Adobe brick combines with wood in a low-carbon villa in Chiang Mai

March 14, 2019 by  
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Architectural practice Chiangmai Life Architects has completed a striking villa that blends elements of traditional Thai architecture together with environmentally savvy construction practices and modern amenities fit for 21st-century living. Located in the mountains of northern Thailand , the project, dubbed the ‘Earth & Wood Villa,’ was built primarily of locally sourced natural materials from the self-made adobe bricks to the exposed timber elements throughout. In addition to mountain vistas, the property is sandwiched between Lamyai tree orchards and rice fields, views of which are maximized throughout the home. Spanning an area of nearly 7,500 square feet, the expansive residence serves as the family home for a couple and their three children. The main house is a U-shaped structure oriented toward the north with four bedrooms lined up in a row in the east-facing private wing. The open-plan living area, dining room, kitchen and pantry are clustered across a hallway in the south of the building; full-height glazed folding doors open the living room and dining area up to an outdoor swimming pool. An entertainment area is in the west wing. A small home office is tucked into a second-floor mezzanine gallery and overlooks views of the surrounding landscape. The guest cottage with a sunset veranda sits adjacent to the main house. To meet modern living comforts, the residence is equipped with air conditioning in the private wing; however, it relies solely on natural ventilation in the living areas. Large openings allow for cross breezes and hot air while the raised roof — inspired by local vernacular architecture — permits hot air to escape and induces air circulation. The thick adobe brick walls that were built of local clay, sand and bamboo shavings provide thermal insulation. The exterior is coated in a water-resistant mixture of lime and fine earth powder. Related: Breathtaking bamboo building withstands earthquakes and boasts a zero-carbon footprint Locally sourced  bamboo  was used to construct the carport, barn and entrance gate; natural stone tiles were used for flooring. “The client was looking for a modern interpretation of using natural materials,” Chiangmai Life Architects explained. “Adobe brick walls combined with wooden roof structures were designed in a way to make this earth and wood residence both functional as a modern family home as well as in harmony with its environment and surroundings. This meant a design and finish fit for the needs and requirements of a 21st century family.” + Chiangmai Life Architects Photogrpahy by  Alberto Cosi , drone shots by Markus Roselieb via Chiangmai Life Architects

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Adobe brick combines with wood in a low-carbon villa in Chiang Mai

Plastic waste has met its match with the viral #Trashtag challenge

March 14, 2019 by  
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It is rare when a social media trend actually results in a physical change to the environment, especially when it comes to picking up plastic waste . But a new viral challenge has thousands of people from around the world coming together to clean up places that have become overrun with plastic. The new challenge, #trashtag, encourages people to clean up litter and share photos from before and after the clean-up job is over. So far, tens of thousands of individuals have participated in the social media challenge. These participants have cleaned up roads, parks, beaches and wilderness areas. The challenge has also increased awareness of important environmental issues, like how much plastic waste ends up in the trash. Related: China closes Mount Everest base camp after overwhelming trash problem reports While the challenge only recently went viral, it actually started a few years ago. A company called UCO Gear came up with the idea in 2015 to help with its wilderness protection program. The challenge did not catch on until this year, after a post on Facebook tagged “tired teens” in the photo. Since then, there have been well over 25,000 posts with #trashtag tagged, although it has a few other variations, such as #trashchallenge and #trashtagchallenge. Although it is great to see people cleaning up the environment in their free time, conservationists hope it will eventually lead to bigger changes. According to BBC , the director of Canada’s Ecology Action Centre (EAC), Mark Butler, hopes the hashtag gets people to understand why we need to eliminate single-use plastics altogether. “Getting plastic out of the environment is important,” Butler shared. “We need to do more than go behind the people that are littering and clean it up. We need to turn off the plastic tap.” Butler argued that if we do not start curbing our plastic use, then the clean-up job will never end. Given all of the photos we’ve seen from the trash challenge, Butler has a point. Hopefully, viral challenges like #trashtag will help initiate more lasting changes as we continue to deal with the problem of plastic pollution. Via BBC Image via Pacific Southwest Region 5

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Plastic waste has met its match with the viral #Trashtag challenge

This Ecuadorian home uses the natural elements of rammed earth as a foundation

March 1, 2019 by  
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Rammed earth is a building technique that uses packed raw materials from the earth like gravel, sand, silt or clay to build walls and foundations. Casa Lasso, designed by Rama Estudio in San Jose, Ecuador utilized the rammed earth approach (or “tapial”) to create five strong walls made of natural elements to both protect the home from strong winds and improve the thermal quality inside the home. The rammed earth provides added support for the wooden-beamed roof every 70 centimeters. Glass windows make up the upper closures of the structure, giving the entire area the potential for  sunlight  to shine through and light up the living areas. Speaking of living areas, there is room for six beds, all built into the rammed earth framework, in the communal area. There is also a master bedroom with pivoting panels to either integrate or close off the spaces. Much of the furniture and shelving in the kitchen and bedroom is built into the structured wall, ensuring that no space is wasted, no matter how small. The designers built the rustic fireplace into the lowest part of the home, with the intention of creating a centralized space that would “embrace” the area. Casa Lasso also uses a waste management system that connects solids and liquids into an internal irrigation and fertilizer network, meaning that there is no sewage system. Using pivoting panels, occupants have the option of closing the doors for added warmth and security or creating an extended and almost unblocked view of the outdoor area beyond the property. The area around the house is surrounded by eucalyptus plantations, making the land arid and soil difficult to grow in. Designers chose to plant native species in small landscaped islands throughout the property in order to combat this dilemma. As a result of the rammed earth building technique, Casa Lasso maintains an organic color. The combination of brown earth tones from the wooden panels, the large beams making up the roof and natural stone work makes this home blend in beautifully with the native landscape. + RAMA Estudio Via ArchDaily Photography by Jag Studio and  Andrés Villota via RAMA Estudio

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This Ecuadorian home uses the natural elements of rammed earth as a foundation

Designer creates algae-sourced alternative for plastic packaging

February 27, 2019 by  
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Food packaging has a become a target in the world of sustainability and environmentalism. Walk down the aisle of any supermarket or look in your own shopping cart, and you’re likely to see package after package made from petroleum-based plastic. A few resourceful scientists and engineers have chosen to tackle the problem, including designer Margarita Talep, who has developed an algae-based alternative to plastic. With the short lifecycle of most packaging, Talep wanted to create a material that would stand up to the task of holding food and other products but break down quickly once it hit the waste stream. Related: Nuatan is the bioplastic that could answer the plastic pollution crisis Agar, a gel-like substance sourced from seaweed, is not new to the food world, as it is commonly used as a food thickener. With that understanding, Talep heats the agar to create a polymer and then adds water as a plasticizer and natural dyes for color. To achieve the goal of all-natural ingredients, natural dyes are sourced from fruits and vegetables such as beets, carrots, blueberries and purple cabbage. After the mixture of agar and other ingredients is heated, it is cooled, a process that transforms it into a gel. At this point, the mixture is turned into thin plastic or poured into molds to cool. By adjusting the ingredients, Talep has created a firm material that will mold into shapes, such as the trays that a package of donuts sit in. The technique is versatile enough that it can also create a replacement for plastic bags, like those pasta is sold in. With the overarching goal of replacing single-use , disposable packaging, the algae packaging breaks down naturally within two to three months during warm summer months, depending on the thickness of the material. In the colder winter months, the material still breaks down, but requires a few extra weeks. + Margarita Talep Images via Margarita Talep

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REPREVE: sustainable multi-use fiber made from recycled water bottles

November 29, 2018 by  
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Single-use water bottles have become a target for environmentalists concerned about the amount of petroleum required for each bottle and the massive amounts of waste generated from their short lives. But in recent years, companies have begun to use tossed-aside plastic in new and exciting ways. REPREVE, a sustainable fiber created from 100 percent food-quality and BPA-free post-consumer plastic, has opened up the door to give companies new options when sourcing eco-friendly materials. While using  recycled fibers is not new in the manufacturing world, Unifi, a leading global textile solutions company and the producer of REPREVE, has refined a process that allows it to create multiple fibers from the same material including nylon, thread, polyester and other fibers. Related: Clothing made from recycled water bottles highlights the ongoing crisis in Flint Unifi completes the water bottle-to-fabric process in a few stages. Beginning with the water bottles returned by consumers, Unifi transfers them to a modern bottle processing center where they keep a quarter of a million water bottles out of the waste stream each hour. Once broken down into a fine material called flake, the flake is then sent to the REPREVE recycling center where it is blended, melted and turned into small chips that are stored onsite in large silos. Each silo holds the equivalent of 27 million water bottles. The manufacturing plant itself is dedicated to zero-waste production as well. Related: Ford to recycle 2 million plastic bottles into fabric for its Focus Electric Dozens of companies are on board with the idea of incorporating the REPREVE fibers into their products. Backpacks, socks, dog beds, cloth car seat covers, activewear, dress pants, jeans, swimwear, flags and heat wraps are just a few products donning the REPREVE symbol. Notable companies supporting the sustainable practices of REPREVE include PrAna, Patagonia, Roxy, Quicksilver, Lane Bryant, Fossil and Ford Motor Co. In fact, Unifi lists over 60 companies using its products on its website. This is no surprise, considering the versatility of the materials created through the process. “Unifi’s advanced performance technologies provide textile solutions like moisture wicking, stretch, water-repellency and enhanced softness. Our technologies can be combined with REPREVE to offer increased performance, comfort and style advantages, enabling customers to develop products that are good for the planet, plus truly perform, look and feel better,” said Kevin Hall, chairman and CEO of Unifi. “REPREVE® is an innovative brand of fibers, chip and flake that is made from 100 percent recycled materials, including plastic bottles,” Hall added. “REPREVE’s U Trust® Verification program is a comprehensive certification designed to provide customers with a higher level of transparency. Unifi’s proprietary FiberPrint® technology is used to analyze the fabric content and composition to determine if REPREVE is present and in the right amounts. REPREVE is also third party certified.” The company takes pride in a robust, full-cycle dedication to sustainability through obtaining the proper certifications. + Repreve Images via Unifi

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REPREVE: sustainable multi-use fiber made from recycled water bottles

Foster + Partners designs solar-powered Tulip observation tower for London

November 29, 2018 by  
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London’s iconic Gherkin landmark could be getting a striking and futuristic new neighbor — if plans for Foster + Partners’ The Tulip are approved. Proposed for a site next to The Gherkin — the Stirling Prize-winning 30 St Mary Axe building also designed by Foster + Partners — the conceptual observation tower would serve as a new cultural attraction and educational facility with unparalleled 360-degree views of London. The nature-inspired building would target a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating and would be powered by integrated photovoltaic cells as well as zero-combustion technology. Created in partnership with The Gherkin owner J. Safra Group, The Tulip tower would soar to a height of 1,000 feet and be built with a high-strength concrete shaft with steel-framed observation deck levels. Key to the design is the sky-high classroom that would offer 20,000 free places per year for London’s state school children. Residents and tourists will also be able to enjoy the viewing galleries connected to sky bridges, internal glass slides and even gondola pod rides built along the building’s facade. The visitor experience will be heightened with interactive materials and information about the history of London, a sky bar and restaurants. On the ground level, The Tulip would include a new, 1,400-square-foot pocket park along with a two-story visitor pavilion with a publicly accessible green roof and two green walls. The addition of landscaping would increase the site’s green surface area by 8.5 times. Related: Foster + Partners’ DJI HQ will be a “creative community in the sky” “Continuing the pioneering design of 30 St Mary Axe, the Tulip is in the spirit of London as a progressive, forward- thinking city,” said Norman Foster, founder and executive chairman of Foster + Partners. “It offers significant benefits to Londoners and visitors as a cultural and social landmark with unmatched educational resources for future generations.” If The Tulip proposal is approved, construction could begin in 2020 with completion projected for 2025. + Foster + Partners Images via DBOX / Foster + Partners

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Foster + Partners designs solar-powered Tulip observation tower for London

Solar-powered cork house pursues healthy, sustainable living

October 10, 2018 by  
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Berlin-based architecture office rundzwei Architekten recently completed a light-filled home that showcases the many material benefits of cork . Named the Cork Screw House, the sustainably minded abode boasts a facade and roof clad in natural cork, a material that not only gives the building a highly textured appearance, but also contributes significantly to the home’s energy efficiency thanks to high insulation values. The cork home is set on a base of rammed concrete and comprises a series of split-levels for flexibility. The decision to clad the home in cork emerged from the client’s desire for a house with good acoustic performance. Initially drawn by the acoustic insulation properties of cork, the architects were ultimately convinced by the sustainable benefits of the material, which is made from granulated cork waste that has been pressed into naturally weather- and mold-resistant panels without any artificial additives. In addition to insulating cork panels, the architects carefully chose a natural materials palette and steered clear of chemical adhesives. Wood fiber and cellulose were used as additional insulation, while timber and gypsum fiberboards were selected for their ability to absorb humidity and create a comfortable indoor environment. Created for a family of three, the Cork Screw House is organized around a central, atrium -like staircase illuminated by a skylight. To side-step planning regulations that mandated a maximum floor size of 100 square meters, the architects lowered the base floors and designed the timber-framed upper floors as a series of split-levels, bringing the gross floor area to over 320 square meters. On the ground floor, full-height glazing floods the interior with natural light. The home also includes an exterior sunken pool that’s surrounded by rammed concrete walls for privacy. Related: Elegant cork-clad artists’ studio slots into a bijou London garden Due to the selection of natural materials and ample daylighting, the building “doesn’t need an active ventilation system despite the very low energy standard,” the architects explained in a project statement. “Through a stratified heat storage system supplemented by roof integrated solar panels, the heating supply is almost self-sufficient adding to the efficiency of the building’s overall performance.” + rundzwei Architekten Photography by Gui Rebelo

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Nature-inspired Teak House welcomes Vietnams lush forests indoors

October 8, 2018 by  
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Architect Pham Thanh Huy of Vietnamese design firm 282 Design recently renovated a villa into the Teak House, a Northern European-inspired getaway in the cool highlands of Ng?c Thanh in northern Vietnam. Inspired by the surrounding pine forest landscape and spurred by sustainable principles, Pham Thanh Huy created the contemporary home mainly with teak wood sourced from sustainably managed forests . In addition to the predominate timber palette indoors, the house embraces the living forest with full-height walls of glass as well as with a live tree that grows up through the center of the residence. Located on a pine hill in Flamingo Dai Lai Resort, the renovated Teak House serves as a retreat from the busy city. Spanning an area of 460 square meters across two stories, Teak House is clad in a combination of teak wood and rough artificial stone, materials that are carried over to the interior to blur the line between indoor and outdoor living . Teak was selected for its durability, which was of particular importance because of the harsh climate in northern Vietnam. To keep the focus on the outdoors, the interiors are minimally and cleanly detailed. The furnishings are mainly Nordic in style, including the suspended fireplace. The ground floor of the residence includes a living room, kitchen and dining room that connect to the front yard and back garden. On the mezzanine level is a small bedroom, while two additional bedrooms are found on the floor above, as is a long lap pool on the upper floor. Related: Beautiful light-filled home puts a modern twist on the humble bungalow “Teak House is the result of a journey seeking for the beauty of architecture in the interplay between culture and environment,” the architect said in a project statement. “In this interesting and arduous journey, we have been looking for the harmony of architecture, interiors, materials and natural wood techniques to create a delicate and sustainable house.” + 282 Design Via ArchDaily Images by Quang Tran

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Nature-inspired Teak House welcomes Vietnams lush forests indoors

Lush green roof camouflages the Chameleon Villa into the Indonesian tropics

July 16, 2018 by  
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True to its name, the Chameleon Villa is a residence that seamlessly blends into its forested surroundings in Bali thanks to its integration of a lush green roof. Designed by international architecture practice Word of Mouth House , the contemporary home spans nearly 11,000 square feet, yet deftly hides its bulk with landscaped roofs. The “camouflaged” roofs also help promote natural cooling and are integrated with rainwater collection and recycling systems as well as solar panels. Located in the village of Buwit in southwest Bali, the Chameleon Villa is set on an acre of densely forested land with steep and challenging terrain, including a level change of 36 feet. To blend the building into the site as much as possible, the designers at Word of Mouth House crafted the home as a cluster of volumes that step down the slope and are carefully positioned to follow the original contour lines and to optimize views of the river below and forest beyond. A natural materials palette  — with locally sourced elements like teak wood, iron wood and natural stone — further blends the dwelling into the landscape. Related: Beautiful bamboo pavilion in Bali translates the flexibility of yoga into architecture “We worked on the idea of ‘landscaped architecture’ by blurring the boundaries between natural and built environments,” explained the firm. “As a result, the buildings appear to be a part of the land itself sometimes disappearing within it, and then at other times, emerging from it. As per traditional Balinese architecture the different pavilions accommodate different functions and all communal spaces are kept open towards the elements whereas the bedrooms and other more private spaces such as office, gym and media room are close-able volumes.” The vibrant green roofs keep the lower spaces comfortable through passive cooling, and this vegetation also aids in rainwater collection. The residents can recycle the water for use in garden irrigation. The home also produces clean energy through solar panels, further adding to its sustainable features. + Word of Mouth House Images by Daniel Koh

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Lush green roof camouflages the Chameleon Villa into the Indonesian tropics

Glass elements dramatically open up a solar-powered Sydney home

July 16, 2018 by  
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In Sydney’s affluent suburb of Kirribilli, a contemporary solar-powered home stands out from its Victorian manor neighbors. Local design practice Bijl Architecture reworked an existing semi-detached home into the Doorzien House, a two-story home that takes full advantage of its sweeping Sydney harbor views. In addition to floor-to-ceiling glazing installed in the rear of the house, glass elements are used throughout the home — in the form of skylights, flooring, highlight panels and balustrades — to fill the interior with light. The clients tapped Bijl Architecture to design a home that pursued a modern typology. To satisfy the project brief and comply with local heritage expectations, the architects restored and preserved the home’s traditional street-facing facade while inserting a contemporary zinc -clad addition to the rear side of the house that draws inspiration from the neighborhood’s naval and industrial history. The back of the property is opened up to the outdoors and overlooks views of Careening Cove, Neutral Harbor and Kurraba Point. “To embrace our clients’ desired openness and connectivity between the floor levels and surrounding context, we dismantled the existing plan,” the architects explained. “The broad Sydney Harbor view and neighboring vistas are exploited by the hybridized living spaces, while each room retains its individual focus and remains intimate and warm through the material palette and layered lighting. We oriented living spaces to the rear; multiple interior viewlines serve as a counterpoint to the expansive harbor views. This approach continues to the rear garden, with bleacher-style steps moderating the level change, extending the study and sitting room interiors to form a third living space.” Related: This self-sustaining Australian home harvests its own food, energy, and water A 3.5kW system of Nu-Lok solar roof tiles was the first approved installation for a NSW conservation area. The solar system and Redback Technologies’ Gen II inverter and battery are part of the clients’ plan to eventually move their home off-grid . + Bijl Architecture Images by Katherine Lu

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Glass elements dramatically open up a solar-powered Sydney home

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