Biomimicry Institute reveals 2020 Global Design Challenge finalists

September 3, 2020 by  
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The Biomimicry Institute has revealed this year’s 10 Biomimicry Global Design Challenge finalist teams, which have created innovative solutions for sustainably tackling global issues. The proposals, which all take inspiration from nature, address one or more of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The 10 finalists were selected from over 81 student teams as well as 26 teams of professionals from 17 countries in total. Of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, half of the 2020 Biomimicry Global Design Challenge submissions addressed “Sustainable Cities and Communities”, and over one-quarter addressed either “Good Health and Well-being”, “Climate Action”, “Life Below Water” and “Clean Water and Sanitation.” This year’s 10 finalist teams are from five different countries — including Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, Taiwan and the United States — with the majority focused on Good Health and Well-being, Sustainable Cities and Communities and Climate Action. Related: NexLoop unveils water management system inspired by spiders, fungi, bees and plants The first five finalists in alphabetical order include A Sensitive Wall, a proposal for a dynamic green noise barrier for reducing the urban heat island effect and traffic noise. It takes inspiration from concave-eared torrent frogs, mimosa leaves and desert snails. BottleBricks is an interlocking bottle system for insulating refugee housing that mimics the air-trapping qualities found in the triangular, corrugated shape of Saharan silver ant hairs and the structure of silk cocoons. ELIGHTRA is a solar -powered lighting system for temporary settlements with hard outer shells like a ladybug’s elytra (wing cases). Methanolite is a methanotroph-inspired method for converting methane into methanol without carbon dioxide emissions. MyOak Public Market is an online platform to increase food access for vulnerable populations during times of crisis; the project takes cues from the Chesapeake Forest. Additional finalists include nutriBarrier, a woven barrier for reducing nutrient runoff inspired by the protective strategies of hagfish and frogs. The floral stamen-shaped air filtration system Pranavayu features the electrical and structural properties of a spiderweb. An air filter called RICOCHET mimics mantas. The SINC (Sustainable Ice Nucleation Contraption) outdoor water collection system improves access to clean drinking water with methods similar to the countercurrent heat exchange system found in trout. Tubes, Blades, Mesh, Oh My! is a seawall retrofit proposal that takes cues from seagrass and mangroves for greater coastal resiliency. + The Biomimicry Institute Images via The Biomimicry Institute

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Biomimicry Institute reveals 2020 Global Design Challenge finalists

Renewable energy lab glows like a lantern in Germany

September 2, 2020 by  
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On a site formerly used for experiments on solar energy , Stuttgart-based architectural practice Behnisch Architekten has completed Building 668 (KIT Energy Lab 2.0), a massive testing lab for new energy systems as part of a scheme to move Germany toward greater adoption of renewable energy. Located at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) campus near Stuttgart, the KIT Energy Lab 2.0 is also remarkable for its eye-catching design — the timber-framed structure is wrapped in translucent polycarbonate cladding and topped with a dramatic sawtooth roof as a nod to the industrial character of the neighboring buildings. Its polycarbonate exterior allows a consistent amount of light into the simple, low-carbon building, which lights up like a lantern at night. Related: Sustainable RAUM Pavilion can be continually reused or recycled in Utrecht Completed over the course of four years, the KIT Energy Lab 2.0 spans an area of 18,621 square feet over two floors with simple layouts conducive for flexibility. The ground floor is centered on a large, double-height test hall with work areas — including the test hall and an office, meeting and IT/server room — lining the north side of the building, while the transformer rooms and control station are located on the southern end. A central stairway and elevator lead up to the second floor, which consists of additional office space, a small staff kitchen, a meeting room, lab room, control station, test preparation room and a bridge over the column-free test hall that connects to large gallery spaces. The interiors echo the simple and industrial look of the exterior. Exposed timber trusses, unpainted wooden surfaces, lofty ceiling heights and oversized lighting fixtures emphasize the industrial motif. Natural light floods the test hall, which accommodates the areas “Power-Hardware in the Loop” (PHIL) and “Smart Energy System Control Laboratory” (SESCL) as well as assembly areas for tests. The KIT Energy Lab 2.0 was created in partnership with the Helmholtz Centres, the National Aeronautics and Space Research Center of the Federal Republic of Germany (DLR) and Forschungszentrum Jülich (FZJ). + Behnisch Architekten Photography by David Matthiessen via Behnisch Architekten

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Renewable energy lab glows like a lantern in Germany

Modern passive house is carbon-negative and energy-positive

August 26, 2020 by  
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Designed by McLean Quinlan Architects, the Devon Passivhaus combines contemporary architecture with a rustic outdoor setting. The modern passive house uses a minimalist-yet-elegant brick wall as its facade, with a discreet doorway carved into the front and a simple oriel glass window to peek inside at the stunning interiors. The brick design is modeled after an existing garden wall that connects the property, while the front door mimics the style of an old gate that would have accompanied such a wall in the past. The original garden and footprint inspired the design of the home, while the historic brick paths leading up to the property were restored as well. The house is certified Passive and includes eco-friendly features such as air source heating, MVHR, solar power , battery storage, super-insulation and triple-glazing in order to sustain over 100% of its required energy. Related: Local earth bricks form this inspiring co-working space in Ouagadougou Past the initial brick and into the interior of the home, a glass roofed courtyard with a winter garden is located in the center, helping to channel natural light to the inside. Natural and repurposed materials, including reclaimed terracotta, sawn oak wood and clay plaster, are found throughout the home in order to connect it with the outdoors. The clients are also avid art collectors, so the designers were sure to include spaces to display and curate their many pieces of pottery and paintings. The project leaders decided to aim toward passive capability after achieving planning under the open countryside house route. “We’d always aimed to make the house high performing, but having a benchmark to aim for and test against enabled the whole project team to get behind the ambition,” said Fiona McLean of McLean and Quinlan Architects. “The wall panels, 4Wall fromTribus, were an innovative product. A ‘hyperSIP’ panel constructed using steel framing and magnesium oxide boards sandwiching PIR insulation. Their benefits were excellent airtightness, waterproof, minimal thermal bridging, good core strength and low U-Values.” According to the clients, they’ve become carbon-negative and energy-positive by 40% thanks to the clever design. In the sunny summer months, the house generates 3,500kwh of electricity while only using 60kwh, with remaining power stored in the grid. + McLean and Quinlan Photography by Jim Stephenson via McLean and Quinlan

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Modern passive house is carbon-negative and energy-positive

HIVE Project proposes biophilic, self-sufficient homes of the future

August 21, 2020 by  
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As part of RIBA’s The Home of 2030 design competition, Gianluca Santosuosso Design has created The HIVE Project, a honeycomb-inspired modular solution for lower carbon and low-energy housing. Developed for scalability, the prefabricated timber-framed hexagonal structures would offer residents a great degree of flexibility in customizing their homes throughout different stages of life. The honeycomb-inspired homes are also designed for energy self-sufficiency via renewable energy sources and would be integrated with a water recycling strategy that sustainably handles wastewater as well. The HIVE Project — short for ‘Human-Inclusive & Vertical Ecosystem’ — is a scheme for a circular economy that includes residences as well as shared facilities and onsite food- and energy-generating systems. This “Socio-Eco-System” promotes social cohesion and nature regeneration by incorporating the needs of not only humans, but also the existing site and local flora and fauna. For instance, the ideal starting site for the HIVE Project would be a brownfield that would be rehabilitated and enriched as the community grows. Related: Green-roofed Hive home opens and closes with the sun The hexagonal modules would be prefabricated offsite, where they would be bound together with a mix of locally sourced industrial hemp and natural binder that also provides strong insulation properties. As the community expands, more modules can be quickly added with minimal site impact. At the end of the solar-powered building’s lifecycle, the biodegradable construction materials can be easily disposed of while the remaining elements can be reused for new construction. “HIVE combines the properties of the honeycomb with the shape of the archetypal house and creates a new hybrid type of living space able to merge nature’s efficiency with the ingenuity of humans,” the architects explained. “We intend to provide the HIVE with a wide spectrum of co-owned and shared facilities that will empower individuals, families and communities to be self-sufficient while allowing local authorities and administration to limit the need for public investments. … Using these ‘Kits-of-Parts’, every single plot development will be unique and diverse.” + Gianluca Santosuosso Design Images via Gianluca Santosuosso Design

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HIVE Project proposes biophilic, self-sufficient homes of the future

Green-roofed California winery will blend into a beautiful valley landscape

August 17, 2020 by  
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Along the slopes of the Santa Rosa Hills in California’s Santa Barbara County, Texas-based architecture firm Clayton & Little has unveiled designs to skillfully embed the Alma Rosa Winery into the valley floor. Designed to preserve the natural beauty of the El Jabali Ranch, the Alma Rosa Winery, along with its tasting room and vineyard equipment barn, will be mostly tucked into the hillsides or underground and layered with a green roof of native grasses to blend in with the landscape. Sustainability drove the design of the winery. Alma Rosa Winery uses eco-friendly farming practices on its vineyards and features an array of energy-saving techniques as part of a plan to take the winery and vineyard barn off the grid. Dedicated to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines, the Alma Rosa Winery has become a destination for visitors interested in tasting the vibrant wines and immersing themselves in the beautiful ranch. As a result, the architects plan to let the landscape take center stage by blanketing the nearly 25,000-square-foot complex in a vegetated roof. Ventilated subterranean caves that house the barrel storage spaces take advantage of the natural soil temperature to minimize mechanical cooling. The solar-powered winery also features integrated night cooling to further reduce energy demands. Related: A historic farm is thoughtfully repurposed into an organic winery A steel frame, native stone walls, cast-in-place concrete, reclaimed redwood and weathering steel will make up the simple materials palette, which was selected for regional availability and resiliency. “The intention was to design a space to reflect how a farmer would have built the necessities to run their operations — with both simplicity and flexibility in mind,” the architects explained. The native stone walls that define the buildings above-ground are also brought into the interiors of the Fermentation Hall, a large, two-level space with 64-ton capacity fermentation tanks, administration offices, flex offices, a meeting room and a break room. All spaces are open to natural light and views of the hillside and vineyard. The project also includes a new 3,569-square-foot Vineyard Equipment Barn, an open-air space built with reclaimed materials that houses heavy farming equipment, tools, picking bins and a closed workspace. + Clayton & Little Images via Clayton & Little

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Green-roofed California winery will blend into a beautiful valley landscape

Solar-powered Brink Tower is a sustainable solution to Amsterdams housing shortage

August 10, 2020 by  
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Dutch architecture firm Mecanoo has won an international competition with the design for the Brink Tower, a new mixed-use skyscraper that will connect Amsterdam’s Van Der Pek neighborhood with the Overhoeks. Designed as a solution to the shortage of high-quality housing for young professionals, international students and young couples in the city, the eye-catching tower will include approximately 400 new residences and offer a variety of shared green spaces to encourage a sense of community. Sustainability has also driven the design of the sleek high-rise, which aims to achieve an EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) score of less than zero through the addition of solar panels and energy-efficient systems.  Slated to begin construction in 2022 with an expected completion date of 2025, the Brink Tower will occupy a prime location in the Overhoeks that is easily accessible from Amsterdam Central Station via the ferry service. The building will comprise 28 floors and rise to an approximate height of 90 meters. Related: Mecanoo unveils stunning glass lake house that harmonizes with nature To accommodate a diverse group of people, the architects have designed the home with a variety of housing types. The approximately 400 homes will include 120 social rental homes (among the social rental limit), 30 care homes and over 250 rental properties in the middle of the building. The residences and neighborhood meeting spaces will be set above an attractive plinth that will house street-level retail facilities and restaurant spaces.  One of the most eye-catching features of the building will be the addition of greenery around the facade. The various terraces and roofs will be installed with “polder roofs” — named after the lush land tracts ubiquitous in the Netherlands — that will be heavily landscaped. The polder roofs will serve as “green enclaves” for residents and rainwater collection sites; collected rainwater will be reused during the growing season to irrigate the roof gardens. The solar-powered building will also encourage sustainable mobility by providing shared electric cars and bicycles. + Mecanoo Images via Mecanoo

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Solar-powered Brink Tower is a sustainable solution to Amsterdams housing shortage

Green-roofed CLT home opens up to a dreamlike garden in Germany

August 10, 2020 by  
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Near Hannover, Germany, Bremen-based treehouse specialist and architecture practice Baumraum has completed the Green Dwelling, a green-roofed , cross-laminated timber home built to achieve a strong fusion between the landscape and the built environment. Located on a large 2,000-square-meter site, the house takes inspiration from its lush surroundings, which include an adjacent forest and a dreamy garden developed by perennial specialist Petra Pelz. Natural materials define both the interior and exterior palettes, while large glazed windows strengthen the connection between the indoors and out. The Green Dwelling was created for young clients who wanted a new home that neighbored their parents’ existing residence. When the clients first contacted Baumraum, the conversation began with talk of building a treehouse that then evolved into a commission for the design of a new house in addition to the treehouse. The overarching design goal was to create “an oasis in the green” filled with natural light, ecological construction and strong visual and physical connections with nature.  Related: Sigurd Larsen completes a luxurious, treetop hotel cabin in a Danish forest The resulting home features a Z-shaped floor plan that begins with a garage, side rooms and entrance area at the front of the house, then transitions to a spacious living room with an open kitchen. The layout culminates with a guest room, bathroom, sauna area and bedroom in the rear. Large windows installed in each room provide garden views. The entire structure was built from cross-laminated timber and the natural, untreated larch surfaces were deliberately left visible throughout almost all of the interior. A lush green roof tops the home. On the western border of the property, the architects have also added the Tree House Green Dwelling, a treehouse perched atop an oak tree that serves as a year-round retreat and playground. Three flights of stairs lead up to the treehouse’s 4-meter-tall terrace and the square treehouse cabin , which rises to a height of almost 6 meters. Highly reflective stainless steel wraps around the facade to render the building almost invisible in the landscape. + Baumraum Photography by Ferdinand Graf Luckner via Baumraum

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Green-roofed CLT home opens up to a dreamlike garden in Germany

Solar-powered coastal home opens up to views of the Arabian Sea

July 14, 2020 by  
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Mumbai-based architecture firm Architecture BRIO has transformed a decrepit coastal property into a solar-powered luxury home with a strong connection to the outdoors. Because the property was originally cut off from views of and access to the coastline by a tall boundary wall, the architects raised the site by 5 feet with demolition material from the original structure as infill, thus minimizing landfill-bound waste . Palms, pines and other thick vegetation surround the new contemporary building that the architects have aptly named the House in a Beach Garden. <img src="//inhabitat.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2020/07/House-in-a-Beach-Garden-Architecture-BRIO-2-889×592.jpg" alt="aerial view of elevated black home surrounded by lush palm trees" class="wp-image-2274888" Located in the coastal town of Alibaug, just south of Mumbai , the House in a Beach Garden was built above the existing foundation of the former structure, which was completely demolished. The new 320-square-meter, four-bedroom house comprises two floors and is oriented toward the west to face views of the sea. The ground floor, which is flanked by outdoor verandas on the east and west, houses the living room, dining room and kitchen. The staircase is located in a double-height skylit space at the heart of the home and leads up to the four bedrooms, one of which can be converted into a den. Related: A Mumbai industrial complex becomes a modern, mixed-use campus <img src="//inhabitat.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2020/07/House-in-a-Beach-Garden-Architecture-BRIO-5-889×592.jpg" alt="black home with slatted screens over the top-floor windows" class="wp-image-2274891" <img src="//inhabitat.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2020/07/House-in-a-Beach-Garden-Architecture-BRIO-7-889×592.jpg" alt="black staircase under a skylight" class="wp-image-2274893" An indoor/outdoor connection is emphasized throughout the house. In addition to the outdoor living areas that open up via glazed doors on the ground floor, glass sliding doors were installed in all bedrooms to open the interiors up to expansive views, from the sea and the beach on the west side to a palm orchard on the east. Aluminum sliding screens create a second skin around the upper floor to provide privacy and protection from the sun. <img src="//inhabitat.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2020/07/House-in-a-Beach-Garden-Architecture-BRIO-6-889×649.jpg" alt="three hanging lights against a gray wall" class="wp-image-2274892" <img src="//inhabitat.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2020/07/House-in-a-Beach-Garden-Architecture-BRIO-1-889×592.jpg" alt="aerial view of coastal home with solar panels on roof" class="wp-image-2274887" Next to the front garden, the architects have also placed a 20-meter-long swimming pool that points in the direction of the sea and is flanked by a row of palms. A solar photovoltaic array tops the home. + Architecture BRIO Photography by Edmund Sumner via Architecture BRIO

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The endangered school shark is being sold as food in Australia

July 14, 2020 by  
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Last year, the International Union for Conservation of Nature ( IUCN ) listed the school shark as critically endangered. But that hasn’t stopped it from being regularly sold in Australian fish shops. While the international group chose one designation for the shark, Australian authorities put the species in a category known as “conservation dependent.” This means people can commercially trade the shark despite it being endangered. Related: Right Whales now ranked as critically endangered species “It’s a quirk in our national laws that prioritizes commercial exploitation and economic drivers over environmental ones,” said Leonardo Guida, a shark scientist and spokesperson for the Australian Marine Conservation Society, as reported in The Guardian . “We stopped harvesting whales for that very reason. Why is it different for a shark? Why is it different for a fish? There is no reason why any animal that has had a 90% decline in modern times should still continue to be harvested.” School sharks are smaller sharks that can measure up to 6 feet long and live for up to 60 years. This migratory species is found in many parts of the world, including off the shores of Brazil, Iceland, British Columbia, the U.K., Azores, Canary Islands and New Zealand. But they would be wise to steer clear of Australia , where their meat is sometimes sold as “flake,” Australia’s generic term for the shark meat popularly sold by fish and chip shops. The school shark is one of several animal species listed as conservation dependent that experts say should actually qualify for stronger protection. The school shark population has plummeted to 10% of its original numbers since 1990, when the species was officially declared as overfished. Countries recently voted to list the school shark on the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS) appendices. This international agreement tries to get countries to cooperate in conserving migratory species. Australia was the only country to vote against it, claiming that the school shark population found in the ocean around Australia doesn’t migrate. Via The Guardian Image via Queensland State Archives

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The endangered school shark is being sold as food in Australia

Wood lattice walls ventilate this beautiful Costa Rica home

July 10, 2020 by  
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Perched in the mountains of Nosara, a surfing paradise on the Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica , Casa Guayacán boasts a beautiful ocean view and a tranquil setting. A stunning example of sustainable architecture in a tropical setting, this home being designed by two talented professional architects comes as no surprise. Evangelina Quesada and Lucca Spendlingwimmer, architects who moved to the remote mountain location with their two daughters, built the home based on their mutual love for contemporary tropical architecture. The home takes advantage of the ocean breeze with ventilating lattice walls and is equipped with a rooftop solar panel system that provides 100% battery autonomy throughout the day and night. Related: Stunning Costa Rican beach home uses passive features to stay cool The facade incorporates a design that combines spacious floor-to-ceiling windows and wood lattice walls for natural cross ventilation . Elongated from north to south, most of the space faces the sea, with the west side facing the sunset in the evening. Half-open wood slats help emphasize airflow, while also creating a unique light pattern that changes during different times of the day. To move the house as far from the public street as possible and address the site’s uneven terrain, the design was developed over two levels. A shorter lower level allows for entrance access below the main structure, room for parking, a studio and service area. The upper level contains common areas, bedrooms and the property’s best ocean views. The home’s modular floor plan allowed for a faster construction time and less material waste. The home uses materials such as stone, polished cement, metal, wood and glass. The wood , taken from controlled teak plantations, was treated with linseed oil to maintain natural texture and color. Incorporating traditional building methods and talent from local artisans in the woodwork helps make Casa Guayacán a captivating addition to the tropical Costa Rican foothills. + Salagnac Arquitectos Images via Salagnac Arquitectos

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Wood lattice walls ventilate this beautiful Costa Rica home

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