Clothing made from recycled water bottles highlights the ongoing crisis in Flint

April 20, 2018 by  
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A new fashion exhibit in Queens underscores the ongoing water-contamination crisis in Flint, Michigan . “Flint Fit” comprises a series of garments inspired by the “power and necessity of water, manufacturing history of Flint, and resiliency” of the people of Flint, who have had to cope with the effects of lead poisoning since 2014. Visual artist Mel Chin  — with an assist from Michigan-born, New York City–based fashion designer Tracy Reese —  conceived of the clothing to highlight the water crisis. Flint has had to resort to bottled water for everything from drinking to bathing, which has also created a tragically bountiful waste stream. Chin enlisted Unifi , which makes recycled textiles, to clean, shred and transform more than 90,000 used water bottles into a performance fabric known as Repreve . To manifest Reese’s designs, Chin turned to the commercial sewing program at St Luke N.E.W. Life Center  in Flint, where at-risk women stitched the pieces. The items include a trench coat, a wide-leg jumpsuit and swimwear. Chin said, “By opening the door for new ideas, Flint Fit aims to stimulate creative production, economic opportunity and empowerment on a local scale.” Jay Hertwig, Unifi’s group vice president for global brand sales, said the brand was “proud to be a part of this exciting moment in art-fashion history.” He continued, “At Unifi, we’re able to transform plastic bottles into Repreve for products that people enjoy every day. And we’re thrilled that Repreve is playing a key role in such a positive movement that came from something so catastrophic.” Part of Chin’s All Over the Place exhibit at Queens Museum , “Flint Fit” will be on display through August 12, 2018. + Flint Fit + Queens Museum

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Clothing made from recycled water bottles highlights the ongoing crisis in Flint

This revolutionary sustainable community in Atlanta is still thriving 15 years after its founding

April 6, 2018 by  
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Almost 15 years since the sustainable community of Serenbe built its first home, the modern-day green utopia is still thriving. Located just southwest of Atlanta,  Serenbe is an experimental green community designed by architect Dr. Phill Tabb, who lives on site in a net-zero home . The progressive neighborhood, hidden amid 1,000 acres of natural forest landscape, was created with four main pillars in mind: arts, agriculture, health, and education. In 2001, architect Dr. Phill Tabb designed the masterplan for Serenbe Community – a sustainable neighborhood set in a natural landscape, but with connections to the typical urban amenities. One of the core pillars of the community’s plan was land preservation. Accordingly, the homes were built into strategic locations throughout the hilly landscape that would minimize the impact on the surrounding environment and give residents easy access to nature. Related: EarthCraft-certified Organic Life House teaches Atlanta agrihood residents about healthy living Nearly all of the homes at Serenbe abut a natural area, and manicured lawns are not allowed. All landscaping is natural and edible. The homes themselves are heated and cooled with ground-sourced heat pumps. Most use grey water systems , and a community-based vegetated wetland treats all the wastewater. The neighborhood is an active, vibrant area, arranged according to what Tabb calls the “hamlet constellation theory.” Tabb explained, “I love the hamlet constellation theory, which is something that I developed with the creation of Serenbe…. I found that we could proliferate [sustainable designs] into a constellation. Serenbe is a constellation of individual hamlets that come together to form the larger concept of Serenbe. It is a way of reaching out. Now my pilgrimage has led me to suggesting that constellations like Serenbe be married to the emergence of new high tech companies like Google, Apple, Facebook, Netflix, Amazon, etc.” Today, over 600 residents live in the hamlets, which are connected to the surrounding restaurants and shopping areas via walking trails. Each hamlet reflects a different pillar of the community. For example, Selborne Hamlet is geared towards the visual, performing and culinary arts. Grange Hamlet sits adjacent to Serenbe Farms, a 15-acre organic farm . The third neighborhood, Mado Hamlet, integrates health and wellness functions with community, including a destination spa, recuperative hotel, fitness center and additional centers. The hamlets were developed one at a time, each one more sustainable than the last. The Grange Hamlet saw the construction of the community’s first off-grid homes , which have become more and more prevalent as the development continues to grow. Residents of Serenbe enjoy a wide range of amenities, including restaurants, retail shops, and co-working spaces, all of which work around the community’s eco-friendly core values. In fact, the development is home to  the Blue Eyed Daisy , the country’s smallest Silver LEED-certified building. For the past year, Dr. Tabb has lived within the community he designed. His net-zero Watercolor Cottage, built in accordance with EarthCraft building standards, is surrounded by a wooded lot on three sides. A large glazed wall opens up to an outdoor fruit and vegetable garden integrated into the home’s layout. The two-story structure has a passive solar heating system, as well as geothermal heating and cooling systems. A rooftop PV solar array provides the home’s electricity needs, and works in conjunction with a Tesla Powerwall system. + Serenbe Community Images via Dr. Phill Tabb and Serenbe

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This revolutionary sustainable community in Atlanta is still thriving 15 years after its founding

The ‘Dutch Mountains’ will be the world’s largest wooden building

March 16, 2018 by  
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The Netherlands is famously flat—but a massive green mountain is rising up in the Dutch city of Veldhoven. The Dutch Mountains project will be the world’s largest wooden building, combining natural materials with high-tech design to create a state-of-the-art, self-sustaining development. The ambitious project will include several offices and work spaces, as well as various conference centers. It will also feature a hotel located on site and short-stay facilities for out-of-town visitors. The main building will be constructed of solid wood and, once completed, will be the largest wooden building in the world. Related: Eindhoven unveils plans for a solar-powered city block with living roofs and urban farms The Dutch Mountains master plan envisions an entirely self-sufficient complex, with closed cycles for energy, water, waste and materials. The architects chose timber as the principal building material in order to create system that reduces CO2 emissions. Additionally, they plan to integrate the building’s facade with a smart technology that reduces energy usage. The project envisions a future where the building can be updated with greener materials that help improve the building’s sustainability. For example, the building’s temperature-regulating facade will be one of the most innovative on the market, but if a smarter facade is created in the future that produces more energy, it can easily replace the old version, which will be recycled or repurposed. Built with optimal flexibility in mind, the structure’s individual spaces will be adaptable to future uses. For example, if more office space is needed, the conference spaces can be converted, or vice versa. The complex will not only use sustainable building materials, but also provide an abundance of green space to create a vibrant, healthy atmosphere. From green roofs and a large park to an artificial marshland, the complex will be virtually covered in vegetation. + Dutch Mountains project + Studio Marco Vermeulen Images via Studio Marco Vermeulen

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The ‘Dutch Mountains’ will be the world’s largest wooden building

10 ways 3D printing is disrupting the architecture industry

March 8, 2018 by  
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3D printing , or additive manufacturing as it’s sometimes called, is poised to change the world as we know it. Many have hailed the technology as the coming of the third industrial revolution. That’s because it effectively puts the support and creation of a wide variety of products and goods in the hands of anyone that owns a 3D printer. But the technology is going to make the greatest impact in the fields of manufacturing, development and architecture. Designers and architects can now 3D print items out of materials like masonry, concrete and even wood. China-based WinSun Decoration Design Engineering actually constructed an entire 3D-printed building — a five-story apartment block — so the technology is there. Read on for a closer look at some of the ways 3D printing will transform the future of architecture. 3D-printed bridge by Heijmans 1. More realistic scale models and concepts 3D printing is commonly used to generate or develop models of properties and commercial real estate structures. It makes sense because you can design and build with the technology and create a working, realistic representation of any object or structure. It’s the advancement of this application that will especially change the game going forward. Just as a virtual representation of a building will be able to take you on a small tour — think digital walkthroughs — 3D-printed models will soon afford the same luxuries. Imagine looking at a scale model of a building, sliding open a hatch in the side and peering into the structure. More importantly, imagine a development and engineering crew that has access to a full-scale model of the structure they’re building. It offers more than just a resource and reference point — they can see the results of their work before anything is put in place. This could effectively be used to trial new possibilities and designs, or even test the durability of a structure before it’s made. 2. New Building Locations and Opportunities Much larger structures and objects are created using a variety of prefabs, bit by bit. A commercial or residential building, for example, would be printed room by room, for instance. Unlike traditional construction, this would allow teams to assemble and build in a variety of new locales, environments and even hard-to-reach locations. The building or structure could be designed and printed elsewhere and then hauled to its destination to be assembled. Imagine emergency housing after a huge natural disaster: Builders could construct whole models outside an affected area before moving the finished product to where it needs to be. 3. New Designs Due to the nature of the technology and how items are created using printers, developers and engineers will need to come up with new and innovative ways to create modern structures. More importantly, the designs and modeling of said structures will change considerably. In the case of the Chinese company that 3D printed an entire apartment building, the structure was printed and developed at the rate of a floor per day. Starting from the bottom and working their way up, the company printed the building piece by piece and then assembled it on-site. 3D-Printed Bloom Pavilion by Ronald Rael and UC Berkeley 4. Print More Than Walls When looking at manufactured housing, you’ll notice a lot of the furniture and fixtures are built right into the main support structure. The entire piece of a building or structure is moved and everything inside goes right along with it. The same can be said of 3D-printed structures. Imagine accessories and items like fixtures, internal walls, floorboards, ducts and more printed right into the building. This will do one of two things: The building itself will be highly efficient and integrated. as all the components are attached and built right into the main framing, and it will speed up development because everything is already embedded within the prefabs. 5. Crowdsourced Printing Similar to software-as-a-service, as printers become more accessible, a variety of companies and brands will crop up that allow anyone and everyone to print from a service-based system. It’s easy to see how this will transform retail and regular shopping channels. We could potentially print any item we can dream up and then pick it up from a printer or service center. Does the world really need more stuff? That’s a valid question. But it could be useful in construction and architecture, specifically when it comes to design. With 3D printing, one feeds a digital blueprint or file of the desired item into hardware. This file can be designed or created by just about anyone. There are entire databases dedicated to 3D printing files and blueprints such as Thingiverse . Now, consider something similar except on a much grander scale, and with residential and commercial property blueprints. What if you could go to a service printer and have your entire home created in little to no time, cutting out nearly all the middlemen? This isn’t going to happen overnight, but it’s certainly a process that will be made more possible with this technology’s rise. 6. Dynamic Players The crowdsourced scenario also reveals something a shift in the industry’s primary players. The digital construction economy will develop on its own, with hardly any insight from current professionals. That means workers in the construction, engineering and design industries will need to redefine their roles and find new uses for their skills. That’s not to say traditional construction and development will disappear overnight. However, we can expect construction to evolve, especially once organizations and teams realize how efficient and cost-effective 3D printing can be. New business opportunities will arise and need to be assessed, and what we know of the average contractor could change radically over time. 3D-printed Office of the Future in Dubai 7. Commercial Development It’s easy to dismiss 3D printing as a residential or smaller-scale operation, but that’s not the case. Dubai recently announced the completion of the world’s first 3D-printed office building . It is a full-scale, commercial office building with people actually working and operating within. This is not a concept, model or mere figment of someone’s imagination. The printer used to create the structure was 20-feet-high, 120-feet-long and 40-feet-wide. Using a unique cement mixture, the printed created an entire building that is now used daily. It took 17 days to build and assemble — a near record timing for a structure of its size. The takeaway is that 3D printing technologies will be viable across nearly every facet of the construction industry, including commercial and residential. 8. More Work By proxy, the faster rates at which a structure can be printed and assembled means more work over time. As more organizations and parties come to realize the benefits of printed structures, we’ll see the popularity grow, which will also mean an increase of opportunities for companies at the forefront of this movement. It’s likely we’ll see 3D printing construction become mainstream, with a seemingly endless list of opportunities for companies that adopt the technology. It is estimated the 3D printing or additive manufacturing market will fetch up to $26.5 billion by 2021 . That’s a huge leap from $8.8 million in 2017, so the market is growing steadily. 9. Design Values Will Change In traditional manufacturing and construction, a designer or engineer comes up with a building concept and sells it to the customer. This design is largely exclusive and is often bought outright by the client or company in question. With 3D printing designs and blueprints, things are a little different. There’s still the opportunity for designers and architects to create exclusive models for a company, but they can also create universal or publicly accessible designs that can be used by just about anyone. This opens up new opportunities for revenue in terms of selling designs, but it also may allow new avenues of experimentation. Imagine being able to create an unorthodox design that gets picked up, used and deployed in the real world by someone or an organization. Some may argue, however, that such a free market for design may not be advantageous. 10. Automated Construction With the convergence of 3D printing, modern AI and analytics, as well as advanced robotics, it’s increasingly likely that construction and development will be automated and computerized. Construction teams would enjoy greater efficiency and precision, not to mention higher safety ratings. Projects could be completed sooner and with less resources wasted or deployed. Mockup miniatures will be available through BIM or building information modeling, with the final product built entirely from the ground up using advanced machinery, with little to no human input. That too may make some readers squirm, as automation threatens human jobs. Still, it’s hard not to be impressed that one MIT robot can print an entire building in just under 14 hours . Now scale that up to include an army of these machines working in tandem to create larger, commercial-sized buildings, and the future truly looks amazing. Lead image via 3D-printed Curve Appeal house by WATG Urban

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10 ways 3D printing is disrupting the architecture industry

This idyllic 15-acre farmhouse is the worlds second Living Building residence

February 21, 2018 by  
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A picturesque 15-acre farmhouse in Ann Arbor, Michigan was just officially crowned the world’s second “Living Building” residence by the International Living Future Institute (ILFI). The owners of Burh Becc at Beacon Springs , Tom and Marti Burbeck, spent five years working with a team of 20 designers, engineers, architects and sustainability experts to transform their 2,200 square foot home into an icon of truly sustainable living that gives more than it takes. The beautiful farmhouse, whose design was inspired by traditional Tuscan farmhouses, has a large living space of 2,200 square feet. Additionally, the property has a 2,400 square foot barn and workshop. The farmland had been previously depleted due to years of commodity farming. Following the Living Building criteria, the land was carefully revamped with permaculture farming methods using an integrated system of agriculture, horticulture and ecology, creating a system that will be regenerative for centuries to come. The Burbeck’s not only use these farming methods to grow their own food, but they also provide healthy food for the local community – and for those with limited access to fresh produce. Related: 9 of the most impressive Living Building Challenge certified projects To create a net-zero energy design , the home is equipped with clean energy generation through a 16.9-kilowatt solar array, which provides electricity to the home and back into the grid. Additionally, a passive solar system works with a very tight thermal envelope and a tall cooling tower to minimize heating and cooling needs. A closed-loop geothermal system provides radiant floor heating during the cold Michigan winters. For water conservation, the home uses a rainwater and snow harvesting system to be water net-positive . A rainwater collection system reroutes to supply 7,500 gallons of in-ground cisterns, used for non-potable water. An on-site well provides potable water at the moment to comply with local building codes, but the home is installed with a future-ready potable rainwater filtration system. After more than three and a half years designing the reformation, 18 months in construction and a year of performance auditing, Burh Becc at Beacon Springs Farm was awarded the Living Building Challenge certification in December 2017. Additionally, the home has been awarded a Platinum LEED Certification. When the Burbecks were asked why they took on such an ambitious project, they explained that it just made sense to their lifestyle. According to Marti Burbeck, “As we looked at the criteria for LBC certification we thought, why not go for it. If our goals include helping to change peoples’ relationship with the environment and to change building philosophies, we should start with our own project, and then become advocates.” Now that they’ve achieved their dream of converting Burh Becc into an icon of sustainability, they’re on their way to becoming advocates. The couple plan to host educational workshops and house tours to educate the community, the building industry, government officials, and anyone who will listen about the benefits of truly sustainable living. + Burh Becc at Beacon Springs + Architectural Resource Via CSR Wire Images via Burh Becc at Beacon Springs

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This idyllic 15-acre farmhouse is the worlds second Living Building residence

World’s first floating wind farm performing better than anticipated

February 21, 2018 by  
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The 30 megawatt Hywind Scotland floating wind farm started operating last fall , and Statoil recently said the farm, a world first, “performed better than expected in its first three full months in production.” The floating farm, a Statoil and Masdar project, has already survived a winter storm, a hurricane , and wave heights of around 27 feet to power around 20,000 households in the United Kingdom . 45 to 60 percent is the “the typical capacity factor for a bottom fixed offshore wind farm” during the winter, according to Statoil. But Hywind Scotland beat that figure with an average of around 65 percent in November, December, and January, the Norwegian power company said. This means the floating wind farm “was producing 65 percent of max theoretical capacity.” Related: The world’s first floating wind farm just switched online That’s a win for the floating power plant , which has already encountered brutal winter weather. Hurricane Ophelia in October saw wind speeds of 80 miles per hour, and Storm Caroline in December saw gusts of 100 miles per hour and waves of around 27 feet. The wind turbines were switched off for safety during the worst winds, Statoil said, but automatically started operating quickly after. According to the company, “A pitch motion controller is integrated with the Hywind turbine’s control system and will adjust the angle of the turbine blades during heavy winds which mitigates excessive motions of the structure.” Statoil senior vice president of offshore wind operations Beate Myking said in the statement, “We have tested the Hywind technology in harsh weather conditions for many years and we know it works. But putting the world’s first floating wind farm into production comes with some excitement. Therefore, it is very encouraging to see how well the turbines have performed so far. Hywind Scotland’s high availability has ensured that the volume of electricity generated is substantially higher than expected.” Statoil New Energy Solutions executive vice president Irene Rummelhoff said they are seeking new opportunities for the technology, and see potential in Europe, Asia, and North America’s west coast. Statoil and Masdar aim to cut the costs of energy from Hywind Scotland down to 40 to 60 Euros per megawatt-hour by 2030 to make it “cost competitive with other renewable energy sources.” + Statoil Images via Øyvind Gravås/Woldcam/Statoil ( 1 , 2 )

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World’s first floating wind farm performing better than anticipated

Green-roofed holiday home is fashioned from three shipping containers

February 21, 2018 by  
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Led by a desire to reduce landscape impact, Melbourne-based Studio Edwards turned to cargotecture for a sustainably minded getaway on the Surf Coast in Victoria, Australia. Raised atop stilts on a steep slope, House 28 was fashioned from a trio of 20-foot shipping containers sourced from nearby Port Melbourne. In addition to minimized site disturbance, the green-roofed holiday home uses a rainwater catchment and filtration system to gather water and features double-glazed windows and doors to increase energy efficiency. Set overlooking the Wye River and Australia’s Otway Coast, House 28 is securely anchored to the hillside by steel stilts and deep concrete pile foundations. The architects joined two of the containers to form one long module housing the entrance, a spacious living area, and open kitchen with dining, while the other container comprises two bedrooms and a bathroom. The containers were angled towards one another and connected with a blackbutt timber deck. Related: Shipping container delivers heightened drama to a modern island home For a rugged finish, the containers were externally insulated and clad with galvanized steel sheeting. In contrast, the minimalist interiors are lined with marine-grade plywood for a warm feel. Full-height doubled-glazed windows and doors overlook the ocean to the south and keep the narrow buildings from feeling constrained. A garden of native dichondra covers the roof providing extra thermal insulation and rainwater filtration. + Studio Edwards Via Dezeen Images by Tony Gorsevski

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Green-roofed holiday home is fashioned from three shipping containers

Ephemeral timber pavilion doubles as sculpture and film venue in Portugal

February 21, 2018 by  
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This elegant ephemeral pavilion does double duty as a film venue and sculpture that complements the garden grounds of Portugal’s Serralves Museum. Porto-based Diogo Aguiar Studio designed the architectural object, which is made up of curved timber partitions that come together to form two concentric spaces: the main film viewing area and the interstitial space. Diogo Aguiar Studio was selected to design the pavilion, which formed one of Serralves Museum’s five temporary structures for the architectural exhibition Live Uncertainty, 32nd Bienal de São Paulo that concluded this Sunday, February 18. Like depA’s pavilion design for Serralves, Diogo Aguiar Studio’s contribution is a minimalist affair and its all-timber cladding complements rather than detracts from the wooded surroundings. The pavilion nucleus is a dark space where the film “Os humores artificiais” (2016) by Gabriel Abrantes is shown. The addition of a secondary curved skin helps control the amount of daylight that reaches the interior and adds a sense of mystery: the three openings on the outer facade do not match up with those in the antechamber and force visitors to walk along a mulch pathway. The journey through the pavilion to watch the film thus becomes an experience in itself. Related: Mirrored pavilion all but disappears into nature As the architects put it: “Contributing to the control of natural light in the interior space, the juxtaposition of two façade-plans, curved and parallel, which alternately open double-curved arc spans, guides the visitor to walk through the immersive space of mediation – as an antechamber-path – without revealing the central nucleus – as a space-enclosed – the projection place.” + Diogo Aguiar Studio Via ArchDaily Images © 2017 Francisco Nogueira Architectural Photography

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Ephemeral timber pavilion doubles as sculpture and film venue in Portugal

World’s first freeform 3D-printed house to break ground this year

February 2, 2018 by  
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The world’s first freeform 3D-printed home just got one step closer to fruition. Designed by WATG Urban , the Curve Appeal home won the Freeform Home Design Challenge in 2016 – and it’s slated to break ground this year after a research and development phase. The futuristic home will be the first of its kind, and it features a complex blend of curved angles and glazed windows. The home’s construction is slated for a heavily wooded lot just steps away from the Tennessee River in Chattanooga. Although the design envisioned a strong futuristic aesthetic, the elongated arching structure with glazed walls is actually designed to provide a strong connection to nature through its open-plan living spaces and optimal natural light . Inspired by the Case Study Houses, a program developed between 1945-1966, the 3D-printed home is designed to use minimal materials. Related: WATG unveils plans for the world’s first freeform 3D-printed house Since winning the competition, the architects have been working along with 3D specialists, Branch Technology to create the sophisticated structure. The company is known for its innovative 3D technology that can create complex forms rarely seen in other 3D projects. According to the company “The arching form provides structural rigidity to the residence, using various spring points throughout the floor plan, allowing the structure to carry roof loads and provide large open-plan living spaces, shaping structures in new ways without any restrictions.” According to the Chicago-based architects, Curve Appeal is the next evolutionary step in the world of modern residential design and could lead sustainable architecture into the next generation. The architects and Branch Technology are researching various materials to create a sustainable construction process, including using gypsum materials in the printed structure as fire protection, structural reinforcement and wall finishing. They have also met with a structural design firm to create a passive mechanical system for the home with the objective of making the design a net zero energy structure. + WATG Urban Via Archdaily Images via WATG Urban

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World’s first freeform 3D-printed house to break ground this year

The Springingstream Guesthouse mimics the mountains of China with an undulating roof

January 25, 2018 by  
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Beijing-based studio WEI Architects renovated an abandoned building in China’s remote Fujian province into a beautiful guest home using traditional materials and construction techniques. The architects breathed new life into the Springingstream Guesthouse by installing reclaimed materials and creating a series of undulating roofs that mimic the outline of the mountainous landscape. The guest home is located in a remote valley that has been abandoned over the years. Although the majority of the homes in the area are derelict, there is a new movement to preserve the history of the area . WEI Architects were commissioned to develop a project that could serve as a prototype for restoring the existing properties in an attempt to revitalize the village. The project was even part of a national TV program, which drew a lot of attention to the efforts. Related: Wavy green-roofed Casa Jura disappears into France’s rolling hills The existing structure was an old home that had been abandoned for years. The architects worked carefully to bring it back to life while retaining as much as the existing structure as possible. The home’s old timber panels and various materials were used in the new structure, while stone bases and other materials were locally-sourced. Local labor was also used to restore the old building using traditional methods. “Local villagers with building techniques were hired to ensure the traditional construction methods, like the mortise-and-tenon structure and special transformational window-door framing,” said the architects. The architects were also inspired by the local scenery, which they used as a guide to create a serene atmosphere. The home is located on the banks of a stream that cuts through the mountainous landscape, and its undulating roof mimics its stunningly beautiful backdrop. Additionally, the undulating roof juts out over the structure, creating covered verandahs for the main home, as well as for a guest home that was erected on the site of the former sheep pens. Landscaping made of local plants and stones creates a rustic walking path that connects the two structures. The completed building will serve as a bed and breakfast that generates income for the community. Accordingly, the interior design blends tradition with modern comforts for visiting guests. The interior layout follows the local tradition of arranging the rooms around a central hearth. Exposed brick and traditional furniture also pay homage to the home’s history. Although seeped in tradition, the renovated guest home does have a few modern touches. A copper path set within the poured concrete flooring runs from the entrance to a lounge space and then a covered outdoor terrace that serves as the tea room. The second floor of the structure houses two bedrooms that feature large windows with movable wooden panels that provide natural ventilation and stunning views of the scenery. + WEI Architects Via Dezeen Images via WEI Architects

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The Springingstream Guesthouse mimics the mountains of China with an undulating roof

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