Net-zero home brings sustainable design to a walkable Iowa City neighborhood

August 31, 2018 by  
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A 1960s home has been reborn into an eco-friendly abode with an impressive net-zero energy footprint. Designed by local architecture firm Neumann Monson , the Koser II is a single-family home that combines forward-thinking sustainable strategies within a contemporary envelope in a leafy and walkable Iowa City neighborhood. Powered by solar and geothermal energy, the home doesn’t sacrifice comfort or luxury in its pursuit of energy efficiency — it even includes a beautiful backyard pool. Covering an area of 2,850 square feet (including a 420-square-foot finished basement), the Koser II house is mainly spread out over a single level. To provide privacy, the street-facing facade is primarily clad in dark cedar planks and punctuated with few windows. A long slatted timber screen near the entrance also shields the home from views and frames an outdoor dining area. In contrast to its introverted exterior, the home’s interior is bright and airy with full-height glazing that lets in plenty of natural light and views. “The design bears the mark of the 1960s home that came before it,” the architecture firm explained. “Removing the existing house’s superstructure and incorporating its slab-on-grade foundation into the new construction makes the most of the predecessor’s limited potential. Additional foundations and a concrete collar support exterior walls of nine- and 10-foot pre-cut studs. Their height differential provides adequate slope to the 14-inch truss-joists spanning the 20-foot width. Operable windows extend to the ceiling plane, maximizing daylight penetration and encouraging cross-ventilation .” Related: After a makeover, this local “shack” becomes the envy of the neighborhood The renovated home also features foamed-in-place insulation and a continuous rigid insulation shell with R-24 walls and an R-40 roof. The light-filled interior is supplemented by LEDs at night and equipped with EnergyStar appliances. Radiant floor heating is complemented with a geothermal climate control system connected to an underground horizontally bored loop. A rain garden in the backyard mitigates stormwater runoff, while a 10.08kW solar array brings the home to zero-energy building performance. + Neumann Monson Images by Cameron Campbell Integrated Studio

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Net-zero home brings sustainable design to a walkable Iowa City neighborhood

A striking timber home with a green roof disappears into a Mexican forest

August 15, 2018 by  
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Barcelona- and Mexico City-based firm  Cadaval Sola-Morales has just unveiled Casa de la Roca, a beautiful, dark timber home topped with a green roof  and located in a remote forest in Mexico. The single-story structure features a jet-black facade crafted from felled trees and finished with a living roof to help camouflage the home into the peaceful, secluded forestscape. When designing Casa de la Roca, the architects were focused on one objective: to create a home that would easily blend into the landscape for years to come. Acting accordingly, the architects chose materials based on durability. The structure, which sits on a low-maintenance concrete foundation, is clad in reclaimed timber from local felled or dead trees. Related: Living trees grow through the ceiling of Cadaval & Sola-Morales’ Tepoztlan Lounge in Mexico The exterior walls were then coated in black paint to add longevity to the structure. “We used paint (and not dye), to add another layer of material protection; dye tends to lose its qualities over the years,” the architects explained. “It is black, responding to the desire to blend in with the landscape, seeking a certain anonymity in front of the vegetation and exuberant views.” The dark exterior essentially allows the home to hide deep within the forest , but that wasn’t enough for the architects. Once the dwelling was constructed, the team finished the entire roof with vegetation, creating an even stronger connection between the man-made and natural. According to the architects, the home’s layout of three long hallways that converge into the main living space was also inspired by the landscape. The team wanted the house to have three private lookouts at each end to provide distinct views of the forest. The three “arms” of the home come together at a central point, which is also where people can come together and socialize . The interior space is both elegant and welcoming. A minimal amount of furniture is spread out over the open-plan living room, so the main focus is always on the incredible nature that surrounds the home. Extra large floor-to-ceiling windows and doors allow optimal natural light into the home, while also creating a seamless connection to the forest. + Cadaval Sola-Morales Via Wallpaper Photography by Sandra Pereznieto

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A striking timber home with a green roof disappears into a Mexican forest

Treetop House combines the best of two worlds

August 6, 2018 by  
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There’s nothing as special as being with family – that is, until you need to be alone. The family of five who contracted with Ben Callery Architects  to design the Treetop House wanted this concept to play a key part in the house’s design, and they were delighted when Callery so easily grasped it. He also understood that the design had to commune with nature, include as many views as possible of the lush parkland  around the site, and incorporate as many aspects of sustainability as possible. Callery knew the kitchen was the favorite family gathering place. Dedicated to nurturing casual yet intimate communications between parents and children, Callery’s design concentrated on the kitchen views of the parkland tree canopies, a never-ending source of wonder for young and old year-round. The tall kitchen ceilings and oversized windows flood the room with natural light and provide an unobstructed view of the rooftop deck, a favorite venue for family activities and entertaining. A turf roof , though inaccessible to pedestrian traffic, brings the magnificent foliage of the park even closer. The high, banistered deck protrudes out, bringing the treetops even closer, accelerating the excitement of nature at one’s fingertips. To create private spaces for everyone to retreat for alone time, Callery designed the other rooms with lower ceilings to create a cozy atmosphere of privacy and security. While no family member in the house is ever far away, the sanctuaries everyone needs now and then to read, study or just reflect on life are readily available. Related: The Treebox is an amazing modern home set high up in the treetops Easy-opening windows with electric external blinds help control the rays of the sun from dawn to dusk and provide shelter from the variable winds. The house also runs on solar power, has energy-saving underground water tanks, and was constructed with green materials that provide optimum thermal efficiency . + Ben Callery Architects Images via Nic Granleese and Jack Love

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Treetop House combines the best of two worlds

Lake house in Chile built with reclaimed wood melts into the forest

August 6, 2018 by  
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Just north of Chilean Patagonia, a beautiful, low-impact lake house blends into its incredible forest landscape, virtually invisible to the naked eye. Designed by architect Juan Pablo Labbé , Casa LM’s use of reclaimed wood and glass creates a strong relationship between the family home and its idyllic surroundings. Located on the shore of Lake Llanquihue, just a few kilometers to the east of Puerto Varas, the CL Home is located on the edge of a dense forest. The building lot has a slight slope that ends at the lake’s shoreline, creating the ideal space for a family lake home . Related: Beautiful cabin pops up in ten days with minimal landscape disturbance The concept for the design was born out of two main pillars. First, the home had to fit into an existing clearing to minimize impact on the environment. Secondly, the design had to incorporate distinct features in accordance with the seasons so that the home could be used year-round. The resulting space, which is over 2,000 square feet, is made out of local materials , with reclaimed wood as the main element. The design of the home incorporates just one single volume topped with a slightly slanted roof, whose shape virtually camouflages the home into the terrain. The area is known for its heavy rains, so the slanted roof helps direct rainwater to the back of the home. Designed to accommodate six people during the summer months, the home allows the owners and their family to take full advantage of the large open-air terrace that overlooks the lake. As part of the design process, the team decided to leave space for the existing trees to grow up through the deck, further connecting the home to its surroundings. In the winter months, the home is used by just two people, who spend most of the time inside, enjoying the home’s warm, cabin-like atmosphere. The interior space remains closely connected to the outdoors thanks to the interior finishings, made with wood  reclaimed from an old house. At the heart of the living space is a beautiful fireplace that helps keep the space warm and cozy during the winter months. The floor-to-ceiling glass panels, which look out over the lake, create harmony with the exterior as well. The large windows flood the home with natural light and offer spectacular views year-round. + Juan Pablo Labbé Via Archdaily Photography by Francisco Gallardo

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Lake house in Chile built with reclaimed wood melts into the forest

Architects build their own rammed-earth office around existing trees

August 3, 2018 by  
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Paraguay-based design firm  Equipo de Arquitectura has created a number of innovative structures, but when it came to constructing their own office space, its designers decided to go back to basics. The team has just unveiled the Caja de Tierra – a beautiful,  rammed-earth construction that was built around existing trees. When the architects set out to build a new office space for themselves, they decided to focus the design on nature, with the goal of fostering a sense of connection to the earth. As the structure’s concept began to take form, the architects decided they would employ just three basic materials: earth, wood and glass. Related: Striking rammed earth home blends into the hills of Santa Fe The architects built the cube-like structure on-site themselves. First, they had to sieve the earth to eliminate rocks, roots and large particles. Once the soil was “clean”, they mixed it with cement and placed it in mold-like modules. The mixture was then pummeled with a pressure tool to get rid of air and pack it tightly into place. When the elongated, 30-cm-thick earthen blocks  reached a sufficient consistency, the team placed them on top of each other, forming four beautiful rammed-earth walls. The result? A gorgeous facade with red and orange tones that blends seamlessly into the natural surroundings. Contrasting with the all-earthen walls is a large glass skylight, cut into one of the corners in order to flood the interior with natural light – a feature that also reduces the structure’s energy usage. In keeping with the environmentally-conscious design, all of the furniture and doors were made out of reclaimed wood. With a lot surrounded by greenery, the team did what it could to protect the existing plants growing on-site. Specifically, the architects designed the layout to leave space for two existing trees . A flame tree is framed in an all-glass box that juts into the interior while a majestic guavirá tree holds court right in the middle of the office space. + Equipo de Arquitectura Via Archdaily Photography by Leonardo Mendez and Federico Cairoli via Equipo de Arquitectura

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Architects build their own rammed-earth office around existing trees

Truly get away from it all at this gorgeous eco-resort and yoga retreat

August 1, 2018 by  
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A lot of people consider “getting away from it all” going to Las Vegas, New York City , Tokyo or Dubai, but that’s really just getting away from where you are to immerse yourself in chaos, where the “all” is larger than ever. For the ultimate getaway, including no phones, TV, Wi-Fi, Starbucks, or air conditioning, head to Xinalani , a stunning yoga retreat near Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico that will help you truly relax and unwind. Nestled between a flourishing jungle and the incredibly translucent Banderas Bay on the mighty Pacific Ocean, and just 12 miles down the beach from Puerto Vallarta, Xinalani is an isolated eco-resort. Here, you can enjoy having nothing to do except listen to the sound of crashing waves, relax on endless beaches with sand as fine as sugar and bask in so much sunshine you’ll think you can walk on it. Related: Thai eco-resort delights guests with woven pods and other sublime dwellings Although Xinalani is a serene hideaway aimed toward yoga aficionados, you don’t even have to own a pair of yoga pants to enjoy it to its fullest. It’s a foray into nature that offers sleeping and living quarters inside three-sided, palm-thatched cabins with nothing but a curtain separating you from the great outdoors. If you do love yoga, experience classes held in ideal settings in the Greenhouse, the Jungle Studio treehouse, the Sand Terrace or the Meditation Cabin. Typical rooms have amenities including al fresco showers, handcrafted writing desks and personal balconies with breathtaking vistas of Banderas Bay and the jungle. You can upgrade to a freestanding suite for privacy and luxuries like cozy pillow-top hammocks and beds as well as extravagant silk mosquito netting. Of course, no paradise would be complete without spa massages, pools and outstanding bars and restaurants — including a scrumptious breakfast buffet — scattered up and down the beach. Whether you visit Xinalani for the yoga or just for an unforgettable tropical excursion, you’ll leave feeling relaxed, refreshed and renewed. + Xinalani Via Dwell Images via Xinalani

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Truly get away from it all at this gorgeous eco-resort and yoga retreat

Set sail on these sustainable homes made from old cargo ships

July 27, 2018 by  
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Dutch firm  Studio Komma is working on a ground-breaking circular housing concept that would transform cargo ships into luxury homes. The Marine-doc Estate is an ambitious project that will develop various sustainable communities featuring multiple retired merchant ships converted into luxury eco-homes with expansive green roofs and plenty of outdoor space. The initial phase of the Marine-doc Estate project is kicking off with two communities planned for the Netherlands, with the potential of building more communities internationally. Depending on the building location, each estate would have up to 14 maritime homes spread out over natural landscape with open water connections. Related: Last surviving Ellis Island ferry transformed into a floating home The first step involves lifting the former cargo ships out of their boat yards by crane to be placed into their new locations on land. The estates themselves will be selected according to their landscapes. The eco-communities will be arranged on lush natural terrains in the vicinity of open water in order to strike a balance between providing privacy to the residents and fostering a strong sense of community. Once in place, the original metal structures will then be built out into proper living spaces with sustainability at the forefront of the design. Since the ships vary in shape and size, each home will have a unique aesthetic, but the entire renovation process will focus on retaining the ships’ nautical origins. According to the architects, original features such as the stern, wheelhouse and foredeck will be enhanced with “sleek geometric shapes” on the exterior. Measuring up to 200 feet in length, the elongated volume of the interior will be broken up with flexible partitions that will enable future residents to personalize the layout. To embed the new homes into their landscapes, the firm included a large rooftop garden terrace  on each home that will provide stellar 360° views of the estate grounds. The homes will also have outdoor decks to further connect the new homes with their surroundings. + Studio Komma Via Archdaily Images via Studio Komma / Buro Poelman Reesink

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Set sail on these sustainable homes made from old cargo ships

This family tiny home is built from recycled materials and reclaimed wood

July 25, 2018 by  
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Tiny homes have been in the limelight for several years, but what makes Margo and Eric Puffenberger’s custom-built tiny house unique is the many recycled materials that were sourced from their family members. Throughout the Puffenberger tiny home, you’ll find wood from Margo’s grandparents and sister, shelves made from her great-great-grandmother’s buffet and windows and a door from her old, demolished elementary school. Building the nearly 190-square-foot house was prompted by a casual car conversation. The 4- and 6-year-old kids, Avery and Bennett, loved the idea, and the rest is history. First, the couple bought a used 16-foot trailer with a 10,000-pound towing capacity. Margo sketched out the floor plans, and construction for the tiny home began. The couple chose cedar siding  for the exterior based on its light-weight and low-maintenance qualities as well as how lovely it ages. A durable standing seam roof complements the cedar. Plenty of windows provide natural ventilation and light — some windows were retrieved from the now-defunct elementary school. The bathroom door was also salvaged from the school and glides like a barn door. The couple designed screened window systems that hook open from the inside encourage air flow while discouraging bugs from coming into the home. Related: A couple turns a Mercedes Sprinter into a solar-powered home on wheels The tiny home’s walls are covered in white oak and beechwood salvaged from the grandparents’ corn crib. This wood was also used to build sleeping and storage lofts as well as kitchen counters, the shower basin cabinet, trim and half of the floors — the remainder is tongue-and-groove maple flooring salvaged from Margo’s sister’s old farmhouse . The kitchen cupboards are crafted from her great-great-grandmother’s buffet. Eric designed and built a couch with a fold-out bed and window seat that converts into a dining table. The Puffenbergers hit their goal of completing the project in less than two years. Just this month, the family traveled from Ohio to Colorado with their home in tow, and it was a family adventure they’ll cherish for a lifetime. Via Tiny House Talk Images via Margo Puffenberger

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This family tiny home is built from recycled materials and reclaimed wood

This floating park in Rotterdam is made from recycled plastic waste

July 11, 2018 by  
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More than 1,000 square feet of plastic ultimately destined to pollute the ocean is getting a second lease on life in Rotterdam. On July 4, 2018, Recycled Island Foundation opened its prototype to the public: a floating park made entirely from recycled plastic waste and appropriately named the Recycled Park. According to a report commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment , more than 1,000 cubic meters of plastic waste is transported every year down the Meuse River and into the North Sea. The plastics come from landfills, agriculture, sewage and inland shipping. They ultimate reach the river through a number of methods, including dumping, littering and run-off. Instead of letting the plastic reach the ocean, the Recycled Island Foundation and 25 partners created the Recycled Park: a public space in Rotterdam consisting of floating platforms made from recycled plastic waste. The team set traps along the Meuse River that collect waste, which is then gathered and transformed into platforms for the floating park. Related: A massive five-ton plastic waste whale breaches in a Bruges canal The Recycled Park project is focused on the Meuse River because of the overall viability of plastic in the aquatic space. The collected waste  is newer than in other waterways, so it can easily be made into platforms. To create the platforms, the collected plastic is sent to Wageningen University, which leads the research on effective recycling techniques . From there, the platforms are designed with HEBO Mariteimservice , who removes the garbage from the water. But the platforms aren’t just designed to reduce plastic pollution — they also serve as a wildlife habitat. Plants grow both above and below the river surface, allowing greenery to thrive on top of the platforms, providing a habitat capable of sustaining marine life and encouraging fish to lay eggs below the platforms. With the prototype park open, the organization is now looking for expansion options. Its ultimate goal is to incorporate several aquatic platform types into the park, while finding a permanent location to collect plastic from the Dutch harbor . + Recycled Park + Recycled Island Foundation Images via Recycled Island Foundation

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This floating park in Rotterdam is made from recycled plastic waste

Old shipping container repurposed as a 40-foot-tall parking booth

July 10, 2018 by  
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Columbus, Ohio is now home to what is probably the world’s most unique parking booth. The firm behind the design, JBAD architects , turned an old shipping container  on its end to create a 40-foot-tall red tower that provides a striking contrast with the surrounding buildings. The new city landmark will be used as a parking attendant booth but has additional flexible space that could be used for a variety of services. Glowing bright red in the evening time, the shipping container tower was designed to stand out against the existing Columbus skyline. According to the architects, “This tower presents the parking booth as a new tower on the city’s skyline, realized at a scale both tall and small, its proportions and monolithic nature mimicking the office towers that surround it.” Related: 3 stacked shipping containers create a diving tower in Denmark The architects refurbished the  reclaimed shipping container  off-site to complete its transformation into a glowing “MicroTower.” As part of the renovation, the architects painted the structure a bright crimson with various lights that turn the MicroTower into a beacon in the night. To outfit the first floor as a proper booth, they installed a polycarbonate lift-and-fold garage door that acts as a shading canopy when open. The structure’s bottom floor was specifically designed to provide enough space for the parking booth attendant to keep an eye on the parking lot. The south and west facades of the shipping container tower have windows that overlook the entire parking area. However, there is plenty of space for other uses. As it is currently, the entire booth only takes up two-thirds of the MicroTower’s total floor space. The rest of the ground floor was left vacant to be used for a variety of services, including food, coffee takeout or bike storage. + Jonathan Barnes Architecture and Design (JBAD) Via Dezeen Photography by Brad Feinknopf

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Old shipping container repurposed as a 40-foot-tall parking booth

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