Architects create light-filled home extension clad in cork walls inside and out

April 16, 2019 by  
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London-based firm, Nimtim Architects have unveiled a beautiful and unique home extension to a family’s modest Victorian home located south of the city. Working closely with the home owners, the architects created a rear extension that is almost entirely clad in cork. Blending in nicely with the existing home’s brickwork on the exterior, the unique cork cladding provides a strong insulation while on the interior, the cork absorbs noise, is breathable, free from harmful materials and completely recyclable. The architects designed the building in complete collaboration with the family who were looking for additional living space. To create a seamless connection between the existing structure and the new extension, the designers created a simple box-like structure with a pitched roof and an extra large pivot door that frames an uninterrupted view of the garden. Subtle in its volume, the design managed to be both practical, sustainable and slightly whimsical– thanks to its interior and exterior cork cladding . Related: Two energy-efficient cork homes are elevated off the landscape in northern Spain Sustainable, chemical-free and recyclable, cork is a practical building material in that it is also naturally water resistant, something important in this particular design considering London’s wet climate. Additionally beneficial, cork naturally absorbs sound and is also thermally efficient, meaning that no additional insulation was necessary. In addition to its sustainable qualities , using cork allowed the new building to find its place without overshadowing the existing home. Project runner Allie Mackinnon told Dezeen , “The form is a playful response to the roof, openings and levels of the existing house. The materials were also chosen to respond to the existing house as a subtle counterpoint to the original brickwork. The pitched elevation needed a consistent material and the cork provided an unbroken, textured surface.” On the interior of the new building, the space is flooded with natural light , from the large windows to series of skylights on the roof. A two-level structure, the kitchen holds court on the top floor over an ample dining space and informal seating area. Throughout the space, dark cork walls contrast with the all white ceiling to create a modern, fresh aesthetic. + Nimtim Architects Via Dezeen Photography by Megan Taylor

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Architects create light-filled home extension clad in cork walls inside and out

These solar-powered floating homes are built to withstand floods and hurricanes

April 1, 2019 by  
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As many coastal cities struggle to come up with resiliency plans in the face of rising sea levels, a Miami-based firm is creating sustainable, solar-powered floating residences that could offer the perfect solution. Already well-known for its high-end floating homes , Arkup is now teaming up with Artefacto , an environmentally friendly Brazilian furnishing brand, to create stylish floating houses that are not only resilient to storms and sea levels, but also represent the luxury style for which Miami is known. Arkup has long been recognized for creating sustainable and attractive floating homes that can provide discerning homeowners with what the Miami-based company refers to as “avant-garde life on water.” The residences are modern, cube-like structures that are completely self-sufficient, operating 100 percent off-grid thanks to solar power generation, eco-friendly waste management features, rainwater harvesting and water purification systems. Additionally, the homes are equipped with unique self-elevating systems that help the structures withstand high winds, floods and hurricanes. Related: These hurricane-proof floating homes are packed with green features In addition to the ultra sustainable and resilient features, the two-story floating homes boast interiors with a 775-square-foot living room, bedroom, kitchen and dining space, as well as an open-air rooftop lounge. Sliding glass doors, which almost make up the entirety of the front facade, lead out to a beautiful terrace. Although the company has been working on its floating homes for some time, it recently announced a new partnership with Artefacto, a Brazilian furnishing company with a strong commitment to sustainability  that is known for combining luxurious furniture made of raw materials with cutting-edge smart automation technologies. The Arkup residences will now be outfitted with eco-friendly furnishings, including high-end pieces made out of timber approved for use by the Brazilian Environment Department. + Arkup + Artefacto Images via Arkup

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These solar-powered floating homes are built to withstand floods and hurricanes

Rammed concrete home in Portugal boasts passive design features and a green roof

March 26, 2019 by  
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Portuguese firm  Atelier 1111 has unveiled a gorgeous home designed to strategically blend into the rural region of Grândola in southern Portugal. The Cottage House is an angular design embedded into a small hillside, putting part of the home underneath the arid landscape. This technique provides the house with a strong thermal envelope, which — along with additional passive cooling strategies such as a green roof and thickened stone walls — boosts energy efficiency. Using the idyllic setting as inspiration for the design, the exterior of the home is clad in a rammed concrete, which gives the exterior a textured, neutral color that blends in with the arid soil. According to the architects, the rammed concrete was part of the structure’s many passive features, which also include a green roof and thick, insulative walls. Related: This breezy, green-roofed home in Singapore embraces nature from all angles “Thermal comfort was one of our biggest concerns, especially in the summer, because it is a region with high temperatures,” the architects explained. “We avoid mechanical systems, because we have a green roof and considerable thick walls.” Although angular in form, the contemporary home manages to subtly and respectfully blend in with its surroundings. Using the rolling topography to their advantage, the architects created a main open-air corridor that weaves through the structure, leading to the interior living space as well as various cutouts that frame the incredible views. Throughout the interior, the home’s walls and ceilings are also made out of concrete , but in a polished version. Locally-sourced marble was used for the flooring, and the design is enhanced with brass features on the interior doors. The Cottage House is actually part of a bigger plan that is set to be built on the same site, including a garage and a swimming pool. The design of the home, as well as the remaining buildings, was almost entirely inspired by the surrounding landscape, which is characterized by protected stone pine, olive and  cork  trees. The sloped land at its highest point provides a stunning view of the Atlantic Ocean. + Atelier 1111 Photography by Nuno Pinto via Atelier 1111

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Stanfords sustainable scholars building embraces the California landscape

March 26, 2019 by  
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A former parking lot has been converted into the Denning House , the new home for the Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program at Stanford University. The University and the Denning Family tapped New York City-based architectural firm Ennead Architects to design the building as a gathering place for graduate scholars hailing from international backgrounds and diverse disciplines. Wrapped in timber and surrounded by California oaks, the Denning House has a treehouse-like atmosphere and sustainably embraces the landscape by minimizing site impact, tapping into natural ventilation and using bird-friendly glass to reduce bird collisions while improving solar performance. Located at the edge of Lake Lagunita and surrounded by a dense forested landscape, the Denning House design draws inspiration from its site surroundings. Hidden in the trees, the 18,000-square-foot building features a Douglas fir wood structure that’s clad in cypress with interiors lined in Douglas fir. The exposed wood, expansive glazing, and open-floor plan makes the indoor environment feel seamlessly connected with the outdoors. The building has also been designed for optimal views of Lake Lagunita. The large public spaces, such as the dining areas, classrooms and lounges are located on the second floor to take full advantage of spectacular lake vistas. The shallow arcing facade also gives way to a continuous outdoor deck from where views of the lake can be enjoyed. Meanwhile, the ground floor is given over to administration, conference and back-of-house facilities. Related: Heroic Food Farm gives military veterans a new mission as farmers growing sustainable food “It is a very environmentally immersive site,” said Emily Kirkland, the project architect and project manager. “The building was designed to respect and enhance the symbiotic relationship between visitor and nature, and by virtue of its minimal footprint, help to restore the native landscape.” To further reduce the building’s site impact, the Denning House is set on recessed footings to conserve and intensify native vegetation and is accessed via a gently curving, sloping boardwalk. + Ennead Architects Images by Tim Griffith

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Stanfords sustainable scholars building embraces the California landscape

Analysis of Wikipedia searches reveals high wildlife conservation trends

March 26, 2019 by  
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A recent study analyzed billions of Wikipedia searches and found that the public’s interest in plants and animal species is often linked to the seasonality and migration patterns of wildlife. The findings contribute to a body of research that uses internet search data to understand and gauge the public’s interest in environmental topics. Researchers believe this information can ultimately help guide more effective wildlife conservation campaigns. The study: Wikipedia searches and species The study, led by John Mittermeier, an ornithology student at the University of Oxford, was published on March 5 in the  PLOS Biology journal. It analyzed 2.3 billion Wikipedia page views of 32,000 different species. The authors examined pages across 245 different languages over a span of three years. The study’s most pertinent finding shows that over a fourth of all page views were linked to the seasonality of the searched-for species . The authors concluded that this means that people are paying attention to the plants and animals around them, despite the widening disconnect between people and nature. According to Mittermeier, each page could count as a human-wildlife interaction, “if you count a click as an interaction”. Although “clicks” are debatable as an interaction, it is true that people are increasingly disconnected with nature in many parts of the urbanized world. The study’s authors are hopeful that this knowledge of seasonal interest can turn into support for wildlife conservation . Related: IKEA teams up with London artists to upcycle old furniture into funky abodes for birds, bees, ?and bats Searches and Seasonality The study found that searches for particular species peaked during certain seasons or times of migration . For example, searches for Baltimore Orioles were higher in the Spring when the birds migrate to breeding grounds. Searches for flowering plants were also higher during times when flowers were in bloom, whereas searches for evergreen plants like pine trees had no correlation to season. “The results of this study…encouragingly suggest that humans remain attuned to the seasonal dynamics of the natural world,” Mittermeier explained. The authors also noted cultural trends in the searches. For example, searches for Great White Sharks rose during the Discovery Chanel’s Shark Week. Mittermeier and the co-authors believe the study will help explain important questions, such as “how is the world changing, for which species is it changing the most and where are the people who care the most and can do the most to help?” Similar internet-search studies There are a number of other studies that have examined the ties between internet searches and environmental topics. In fact, this body of research is part of an emerging field called “conservation culturomics,” which uses digital trend data to understand public support for and interest in the environment. One similar study examined Google searches on environmental topics since 2004, particularly testing linkages between ‘conservation’ and ‘ climate change ‘ and the competition between those two searches within the public’s “limited bandwidth” for environmental topics. Although the authors originally believed climate change would overpower conservation and biodiversity searches,  findings reveal that both topics are closely linked and that searches for the two were about equal. Remarkably, the data also revealed a drastic increase in interest in conservation and climate change among populations in India, Nepal, and Eastern and Southern African countries. Another study suggests that spikes in wildlife conservation searches occur around the publication of news articles on similar topics, however, such peaks are not associated with the publication of research studies. This discovery shows the critical importance of the media for conservation and climate change awareness and suggests that conservation organizations should look to strengthen partnerships with journalists and media channels as complementary to their investments in scientific research. Still, different  study on internet searches for endangered wildlife species revealed that the general public is far too focused on endangered mammals, while equally important and threatened fish and reptiles receive little attention and therefore very few searches. Again, this study concluded that more media attention must be given to lesser-known and often less-charismatic species in order to peak public support for their protection. All of the studies’ authors are quick to point out that though the use of internet searches is a great and inexpensive way to read the pulse of the general public and understand their curiosities; interest does not equate to support, and conservation organizations must use the new information to turn curiosities into financial and political action. Via Monga Bay Image via Dave_E

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Analysis of Wikipedia searches reveals high wildlife conservation trends

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

Shellworks upcycles leftover lobster shells into biodegradable bioplastics

March 15, 2019 by  
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Four design students from The Royal College of Art and Imperial College have created a biodegradable and recyclable bioplastic using an unusual material — lobster shell waste. In an initiative dubbed Shellworks , the team — Ed Jones, Insiya Jafferjee, Amir Afshar and Andrew Edwards — has developed new manufacturing machines to produce what they believe is a sustainable replacement for single-use plastics. The malleable bioplastic is extremely versatile and can be adjusted in thickness, transparency, flexibility and stiffness to create a variety of biodegradable objects. The critical ingredient in the Shellworks’ bioplastic is chitlin, the world’s second most abundant biopolymer naturally found in the exoskeletons of crustaceans and insects. Rather than purchase chitlin, an expensive material on its own, the team opted to built a custom small-scale extractor as well as three custom manufacturing machines — the Dippy, a heated dip molder to create 3D forms; the Vaccy, a steam-heated vacuum former for making molded packaging; and the Sheety, a sheet-forming device for creating controlled flat sheets — that each take advantage of a specific material property for different applications. Prototypes have ranged from antibacterial blister packaging to self-fertilizing plant pots. Since the beginning, product recyclability has stayed at the forefront of Shellworks’ design objectives. Thus, the team steered clear of additives during experimentation and discovered that they could manipulate the bioplastic’s properties by adjusting the ratios of the base ingredients. The highly versatile and recyclable material can be easily turned from a solid back to the original bioplastic solution or used as a natural, non-polluting fertilizer at the end of its lifecycle. Related: Reebok develops plant-based sneakers made of cotton and corn The Shellworks team said, “By designing scalable manufacturing processes, applications tailored to the material and eco-positive waste streams, we believe we can demonstrate how chitosan bioplastic could become a viable alternative for many of the plastic products we use today.” + Shellworks Images via Shellworks

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Shellworks upcycles leftover lobster shells into biodegradable bioplastics

Santa Barbara home is surrounded by wooden screens for natural climate control

March 15, 2019 by  
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Indoor-outdoor living never looked so good! This modern design by Shubin Donaldson takes full advantage of the beachy climate of Santa Barbara, California. Wooden screens and a central skylight flood the entire beach house with natural sunlight while keeping the space protected from the ocean winds. “Environmentally, the home is cooled passively by ocean breezes, lit evenly during the day by daylight, and ipe wood screens minimize sun load on the extensive view windows,” the designers said. The unique structure also uses stacked volumes of steel, concrete and glass to create the look and utilize the space. Related: Circular, solar-powered beach house is a sustainable holiday retreat Because the client was an industrial designer, it allowed for a special collaboration with the architects of Shubin Donaldson. “He came to SD knowing that our design values were in-sync, and this stunning home is the result of a very productive and satisfying client/architect relationship.” The suburban building site was generally narrow and oddly shaped, so the designers had quite a challenge on their hands. “These constraints resulted in a unique formal solution deploying a concrete and steel structural frame to maximize the formal responsiveness of the structure,” according to Shubin Donaldson. To address the limited space, the beach house stacks different living spaces on top of each other, creating three separate floors. The garage, den and laundry room sit on the ground floor, while the second floor houses the bedroom and terrace . The main sitting area was built into the third floor. This stacking design not only takes full advantage of the residential hilly area but the lovely ocean-side location as well. Thanks to the elevated flooring, the owners enjoy vast wrap-around views. Outside of the main structure extends a wooden planked deck, perfect for enjoying the California weather. The beautiful patio has additional privacy thanks to a well-manicured landscape of native plants such as cacti and palms. A majority of the concrete walls were left uncovered and exposed, adding another modern aspect to the design. A gorgeous response to a challenging site while also utilizing eco-friendly options, the Skyline Residence is truly a one-of-a-kind design. + Shubin Donaldson Via Dezeen Photography by Jeremy Bittermann via Shubin Donaldson

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Santa Barbara home is surrounded by wooden screens for natural climate control

A series of geometric, sustainable treehouses is imagined for the Italian Dolomites

March 5, 2019 by  
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Milan-based design firm Peter Pichler Architecture has unveiled a conceptual design for a series of gorgeous geometrical treehouses for the lush green forests of the Italian Dolomites. The two-story structures are arranged in a modern, vertical design and clad in sustainably-sourced wood. Each treehouse is punctuated with floor-to-ceiling glazed windows to provide breathtaking views of the surrounding forestscape. According to the architects, the stunning treehouses were designed as an addition to an existing hotel . The inspiration came from wanting to create a serene but modern lodging option that would help guests immerse themselves completely in the surrounding nature. Referring to the inspiration as a “slow down” form of tourism, they explained, “We believe that the future of tourism is based on the relationship of the human being with nature. Well integrated, sustainable architecture can amplify this relationship, nothing else is needed.” Related: Stunning wooden Oberholz Mountain Hut branches out of the mountainside like a fallen tree The project includes vertical, diamond-esque volumes with sharp, steep roofs inspired by the soaring trees in the area. The design also calls for using locally-sourced wood for the cladding, which would be painted jet-black to blend in to the nearby fir and larch trees. Large, floor-to-ceiling glass panels that stretch the length of the structure would allow the guests to feel a constant connection to the amazing views. The unique guest homes would vary in size, ranging from 375 square feet to almost 500 square feet in the larger units. Spanning over two levels connected by an internal staircase, the treehouses would hold the living area with a small reading nook that looks out over the forestscape on the bottom level. The sleeping areas and a small bathroom would be on the upper floor, which would also provide breathtaking views. + Peter Pichler Architects Via Archdaily Images via Peter Pichler Architects

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A series of geometric, sustainable treehouses is imagined for the Italian Dolomites

A solar-powered seaside home embraces contrast and scenic views

February 20, 2019 by  
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Melbourne-based firm  Megowan Architectural has unveiled a beautiful home located in Mount Eliza in Victoria, Australia that uses strategic angles and contrast to make the most of the idyllic seaside setting. The three-story Two Angle House is not only aesthetically stunning — behind its sophisticated concrete and wood facade is a complex system that makes the home incredibly energy-efficient . Located in the seaside town of Mount Eliza on the Mornington Peninsula, the 5,920-square-foot home’s sophisticated design scheme is based on contrasting building materials. According to the architects, “The interior and exterior are a play on the contrast between two angles of internal organization, the contrast between warm and cold materials and a considered contrast between architecture and landscape.” Related: Solar-powered modular retreat design in Melbourne inspired by the local landscape The exterior and interior are made with a number of contrasting materials, namely concrete and wood. Using extensive concrete in the floors and walls was strategic to creating a tight thermal mass while in-slab hydronic heating further helps regulate the interior temperatures year-round. Using a system of cubed volumes, which contain two angles within the layout, the Two Angle House was strategically designed to provide stunning views of the ocean. Additionally, the design saw the home’s large concrete blade wall “stretched” from east to west to take advantage of optimal passive solar gain throughout. This allows the structure to not only benefit from a natural heating and lighting system, but it also reduces energy usage substantially. The roof was also equipped with solar panels to provide much of the building’s energy . Much like the outdoor space and wraparound deck, the interior is focused on the amazing sea views, which can be found from virtually any angle inside the home. In fact, just opening the front door leads the eye to the sea at the other side of the house. Large floor-to-ceiling windows and sliding glass doors naturally brighten the interior and open up the living space to the outdoors, creating a seamless connection to the natural surroundings. + Megowan Architectural Via Dwell Images via Megowan Architectural

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A solar-powered seaside home embraces contrast and scenic views

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