Benjamin Fleury creates affordable, modern apartments with a low-energy footprint in Paris

July 30, 2019 by  
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Local architecture practice Benjamin Fleury has completed a residential complex with 26 affordable apartments in Montreuil, a commune in the eastern suburbs of Paris. Affordable housing cooperative COOPIMMO commissioned the design and construction of the building as part of its mission to produce social accommodations with a “renting-purchasing system.” Thoughtfully integrated into the suburban context, the contemporary apartment complex also boasts low-energy consumption and has earned the MINERGIE-P label for its energy-efficient features. Located on the Rue des Chantereines, the 26 Apartments in Montreuil is surrounded by a mix of 1960s housing blocks that range from structures that are five to 10 stories in height to smaller, standalone homes with gardens. Creating a building sensitive to these different building typologies was paramount to the design, as was injecting a contemporary morphology. As a result, the architects decided to split the affordable housing complex into two blocks: a street-facing “urban” block that sits opposite the multistory, midcentury housing blocks and a second “residential” block tucked farther back on the block. A communal garden and gathering space planted with deciduous trees occupies the space between the two buildings. Related: A vacant lot in New Orleans is converted into resilient and affordable housing for war veterans “These accommodations where first offered to local families who could not easily afford to be owners,” Benjamin Fleury said in a project statement. “The principle of the social ownership is simple: in addition to the regulation of low prices, families can contract a loan without pre-existing capital, and then become owners after a first step of renting. Because of the economic flimsiness of the buyers, who already have to assume their loans, it appeared essential to reduce effectively the maintenance costs of the building.” In addition to reducing the cost of maintenance, the architects wanted to reduce energy costs. Passive solar principles were followed to take advantage of natural light, ventilation and shading while heat loss and unwanted solar gain are mitigated with triple-glazed windows. Insulation is also built into the double-layered facade. A double-flow mechanical ventilation system and solar hot water heaters help reduce heating demands. + Benjamin Fleury Photography by David Boureau via Benjamin Fleury

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Benjamin Fleury creates affordable, modern apartments with a low-energy footprint in Paris

Derelict building is wrapped in tin foil to protest lack of affordable housing in Warsaw

February 6, 2019 by  
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Polish-born artist Piotr Janowski has become well-known for turning buildings and even entire locomotives into shimmery  art installations by covering them in thin layers of tin foil. Now, the artist is back with Zabkowska 9, Take off —  a building in the heart of Warsaw that has been sitting empty and in decay for years. By wrapping the large townhouse in tin foil, the artist hopes to call attention to Warsaw’s lack of affordable housing, despite the city’s high number of empty buildings. Janowski’s latest canvas this time around is a derelict 1870 tenement building, which has survived two wold wars, located in Warsaw’s Praga-Pó?noc district. Over the years, the area has become known for its crime and drug scene, but is being rediscovered as of late. Comparing it to Brooklyn before gentrification, Janowski said he is seeking to bring attention to the building and its potential to help the city with its lack of affordable housing . Related: Artist wraps vintage steam locomotive in 39,000 square feet of aluminum foil The artist explained that he hopes this particular work will help the city prepare a future urban design that will benefit those in need while retaining the architectural history of the neighborhoods. “I believe that my aluminum installation will, for a moment, turn into a symbolic silver bridge, which will combine the dreams of the pre-war past and then the dramatic years of the city’s inhabitants during the occupation with the contemporary positive changes that are taking place so definitely in this fascinating Warsaw district,” Janowski said. “I think that this is an ideal and unique time to adapt one of the abandoned buildings for this project and symbolically make its destroyed beauty reborn.” Working with a local homeless man, Wies?aw Go??b, who lives in the building, the artist began the art installation by covering the facade in more than 600 square meters of tin foil. Using a lift, he often spent days on end painstakingly covering the building’s wooden, wood, metal and stone facade. With help from Wies?aw, his wife and about 15 young volunteers, he was able to finish the incredible art piece in about 10 days. + Piotr Janowski Images via Piotr Janowski

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Derelict building is wrapped in tin foil to protest lack of affordable housing in Warsaw

Local residents help build pre-fab bamboo social center that can be constructed in a week

January 24, 2018 by  
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Mexican studio  Comunal Taller de Arquitectura is proving yet again that bamboo is a miracle material when it comes to creating affordable housing options. Working with local residents, the studio has built a social housing structure in a small town outside of Puebla. Using a prefabricated bamboo frame, the architects worked side-by-side with the locals so that the residents would learn how to replicate its design – which can be built in just seven days – on their own. The architects have made a name for themselves thanks to their commitment to working with locals on self-build structures using local bamboo and other locally-sourced materials . In this project, however, the architects were forced to import bamboo from the United States due to government restrictions. Once the imported bamboo was available, the team, along with the local residents, used it to make a modular and prefabricated frame. Related: INTERVIEW: Bamboo builder, and Ibuku founder Elora Hardy on creating incredible buildings with bamboo Once the frame was in place, the skeleton of the prefab bamboo structure was constructed in less than a week. The second step consisted of building out the 60-square meter residence using local wood and stone. The various bamboo panels used throughout for the window shutters and the doors were coated with a local tissue known as ixtile for extra protection against the elements. Walls of red brick lattices provide natural air ventilation throughout the home and are helpful in rerouting any kitchen smoke to the exterior. On the interior, exposed bamboo trusses and beams form a slanted roof, which is topped with a thin metal sheet. The roof overhangs around the structure to provide shade for the wrap-around covered porch area. A grey paving makes up the flooring of the porches and continues throughout the interior. According to the architects, the rural housing design was approved for federal subsidies, meaning that the affordable and sustainable prototype could be easily replicated in other areas using local materials and methods . + Comunal Taller de Arquitectura Via Dezeen Images via Comunal Taller de Arquitectura

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Local residents help build pre-fab bamboo social center that can be constructed in a week

Energy-efficient Bluebonnet Studios offers sustainable housing to Austins most vulnerable citizens

July 14, 2017 by  
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The Bluebonnet Studios social housing development in Austin supports a healthy lifestyle through the design. The property, designed by Forge Craft Architecture + Design , provides housing for the homeless, low-income veterans and local musicians. It features forward-thinking sustainable elements such as recycled and locally-sourced materials, a well insulated envelope, optimal orientation, low-flow fixtures and occupancy sensors. The architects worked with a difficult site and a very tight budget, which required a close collaboration between the design, construction, and ownership teams, as well as help of sustainability experts like Pliny Fisk and Jason McLennan . An important aspect of the design was access to natural light , which the team provided by creating a light well that runs through the center of the building. This emphasis on daylight also allows for most of the building to be functional without artificial light in the event of a power outage – including all circulation. Heating and cooling are provided by centralized LG VRF units tied to individual apartment thermostats. Each thermostat is coupled to both window sensors and door-triggered occupancy sensors . All the interior finishes and products were regionally sourced, recycled and healthy. On top of the building, a green space allows for outdoor activities. Related: Top 6 Green Supportive and Low-Income Housing Projects Of the 107 single-occupancy units, 22 are reserved for the area’s homeless and low-income veterans, while five are dedicated to local musicians. Each resident received a small package of tools, including a recycling bin, recycling magnet, green cleaning recipes, and recommendations for conservative thermostat settings to help residents keep their homes green. Additionally, a green housekeeping program provides a dispensing station with Green Seal certified cleaning chemicals for maintenance staff and janitorial contractors. + Forge Craft Architecture + Design Photos by Paul Bardagjy

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Energy-efficient Bluebonnet Studios offers sustainable housing to Austins most vulnerable citizens

Architects use local materials to build beautiful Costa Rica community center

January 30, 2017 by  
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Round building offer many advantages in terms of sustainability and resilience , so it’s no surprise to see disaster-prone communities turning to the curved architecture. Fournier Rojas Arquitectos recently created a beautifully round community center for the small Costa Rican town of El Rodeo de Mora. The center, which was primarily built with locally-sourced and donated materials, will provide the economically disadvantaged area with an adaptable space for hold community events and a shelter during natural disasters. El Rodeo de Mora is rural community located in hot and humid central Costa Rica, which sees extended periods of heavy rainfall. These conditions, along with poor construction, caused the community’s existing center to deteriorate over the years. When Fournier Rojas Arquitectos stepped in to work pro bono on the project, they focused primarily on constructing a building that would be sustainable and durable granted the tropical climate. Related: Villa Nyberg: A Passive Swedish Prefab with a Cool Circular Floorplan They based the design layout on the needs of the community – it offers a kitchen, toilets, a storage facility and amenities for the local soccer team – but they were also working within the challenges of the location itself. Costa Rica has strict regulations in place to reduce damage from earthquakes, and the architects built the center (which can hold up to 100 people) on high ground to protect it from flooding . Using local materials , many of which were donated, the architects managed to keep the cost down to less than $250 USD per square meter. At the heart of the center is an adaptable circular room, whose exterior is made of clay ventilation bricks – a common material of choice for tropical environments. Not only did the round design help cut down the cost in terms of materials needed, but the circular layout provides natural air circulation. The entire building sits on reinforced concrete columns. Eight pitched roofs made from lightweight fiber-cement sheets make up the building’s canopy, which extends out past the circular volume, further providing shade and protection from the elements. The “layering” style of the roof was strategic to further optimize the building’s natural ventilation . The design has won an award from the WAC (World Architecture Community, May 2015) and a Special Mention in S.ARCH AWARDS (May 2016). + Fournier Rojas Arquitectos Via Archdaily Photography by Fernando Alda

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Architects use local materials to build beautiful Costa Rica community center

Eco-friendly Syrian refugee housing that anyone would love to call home

January 19, 2017 by  
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Building refugee housing often means fast construction at the expense of beauty and quality, but that doesn’t have to be the case if we take German architect Werner Sobek’s work as any indication. Sobek and the company Aktivhaus recently completed a modular development for 200 Syrian refugees in the German town of Winnenden. Prefabricated in a factory and swiftly assembled on site like Legos, the bright and airy homes are attractive enough for anyone to want to call home. Faced with an influx of refugees fleeing the Syrian civil war , the German town of Winnenden turned to Sobek for a quick way to set up a housing estate for around 200 people in the Schelmenholz district. The development also needed to be flexible enough to be converted for different uses in the future and to be easily expanded on or deconstructed. To minimize costs, construction time, and waste, Sobek installed 38 prefabricated modules from Aktivhaus’ 700 Series. Each 60-square-meter module is constructed using timber frame construction and is stacked to create two stories. The airtight walls, clad in larch , are made with high levels insulation—consisting of hemp and wood fibers—to minimize energy demands. Most materials used are resource conserving and recyclable, with minimal concrete used. The windows are sealed with rubber strips instead of toxic polyurethane foam. Related: Sobek’s Activhaus produces enough green power to light up the house next door Sobek estimates that the modules could last hundreds of years if they are well cared for. The Winnenden development is intended as refugee housing for three years, after which they will be converted into social housing. The development also includes a technology module, two community rooms, and a multifunctional space with washing machines and dryers. The project was initiated and completed last year. + Werner Sobek Via Treehugger , zvw.de Images © Zooey Braun

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Eco-friendly Syrian refugee housing that anyone would love to call home

Tesla’s Gigafactory is getting a $350 million upgrade to build Model 3 parts

January 19, 2017 by  
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Tesla ‘s massive Gigafactory near Sparks, Nevada is expanding weeks after kicking off production of lithium-ion batteries . The electric carmaker and clean energy storage company is planning to invest $350 million in a project to manufacture electric motors and gearboxes for the Model 3 — Tesla’s first affordable EV, which is priced at $35,000 before tax incentives and is expected to hit the assembly line this year. Tesla will hire an additional 550 people for the project on top of the 6,500 workers the company has already committed to employing at the Gigafactory. The expansion news was revealed by Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval during his State of the State address on Tuesday and confirmed by Tesla. Steve Hill, director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, told the newspaper the Nevada Appeal that he expects Tesla will eventually have 10,000 workers at the site, which when completed will be the biggest building in the world with a footprint of 10 million square feet. According to Tesla, the Gigafactory will indirectly create another 20,000 to 30,000 jobs in the surrounding area. Related: Tesla to power Gigafactory with world’s largest solar rooftop installation Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s goal is to make 500,000 mostly Model 3 electric cars by the end of 2018 and one million EVs by 2020. The cars are assembled at the company’s Fremont, California factory. The city recently approved a major expansion of the facility that includes 11 new buildings covering 4.6 million square feet of manufacturing space. The city anticipates that the factory expansion will increase employment by 3,100 workers. Tesla is also planning to build a second gigafactory in Europe, with the location still to be announced. Gigafactory 2 will manufacture both lithium-ion batteries and electric cars. + Tesla Via CNBC Images via Tesla , Wikimedia

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Tesla’s Gigafactory is getting a $350 million upgrade to build Model 3 parts

A series of cantilevering cubes make up this French social housing complex

January 18, 2017 by  
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Bordeaux-based firms, More Architecture  and  Poggi Architecture, have collaborated on a ultra-contemporary design for a social housing complex named White Clouds. Located in town of Saintes in western France, the 1,886-square-meter complex holds 30 apartments made out of cantilevering white boxes with perforated balconies, which serve to let in optimal natural light while providing privacy. The architectural team designed the social housing complex layout to maximise outdoor space. For the building itself, the design called for a series of stacked boxes that slope with the natural landscape. Each of the apartments was equipped with gridded metal balconies that jut out past the main volume. Along with the extra benefit of having a balcony, the architects avoided a central facade so that the eye-catching complex could emit a strong cohesive nature. Related: Social housing project with two “faces” channels Parisian duality The gridded metal balconies that jut out of each apartment serve dual functions: they let in an optimal amount of natural light into the living spaces, and offer a sense of protected privacy to the tenants. According to the architects, it was of utmost importance to provide a sense of personal space within the design, “Exit conventional balconies, terraces and loggias with their separating walls and shields of varying transparency, used to hide unsightly objects or provide a modicum of intimacy.” According to the design team, the unique features of the complex were based primarily on the needs of the tenants, “The harmonious association of setting and architecture makes way for a design which, rather than closing in on itself and looking inwards, opens out to embrace the neighbourhood as a whole while still providing protection from direct line of sight and noise thanks to its perforated cladding.” + More Architecture + Poggi + More Via Dezeen Photography by Javier Sevillas Callejas

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A series of cantilevering cubes make up this French social housing complex

Social housing project with two "faces" channels Parisian duality

October 25, 2016 by  
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The design of the building reflects the dual nature of its surroundings and uses different materials to eliminate borders. It channels the dynamism of the urban development zone of Batignolles and connects two different urban conditions. Its southwest facade reflects the numerous brick buildings of Clichy-la-Garenne, while the southeast facade with perforated metal and louvered shutters echo the activity of the city. An array of ornamentation on the brick facade connects the two expressions of the city-its center and the suburbs. Related: Modern Green Social Housing Complex Rises East of Paris Large glass surfaces dominate the ground floor dedicated to commercial spaces. The hall acts as a transition between the exterior and interior, establishing visual connections from the sidewalk into the garden at the heart of the lot. The 38 social housing units have double exposures thanks to balconies and loggias either hidden behind perforated metal or cut into the brick facing the street. + Avenier Cornejo Architectes Photos by Takuji Shimmura / Avenier Cornejo

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Social housing project with two "faces" channels Parisian duality

Brad Pitt’s Make it Right delivers first 3 LEED Platinum homes to Fort Peck Indian reservation

November 27, 2015 by  
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