These glass vases let you grow your own avocado tree no toothpicks required

November 8, 2019 by  
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While most home gardens tend to conceal the roots within decorated pots, Ilex Studio ‘s new collection of glass vases displays one of the most underrated parts of a plant — the roots. The studio’s transparent glass vases, which can be used to grow avocado and oak trees, feature minimalist silhouettes with spherical bases that showcase the plant’s incredible root systems. Recently unveiled at the London Design Festival , Ilex Studio’s collection was designed to let people skip the prickly process of using toothpicks to grow avocado trees. Additionally, the vases can be used to turn a humble acorn into a magnificent oak tree. Related: AvoSeedo makes growing avocado trees easier than ever Unlike most home gardens , where the plants’ roots are buried deep in the soil, these glass vases let you watch the magical powers of sprouting seeds. The hourglass shape has a small neck, where the avocado seed or acorn sits. The strategic shape lets the seed or avocado stay nice and dry up top while the roots begin to sprout below. Did we mention that there’s no need to stick anything with toothpicks? Over time, the roots begin to spread out into the water. Letting the roots hang freely allows them to become stronger until they are eventually ready to be planted in soil . The bulbous shapes of the vases actually magnify what is going on inside, giving you an up-close view of the roots as they grow. The Avocado Vase is slightly larger than the Acorn Vase, but according to the studio, the growing pattern is similar for the acorn and the avocado tree. The oakling can be left in the vase for up to one year, but growing an avocado tree is a bit more complicated. They both come with instruction booklets to guide you through the process of growing your own trees, straight from the seeds. These playful growing vases cost between £22 and £35 (about $28 to $45), with the larger avocado vase costing a bit more and the vases sans acorns costing less. Each order comes with a 20-page handbook of helpful instructions. + Ilex Studio Via Design Milk Images via Ilex Studio

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These glass vases let you grow your own avocado tree no toothpicks required

Energy-efficient house embraces panoramic views of Puget Sound

July 30, 2019 by  
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Uninterrupted panoramic views of the Puget Sound, San Juan Islands and Olympic Mountain Range are ushered indoors at the House on the Cove, a contemporary home where the line between the outdoors and indoors is blurred. Seattle-based architecture firm Stephenson Design Collective designed the energy-efficient house for a client who not only wanted a home with a view but also sought space for a small metal fabrication shop and studio. The two resulting structures — a two-story main house and a separate garage/shop with a studio on top — are clad in natural steel and black-stained cedar to blend into the landscape. Located in the city of Bellingham just north of Seattle, the House on the Cove is set at a high elevation and backs into a conifer forest. “This project is study of environment and experience,” the architects explained. “The home itself is secondary. With views to the west that are uninterrupted Puget Sound , San Juan Islands and Olympic Mountain Range, the experience exists regardless of the home.” Related: A solar-powered luxury home blends into a Pacific Northwest landscape In addition to minimizing impact on the landscape , the house also boasts energy-efficient features and durable materials to meet the clients’ desire for sustainable housing. The house is heated with radiant concrete floors that double as a thermal mass to naturally cool the home on hot summer nights. Zola Windows open the house up completely on the west side and let natural breezes blow straight through. In winter, fireplace pipes are used to warm the air. The main house spans an area of 2,504 square feet. The ground floor includes the open-plan layout with the living room, dining area and kitchen as well as an office and a bedroom. The second floor comprises a spacious, west-facing en suite master bedroom, a third bedroom, a “Nest” refuge and a reading room. The separate 765-square-foot studio houses the garage, a west-facing metalworking space, and a studio space above the metalworking shop. + Stephenson Design Collective Photography by Andrew Pogue via Stephenson Design Collective

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Mobile, off-grid micro home can be configured into 20 different layouts

March 18, 2019 by  
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Architect Beatrice Bonzanigo from Milan-based firm IB Studio has unveiled a stunning, off-grid micro home that is transportable and adaptable to virtually any climate. The tiny structure, called Casa Ojalá, is just shy of 300 square feet but is equipped with a manual mechanical system that allows the space to be configured into as many as 20 different layouts. According to Bonzanigo, the flexible and transportable design of Casa Ojalá was inspired by the need to offer an alternative to the “world of static architecture.” Its versatility opens up a world of opportunity not only in terms of low-impact architecture , but also in offering an off-grid experience that lets occupants completely immerse themselves into the natural world. Related: This off-grid, lunar lander-inspired tiny home is out of this world “Casa Ojalá is a sustainable, minimal, compact and flexible product for a new comfort, away from TV or air conditioning,” explained IB Studio, which is led by Bonzanigo and Isabella Invernizzi. “The boundary between inner and outer space no longer exists. Outdoor is a substantial, fundamental and precious part of it.” The structure is a round volume with a simple layout comprised of two bedrooms, a kitchenette, a living room and a bathroom. A wrap-around, open-air terrace is used to provide a seamless connection between the micro home and its surroundings, no matter where they may be. To create its flexible design , the main structure is equipped with a manual mechanical system made up of ropes, pulleys and cranks that control the sliding wooden walls and fabric partitions. This system allows the structure to be continuously transformed into a fully-customized space, with private rooms or even one large outdoor platform. Built on a track, the house is completely mobile and can be easily assembled on-site. In terms of its sustainability, the structure is made out of eco-friendly materials along with socially-sustainable fabrics and wood features. The design’s footprint is minimal, and the project was also designed to be completely self-sustaining. The design calls for a rainwater collection system and can be installed with photovoltaic panels to generate solar energy. The Casa Ojalá design is slated to be presented during this year’s Milan Design Week. + IB Studio Via Dezeen Images via IB Studio

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The peaceful Micro House serves as an artist’s refuge in Vermont

October 29, 2018 by  
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Tucked into a hilly landscape in a remote area of Vermont, a 430-square-foot tiny home holds court among the wildflowers. Designed by Vermont-based Elizabeth Herrmann Architecture + Design in collaboration with the artistic homeowner, the cabin-like Micro House is a sophisticated, minimalist structure with a design inspired by the works of Henri Matisse. Initially, the client contacted Herrmann to create his dream home set deep within the idyllic Vermont mountains; however, after much debate and a few obstacles presented by the original design, Herrmann came up with the Micro House. According to the homeowner, the inspiration behind the design comes from the work of renowned French artist, Henri Matisse. “Matisse wanted you to walk around his sculptures and be surprised [about] what would happen,” he said. “And, in a way, that’s what I wanted to have happen with my house. The house [looks so different] from the four sides and angles. It’s shocking to me and that has always made me happy.” Related: How high-tech Kasita microhomes could revolutionize homeownership At just 430 square feet, the volume is quite compact, but sculptural features including sharp angles, a shed roof and large square windows override its tiny presence. Clad in cedar panels stained a light gray, the home has a neutral tone that blends into its natural setting most days but stands out in certain seasons. The sunflower-yellow front door along with a few restrained splashes of color on the interior add a sense of welcoming whimsy to the home. The interior is an open layout, with the living and dining room defined as one space. Various square windows were placed strategically throughout to not only let in light but to frame the stunning views as if they were works of art. The windows were also specifically arranged to optimize natural ventilation and airflow in the warmer months. Locally-sourced maple flooring runs throughout the house and complements the all-white walls. In the center of the  tiny home , a small dining table sits under the large window in the living room, allowing for optimal views of the mountains in the distance. Throughout the space, similar practical features such as a built-in sofa, a small sleeping loft, a simple bathroom and attractive storage solutions give the home a serene, no-fuss atmosphere. The homeowner and guests can simply focus their attention on the incredible Vermont landscape that surrounds the Micro House. As the artist explained, “You know what’s amazing about this house? The view you get out of the different windows. You can lie in the bathtub, and when put your head [down] and look out the window, you can see the moon.” + Elizabeth Herrmann Architecture + Design Via Curbed Images via Elizabeth Herrmann Architecture + Design

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The peaceful Micro House serves as an artist’s refuge in Vermont

Billions of pounds of pumpkin will go to the landfill after Halloween

October 29, 2018 by  
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Over the past few weeks, millions of people have bought nutritious, tasty treats that they won’t eat, and after Halloween, the majority will end up throwing them in the trash. Of course, we are talking about pumpkins. This week, billions of pounds of the delicious, edible and versatile squash will become  food waste instead of being cooked or composted. In the U.K. alone, eight million pumpkins will be in the garbage on November 1. According to The Guardian ,  this would be enough to make pumpkin pies to feed the entire country. Nearly 60 percent of people bought their pumpkins just to hollow out and carve. The #PumpkinRescue campaign said that only one-third of those people will cook the edible insides, and just over half of them will throw away the pumpkin flesh. Related: How to cook a whole pumpkin (seeds, guts and all) More than 1.3 billion pounds of pumpkins will be thrown out in the U.S., adding tons of waste to landfills. When we throw those pumpkins out, they decompose and release methane — a harmful greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change . In Canada, the pumpkin harvest attracts thousands of people to farms all over the country for hayrides and corn mazes. But farmer Rob Galey said that most visitors to his annual Pumpkin Fest won’t take pumpkins home to cook and eat. He explained that the visitors are buying a metaphor, not food. The pumpkin represents an abundant fall harvest and looks good in a photo, but it never makes it to the dinner table. Is our pumpkin waste ruining the environment? It’s certainly an issue, but the U.S. Department of Energy is working on the problem by teaming up with industry experts to develop integrated biorefineries, which are facilities that can efficiently convert plant and waste material into affordable biofuels. As of right now, none of the refineries are in full operation. In the meantime, keep enjoying your pumpkins . Carve them, decorate them and — after October 31 — eat or compost them to reduce the food waste. Via The Guardian , Vice , Pumpkin Rescue  and CBC News Images via Corey Blaz and Marius Ciocirlan

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Billions of pounds of pumpkin will go to the landfill after Halloween

Stormwaters sweep beneath this coastal beach house raised above dunes

March 5, 2018 by  
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Rather than elevate this coastal beach home on stilts, New York-based Raad Studio sought a more natural method to protect the building from floodwaters. The home, located in Sea Bright, New Jersey, is raised on artificial dunes planted with beach grasses, while stormwaters are safely channeled through an opening beneath the home. To further complement the surroundings, the Beach House was built with local maritime construction techniques and clad in locally sourced timber. Surrounded by stunning views, the Beach House is bookended on two sides by water with the Atlantic Ocean on one and the Navesink River on the other. “Our design team sought to balance an embrace of outdoor natural beauty while seeking to accommodate the site’s vulnerability to storms,” write Raad Studio. “The design solution that resulted is the marriage of landscape and architecture.” Taking inspiration from the dunes in the parkland to the north, the architects used a design by Dirtworks Landscape Architecture to create artificial dunes made from sand piled atop a concrete foundation and stabilized with beach grasses and other plants. “By restoring our idea of the original natural state to the site, we created a set of hydrodynamic dunes with penetrations that allow water to sluice through the land, while simultaneously elevating the house well above the historic high water mark,” wrote the architects. Related: This high-tech solar funnel allows plants to grow deep underground The modern Beach House is built to look like two stacked timber boxes wrapped in Alaskan yellow cedar and ample glazing that make the most of landscape views. A stairway descends down the dune to a pool deck. The light-filled interior is oriented around outdoor views with the common areas on the ground floor and two bedrooms and bathrooms on the upper level. + Raad Studio Via Dezeen Images via Raad Studio , by Robert Wright

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Stormwaters sweep beneath this coastal beach house raised above dunes

Breezy studio shows how to fit a lot function into a small space

March 1, 2018 by  
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Don’t be deceived by this studio’s small size—architect Ulrika Saar of Freshwater studio designed the Freshwater Granny Flat to fit a lot function in just 312 square feet. Nestled in Saar’s backyard in Sydney, the flexible timber-clad studio houses a home office, kitchenette, living room, bathroom, workspace, laundry, and storage. The project was built in collaboration with Russ Davis from Avalon Constructions . Durability and an emphasis on natural light and ventilation guided the design behind the Freshwater Granny Flat. The steel-framed breezy studio opens up to the outdoors with a retractable glass wall, multiple doorways, and wraparound clerestory glazing that can be opened to take advantage of cooling crosswinds. Semi-translucent polycarbonate roofing also brings in additional diffused light, while a deep roof overhang shields the interior from the intense summer sun. Related: Elegant cork-clad artists’ studio slots into a bijou London garden Blackbutt hardwood timber and zincalume clad the exterior for durable and beautiful finish that complements the outdoors. The interior is a mix of timber, polished concrete floors, and white walls with minimal decorations to keep the small space from feeling cluttered. Divided into three rooms, the multifunctional studio’s largest space is the bedroom/living room/workspace outfitted with a wall bed and a small kitchenette. A 4,000-liter rainwater tank collects water for the toilet, washing machine, and yard irrigation. + Freshwater studio Via Contemporist Photos by Michael Nicholson

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Breezy studio shows how to fit a lot function into a small space

Outstanding eco-friendly resort in China is made with recycled and locally-sourced materials

January 22, 2018 by  
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The four pavilions of the Naked Gallery resort in China were built using a combination of locally available natural and recycled waste materials. Xiaohui Designer Studio designed the complex as an eco-friendly space that “includes 75% of sustainable and renewable materials , 75% recyclable materials, and 75% of work by local craftsmen.” The designers utilized locally available stones, the soil excavated from the other sites in the resort, and bamboos abundant at the foot of Mount Mogan where the resort is located. The materials of the formwork and the joists of Naked Gallery are collected from the waste materials from other structures, which helped reduce the generation of waste and alleviate the influence of the architecture on the natural environment. Related: Luscious eco-resort design in China inspired by the Silk Road The resort consists of four pavilions. Local craftsmen built the complex using traditional building techniques which helped cut construction costs and increase construction efficiency. In fact, the transportation fees and construction waste were both cut by 90% during the building process. + Xiaohui Designer Studio Via Archdaily Photos by Youkun Chen    

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Outstanding eco-friendly resort in China is made with recycled and locally-sourced materials

Iconic Dutch dike renovation opens with energy-generating kites that can power 200 homes

November 21, 2017 by  
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The Netherlands’ legendary Afsluitdijk dike has been in use for 85 years but it needed a renovation — so the Dutch government turned to designer Daan Roosegaarde for help. Studio Roosegaarde recently unveiled their Icoon Afsluitdijk project featuring three eye-catching designs: Gates of Light, Windvogel, and Glowing Nature, with elements from clean power -generating kites to live bioluminescent algae . Studio Roosegaarde launched three striking designs at the Afsluitdijk. Icoon Afsluitdijk is intended to bolster the causeway’s iconic value, with the installations bringing light to the area after sunset. Related: Daan Roosegaarde unveils mind-expanding 295-foot SPACE installation in Eindhoven Gates of Light includes restored 1932 floodgates fitted with prisms that reflect light from vehicle headlights. If there are no cars by the Gates of Light – which the studio described as an example of a “futuristic and energy neutral landscape” – the structures don’t light up. Studio Roosegaarde said they were inspired to utilize retroreflection based on how butterfly wings reflect light. Windvogel could offer enough power for 200 households. The smart kites’ lines move back and forth in the wind to generate energy , much like a dynamo on a bicycle, according to Studio Roosegaarde. Glowing Nature is an exhibit in the dike’s historic bunkers featuring living algae. The bioluminescent microorganisms only light up when touched under optimal conditions and care. They could offer inspiration for light or energy solutions for the future, according to the studio. Roosegaarde said in a statement, “The Afsluitdijk represents a part of Dutch daring and innovation. We live with water, we fight with water, and we endeavor a new harmony…By adding a subtle layer of light and interaction, we enhance the beauty of the dike and form new links between man and landscape, darkness and light, poetry and practice.” Gates of Light will become a permanent part of the dike. Glowing Nature and Windvogel can be glimpsed until January 21, 2018. + Studio Roosegaarde Images courtesy of Studio Roosegaarde

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Iconic Dutch dike renovation opens with energy-generating kites that can power 200 homes

Solar-powered Noe Hill Smarthome is an eco-friendly dream in San Francisco

October 19, 2017 by  
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The LEED Platinum -certified Noe Hill Smart Ecohome marries state-of-the-art green technology and the indoor-outdoor lifestyle that urban dwellers dream about. The house, designed by EAG Studio , creates a healthy living environment with plenty of natural light, native plant gardens, rain catchment, solar power and a bevy of smart features to optimize power use. The house occupies a coveted site near the crest of the Collingwood hill in San Francisco . It spans three levels and comprises 5 bedrooms, 4.5 baths (with 3 bedrooms ensuite on the upper floor), media room, gym, flexible use 2-room guest suite, an open main level floor plan, 4 distinct outdoor living areas and 2-car independent parking. Related: Sunset’s Green Dream Home in San Francisco The dramatic vistas open up from the main living room and dining area connected to a sunny deck and a landscaped garden. The garden features drought-tolerant , native plantings. Retractable glass doors in the kitchen open directly to the deck and enhances the experience of the indoor-outdoor lifestyle. A sculptural staircase leads to the upper level and receives natural light from the skylight above. The bedrooms occupy the upper floor, with the luxurious master suite openning to its own view deck ideal for a morning cup of coffee or casual lounging. The staircase leads further up toward the roof deck with multiple dining and lounging areas perfect for entertaining guests. Related: San Francisco’s Solar “Mission: House” is a High-Tech Marvel A rainwater harvesting system captures most of the roof/surface water for landscaping irrigation. All exterior walls are insulated and optimized for energy efficiency, while a solar array provides renewable energy for the building. These systems, along with LED lighting , occupancy sensors and the use of reclaimed building materials make this building a modern and truly eco-friendly home. + Noe Hill Leed Home + EAG Studio

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Solar-powered Noe Hill Smarthome is an eco-friendly dream in San Francisco

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