Passive solar home makes the most of a difficult, triangular site in Sydney

July 17, 2019 by  
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When asked to renovate and expand a home on a challenging triangular lot in Sydney, local architectural practice studioplusthree decided to build upward to make the most of the awkward site. By elevating the home’s new addition into the canopy of a large existing fig tree, the architects maximized access to natural light and city views while taking advantage of the tree’s shade. Dubbed the Platform House after its “new living platform,” the updated house also boasts increased energy efficiency thanks to the use of passive solar strategies as well as the installation of solar hot water panels and a rainwater collection system. Completed over the span of 36 months on a tight budget, the Platform House has been enlarged to cover an area of 2,131 square feet with a 753-square-foot basement. The existing ground floor was retained but reconfigured to house four bedrooms, a sitting room and an outdoor courtyard, while most of the attention was given to the new elevated extension. In contrast to the all-white ground floor volume, the new “platform” is clad in blackened timber and cantilevers out to provide shelter to the courtyard below. Related: A prefab home in Sydney celebrates indoor-outdoor living “Responding to the triangular site, the diagonal cut of the first floor volume is manifested in elements throughout from window reveals to planter boxes and outdoor seating,” the architects explained in the press release. “Acting as both cladding and screen, the upstairs volume is wrapped in a charred cypress , all of which was undertaken by hand, on-site. The design aims to integrate functionality into the details to enrich family living — such as the northern edge of the elevated deck, expressed in a continuous element that incorporates planting, outdoor seating, privacy screen, benchtop and storage.” For added privacy, the new living platform is partially sheathed in a series of sliding perforated bronze screens that protect against solar heat gain yet still let in natural light when closed. Deep eaves and recessed blinds shelter glass openings, while the fig tree provides additional protection against the western sun. The open-plan living spaces also open up to a north-facing outdoor terrace. + studioplusthree Photography by Brett Boardman via studioplusthree

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Passive solar home makes the most of a difficult, triangular site in Sydney

EPA lifts ban on pesticide proven to be toxic to honeybees

July 17, 2019 by  
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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has re-approved a pesticide for use throughout the country despite its known toxicity to honeybee populations. The chemical , sulfoxaflor, is produced by DowDupont, a major chemical company that contributed $1 million to President Trump’s campaign. Sulfoxaflor was originally approved for use by the EPA in 2013, but the approval was adamantly opposed and challenged by beekeepers and environmentalists. In 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals ordered the EPA to discontinue the chemical’s approval since DowDupont could not provide enough evidence proving their product is not harmful to bee populations. Despite this ruling, the government continued to offer “emergency approvals” of its use and now has officially re-approved its use on over 190 million acres of crops. Their product is now approved for use on corn, strawberries, citrus, pumpkins, pineapples and soybeans. Related: Native bees are going extinct without much buzz Although the EPA’s own studies provide evidence that the substance is “highly toxic to honeybees at all life stages” and similarly toxic to native bee populations, the EPA announced it was thrilled to lift the ban on such a highly effective agricultural product. “Scientists have long said pesticides like sulfoxaflor are the cause of the unprecedented colony collapse. Letting sulfoxaflor back on the market is dangerous for our food system, economy and environment, ” says a legal representative from Earthjustice. Both honey bees and native bees have seen a rapid decline in their numbers over the past few decades. This winter, beekeepers reportedly lost over 35 percent of their colonies. Since 1947, the population of honeybees has dropped from 6 million to under 2.4 million. “The Trump EPA’s reckless approval of this bee-killing pesticide across 200 million acres of crops like strawberries and watermelon without any public process is a terrible blow to imperiled pollinators,” says the director of the Center for Biological Diversity. Via Huff Post Image via Johann Piber

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EPA lifts ban on pesticide proven to be toxic to honeybees

Green-roofed infill rental fills a gap in Vancouvers housing crisis

May 28, 2019 by  
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In light of Vancouver’s housing crisis , local architectural firm Haeccity Studio Architecture has transformed a 1950s bungalow in the city’s West End neighborhood into Comox Infill, a contemporary multi-family development with six dedicated rental units. Described by the firm as the “missing” piece from Vancouver’s urban fabric, this small-scale multi-family project is a case study for much-needed densification that doesn’t compromise on livability. Sandwiched between two heritage properties, the modern infill project thoughtfully references its traditional neighbors while considering key issues including walkability, car sharing, accessibility and aging in place. Located on a standard 33-foot-by-122-foot single-family lot in downtown Vancouver, Comox Infill is a three-story walk-up that includes six dedicated rental units for tenancy, a green roof  and a shared courtyard with a preserved, mature Cypress tree. The decidedly contemporary development relates to its urban context through its sloped roof, separate exterior dwelling entrances and human-scaled circulation. “Not quite a single-family home, and yet not a soaring condo tower, the missing middle typology offers something in between,” explained the firm. “In rethinking the possibilities for urban dwelling, it’s a solution that calls for incremental densification without drastically disrupting the character and community of existing neighborhoods. Comox Street embodies the desirable qualities of a missing middle typology, including walkable urban living, accessibility to a middle-income household and housing diversity, which are all essential to the continued fostering of a city’s social and cultural vibrancy.” Related: This space-saving tiny home offers sustainable housing atop garages in Sydney The Comox Infill consists of six rental suites of varying sizes. The ground level comprises a one-bedroom suite facing Comox Street, courtyard access, service rooms, bicycle storage and a two-bedroom suite in the rear that opens up to the lane. Above are a one-bedroom suite, a double-story two-bedroom suite and a double-story three-bedroom suite; all units overlook a long green roof. The third level includes an additional one-bedroom suite while the double-story units enjoy access to a shared rooftop courtyard . + Haeccity Studio Architecture Images via Haeccity Studio Architecture

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Green-roofed infill rental fills a gap in Vancouvers housing crisis

Sydneys vibrant Green Square Library and Plaza collects and reuses rainwater

February 7, 2019 by  
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Former marshland in Sydney has been transformed into the new Green Square Library and Plaza, a striking project that’s not only revitalizing one of the city’s oldest industrial areas but is also a shining beacon for sustainability. Designed by Sydney-based architecture and urban design practice Stewart Hollenstein in association with Stewart Architecture , the Green Square project features a semi-submerged underground library with a plaza on top. Energy efficiency drove the design as well, from the numerous skylights that let in natural light to the library’s low-energy displacement ventilation system engineered by Arup. Created as a central gathering space for the growing Green Square neighborhood, the Green Square Library and Plaza draws the eye with its playful geometric cutouts and pavilions that punctuate the 8,000-square-meter plaza. The triangular-shaped glass pavilion on one end marks the entrance to the 3,000-square-meter underground library , while the large circular opening next to it brings light into the circular sunken garden at the heart of the library. Also on the plaza is a six-story glazed rectangular volume that includes a double-height reading room, computer lab, black-box theater, music room and community space. An outdoor amphitheater is found on the other end of the plaza. The four areas are visually connected with a series of 49 circular skylights that funnel light into the library, while the rest of the plaza is left open for other activities, from pop-up events on the lawn to a water play zone. Underground, the open-plan library is centered on a sunken garden with a children’s circle and “story tree.” Placing the library underground was no easy feat; because the project sits on former marshland, the area came with a permanent water table above excavation level. Waterproofing with four layers of defense was crucial to protecting the library from damage. The feat of engineering allowed for ample green space above — a key detail that earned the design first place in the global design competition for the public library. Related: This canopy walkway elevates Shenzhen library-goers into the treetops Daylight floods the library thanks to the weatherproof skylights that have been engineered to be walked on and to limit external heat gain. At night, the skylights are illuminated to bring visual interest and safety to the plaza. Reduced energy usage is also achieved with Arup’s bookshelf-integrated displacement ventilation system that brings improved indoor air quality and greater cooling efficiency. The landscaping on the plaza was designed to manage stormwater runoff and capture rainwater for reuse in the library. + Stewart Hollenstein Images by Tom Roe and Julien Lanoo via Stewart Hollenstein

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Sydneys vibrant Green Square Library and Plaza collects and reuses rainwater

Anderson Architecture revamps a dim heritage home into a modern sun-soaked abode

December 7, 2018 by  
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When Sydney-based design studio Anderson Architecture was asked to improve the livability of an old heritage home in the inner western Sydney suburb of Lewisham, the house suffered from a cold and dark indoor environment. Drawing on their experience on sustainable design, the architects rearranged the home in accordance to passive solar design in a light-filled transformation that earned the project its name, Suntrap. The contemporary renovation has even doubled the thermal efficiency of the living quarters from 3.2 to 6.4 stars. With a growing family and a dog, the clients not only sought more living space, but also improved comfort and a stronger connection with the backyard. To bring much-needed natural light and an indoor/ outdoor living experience to the home, the architects tore down an existing old addition and replaced it with a new extension optimized to meet the clients’ requests. Located on a long and skinny lot, the house is mainly organized along a central corridor that connects to three bedrooms, while the open-plan living spaces are located in the rear where they connect seamlessly with the backyard. The new extension also features an expansive master bedroom suite on the upper floor. “But our key move was to introduce an internal courtyard ,” say the architects. “We opened the heart of the home to the sun, where strategically placed eco-friendly concrete walls and hydronic heated flooring brought much-needed heat gain to cold zones. New awnings let in winter sun and we specified heavily insulated prefabricated wall and roof panels, and double-glazed windows, to help maintain comfortable indoor temperatures.” Related: 76-year-old Funkis home in Norway gets a Passive House makeover To keep costs low and reduce waste, the architects repurposed the spotted gum flooring reclaimed from the old addition into cupboard faces and the timber-lined ceiling above the kitchen. The bricks from the old kitchen were also repurposed into a strategic thermal mass wall in the backyard that doubles as a screen for a 1,400-liter rainwater tank used to irrigate the native landscaping. + Anderson Architecture Via ArchDaily Images by Nic Bower

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Anderson Architecture revamps a dim heritage home into a modern sun-soaked abode

An old warehouse is remade into a stylish hotel with a copper chevron crown

November 16, 2018 by  
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An 80-year-old warehouse has been elegantly remade into the chic Paramount House Hotel, a boutique property that champions sustainable practices in more ways than one. Designed by Melbourne-based Breathe Architecture , the adaptive reuse project in Surry Hills, Sydney, Australia houses 29 unique rooms as well as a sun-soaked lobby that weaves original architectural features together with contemporary elements. In addition to the sensitive renovation of the historic building, the architects also used locally sourced materials wherever possible and installed a 7-kW photovoltaic solar array on the roof deck to supplement the building’s energy needs. Named after the Paramount House (formerly Paramount Pictures Studio) next door, the Paramount House Hotel was completed over the course of four years and opened to guests this year. In addition to capturing the raw industrial qualities of the 1930s brick corner warehouse into the redesign , the architects also took cues from the art deco styles of the surrounding former film district from dressing the interiors to reimagining the exteriors. Most notably, the architects added a copper, chevron-patterned screen that crowns the brick building and provides solar shading. Within the restored brick and timber shell, Breathe Architecture inserted structural and architectural metalwork, concrete, recycled timber floorboards, low-VOC finishes, locally designed tiles and furnishings that are entirely made in Australia. A former film vault was transformed into the welcoming reception lodge. Each of the suites includes an external terrace carefully placed for shading and natural ventilation. Related: Old Sydney warehouse is transformed into an industrial-chic home “Contextually responsive to its Sydney location, it is about expressing everything that was old and true, honest and raw, about the existing warehouse,” the architecture firm explained in the project statement. “It captures the spirit and excitement of the golden era of film. Staying there, you truly feel at home.” + Breathe Architecture Images by Tom Ross and Katherine Lu

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An old warehouse is remade into a stylish hotel with a copper chevron crown

This space-saving tiny home offers sustainable housing atop garages in Sydney

June 18, 2018 by  
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As the housing crisis in Sydney continues to intensify, some are tapping into the real estate potential in the city’s backyards and alleys. In a bid to catalyze the development of ‘laneway studios,’ Surry Hills-based McGregor Westlake Architecture has offered a small and sustainable housing model that builds atop existing garage units. Conceived “to subvert the council norm,” this smart tiny home boasts space-saving features and a striking contemporary design. McGregor Westlake Architecture’s Laneway Studio was developed partly to address the NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) reactions to shoddy laneway homes born from poor design and inadequate planning guidelines. In contrast, the architecture firm’s prototype shows how good design can turn a tiny and uninspiring plot into a tiny house that not only feels spacious, but also enjoys access to natural light and privacy. The windows on the east and west allow for natural ventilation, while exterior blinds mitigate solar heat gain — no air conditioning needed. The key to the design is the addition of a standing seam metal mansard roof punctuated by dormer windows. The interior, which measures a mere 269 square feet, is lined with honey-colored Australian Hoop Pine sourced from managed forests paired with a linoleum floor made largely of linseed oil. The tiny home comfortably accommodates two in an efficient layout that stacks the living spaces above the existing garage. An open living area, kitchen and dining space dominate the upper floor plan, and the bedroom and bathroom are tucked behind sliding wood-paneled doors. LED lighting is used throughout the tiny house. The homeowners also enjoy access to a rear courtyard . Related: Efficient SIP Laneway House Pops Up in an Unused Urban Backyard in Vancouver “The project is like a case study for a Laneway Studio or Garage-Top dwelling,” the architects said. “As the need for density and intensity of use grow, the 25sqm footprint is an important sustainable model for the fine-grained pedestrian city. In doubling the height of existing frontages and adding another layer of use along it’s length, this building type has the potential to positively transform lanes toward the qualities of our best streets: active, connected and urbane places.” + McGregor Westlake Architecture Images by Brett Boardman

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This space-saving tiny home offers sustainable housing atop garages in Sydney

Earth Hour: One Hour of Darkness to Increase Environmental Awareness

June 8, 2018 by  
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It started with an hour of darkness in Sydney, Australia, … The post Earth Hour: One Hour of Darkness to Increase Environmental Awareness appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Earth Hour: One Hour of Darkness to Increase Environmental Awareness

Get away from it all in gorgeous solar-powered glamping tents in Australia

May 29, 2018 by  
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Those wanting to go way off grid to get away from the hustle and bustle can find respite in the unbelievably idyllic setting of Australia’s Sierra Escape . Tucked into the rolling hills of the Mudgee countryside, the eco-friendly lodge just unveiled two new solar-powered glamping tents  that include extra large windows, guaranteeing spectacular panoramic views of sunrises, sunsets and starry nights. Of course, if you’d prefer, you can also “soak in” the stunning scenery from the large outdoor bathtubs. Located just northwest of Sydney, the Mudgee countryside is known for its immense natural beauty, as well as its award-winning wineries. Surrounded by rolling hills, the Sierra Escape lodge offers a perfect off-grid experience. Along with enjoying the peace and quiet that surrounds the property, guests can also enjoy some of the region’s delicious wines. Related: Rainforest Retreat is a nature lover’s escape with minimal building impact Guests at the Sierra Escape eco lodge can choose from two tents located discreetly, even from each other, to offer the utmost privacy. Both tents run completely on solar power and have enough energy to charge phones and power a small fridge, indoor and outdoor lighting, a small gas cook-top and the tents’ gas hot water systems. The Duliti tent (meaning ‘together’ in the local Aboriginal dialect) sleeps up to seven guests and is designed to help families and friends bond over the area’s incredible beauty. The family-sized tent comes with a total of five beds. A designer kitchen is perfect for enjoying large, family-style meals in the indoor or outdoor dining spaces. Inside, there is a wood-burning fireplace for chilly nights. There is also a fire pit to throw a few shrimps on the barbie if the mood strikes. Those looking for a more secluded romantic getaway can enjoy the Uralla tent (meaning ‘home on the hill’). The tent, also equipped with an abundance of extra large windows, brings even more luxury and comfort to the glamping experience . There is a designer kitchen, king-sized bed, fireplace and outdoor freestanding tub to enjoy spectacular views while soaking in a warm bath. According to the owners, the lodge has plans to add a few more features in the future. For starters, they are hoping to build a swimming pool out of a shipping container . The area will be used as a common social space, and include space for barbecues, yoga, wine tastings and more. + Sierra Escape Images via Sierra Escape

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Get away from it all in gorgeous solar-powered glamping tents in Australia

This self-sustaining Australian home harvests its own food, energy, and water

April 6, 2018 by  
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Building a self-sustaining home can involve a higher upfront investment, but it usually pays off in the long run thanks to increased efficiency and lower energy bills. Sydney residents Geoff Carroll and Julie Young did just that by hiring  CplusC Architectural Workshop  to  renovate their 1980s terrace house into an environmentally friendly home that allows them to grow their own produce and track daily energy consumption . Carroll and Young, who work at a company that helps clients confront the challenges of hyper-urbanization and climate change, wanted a home that would reflect their commitment to sustainability. The result, named Aquas Perma Solar Firma, is a house dominated by sustainable features like a greenery-filled central courtyard , vertical gardens , aquaponics , rain filter systems and even a chicken coop. Related: Historic Belgian farmhouse renovated into a modern solar-powered home The architects significantly enhanced the building’s thermal performance and introduced ample outdoor spaces. They also reduced the number of bedrooms from four to two, relocated the staircase to the front of the building, and converted the existing carport into a permaculture garden. A rain chain going through a large concrete weight funnels rainwater into an underground tank. This rainwater is used for supplying the laundry, toilet and garden. The rear garden features an aquaponics system for fish harvesting, a wicking bed, a compost system, a vegetable garden and chicken coops. Finally, an evacuated glass tube solar system is used for hot water, while a solar array provides clean energy for electricity. + CplusC Architectural Workshop Via Dwell Photos by Murray Fredericks

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