Gardens weave in and out of a conceptual luxury home in Russia

March 30, 2021 by  
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In the villa community of “Okolitsa” on the outskirts of Moscow , Kerimov Architects has designed a conceptual luxury home with a total area of over 16,000 square feet. Set inside a forested landscape, the House in Okolitsa takes inspiration from the site’s complex topography for its rhythmic architecture that resembles a series of terraces. The Moscow-based architects designed the home with a natural materials palette to help blend the large-scale building into its surroundings. House in Okolitsa includes an expansive ground floor with multiple cutouts for outdoor gardens and full-height glazing to blur the boundaries between indoors and out. “In order to integrate the house into the environment, we have separated each volume with atriums, which ensures the privacy of individual zones and forms interconnected relations between the exterior and the interior, landscape and architecture,” the architects explained in a project statement. Related: Zaha Hadid unveils futuristic designs for “New Moscow” The atriums and outdoor gardens separate the home’s functions into a series of blocks that include a spacious great room near the heart of the home; recreational areas such as the playroom and yoga room; and various sleeping zones from the primary bedroom on the west side of the home to a trio of children’s bedrooms to the east with a guest bedroom wing in between. A smaller second floor houses a second primary bedroom, storage and a spa. Outdoor terraces extend the living spaces to the outdoors. A three-car garage and staff facilities are also included in the floorplan. The House in Okolitsa will feature a natural materials palette of brick, tiles, thermal decking, stone and metal. All materials will be left to naturally age and develop a patina over time. “The use of only natural materials, in our opinion, is important for the house to change over time and stay relevant to correlate with the changing natural context,” the architects said.  + Kerimov Architects Images via Kerimov Architects

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Gardens weave in and out of a conceptual luxury home in Russia

5 radical visions for a 2050 food system

January 15, 2021 by  
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5 radical visions for a 2050 food system Jim Giles Fri, 01/15/2021 – 01:30 Just over a year ago, the Rockefeller Foundation put out a global call for proposals for radical reform of our food systems. More than 1,300 teams from 119 countries responded. The pile of submissions was whittled down to 79 semifinalists and then, last week, to 10 “bold ideas for tackling some of the world’s most pressing food systems challenges.” Each winner was awarded $200,000 to pursue their vision for reform. The winning proposals cover a dizzying range of locations and issues — from food sovereignty on a Native American reservation to plant-based diets in metropolitan Beijing. But as I read them, the commonalities seem as prominent as the differences. Embedded in the ideas is an emerging consensus on the critical ingredients for food system reform, regardless where it takes place.  I encourage you to browse the final selection and see for yourself, but here’s my reading of that consensus: Food systems must connect to local communities. There’s a stunning example of this need in the proposal from the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota . The reservation occupies almost 2,000 square miles, yet has just three grocery stores. There are plenty of local farms, but most grow commodity crops such as soybeans. The result is a food desert surrounded by fertile land. Technology is part of the solution. Agtech is often associated with highly efficient yet unsustainable practices, but the same tech can benefit sustainable approaches. In their vision of a holistic food system for the Netherlands , for example, Wageningen University researchers imagine farmers using drones to precisely target nutrient use. At the Stone Barns Center in upstate New York, the team wants to build a cold storage lab dedicated to extending the season for local crops . It’s got to be regenerative. Almost every winner made it clear that regenerative agriculture is central to their vision. That was predictable given that the foundation sought proposals for a “regenerative and nourishing food future,” but it nevertheless reflects the growing importance of regenerative ag in food policy. (And perhaps the waning importance of organic?) From linear to circular. Circular processes — the transformation of crop residues into compost, for instance — are a common feature of food system reform. But the Wageningen team ups the ante with a rallying cry for circular agriculture, circular cooking and circular chefs: “By 2050,” they write, “we have replaced the wasteful, linear model of our current food system with a circular one.” Among other things, this includes limiting livestock to numbers that can be supported on food waste and food byproducts. Which brings us to… Plant-based diets. No surprise to hear entrants from North American and Europe advocate for this: These are regions where a reduction in emissions from meat production is seen as an essential way to reduce the climate impact of food. Perhaps only because I know less about food debates elsewhere, I was interested to see entries from China and Nigeria that also placed alternative proteins at the heart of their visions.  Before I sign off, I’ll mention one other, more controversial, commonality. Many visions are either explicitly or implicitly pitched in opposition to Big Ag . I see where this comes from: Chemical inputs and monocultures and livestock farming have undeniable negative impacts. But Big Ag is more than that. It brings efficient land use, which prevents native ecosystems being converted to farmland, and sophisticated supply chains that provide year-round abundance at low prices. I don’t say this to gloss over the sector’s problems, but as we imagine a better system, we shouldn’t ignore the benefits of the current one. Topics Food & Agriculture Food Systems Featured Column Foodstuff Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off At the Stone Barns Center in upstate New York, the team wants to build a Cold Storage Lab dedicated to extending the season for local crops . Courtesy of Stone Barns Center Close Authorship

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Zimbabwe permaculture education center promotes self-sufficiency

December 11, 2020 by  
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German architecture firm  Studio Anna Heringer  has completed the first kindergarten in  Zimbabwe’s  Chimanimani District, a rural and desolate region home to about 200 families that have long lacked access to education. The kindergarten, which builds on the firm’s award-winning portfolio of humanitarian architecture, serves as a pilot project for PORET, Zimbabwe’s permaculture community, to promote permaculture and encourage self-sufficiency in the local community. Using community labor to support the local economy, the buildings are constructed from locally sourced timber, thatch and stone. Constructed over approximately 11 months in 2014, the kindergarten consists of a pair of domed buildings set on stone foundations. The structural frames use timber from Zimbabwe tree plantations. Inspired by the country’s beautiful thatched roofs and the routine tradition of cutting grass to lower an area’s risk of fire, the architects covered the structural ribs with thatching. Local craftsmen were employed for the labor-intensive work of thatching and building the stone foundations, thus providing the community with a good share of the construction budget. “With these local techniques the project aims to build with a process that reinforces solidarity and team spirit, skills and knowledge, self-confidence and dignity,” the architects explained. “Due to the contexts climate and local conditions buildings, unless built in glass and steel, will not last forever, but it is essential that the know-how to maintain and rebuild them is kept alive and traded on to the following generations. This is why we see this project primarily as a training in advanced building techniques with existing materials that can become the compost of the kindergarten fields one day.” Related: Donkey-drawn mobile libraries bring books to people in Zimbabwe While in operation, the kindergarten will teach children permaculture principles from the basics of soil and plant care to water harvesting techniques. The two buildings can also function as training and meeting spaces for the community.  + Studio Anna Heringer Images by Margarethe Holzer

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A midcentury home receives a sensitive renovation in Montreal

September 11, 2020 by  
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Local practice Salem Architecture has recently renovated the Maison Ave Courcelette, a stately, midcentury home with an improved indoor/outdoor connection in the heart of Montreal. Originally constructed in 1947, the house was built with beautiful attention to detail and sculptural, rounded openings — elements that both the architect, Jad Salem, and the owner wanted to preserve and highlight. The resulting transformation achieves those goals while generously opening up the interior to the large exterior courtyard and bringing an abundance of natural light indoors. Located in the residential borough of Outremont, the Maison Ave Courcelette project connects to a large backyard and is surrounded by many mature trees around the perimeter of the site. To improve the relationship between the home and the outdoors, the architects opened up the rear, south-facing facade with large sliding glass doors. The stones of the facade that were replaced by the new glazing were kept for use in a possible house extension. The new cladding on a portion of the rear facade is made up of vertically oriented timber elements that complement the original stone of the house and serve as an openwork sidewall for privacy from the neighbors while allowing natural light to filter through. Related: Transformed midcentury modern home focuses on sustainability To protect the house from unwanted solar gain in the south, the architects created covered outdoor terraces as well as a retractable canopy for comfortable use of an entertaining space with a sunken seating area and a fire pit next to the pool. “The landscaping, in separate areas, offers owners the opportunity to enjoy the backyard while having a variety of experiences and atmospheres,” the architects noted. New windows have also been added to other parts of the home to bring in additional daylight. Inside, original midcentury building elements have been elegantly enhanced. The architects added new arched openings that follow the configurations of the existing arched windows to elevate the sculptural feel of the home. The railing of the central curved staircase — a major focal point — has been kept minimal so as not to detract attention from the staircase’s sculptural shape and the rounded openings in the ceilings. The original wood floor has also been maintained in some rooms while materials for the new floors were carefully selected to complement existing finishes. + Salem Architecture Photography by Phil Bernard via Salem Architecture

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A midcentury home receives a sensitive renovation in Montreal

Villa CasaBlanca is an earthen home made from clay found onsite

July 30, 2020 by  
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The Villa CasaBlanca in Bali puts a new spin on the ancient tradition of cob building — a construction technique using materials such as clay and straw, often harvested from the building site. The home is part of a larger project consisting of 24 similar sustainable luxury homes in a communal eco-village designed by Kurt Beckman and MUD Sustainable Homes. The practice of building cob homes certainly makes sense in the tropical landscape of Bali. Cob homes provide a naturally cool living space with natural resistance to termites, mold, fires and earthquakes. The country is known for the rich clay soil that helps grow its coffee, supply spa treatments and even inspire traditional mepantigan mud wrestling. Unfortunately, the cob building technique largely disappeared following the rise of concrete in the 1970s. According to the designer, the villa is the first and only modern example of a cob and bamboo home in Bali. Related: This glamping hideout in Bali is made entirely out of bamboo Inside, low-energy design considerations include full LED lighting, while outside, a graywater reclamation system and groundwater recharge well help control water flow. Though the cob construction technique naturally cools the space, the designers included additional open living spaces to allow for further access to breezes and natural light. Sustainable building materials for the home include bamboo and sugarcane for its curved grass roof and local volcanic stone for the house’s foundation as well as the bathroom and garden walls. The garden itself is landscaped with edible plants, such as lemongrass, sugarcane, chili peppers, bananas, pineapples, roselle and local herbs. The main building of the 1,291-square-foot villa has three bedrooms with another bedroom and study available inside the guest house. Additions like interior and exterior balconies, bedroom lofts, an upstairs lounge and a swing make the space more luxurious, and furnishings of local Balinese carvings honor the cultural heritage of the area. MUD Sustainable Homes and local craftspeople were responsible for the build of the Villa CasaBlanca, with interior design by Earthwright Eco Design. Located in Ubud, Bali, the project was completed in February 2020. + Villa CasaBlanca Images via Kurt Beckman

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Cedar Haven is a forest retreat made with reclaimed logs

December 3, 2019 by  
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Blending contemporary design with natural materials, Washington-based residential architecture firm Gelotte Hommas Drivdahl Architecture completed a stunning timber home that feels like an extension of its alpine forest environment. Created for a homeowner who wanted a residence that echoed the tranquility of its mountain surroundings, the aptly named Cedar Haven was built mainly from timber and stone — much of which was reclaimed from the site itself. Several salvaged logs and other found objects from the surroundings were deliberately left in their natural state to emphasize the organic beauty of the design. Located on a site where a previous log home once stood, Cedar Haven was created in response to the client’s desire for a more contemporary house that still exuded the warm, rustic feel of a traditional log cabin . The result is a stunning, custom home that features a dramatic, light-filled great room with a massive stone fireplace, a sculptural spiral staircase and custom, handcrafted details throughout. The natural materials palette and large windows — particularly those in the double-height great room — blur the boundary between indoors and out. Related: A traditional log cabin in Colorado is the perfect winter wonderland retreat “The Cedar Haven project draws inspiration from the surrounding natural beauty,” the architects explained in a project statement. “Inside, vertical lines and artful asymmetry mimic the forest outside the soaring great room window. A staircase of spiraling posts echoes a grove of trees , and a colorful petrified stump captures the attention of all who enter.” In addition to the petrified stump, reclaimed wood is used for statement design pieces in the home. Cedar trunks act as eye-catching pillars inside and outside of the house, while a twisted tree trunk frames one of the three stone fireplaces. Reclaimed stones were also used to build the fireplaces and chimneys. + Gelotte Hommas Drivdahl Architecture Photography by Benjamin Benschneider via Gelotte Hommas Drivdahl Architecture

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Cedar Haven is a forest retreat made with reclaimed logs

An old post office is reborn as a bright and breezy beach house

January 9, 2019 by  
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A former post office has been revived as a bright and breezy beach house in Breamlea, Australia. Designed by St. Kilda-based design firm OOF! Architecture , the modern makeover—dubbed the Green Shutter House—was created for clients who had already adapted the post office into a home but were frustrated with the building’s lack of connection with the outdoors. The renovation process opened the front of the house up to waterfront views while introducing more natural light and ventilation to the interior for improved energy savings. Oriented northwards, the Green Shutter House is located on a spit of land sandwiched between a surf beach and marsh wetlands . As a former post office, the original building had boxy dimensions and few views of the outdoors. To connect the home with the landscape, the architects removed the existing high-silled windows and cut the entire front of the house open to create a veranda-like space on the ground floor. An eye-catching addition of green shutters protects the veranda-like space from the searing sun. “The green shutters may look a bit random if you just look at them from outside but we tried to make all the work here from the inside out so it’s the interior view that counts,” the architects explain. “The shutters are all about being on the inside looking out— how the views are framed, how the light is filtered, how the variegated green of the shutter frames sit against the landscape of the wetlands. When they’re open, they also provide a sort of ‘spaceframe’ density to the façade like a verandah when we had no room – or budget – to build a verandah.” Related: Historic Copenhagen post office transformed into a beautiful mixed-use hub To keep within the modest budget, the architects used a palette of robust and low maintenance natural materials . Plywood was used for the interior joinery, while stone was chosen for the countertops. Salvaged barn doors were also installed. The shiplap ceilings were retained to reinforce the home’s beach vibes. The interior was also rearranged for a more spacious open-plan layout. + OOF! Architecture Images by Tatjana Plitt

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An old post office is reborn as a bright and breezy beach house

Foster + Partners-designed Apple Store glows like a paper lantern in Macau

July 10, 2018 by  
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Foster + Partners has unveiled a new Apple Store in Macau  — and it’s very different from the all-glass buildings we’ve come to expect from the company. In response to the hustle and bustle of the port city known as the “Las Vegas of Asia,” the British international architecture studio crafted Apple Cotai Central as an oasis of calm housed in a glowing cube surrounded by bamboo. Instead of the Apple brand’s iconic full-height glazing, the architects applied a “first-of-its-kind” glass-stone composite facade that appears to glow from within. Located in the Sands Cotai Central resort, the Apple Cotai Central store opened late last month and is the second Apple store in Macau. Foster + Partners created the design in collaboration with the Apple design team led by chief design officer Sir Jonathan Ive as well as with senior vice presidency of Retail and Online Stores Angela Ahrendts. The new store continues Apple’s embrace of POPS (privately owned public spaces) in that the grounds also include a large new event plaza nestled within a bamboo forest. “We wanted to create something very simple and pure — a beautiful and elegant building that complements the sounds, sights and colors of Macau, while embodying a sense of clarity and quietude,” said Stefan Behling, Head of Studio at Foster + Partners. “The design creates two distinct spaces, one inside and one outside, imbued with a sense of authentic beauty arising from the innovative use of natural materials .” Related: Foster + Partners’ Apple Park Visitor Center opens to the public The Apple Cotai Centra gets its “paper lantern” effect from the glass-stone composite facade made up of extremely thin layers of stone attached to five layers of glass, which creates the effect of translucent stone walls evocative of stained glass. To achieve a sense of lightness, the structural frame is only supported on three corner columns clad in mirrored stainless steel. The airy interior features a glazed facade with a skylit central atrium surrounded by bamboo. A pair of grand stone staircases leads to the upper level that is also flooded with natural light. + Foster + Partners Images by Nigel Young/Foster+Partners

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Foster + Partners-designed Apple Store glows like a paper lantern in Macau

This contemporary light-filled home feels like an extension of Balis tropics

June 29, 2018 by  
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German architect Alexis Dornier of his eponymous Bali-based architecture practice recently completed a stunning modern home in an Indonesian tropical paradise. The private home — named House A — comprises four stories laid out over 8,072 square feet. Like the firm’s previous works, House A embraces indoor-outdoor living with full-height glazing and an open layout where views of lush greenery can be enjoyed at every turn. Built primarily of stone and dark timber, House A appears to be a natural extension of its evergreen surroundings in Mas, a village renowned for its hand-carved wood sculpture south of Ubud, Bali . This emphasis on the outdoors is carried through the color palette, from the neutral off-white textiles to the moss-green upholstery. Large potted plants are also bring the outdoors into the home. Metallic accents, clean lines and high-end fixtures from the likes of Grohe and Toto give the house its contemporary edge, while clear glass rooftops allow light to filter deep into the home. “The linear four-story arrangement counteracts the steep slope of the site by becoming a bridge house,” the firm said in a project statement. “The central theme of the ensemble is combining two architectural expressions: the idea of a romantic ruin, strongly connected to the ground and a light, fading, transparent structure holding a series of roofs; two images working with and against each other. The master deck is crowning the structure, continuing through a double-height exterior living space. The silhouette is a sequence of five roofs of different lengths. Linear skylights and linear gaps between the roofs complete a play of bar code like light play, changing as the sun is making its way from east to west.” Related: An ever-evolving, growing home in Indonesia adapts to its owners’ needs The guest bedrooms are located on the lower levels of the house, while the main living spaces like the kitchen and double-height dining room are placed on the third floor. The en suite master bedroom can be found on the top floor. + Alexis Dornier Images via Alexis Dornier

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This contemporary light-filled home feels like an extension of Balis tropics

Sculptural open-air pavilion blends into a rocky Norwegian landscape

June 29, 2018 by  
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When Oslo-based design studio MORFEUS arkitekter first laid eyes on Bukkekjerka, a rock formation framed by the rugged mountains on the east and the open sea to the west, its natural beauty stunned them. So, when they were tasked with designing an open-air pavilion on the site along the Norwegian Scenic Route Andøya, they understandably wanted to take a sensitive approach so as not to detract from the landscape. The resulting design is a contemporary structure built from folded concrete to mimic the surrounding jagged mountain peaks. Spanning an area of 2,800 square feet, the Bukkekjerka rest station comprises a series of structures spread out across the landscape. The parking and service facilities are placed in the north, while a freestanding bench in the mountains is oriented for views of the midnight sun. Picnic areas and a footbridge trace a path toward the lighthouses to the east. Consecrated land and unique geological formations can be found in the south, which MORFEUS arkitekter has designed for use as an annual open-air church for weddings and other gatherings. “Our hope is that these elements are unveiled and experienced gradually, encouraging further exploration and experience of the inherent qualities of the place,” explains Caroline Støvring and Cecilie Wille of MORFEUS arkitekter. “The built elements are adapted to the existing terrain, not the other way around. We have wanted to proceed carefully, but also with a boldness that echoes the surrounding landscape. We have desired the project to appear more like landscape and sculptural elements, less like a building.” Related: Off-grid Fossil Discovery Exhibit camouflages into the Texan desert The majority of the structures are open-air; however, even the service building with toilets manages to embrace the landscape with one-way mirrored glass cladding. The glass allows visitors inside the building to enjoy views over the sea and the mountain peaks in the north, while the mirrored side helps blend the building into the landscape. The building is also constructed from polished, acid-resistant steel with a mirror-like shine. + MORFEUS arkitekter Images ©MORFEUS Støvring Wille

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