Kiribati Floating Houses address rising waters and land limitations

March 25, 2021 by  
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Architectural design takes all forms, with a focus from the ground up. But UOOU, an Amsterdam- and London-based design practice, came up with an architectural proposal that doesn’t consider the ground at all. Instead, the team focused on creating a housing solution for a group of atolls floating in the South Pacific Ocean, somewhere between Hawaii and Australia. Gianluca Santosuosso and Eri Pontikopoulou, with consultation from Matthias Kimmel, came up with the sustainable urban planning concept, which addresses the need for controlled growth over time. The area is known as the Republic of Kiribati. The problem is rising waters and limited landmass; the solution is floating structures. Related: Sneci houseboat leaves no footprint while floating on Lake Tisza The overall blueprint for the community resembles a tree, with the town center being the trunk while the housing units make up the branches. These units are focused on not only providing shelter but communing with the surrounding elements of nature. The designers kept the division between outdoors and inside thin, with openings to enjoy sunlight, the sky and the view of the Pacific Ocean from inside. Locally sourced, natural materials , particularly wood, are used to honor the culture and the oceanscape. In the center of each housing pod group is a versatile, open-air space for meeting the needs of the community. The land on an otherwise floating structure can house gardens, animals or pools for fish farming. The area offers protection from the corrosive effects of the surrounding waters while providing the opportunity to grow food and raise animals that are essential to the residents. The primary source of electricity comes from photovoltaic panels placed on slanted roofs of the homes. In addition to harvesting energy from the sun, the tilted roofs act as a source of rainwater collection. The water runs through enclosed pipes for maximum collection efficiency and is then stored in tanks below the homes. Although the floating houses would be connected to a larger community, the solar and water systems allow them to be more self-sufficient and even contribute to the neighbors as needed.  The Kiribati Floating Houses concept is presented by UOOU Studio, which said, “Our work focuses on architecture that connects man-made environments with nature, putting eco- and human-oriented design at the core of our mission.” + UOOU Studio Images via UOOU Studio

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Kiribati Floating Houses address rising waters and land limitations

Casa Etrea offers off-grid lodging on an extinct volcano

March 12, 2021 by  
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Nestled into the slope of the dormant Palo Huérfano volcano in central Mexico, Casa Etérea is a passion project of Singapore writer, photographer and designer Prashant Ashoka. The mirrored dwelling is not only self-sustaining but environmentally friendly, too. Casa Etérea is located just 20 minutes from San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors arrive via four-wheel-drive transport from town, provided as part of the lodging package. Upon arrival, Casa Etérea makes a memorable statement with its mirrored exterior. Not only does the glass reflect the surrounding hillsides and mesquite trees for the human eye, but a special patterned, ultraviolet coating allows birds to see it as a structure, thus eliminating impact risks. The name Etérea translates from Spanish to ethereal, deepening the emphasis on art, beauty and connection to the natural environment. Related: Filmmaker designs and builds off-grid backcountry cabin for $50k Ashoka explained, “The vision was to create a theatre to nature , so sustainability was crucial in achieving a truly complete integration with the environment.” The structure is completely off of the grid and houses two people comfortably within the 75-square-meter space. Solar panels provide 100% power to the home, which includes plenty of amenities for comfort: a king-sized bed, a luxe living space, a kitchen and laundry facilities. Rainwater is collected and reused for daily activities, including to fill the distinctive copper bathtub located beside the bed. Natural materials such as jute, leather, wood and stone further express the connection with nature. Ashoka wanted to ensure minimal site impact , so the entire foundation was formed from rocks collected on the surrounding mountain. Careful positioning of the structure allows for effective ventilation, and insulating glass regulates temperature control. This level of energy efficiency doesn’t sacrifice the views offered by the floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors. Once the home is opened to the outdoors, guests can step directly onto a patio and pool area naturally shaded by olive and pomegranate trees. Meaningful community engagement was also important to Ashoka, who has connected with local providers for activities such as horseback riding, guided hikes and ATV tours. Casa Etérea is available to experience for up to two guests and can be booked directly through Instagram [@casa_eterea]. + Casa Etérea Images via Prashant Ashoka

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Casa Etrea offers off-grid lodging on an extinct volcano

YEZO is a nature retreat perched on a Japanese hillside

February 23, 2021 by  
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Anyone passionate about design knows the fun is in the possibilities. Looking for low site impact , a focus on nature or a retreat? YEZO is all of that and more. This design concept comes from Hong Kong-based Laboratory for Explorative Architecture and Design Ltd. (LEAD) and team leaders Kristof Crolla and Julien Klisz. YEZO is a small retreat, designed with a spot in the northern mountain range of Hokkaido, Japan in mind. The idea spawned from a request from private clients who were looking for “a private retreat on a spectacular site,” according to a brief provided by LEAD. The limitations of the site put the focus on immersing the home into the surrounding landscape along with natural elements of wood , stone, water and light. Related: Tiny mobile dwelling celebrates local Shinshu larch in Japan Basically a studio apartment, the YEZO concept is tucked into a mountainside, allowing for 360-views. The striking architecture centers around a distinctive wooden shell roof. Glue-laminated ( glulam ) timber beams replace traditionally harvested timber for a more sustainable option. The curved elements of these beams provide tension from side to side that supports the structure while requiring up to 90% less materials than blueprints with traditional straight wood beams. This opportunity to use architectural innovations to reduce environmental impact was at the core of the design. Because these beams can be made from a single mold, they also reduce cost and transport requirements. A massive, centralized concrete fireplace offers warmth and ambiance, along with support for the roof and a separation from the bathroom and storage area. A staircase tucked behind the fireplace provides access to a balcony that looks down on the slate-covered roof and the hills beyond. Natural light seeps into the stairway via frosted and stained glass windows. The balcony itself is open yet tucked within the curving roofline. An additional patio area rests outside the main-level living space, carefully perched on a rocky hillside. Inside, the space is enclosed in floor-to-ceiling windows for views in every direction. + LEAD Images via LEAD

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YEZO is a nature retreat perched on a Japanese hillside

Biodiverse green roof wins Grands Prix du Design award for MYTO Design

February 18, 2021 by  
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Atop a luxury home in Westmount, Montréal, MYTO Design d’espaces vivants created a biodiverse green rooftop dedicated to wellness. It’s easy to see why the elegant Clarke Terrace has just been named a winner in the Residential Patio and Landscaping category for Grands Prix du Design 2020. Designer Martine Brisson and landscape architect Roxanne Miller named their practice MYTO Design after the essential units of human life. Life-giving mitochondria are part of the energy production apparatus found in nearly every living cell. Just as plant and animal cells intelligently integrate with their environment, this project seamlessly harmonizes an outdoor living space with the surrounding landscape . Related: Modular home in Delft boasts low-carbon timber build and a green roof Lucky visitors to this sensory green roof can relax on custom ipe wood planters and comfortable seating to enjoy a spectacular view of Montreal’s downtown, framed by local wildflowers in pinks, purples and blues. In the sturdy planters and within the green terrace, Miller opted for perennials and indigenous species to cut down on garden maintenance. The planters, built by Atelier Papineau, are even insulated to protect the plants . Miller carefully chose an array of suitable species to create a biodiverse roof with a harmonious palette and long flowering season. “Wild grasses are very important and present, Miscanthus, Calamagrostis, Hordeum jubatum and so on,” Miller told Inhabitat. “One of my favorites in the green roof section is the creeping juniper (Juniperus horizontalis). The Sempervivum are always beautiful.” Often known as liveforever or houseleeks, these striking, succulent rosettes store plenty of water in their leaves and are extremely hardy. The 1,965-square-foot living roof was completed in summer 2018. Miller spoke of the benefits of such spaces for all. “Greening beautiful spaces is always meaningful and brings added benefits like water retention, biodiversity or becoming an accessible green space for urban residents. They should be on every building!” A streamlined glass parapet encloses the perimeter to ensure safe enjoyment of the garden and uninterrupted access to the views. Brisson and Miller achieved subtle lighting for the roof with fixtures from Jardin d’ombre et lumière. As the evening turns the sky from sunset to deep blue, the space takes on a warm, intimate and relaxing ambiance. The Clarke Terrace refines our expectations for underused roof space with a truly enjoyable green roof . + MYTO design d’espaces vivants inc. Photography by Pierre Béland via v2com

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Biodiverse green roof wins Grands Prix du Design award for MYTO Design

House of Childhood is a daycare that emphasizes energy efficiency

January 20, 2021 by  
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As part of a National Association for Urban Renewal project that will run until 2030, the Maison de l’enfance à Albertville (Savoie, France) is the first step in an ambitious urban development masterplan in the area. Translated House of Childhood, the building was designed by Tectoniques Agency and is functional, inviting, striking and environmentally friendly. With a commitment to early childhood, this initial project is a multipurpose facility with a dynamic, open floor plan that incorporates a municipal daycare center, a family daycare center, space for nursery assistants, a leisure area and a school restaurant. Related: Adorable prefab nursery in Greece mimics a tiny urban village According to a press release, the House of Childhood is, “set in the heart of the Bauges, Beaufortain, Lauzière and Grand Arc mountain ranges,” making for a natural backdrop in nearly every direction. Architects placed an emphasis on the upper level of the building in order to capture the sweeping landscape. In addition to exceptional views of the surrounding peaks, the building responds to a goal of minimal site impact . In fact, a compact design caters to the architects’ call for preserving the ground in anticipation of future land development of green spaces. The team relied on a concrete foundation — Albertville is in a seismic zone — but equally relied on natural materials like different types of locally sourced wood for framing and furniture. To soften the look, the concrete walls are surrounded by a wooden structure. The upper facade offers protection and visual appeal with a combination of shimmering bronze and copper coloring. A significant portion of the building was built using prefabricated panels, ensuring industrial quality while allowing expediency of construction. This technique enabled the project to be completed in 13 months. Energy-efficient elements are included, such as the biomass heating network and ventilation provided by an adiabatic AHU to keep children cool during hot summers. The centralized entrance provides access to a reception area on one end and the dining room, activity rooms and technical rooms on the other. The first floor houses a courtyard with a generous playground. Natural light illuminates the interior through a combination of skylights and glazed facades. The interior design is also focused on the children, drawing natural elements inside with fully exposed bleached beech and spruce walls, ceilings and furniture. Paint colors designate separate spaces; for example, yellow defines the changing rooms and blue defines the restrooms.  + Tectoniques agency Photography by Renaud Araud via Tectoniques agency 

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Futuristic aviary design uses piezoelectric energy to mimic bird movements

January 7, 2021 by  
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A combination aviary and bird-watching platform in China’s Suzhou Taihu Lakeside National Wetland Park, this stunning conceptual design by Margot Krasojevi? Architecture utilizes piezoelectric energy to move parts of the structure, mimicking birds in flight. At the heart of the dome, a high tensile steel loom acts as a gallery for birds, while the primary structure is made from stainless steel spine beams that move and sway like feathers. Piezoelectric cells are connected to a motor that harnesses movement to produce an electrical current, making the entire structure self-sufficient. The cells then respond to the overall mechanical stress generated by the structure and create an electric charge, which in turn runs through a dichroic filtered electrochromic glass modifying the transparency and luminosity of the facade. Responding directly to the density of bird movement, the facade appears to “flutter” as the environment changes. Related: Abandoned amusement park to gain new life as a nature park in Suzhou Thanks to the reflective, fluttering facade, the structure appears to partially disappear into its wetland surroundings. The dome protects birds from flying into the glass cladding by projecting ultrasound signals from the surface. Extra electrical energy generated by the piezoelectric cells is used to control the dome’s temperature, humidity and building filtration, allowing the structure to essentially dictate its own ecosystem. The humidity is filtered and ecologically purified to be pumped back into the surrounding wetlands through the aviary’s dome.  Visitors are led into the wetlands and connected to the building entrance through a helical ramp that unfolds across the aviary. This hydraulic runway ramp glides along within the building, rather than touching the building envelope, to guide visitors as they walk among the birds. The ramp can lower and raise to take visitors to different heights within the interior; this can offer clearer views. The pile grid is anchored through concrete to enable it to rise and fall according to the substructure movement, all while maintaining equilibrium inside the aviary. + Margot Krasojevi? Architecture Images via Margot Krasojevi?

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Futuristic aviary design uses piezoelectric energy to mimic bird movements

Green design meets glamping in Queenslands Lamington National Park

December 4, 2020 by  
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Located in Lamington National Park in Queensland,  Australia , O’Reilly’s Campground is a community center and campsite that features what the designers call “architectural ecotourism.” Sustainable building practices include minimally invasive and lightweight construction, passive solar access, sustainably sourced materials and more. The campground is designed to include visitors who want an authentic camping experience but don’t have the equipment. There are glamping safari tents available as well as powered RV campsites and unpowered, standard campsites for traditional camping. The guests who stay in safari-style tents can rent kits with bed linens and firewood and even have food delivered from the adjoining O’Reilly Rainforest Retreat. The campsite follows universal design principles for easy access to people who have disabilities. Related: Get away from it all in gorgeous solar-powered glamping tents in Australia Designed by Aspect Architecture, a firm from Kingscliff in New South Wales, Australia, the project includes a camp kitchen, gathering spaces, a fire pit and amenities buildings. In order to protect the natural building site, the facilities were designed and constructed using sustainable practices. This included lightweight construction techniques to preserve the vegetation, sustainably sourced timber materials and onsite sewer treatment and rainwater collection systems. Passive solar design and cross ventilation help save natural resources. In order to stay connected to the environment, the skeletal structure of the campgrounds is reflective of a tree canopy, providing shelter while protecting views of the surrounding mountains. Situated inside of a  forest  clearing, the site is also designed so that guests can connect with each other and share stories around a communal campfire. O’Reilly’s Campground, previously known as the Green Mountain Campground, was historically a public campground operated by the Parks and Forests division of the Queensland Department of Environment and Science. Now, the Queensland government has partnered with O’Reilly to help run the facility in a unique public-private partnership. The family has considerable experience in Australian  eco tourism  as they helped pioneer the industry by hosting visitors in Lamington National Park in 1915. + Aspect Architecture Photography by Andy Macpherson via Aspect Architecture

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Green design meets glamping in Queenslands Lamington National Park

Twin cabins in Washington make use of reclaimed and natural materials

December 1, 2020 by  
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If there’s anything better than a cabin in the woods, it’s two cabins in the woods. For Kathleen Glossa of Swivel Interiors, in a collaboration with fellow Seattle-based integrated design firm Board & Vellum, a project for a family in Eastern Washington offered double the reward. The high-energy, outdoorsy clients wanted to create personal space on their property for family and other guests. They requested simple dwellings that didn’t overwhelm the surrounding landscape of rolling hills.  The design for the two matching cabins is inspired by an old barn on the property that was heavily leaning and in danger of collapsing. Dating back to the 1890s, the barn may have outlived its usefulness as a shelter, but the team was able to reclaim the lumber as a central component to the cabins’ construction. Craftsmen used the barn wood to meticulously create a dividing wall down the middle of each cabin. Dowbuilt , the builder for the project, skillfully mitered each corner, continuing with the same board around each bend. Related: These elevated wooden cabins can only be accessed via hiking trail In addition to the salvaged wood, natural materials for each 900-square-foot cabin were locally sourced with nature in mind. Exposed plywood walls connect the interior to the nearby trees while concrete flooring, metal siding and tin roofs offer durability and a classically rustic vibe. The interior color palette of browns, greens and oranges further celebrates nature, and the wood-burning stove in each cabin connects the living area to the surrounding landscape. The interiors were designed with equal consideration for sourcing products locally. Many businesses of all sizes provided products for the cozy and authentic cabin atmosphere. New items were combined with pieces pulled from the client’s storage unit. Other décor was salvaged from vintage stores within the state. Handcrafted selections from Old Hickory, a company in business for over 120 years, were intermingled with bright powder-coated metal furniture from Room & Board. Black Dog Forge out of Seattle customized the cabinet hardware, bathroom accessories and drapery hardware. The project supported other artisans with the purchase of shower curtains from Etsy vendors and pendant lighting crafted by Barn Light Electric. Each cabin features Dekton countertops, Pratt and Larson tile, under-counter refrigerators and a coffee pot, but kitchen function is limited to keep the focus on outdoor grilling and enjoying meals at the main house. + Swivel Interiors   + Board and Vellum Photography John Granen & Tina Witherspoon via Cameron Macallister Group

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Twin cabins in Washington make use of reclaimed and natural materials

A geometric double roof promotes natural cooling at this Tropical Chalet

November 23, 2020 by  
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After three years of design and construction, Singapore-based firm G8A Architecture & Urban Planning has completed the Tropical Chalet, a naturally cooled home with a beautiful and functional “double roof facade.” Located in the Vietnamese coastal region of Danang, the four-bedroom family villa takes advantage of its lakeside location with a porous brick moucharabieh facade that brings in cooling cross breezes and also gives the beautiful home its distinctive appearance. The predominate use of rough brick — which covers the roof, walls and a portion of the open-air interior — is also a nod to Danang’s historic use of baked brickwork that dates back to the fourth century. Set on a roughly rectangular plot facing a lake, the Tropical Chalet lives up to its name with an indoor/outdoor design approach. A lush garden and spacious, landscaped backyard surrounds the L-shaped home, which opens up to the outdoors on all sides. Operable glazing, a porous brick facade and a recessed gallery help bring in natural light and ventilation while protecting against unwanted solar gain and mercurial coastal weather conditions. Related: Lush living plants engulf the green-roofed Pure Spa in Vietnam “Materials were were chosen not only for their sturdiness and climate resistance, particularly bricks with their high insulation qualities,” the architects explained. “But also, their minimal and natural aesthetic, once again blending with the surrounding landscape. A strong presence of wood, textured concrete and rough brick highlight the organic nature of the concept.” The building’s undulating roof is also engineered for natural cooling with a shape informed by site conditions; the geometry of the roof has led to a folded waxed concrete ceiling below that hides the structural framework of the terracotta-lined roof. The 400-square-meter Tropical Chalet rises to a height of two stories and includes a floor that’s partly buried underground and opens up to a sunken sculpture garden. + G8A Architecture & Urban Planning Photography by Oki Hiroyuki via G8A Architecture & Urban Planning

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A geometric double roof promotes natural cooling at this Tropical Chalet

Spend the night among the trees in southern Denmark

September 21, 2020 by  
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Before one ventures into the wilderness, where to shelter is always part of the initial planning process. While a tent or a lean-to might come to mind, if you find yourself in a particular section of the landscape near Genner, Denmark, a nest hanging from the treetops could be your chosen sleeping spot. The Hanging Shelter, called Hængende Ly in Danish, is much more than a hammock amidst the tree branches. In fact, it features a one-of-a-kind custom design constructed using traditional shipbuilding techniques. The end result is an enclosed structure perched 2.5 meters above the ground that offers 360-degree views of the surrounding nature. Related: Prefab eco-pods offer luxury lodging in any environment A basic ladder is the only access point to the Hanging Shelter, where visitors will immediately notice the steam bent oak that forms the curved walls and floor. In the vertical direction, eight additional arched wood frames shape the rounded walls. A thin, clear membrane covers the entire shelter, offering protection without disrupting the all-encompassing views. This unique structure was designed and produced in Genner, Denmark, by a team of skilled boat builders and engineers in collaboration with Stedse Architects. The Hanging Shelter’s location inspired the project after the architects and design partners were hiking around the Genner area. With equal passions for nature and wood, the team came together to highlight nature, design and skilled woodworking in a single overnight accommodation with minimal site impact . The architects enlisted the help of a local boat builder, who used traditional techniques to construct the finished product. Stedse Architects has a history of creating architecture centered around “sustainable construction, including climate adaptation, energy-efficient buildings, energy calculations and environmental consulting.” As an overall company goal, Stedse Architects focuses on wood architecture and rethinking traditional woodworking. Using the Hanging Shelter as an example, the company hopes that the project will “show the potential of using wood as a natural, sustainable and adaptable building material .” + Stedse Architects Photography by Thomas Illemann via Stedse Architects

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Spend the night among the trees in southern Denmark

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