ponds that bisect the house bring the outdoors in. The main living spaces—which also flow from indoors to out—as well as a guest en-suite bedroom, study and swimming pool are located on the ground floor while the master suite, a lounge and three additional bedrooms can be found upstairs. Related: Glass elements dramatically open up a solar-powered Sydney home “The home aims to elevate everyday activities,” note the architects. “Occupants are encouraged to pause and enjoy the view through a large window near the spiral stair and generous stair treads which meet nearby walls, forming a place to sit. Each room has a view through green space into different parts of the house. The sophisticated use of levels within the home creates distinct yet akin spaces.” The Iron Maiden House was also shortlisted in the 2018 World Architecture Festival and Houses Awards. + CplusC Architectural Workshop Via ArchDaily Images by Murray Fredericks and Michael Lassman

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This striking, gorge-inspired Sydney home celebrates outdoor play

This vibrant, waterproof pavilion floats along the canal at the 2018 Bruges Triennial

July 11, 2018 by  
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A spectacular art and architecture festival is currently underway in Bruges, Belgium — and the attractions include a beautiful floating pavilion by Spanish architecture firm SelgasCano . Evocative of its vibrant and curvaceous work for the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion in 2015 , the SelgasCano pavilion in Bruges is likewise a colorful affair, made with pink-orange fluorescent vinyl that allows light and views to pass through. Commissioned by the city for the 2018 Bruges Triennial , the pavilion serves as a platform for bathing and swimming in the Coupure canal. The architects at SelgasCano created the floating pavilion using computer-modeling software, which determined the shapes and sizes of the arches that make up the long, sinuous frame. In contrast to the use of computer-aided design, the firm built the colorful canopy by hand. The materials were welded and pieced together on site to achieve the desired shape. The waterproof structure was installed atop a yellow wooden platform. “[The] pink-orange fluorescent vinyl [is a] material that has never been used before in a building,” said SelgasCano in a project statement. “Steel structure and plastic skin are just one thing, indissociable one from the other. Light passes through the skin creating a shambling atmosphere that changes the usual perception of the old city.” Related: A massive five-ton plastic waste whale breaches in a Bruges canal The architects also designed the pavilion with movable seating in mind, which could be placed in the covered part of the pavilion as well as on the terrace portion of the floating platform. A kidney-shaped cutout in the middle of the pavilion allows water into the heart of the space. The SelgasCano pavilion is one of more than a dozen site-specific installations created for the 2018 Bruges Triennial, which is free to the public and runs until September 16, 2018. + SelgasCano Images by Iwan Baan

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This vibrant, waterproof pavilion floats along the canal at the 2018 Bruges Triennial

Olafur Eliasson unveils his first building, a sculptural stunner in Denmark

June 8, 2018 by  
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The prolific Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson has unveiled his first building—a sculptural castle-like mass that rises from the waters in Vejle, Denmark. Dubbed Fjordenhus (Fjord House), the solar-powered structure was created as the new headquarters for holding and investment company KIRK KAPITAL and features both green roofs and solar panels. The project was created under Studio Olafur Eliasson’s new international office for art and architecture, Studio Other Spaces, which was founded in collaboration with architect Sebastian Behmann and will execute similar large-scale experimental architectural and public space projects in the future. Located next to the man-made Havneøen (The Harbour Island), Fjordenhus comprises four intersecting cylinders that rise to a height of 28 meters. The historic harbor warehouses and silos in the area inspired Fjordenhus’ curved facade and brick cladding. Inside, the building is organized around circles and ellipses, from the curved windows and furnishings to the round vestibules and spiral staircase. The double-height ground floor will be open to the public and partly flooded by water. The KIRK KAPITAL offices are located in the upper three floors, while the top of the building is decked out with a green roof and solar panels. “In the design team, we experimented from early on with how to create an organic building that would respond to the ebb and flow of the tides , to the shimmering surface of the water, changing at different times of the day and of the year,” said Olafur Eliasson in a statement. “The curving walls of the building transform our perception of it as we move through its spaces. I hope the residents of Vejle will embrace Fjordenhus and identify with it as a new landmark for the harbour and their city.” Related: Olafur Eliasson launches a gorgeous and affordable handheld solar phone charger In addition to custom furniture and lighting, the contemporary building also incorporates site-specific artworks by Eliasson. The Fjordenhus officially opens to the public on June 9, 2018. + Olafur Eliasson Images by Anders Sune Berg

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Olafur Eliasson unveils his first building, a sculptural stunner in Denmark

Light-filled Indianapolis home is a base for Airstream adventurers

January 12, 2018 by  
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Architecture studio Haus completed a modern energy-efficient home with its very own Airstream port. Commissioned by clients with a love of traveling, the Copperwood House in Zionsville, Indianapolis boasts passive and active green-building strategies to achieve an HERS Performance Rating of 43, that the architects say is 60% better than a standard new energy code-compliant home. The geothermal -heated home is equipped with low-energy appliances; all lighting, security, and the HVAC can be remotely controlled via smartphone. Set on a 19-acre lot with natural habitat and wetlands , the Copperwood House was carefully sited to minimize landscape disturbance and interference with an abandoned on-site pipeline. The site constraints, views, and passive solar principles informed the home’s unusual Z-shaped layout. The low-lying home is clad in thermally treated timber ash that doubles as a rainscreen system and will develop a weathered patina over time. The timber facade is complemented by white cement panels and topped with a slanted metal roof with a deep overhang. Related: Geothermal-powered Lake Austin Home is tuned in to nature Natural light pours into the modern interior through full-height glazing, clerestory windows, and skylights, some of which are operable to take advantage of the stack effect. Full-height glazing creates the appearance of living outdoors, while natural materials like cork floors and clear Southern Pine stairs tie the interiors to the landscape. The master suite and two bedrooms are located in the east wing. An open-plan dining room, kitchen, and living room are placed at the heart of the home that’s wrapped in glazing. The client’s Airstream was integrated into the design and sheltered beneath the soaring metal roof. The Airstream is connected to power, sewer, and water, and is used as a guest room and office when docked at home. + Haus Images via Haus and The Home Aesthetic

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Weathering steel wraps around a solar-powered California home

October 31, 2017 by  
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When Faulkner Architects was tasked with building a family home just outside San Francisco, the clients emphasized the importance of the environment. The Truckee-based architecture firm set about creating a striking site-specific dwelling with a small energy footprint. The result is an AIA award-winning three-bedroom home, called Miner Road, that’s wrapped in sheets of Corten Steel—chosen for its low maintenance and the way it “refresh[es] every time it rains, just like the landscape,” says architect Greg Faulkner. Located in Orinda on a sloped eight-acre site with large oak trees, Miner Road takes over the footprint of a former home that once stood on the property. The mature oak trees informed the orientation of the home and provide shade, while glass walls frame the trees’ large gnarled branches. Large cutouts in the weathering steel facade let in ample natural light and views of the landscape. Related: Green-roofed home with rusting walls appears to grow out of a Finnish forest “This bridging between interior and exterior is major feature of the main living space, and an entire wall is devoted to connecting the two visually,” wrote Faulkner Architects. In contrast to the weathering steel facade, the interior is bright and modern, and focuses on a natural materials palette , from the abundant use of white oak to white gypsum walls and basalt floor tiles. The home’s mechanical and electrical systems are designed at a 44.9% improvement over code and include a rainwater harvesting system and solar panels. + Faulkner Architects Via Dezeen

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Weathering steel wraps around a solar-powered California home

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