Circular, solar-powered beach house is a sustainable holiday retreat

February 6, 2019 by  
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A charming, circular escape from the city has popped up on an idyllic stretch of beach in New Zealand . Powered with solar energy and built with weather-resistant materials, the St Andrews Beach House is the work of Austin Maynard Architects , a Fitzroy-based design practice that prides itself on sustainable architecture. The “Euclidean form” of the dwelling was inspired by the beauty of the remote site and is designed to take advantage of views in all directions. Located on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula along secluded coastline near national parkland, the St Andrews Beach House is surrounded by stunning vistas of the water, wild bush, sand dunes and scrub. The simple two-story circular structure was a site-sensitive response to both the fragile environment and the client’s brief for a ‘bach’ — a New Zealand word commonly used for a very modest holiday home. The simplicity of the home’s design helps focus attention on the landscape, while its self-sustaining construction minimizes the building’s environmental footprint. “Less than five meters in radius, St Andrews Beach House is an object in the landscape,” the architects explained in a statement. “A Euclidean form set amongst the rough terrain. The plan of the house is generated using the rational and precise geometry, as the circle extrudes into a tube. The internal spaces are generated by a tightly controlled plan adhering to the rules of form, guiding and arranging segments that divide the space, with a spiral staircase as its central core, providing light and air but also snug spaces. This is not a slick beach house, but a relaxed and informal escape, designed with materials that will patina and weather, like an old coastal wharf.” Related: Swanky laneway house in Melbourne is built from recycled red brick The communal living areas are located on the ground floor while the bedroom and bathroom zone are upstairs. In addition to the home’s small footprint and use of durable materials, the beach house was built with rooftop solar panels as well as double-glazed windows. A large cylindrical concrete water tank harvests rainwater for reuse in the toilets and for irrigation. + Austin Maynard Architects Images by Derek Swalwell via Austin Maynard Architects

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Bureau of Land Management moves forward with the sale of sacred land

February 6, 2019 by  
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The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is moving forward with the sale of land in the vicinity of New Mexico’s Chaco Culture National Historical Park. The land, which is considered sacred ground by Native Americans in the area, was approved amid heavy criticism from environmentalists and tribal leaders. The land is being purchased to pursue the development of oil and gas, with around 50 parcels of land up for grabs. One of the biggest issues surrounding the sale is that it was approved while the government was partially shutdown , which resulted in limited access of information. Related: Damage to Joshua Tree during the government shutdown could take centuries to repair According to AP News , critics claim that government officials failed to properly inform everyone on the sale of the property. They also asked if the BLM had enough staff members on hand to properly analyze the land and sale requests. In fact, Senator Tom Udall issued a scathing report on the land sale and called out the BLM for not being transparent throughout the process. “It’s a mistake that while critical public services were shuttered for 35 days during the government shutdown, BLM still moved forward with this opaque process,” Udall shared. Critics of the sacred land sale also wondered if the BLM will open a protest period, which is usually standard in these types of transactions. Fortunately, the agency has opted to delay the sale to give tribal leaders and environmentalists a few weeks to protest. The BLM is officially accepting protests beginning on February 11. The land sale is expected to go through at the end of March. If the protests are successful, a portion of the land that is up for sale will be withdrawn. Supporters are hoping that land within 10 miles around Chaco will be deemed off limits. This area, which would serve as a buffer zone, would help protect features that are sacred to local tribes, including kivas and stone structures. Chaco is currently inaccessible by paved roads. Local tribes hope to preserve the remoteness of the area, which has served as a religious and economic center for centuries. The BLM has not issued any comments about the land sale. Via AP News Image via Zenhaus

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Solar-powered modular retreat design in Melbourne inspired by the local landscape

December 12, 2018 by  
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A family’s wish to spend time in a self-sufficient weekend home has resulted in a beautiful modular design. Located just southeast of Melbourne, the solar-powered Fish Creek Home is a prefab design, comprised of two Archiblox modules that boast various sustainable features that make the home completely energy efficient. The large home, which is 1,371 square feet, is clad in corrugated Colorbond in a slate grey color. A wooden pergola and wrap-around deck are made out of natural timber panels . Built to reduce impact on the landscape, the interior space is comprised of just two elongated modules, the main living area and the bedrooms. The sleeping module was oriented to the northwest to protect it from the wind. Strategic skylights allow for stunning night sky views. Butting up to a lush green forest, this part of the home is calm and quiet, the perfect atmosphere to enjoy a soak in the private outdoor bathtub that sits on the deck. Related: Australia’s first carbon-positive prefab house produces more energy than it consumes The living module was orientated to the North to make the most out of the amazing sea views. Multiple floor-to-ceiling glass facades and windows flood the interior living space with natural light . A pair of large sliding doors open up to a wrap around deck, creating a seamless connection between the indoors and outdoors. The two spaces are connected by sliding doors that can close to provide a noise barrier between the rooms. Additionally, closing the wall allows the home to minimize heat loss in the wintertime. The home’s beautiful design is not only pleasing to the eye, but also hides a powerhouse system of sustainability . The home runs on a rooftop solar power array. Operable windows and doors throughout the home provide optimal cross ventilation while a wood-burning fireplace keeps the energy use down in wintertime. Additionally, the home was installed with a rainwater collection system to reduce water waste. The landscaping around the home was left in its natural state, with expansive stretches of greenery that lead out to the sea. The homeowners plan to use this space to create a permaculture edible garden so that their home is 100 percent sustainable. + Archiblox Via Dwell Images via Archiblox

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An off-grid home in South Africa features a conservatory for fully enjoying nature

October 26, 2018 by  
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South African architect  Nadine Engelbrecht has unveiled a stunning family home in her hometown of Pretoria. The design was a result of working directly with the homeowners, who wanted a peaceful off-grid retreat where they could escape their hectic urban lifestyle. Connecting design with the gorgeous surroundings, the house’s best feature is a massive conservatory that brings in a wealth of natural light and acts as a passive heating and cooling feature for the solar-powered home. At 6,400 square feet, the Conservatory is a sprawling family home located on a 35-hectare farm outside of Pretoria. Cement washed bricks were used for the main volume of the house, which is attached to the large glass conservatory framed in black steel. The volume of the home was created to meet the needs of the homeowners, who requested a very spacious, one-story living area for two. This space is contained in the conservatory and adjacent living space. The rest of the structure houses guest suites that can be effortlessly separated from or integrated with the main home. Related: Glass elements dramatically open up a solar-powered Sydney home Besides the homeowner’s layout requirements, the surrounding environment drove the project’s design. The home was built into the sloped landscape, which is covered in natural grass. The lower portion of the home is partially submerged into the hill, allowing veld grasses to cover a portion of the roof  for a seamless connection to nature. This connection with the landscape continues through the interior thanks to the huge conservatory built into the core of the brick home. The glass structure, which is topped with translucent roof sheeting, provides spectacular views and also allows for passive temperature control . In the colder months, the glass panels allow solar penetration to warm the space. The area beyond the conservatory was built with glass partitions, which can be opened to allow warm air to flow throughout. In the warm summer months, the automated glass facade opens up completely to allow natural cross ventilation to flow. In addition to the passive temperature control features, the stunning home was built to operate off the grid. Solar panels on the roof generate clean energy, and the water installations are designed to conserve water and reuse any gray water. + Nadine Engelbrecht Via Archdaily Photography by Marsel Roothman via Nadine Engelbrecht

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The first off-grid Ecocapsule microhomes are shipping to customers this year

June 6, 2017 by  
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Want to travel to the beach or a mountaintop or a jungle – and spend the night in style every time? The Ecocapsule offers that flexibility in a tiny off-grid package. The company just announced it has secured financial backing to move forward with the microhome – and they’re planning to deliver the first Ecocapsules to clients later this year. Late night television host James Corden recently tested the versatile pods out in a peaceful garden, a horse ranch, and a restaurant rooftop – check out his take after the break. Corden hit up the Ecocapsule to explore the latest trends in travel and eco-friendly living. The egg-shaped, mobile microhome is around eight feet high, seven feet long, and 14.5 feet wide, and it’s powered by rooftop solar cells and a small wind turbine . It also collects rainwater to be reclaimed as drinking water. A folding bed, bathroom, kitchenette, and living area provide travelers with all the amenities of a luxury hotel . The Ecocapsule can be towed via trailer or sent to a location in a shipping container. Related: The world’s first off-grid EcoCapsule is now available for pre-order Corden envisioned the Ecocapsule in exotic locations like the Grand Canyon or a beach in Ibiza. He took his characteristic humorous approach to the design of the pod, asking founder Tomas Zacek, “How do I know this isn’t just some sort of spaceship?” Ecocapsule will only make 50 of the first edition pods, but they plan to start mass producing the microhomes for a lower price in 2018. It seems Corden enjoyed his time wandering in the Ecocapsule; he said in the video, “I could stay here for years.” He also told Zacek that snuggling encapsulates the ethos behind the Ecocapsule. + Ecocapsule

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Solar-powered Murphy House is one of Edinburgh’s most adaptable and sustainable homes

March 18, 2016 by  
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Solar-powered DURAhome is a 100% self-sufficient shelter built for disaster zones

October 6, 2015 by  
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Harvard students build a tiny 100% off-grid home powered by the sun

September 2, 2015 by  
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Stunning snowflake-shaped home in the UAE is 100% powered by the desert sun

September 1, 2015 by  
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India’s sweeping 20 million LED streetlight retrofit will save $890 million each year

September 1, 2015 by  
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India’s government announced a major commitment to energy efficiency earlier this year when the Domestic Efficient Lighting Programme (DELP) was launched, calling for 20 million lightbulbs in streetlights to be replaced with LED bulbs . The largest project of its kind, the upgrades will take about two years to complete, and comprise part of a larger effort to reduce the national power load and save hundreds of millions of dollars a year. Read the rest of India’s sweeping 20 million LED streetlight retrofit will save $890 million each year

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