This Eco Villa in Utrecht produces all of its own energy through solar power

August 22, 2019 by  
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Dutch architectural practice Studio Public has carved out a slice of eco-friendly bliss in Houten, a nearly car-free suburb in Utrecht. Dubbed the Eco Villa, the 2,000-square-foot modern home slots in perfectly with its green and environmentally minded surroundings with an emphasis on natural materials, sustainability and the use of renewable energy . Powered by solar, the abode produces all of its own energy and is even complemented by a naturally filtered pool for chlorine-free swimming. Built with an L shape to frame the outdoor garden and natural pool with a wooden walkway, Eco Villa features two bedrooms and an open-plan living area, dining room and kitchen. A slim “technical zone” divides the master suite from the living areas. The exterior is clad in a combination of Corten steel panels, plaster and wood screens and is punctuated with floor-to-ceiling, triple-pane glass to bring the outdoors in. The operable walls of glass and strategically placed skylights fill the home with natural light.  Related: Energy-neutral luxury houseboat floats in Haarlem waters As with the exterior, the interior features a natural materials palette and a minimalist design. Timber is the predominate material that ties the various spaces together, from the cabinetry in the bathrooms to the flooring in the living spaces. Clean lines, simple forms and select pops of color — like the blue tile wall divider in the bathroom — make the home look contemporary and cozy without visual clutter. In addition to solar panels, the Eco Villa is equipped with a heat pump. The use of renewable energy combined with highly efficient insulation and an emphasis on natural daylighting has made the home capable of generating all of its own energy — sometimes with power left over to send back to the grid. + Studio Public Via Design Milk Photography by Marsel Loermans via Studio Public

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This Eco Villa in Utrecht produces all of its own energy through solar power

Solar-powered Jao Camp offers eco-minded luxury in Botswanas Okavango Delta

July 31, 2019 by  
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After nearly nine months of renovations, African luxury and sustainable safari operator Wilderness Safaris has reopened Jao Camp in the heart of Botswana’s Okavango Delta. Powered entirely by solar energy, the eco-tourism destination features five spacious tented suites, a new spa and circular treatment rooms, a new Center of Knowledge museum and gallery and two new exclusive villas with a private vehicle, guide, chef and butler. All parts of the camp embrace the outdoors and landscape, from the use of local handcrafted materials to the framed views of the riverine forests and vast floodplains. Surrounded by prolific wildlife, the Jao Camp features a main area elevated into the tree canopy. “Underpinning it all is our commitment to the pristine environment around Jao, minimizing our footprint and allowing our guests to experience the Delta in its fullest sense,” the Wilderness Safaris’ website reads. “Innovative insulation ensures comfort, while gauze and glass panels let natural light and the outside in. The suites and villas are cooled with a silent evaporative cooler at a fraction of energy used by conventional air conditioning.” Related: Solar-powered safari lodge is a gorgeous green retreat in Botswana Jao Camp is also 100 percent solar -powered and draws energy from a new power plant that works on one of the world’s biggest Victron inverter systems and the largest lithium-ion battery bank in southern Africa. During the colder months, the suites are warmed by innovative, self-igniting Calore fireplaces fueled with pellets made from sawdust, a byproduct of working natural wood, without any additives or caking agents. All of Jao Camp’s contemporary luxury suites come with private plunge pools, lounge and dining areas, en suite bathrooms and outdoor and indoor showers. The nature-inspired color palette and use of handcrafted natural materials, such as rosewood-clad ceilings and floors, help tie the interiors to the outdoors and keep the focus on the Okavango Delta . Moreover, the newly added Center of Knowledge museum and gallery shares information about the area, its history and its denizens. + Jao Camp Images via Wilderness Safaris

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Toyota is testing a new Prius model that runs on solar power

July 26, 2019 by  
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Toyota has announced that the official testing of its solar-powered Prius will begin in late July 2019. Trials set to take place in the Tokyo area will test the cruising range and fuel efficiency of the car model, which has been equipped with high-efficiency solar panels . Teaming up with Toyota for the testing is the electronic products manufacturer Sharp Corporation and NEDO, a Japanese government agency focused on promoting the research of environmental and energy technology. The demo car produced for public road trials will include a solar battery panel created by Sharp and developed for a NEDO-led project. Thanks to the thin design of the efficient panels, Toyota was able to install them on the roof, hood and rear hatch door of the new model to enhance the efficiency. The new and improved utilization of these panels means that the car will be able to achieve a conversion efficiency of over 34 percent and capable of delivering an impressive 860 watts of power. Related: Toyota’s ultra-customizable, self-driving vehicle can transport people, goods or services Apart from the obvious environmental advantages of using solar power in cars , the supercharged Prius can also provide consumers with an improved range. According to a study conducted by Volvo, 65 percent of electric vehicle drivers experienced “range anxiety” after purchasing an EV , making it one of the leading reasons why potential electric vehicle buyers hesitate on buying one. The anxiety is understandable — what if you run out of power in the middle of nowhere with no charging station in sight? The application of solar-powered cars has the potential to lessen those worries, as this Toyota Prius demo model aims to charge both while parked and while being driven. Toyota will evaluate the test runs on the number of times the car needs charged and the reduction of carbon emissions and share results with NEDO and Sharp as the collaborative group continues to work toward improving the sustainability of transportation. + Toyota Via Popular Mechanics Images via Toyota

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Toyota is testing a new Prius model that runs on solar power

A solar-powered, concrete home in Brazil is a powerhouse of sustainability

July 26, 2019 by  
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São Paolo-based firm Steck Arquitetura has just unveiled the Julieta House, a concrete home that spans nearly 7,000 square feet. Located in the city of Piracicaba, the house is comprised of a concrete shell that provides a strong thermal envelope along with a bevy of sustainable features such as solar power to help the home reduce its energy needs to a bare minimum. Surrounded by a low-lying concrete wall, the three-story home is located on a sloped lot that creates extra space for its large volume. The partially-embedded ground floor houses the garage, storage space and maintenance equipment. Related: Solar-powered prefab home in Texas features a whimsical pop art water catchment system The main living area is located on the first floor, where high ceilings with sunken spaces add a sense of whimsy to the atmosphere. The main social areas, along with the private bedrooms, all boast a modern, minimalist design. Sparse furnishings bring out the warm palette of wood and concrete that is further enhanced by an abundance of natural light . At the heart of the home is the massive swimming pool . Thanks to a few savvy design techniques, the indoor area and outdoor area have a seamless connection. Floor-to-ceiling glass doors slide completely open to create one large, open-air living space, which includes easy access to the pool. Concrete features prominently throughout the design. From the exterior envelope to the concrete roofs that have several shade-providing overhangs, the raw concrete surfaces throughout the home create an interesting juxtaposition with the Mediterranean-style layout. In addition to the tight thermal envelope, the home also boasts a number of sustainable features. A green roof shares space with a solar array hooked up to meet the home’s energy needs, including the solar-powered water heater. Additionally, using the wet Brazilian climate to its advantage, the home was installed with a rainwater catchment system that is used to irrigate the gardens. + Steck Arquitetura Via ArchDaily Photography by Adriano Pacelli via Steck Arquitetura

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Dramatic cliffs shape a luxe solar-powered getaway in Montana

July 24, 2019 by  
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Near Whitefish, Montana, Seattle-based firm Cushing Terrell Architects Engineers designed the Confluence House, a contemporary eco-conscious getaway that feels like a natural extension of the landscape. Named after its location at the intersection of two rivers, the Confluence House serves as a getaway for a nature-loving family. In addition to reducing its visual impact on the landscape, the architects also sought to lessen the building’s environmental impact with an energy-efficient design that includes solar panels and native drought-tolerant vegetation. Located on 10 acres framed by the dramatic Montana mountains, the Confluence House comprises three structures— a main house, a guest house and a utility structure— arranged around a protected central courtyard . To blend the low-lying buildings into the landscape, the architects wrapped the exteriors in locally sourced dark-stained wood and stone cladding punctuated with floor-to-ceiling insulated windows that seamlessly bring the outdoors in. Rugged metal roofs with an expansive solar PV system top the structures. Shaped by the neighboring bluffs, the Confluence House aligns the 2,282-square-foot main house with the west bluff while the 946-square-foot east bluff is aligned with the east bluff. The two-suite guest house is separated from the main house for privacy and is connected by way of a covered porch. “A model of efficient space planning, there are no hallways,” reads the project statement. “The flat-roofed living structures allow the complex to disappear into the horizon line.” The indoor/outdoor connection is emphasized through the abundance of glazing and a natural material palette, from the exposed-aggregate concrete floors that evoke gravel river beds to the whitewashed Douglas fir ceilings that reference weathered wood. Related: Four living trees grow through this dreamy treehouse retreat in Montana The surrounding landscape also influenced the landscaping of the protected courtyard, which is planted with native , drought-tolerant vegetation. Carefully placed boulders strengthen the landscaping’s similarities with the environment. A stream bed cuts through the courtyard and is a natural conduit for the rainwater that pours down from scuppers on the roof. + Cushing Terrell Architects Engineers Photographer: Karl Neumann

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Dramatic cliffs shape a luxe solar-powered getaway in Montana

Steven Holls new solar-powered concert hall plays up the dramatic contrast between new and old

July 16, 2019 by  
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New York-based Steven Holl Architects and Architecture Acts has won an international competition to design the new 1,300-seat concert hall in Ostrava, Czech Republic. Created as a “perfect acoustic instrument in its case,” the acoustics-driven design has a strikingly contemporary appearance with a rounded zinc-clad exterior that stands in dramatic contrast with the Ostrava Cultural Center, a modern classicism-style building that will be overlapped by the new concert hall. In addition to optimized acoustics, the shape of the new building is engineered to minimize energy demands and the hall will be entirely powered by rooftop solar panels. Slated to begin construction in 2022, the new building has a roughly teardrop-shaped form with the concert hall positioned at the rear to shield it from urban traffic noise. The new entrance on the promenade appears to float over the top of the existing Cultural center and connects to a new sky-lit lobby. The rounded facade is clad in zinc with a titanium oxide smog-eating coating and punctuated with triple-glazed windows to prevent heat gains. The roof is topped with solar panels, while stormwater will be collected from the roofs of the Cultural Center and the new building and then treated and collected in a garden pond to create a cooling microclimate. Related: Zaha Hadid Architects wins bid for Russia’s new Sverdlovsk Philharmonic Concert Hall “The smooth case of zinc holds an “instrument” in an extended vineyard-type plan made of concrete and maple wood,” explain the architects in a press statement. “Czech composer, Leoš Janá?ek’s theories of time will guide and give order to the concert hall’s interior geometry. Acoustic wall panels are organized according to scasovani, or rhythm, in three variants: Znici = sounding; Scitaci = counting; and Scelovac = summing.” The new concert hall will fulfill a decades-long dream of Ostrava to provide a more suitable space for the Janá?ek Philharmonic Orchestra, one of the leading orchestras in the Czech Republic . The concert hall competition was the biggest architectural competition in the city’s recent history. The opening ceremony for the new concert hall and refurbished Ostrava Cultural Center building is scheduled for 2024. + Steven Holl Architects Images Courtesy of Steven Holl Architects

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Cook With the Sun: Solar Oven Recipes

July 2, 2019 by  
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Sweltering summer temperatures can be a serious drag, but here … The post Cook With the Sun: Solar Oven Recipes appeared first on Earth911.com.

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A magical field of solar-powered lights takes over a California landscape

June 10, 2019 by  
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Internationally acclaimed Britain-based artist Bruce Munro recently unveiled his largest site-specific project to date: Field of Light at Sensorio, a sprawling art installation that covers a hilly, countryside landscape with more than 58,800 stemmed fiber-optic lights powered by solar energy. Located in Paso Robles, California, the illuminated composition opened to the public May 19 to mark the launch of the first phase of Sensorio , a new destination for immersive art. Installed across a multi-acre landscape, Bruce Munro: Field of Light at Sensorio is a walk-through artwork that gently illuminates the landscape with “subtle blooms of morphing color.” Munro was inspired to create the installation after a 1992 camping tour of Australia’s red desert center, where he reflected on how different a desert looks after the rains trigger flower blooms. He sought to recreate that phenomenon with a field of lights that would only bloom after dark. His first iteration of Field of Light was created in 2004, in Wiltshire, U.K.; since then, he has been invited to temporarily recreate Field of Light around the world. Field of Light at Sensorio is Munro’s largest-ever exhibit and his first U.S. exhibit entirely powered by solar . “Munro’s oeuvre aims to transcend time and space by inspiring moments of awareness, inviting viewers to contemplate a world larger and more mysterious than their own existence,” a press release noted. Artworks by Munro have been exhibited in permanent collections of museums around the world. Related: Studio Roosegaarde’s laser light art tracks floating space waste in the sky Munro’s Field of Light epitomizes the Sensorio concept, which was created as a thought-provoking destination that explores the intersection of art , technology and nature with “amusing, mystical and kinetic experiences.” Future phases of Sensorio will include exhibits and buildings to be put into place by 2021 as well as a future hotel and conference center. Field of Light at Sensorio will remain on display until January 5, 2020. + Bruce Munro Photography by Serena Munro

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Solar-powered prefab home in Texas features a whimsical pop art water catchment system

May 27, 2019 by  
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It’s always interesting to see the homes of architectural professionals, but one Texas home builder is blowing our minds with his custom-made design. When builder Jeff Derebery and his wife Janice Fischer were ready to build their own house just outside of Austin, they reached out to OM Studio Design and Lindal Cedar Homes to bring their dream to fruition. The result is a gorgeous prefab home  that features a substantial number of sustainable features such as solar power and LED lights, as well as whimsical touches that reflect the homeowners’ personalities such as a water catchment system concealed under the guise of pop art. The design for the 3,000-square-foot, single-story home is filled with features that show off the homeowner’s fun personality as well as building knowledge. Clad in an unusual blend of Shou Sugi Ban charred siding and cedar planks with an entryway made out of turquoise copper panels, the home boasts a unique charm. Related: A prefabricated timber facade envelops a gorgeous glass home on a Norwegian island Stepping into the interior of the four bedroom and two-and-a-half bath home, an open layout that houses the living room, dining area and kitchen welcomes visitors. The space is incredibly bright and airy thanks to a series of clerestory windows and floor-to-ceiling glazed walls that both stream in natural light and provide unobstructed views of the river and rolling landscape. There is also a spacious 350-square-foot screened porch that is the perfect spot for dining with a view. But without a doubt, the heart of the home is an exterior open-air courtyard that separates the private spaces from the social areas. An idyllic space for reading in solitude or entertaining, the courtyard is decorated with furniture made out of recycled plastic . The beautiful design conceals a vast array of sustainable features. The roof of the structure is covered in commercial-grade foam panels in a solar-reflecting white that provides a tight thermal envelope for the home. Additionally, the house generates its own energy thanks to the rooftop solar array of 36 panels that was installed on the adjacent carport. According to the architects, the family has a negative electric bill in both winter and summer and are often able to sell energy back to the local grid. Texas builders have a lot of experience in dealing with the state’s drought issues, so Jeff and Janice were careful to integrate a water-conserving strategy into the home as well. An on-site well with a 2,500-gallon holding tank meets their personal water needs, and two additional tanks, one by the carport and another by the horse barn, collect and store rainwater that is used for various tasks such as taking care of the horses and dogs, cleaning and irrigating. Then, there is the fun artwork hidden throughout the home and the landscape. As lovers of art, Jeff and Janice wanted to incorporate a few unique but functional pieces on their property. First there is Cubie, a 12-foot storage cube made of polycarbonate panels that conceals a well holding tank as well as the water softener and a UV filtration system. There is a fun pop art propane tank shaped like a yellow submarine with the faces of the members of The Beatles painted in the windows. Finally, a pop art collection wouldn’t be complete without a little Andy Warhol, so a deer feeder tower was painted as an oversized can of Campbell’s soup. + OM Studio Design + Lindal Cedar Homes Images via Lindal Cedar Homes

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A chic, nature-filled office building in Tokyo boldly brings the outdoors in

May 27, 2019 by  
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In Tokyo, a new office tower stands out from the concrete jungle with its embrace of nature. Designed by prolific Japanese design studio nendo in the centrally located Kojimachi neighborhood, the Kojimachi Terrace is an 11-story high-rise wrapped in a grid-like, timber-faced facade that’s complemented with a bright interior dressed in a warm palette of wood, raw stone and bronze-colored stainless steel. A “Sky Forest” — a three-story, open-air garden — punctuates the building’s top floors and provides employees with a “nature-like hideaway” in the heart of Tokyo . Sheathed in a glass skin, the Kojimachi Terrace still manages to achieve a human scale thanks to its second covering, a grid of timber-clad elements that continues from the exterior to the interior. The grid’s seemingly sporadic pattern helps hide the safety rails and pillars that are required to support window construction and are disguised with wooden finishes to blend in with the grid. Further softening the building’s appearance are the plant-filled balconies placed on six out of the building’s 11 floors. These outdoor terraces can also be turned into private meeting spaces, while the three-story “Sky Forest” at the top of the building offers a more immersive nature escape open to the sky. “Typical office buildings are usually built as closed-off blocks with artificial climate control that do not share any real physical connection with their exterior environments. Therefore, in the ‘Kojimachi Terrace’ design, the external elements were taken into account to allow for a more physical experience of the outdoors, like witnessing the changing weather and yearly seasons,” explained the architects, adding that some of the glass panels that clad the facade are operable to allow for natural ventilation . Related: Cleverly layered compact dirt walls mimic ice cream cakes in this Tokyo patisserie The interior design also references the natural landscape. In addition to the inclusion of raw stone and bronze-colored stainless steel materials, the interiors feature a hand-applied plaster finish on the floors and walls that create a textured and uneven appearance. The woven grid elements from the exterior are also continued into the interior, where they are transformed into lighting fixtures and echoed in the design of the furnishings and carpet patterns. + nendo Photography by Takumi Ota via nendo

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