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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House of Childhood is a daycare that emphasizes energy efficiency

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

World’s first "living coffin" made of mycelium is used in a burial

September 17, 2020 by  
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A “living coffin” has been used in a burial for the first time in the Netherlands. The coffin is made out of mycelium , a complex system of thread-like fibers that form the vegetative part of fungi. The coffin, called Living Cocoon, was developed by a Netherlands-based startup known as Loop to serve as a more sustainable option for burials. Speaking to Metro Newspaper , Bob Hendrikx, the founder of Loop, confirmed the successful burial. “I didn’t actually go, but I talked to a relative beforehand — it was a moving moment, we discussed the cycle of life,” Hendrikx said. “He had lost his mother, but he was happy because thanks to this box, she will return to nature and will soon be living like a tree. It was a hopeful conversation.” Related: The many ways fungi are saving our planet Hendrikx explained that mycelium neutralizes toxins and provides nutrients for plants growing above-ground. But mycelium’s natural properties have made it popular in many applications. “Mycelium is constantly looking for waste products — oil, plastic, metals, other pollutants — and converting them into nutrients for the environment,” Hendrikx said. “For example, mycelium was used in Chernobyl, is utilised in Rotterdam to clean up soil and some farmers also apply it to make the land healthy again.” The coffin presents an opportunity for human bodies to feed the earth after their life span. Wooden caskets can take longer than a decade to decompose . Varnished wood or metal components further slow the process. However, by using caskets made out of mycelium, we can speed up decomposition. The mycelium coffin is absorbed in the soil within 4 to 6 weeks. Further, the coffin contributes effectively to the full decomposition of the body, which then enriches the surrounding soil. The entire process can be completed in less than three years. Currently, Loop is working with researchers to determine the effect of human bodies on the quality of the soil . According to Hendrix, the company hopes the research can persuade policymakers to convert polluted areas into forests by burying bodies in such areas. + Loop Via TU Delft and The Guardian Images via Loop

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World’s first "living coffin" made of mycelium is used in a burial

This villa in India is made up of cascading floating terraces

September 17, 2020 by  
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Currently under construction in Hyderabad, India and designed by Studio Symbiosis, the Floating Terraces Villa will measure 11,840 square feet on one acre of natural landscape. One of the property’s most unique features is its cascading terraces , which appear to float from the indoor living space to the outside in order to protect residents from the region’s harsh climate. According to the architects, the nature-focused villa is designed to create an intimate relationship between the building and the surrounding landscape, with the terraces and a series of outdoor courtyards fostering this connection. The city of Hyderabad in South India is known for its iconic monuments that attract visitors from around the world. The area’s arid climate includes extremely hot, dry days with slightly cooler temperatures at night, limiting most people indoors for the majority of daylight hours. This is the main hurdle that the villa addresses through its build. The designers extended the series of cascading terraces from indoor to outdoor, creating a barrier for occupants during the hotter parts of the day and allowing for circulating ventilation with the cooler evening winds. Additionally, the terraces serve to create varied levels of privacy between rooms. Related: BIG’s LEED Gold-seeking school in Arlington features a cascade of green terraces The center of the Floating Terraces Villa is defined by its double-height living space, which spills into a kitchen, library and formal drawing room. Bedrooms, each with its own dedicated outdoor courtyard and views into the main gardens, are flanked along the central living space as well. A double-height family room is accessed through a semi-covered green space , providing views of four separate courtyards while serving as a supplemental connection to nature. The starting point of the design was originally derived from a traditional Indian system of architecture called Vastu Shastra, modified to create alternating periphery grids that favor outdoor courtyards. Exposed concrete and natural wood are prioritized as construction elements. + Studio Symbiosis Images via Studio Symbiosis

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This villa in India is made up of cascading floating terraces

A disused factory becomes an office with a landscaped bamboo roof terrace

September 11, 2020 by  
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Located in Shenzhen, China, the If Factory utilizes a sustainable design that transforms an old and disused factory into a creative mix of office spaces. While the heart of the building contains a public stairway with an inclusive view of the inside, the landscaped bamboo roof terrace is an even more impressive token of the project’s combination of sustainability and community. Rather than demolish the original factory before rebuilding the office space, a project that would require extensive resources and environmental strain, the architects at MVRDV set out to renovate instead. The result is a celebration of old and new, with a simple focus on cleaning out the original building while reinventing the older components of the structure. Related: An old Brooklyn sugar refinery becomes creative office spaces For example, the architects chose to use new, transparent painting techniques to prevent the older spaces from further aging. This results in the important preservation of the original building’s history and exposed concrete frame while maintaining more modern principles of sustainability and the circular economy. New walls and balconies are made of glass. In an effort to promote exchanges between colleagues, the exterior walls are set back from the building’s frame to allow for circulation. The grand staircase is made of wood to separate the design from the surrounding concrete and glass, and it weaves its way artistically between each floor. MVRDV included windows built into the staircase so that workers can peek into other offices as a commitment to transparency and collaboration. The public roof terrace, known as “The Green House,” includes a green bamboo landscape that is arranged to form a natural maze. This unique design intentionally divides the rooftop into different sections that all contain different programming, including a dance room, a dining area and space for reading, aimed at relaxation and community. + MVRDV Via ArchDaily Images via MVRDV

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A disused factory becomes an office with a landscaped bamboo roof terrace

Geothermal-powered timber home glows by an Austrian lake

August 24, 2020 by  
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Locally procured materials and energy-efficient building systems make up the Wohnhaus am Eichenberg (Residence on the Eichenberg), a contemporary timber home designed by Austrian architecture firm Berktold Weber Architekten  in 2019. Built into the mountainside in the Austrian village of Eichenberg, the home opens up to breathtaking views of Lake Constance. At night, the house’s wraparound full-height glazing glows like a lantern thanks to the atmospheric  Nimbus  LED luminaires that complement the minimalist natural material palette.  Designed with flexibility in mind, the Wohnhaus am Eichenberg comprises two floors with separate entrances, allowing the home to take on different uses in the future. For example, the lower level can function as a separate apartment or an office. Both levels of the house use  locally sourced  silver fir cladding, exposed concrete and natural Schwarzachtobler stone. The pared-back material palette gives the home a clean, crisp appearance. This minimalist design ensures that the surrounding mountain landscape remains the main visual focus.  For privacy, the lower level uses an opaque design, and the upper level pushes its wraparound glazing back from the building’s edges. Spaced out vertical strips of timber also form a privacy screen that shields portions of the home. The top-heavy home’s upper level  cantilevers  out toward scenic views of the nearby Eichenberg village and Lake Constance. An overhang provides coverage to the ground level’s cozy outdoor patio space, which features a swing suspended from the bottom of the upper plinth.  Related: Geothermal-powered home fuses high-end luxury with restraint Locally sourced timber accents continue inside the home, with warm-hued wood floors, walls and ceilings creating a seamless indoor/outdoor visual experience. Midcentury modern furnishings punctuate the living spaces, alongside Nimbus’s minimalist LED fixtures. These fixtures, praised for their “discreet appearance, good technical qualities, consistent design and versatility,” provide the home with a warm glow. The interior also features  geothermal -powered underfloor heating and ventilation with heat recovery.  + Berktold Weber Architekten Images by Adolf Bereut

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