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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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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South Australia to host world’s largest thermal solar plant

January 10, 2018 by  
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In South Australia , California-based SolarReserve is building what will be the world’s largest thermal solar plant. The $650 million, 150 megawatt solar plant has received state development approval and construction on the project will begin in 2018. “It’s fantastic that SolarReserve has received development approval to move forward with this world-leading project that will deliver clean, dispatchable renewable energy to supply our electrified rail, hospitals and schools,” South Australia’s acting energy minister Chris Picton told the Sydney Morning Herald . When fully operational, the plant will provide electricity for 90,000 homes and generate 500-gigawatts of energy each year. The South Australia solar thermal plant will feature a single tower that stands at the center of a vast field of solar mirrors, also known as heliostats. These mirrors reflect the sun’s rays onto the tower, which incorporates molten salt batteries to store the energy. This power can then be released as steam, which powers an electricity-generating turbine. When completed, the plant will mitigate the equivalent of 200,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually. Related: The world’s first 100% solar-powered train launches in Australia The plant will be located roughly 30 kilometers (18 miles) north of Port Augusta in South Australia, a region which has generated international headlines for its energy developments. In collaboration with Tesla , South Australia now hosts the world’s largest single-unit battery , which is capable of providing power to 30,000 homes. “The state has taken a series of positive steps towards greater energy independence which are really starting to pay off. And it has already met its target of 50 per cent renewable energy almost a decade early,” said Natalie Collard, Clean Energy Council executive general manager, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. “South Australia is providing the rest of the country a glimpse of a renewable energy future. Our electricity system is rapidly moving towards one which will be smarter and cleaner, with a range of technologies providing high-tech, reliable, lower-cost power.” Via Sydney Morning Herald Images via Department of Energy

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Mesmerizing white humpback whale spotted off the coast of Australia

October 4, 2017 by  
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Jump, Migaloo! In recent months, we’ve seen photographs of white giraffes and even a white moose . Now, footage has emerged of a rare white humpback whale, and nature enthusiasts can’t contain their excitement. The whale, named Migaloo (after the Aboriginal word meaning “white man”), was recently spotted off the coast of Sydney, Australia , – and he is just as majestic as you may expect. Migaloo was first spotted in 1990 and is believed to be around 30 years old. As National Geographic reports, it is unknown whether or not he has leucism (a condition which results in white or patchy skin, but the eyes remain dark) or is a true albino , meaning he doesn’t produce any pigment at all. According to Brian Clark Howard in National Geographic, three white males — including Migaloo — have been spotted off Australia in recent years. He wrote, “One has been dubbed Migaloo Junior’ or the ‘son of Migaloo’ – although no one knows whether this smaller whale is actually related to Migaloo. A third white humpback with black spots on its tail has also been spotted.” Related: Hundreds of people come together to save beached whale in Brazil Due to commercial whaling , humpback whales were once close to extinction . A mere 100 remained in the oceans. Since legal protections were put in place, however, their numbers have recovered. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) says there are approximately 20,000 humpback whales that migrate to Australia each year. Fortunately, Migaloo remains one of them. Via National Geographic Images via  Earth Touch News Network,   Australian Geographic

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Modular shed-like addition turns a 1930s bungalow into an open, light-filled home

August 25, 2017 by  
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A 1930s California Bungalow in Sydney received a modern shed-like addition that maximizes the usability of the original structure, adding plenty open-concept space and natural light. Architect Prineas designed the affordable addition as a modular structure that’s easy to build and alter for optimal flexibility, while honoring the original design of the home. The Allen Key House comprises an original 1930s bungalow and an modern, modular addition conceived as a shed-like structure. The latter emphasizes the kitchen and entertaining areas and acts as the true heart of the home. Related: A translucent room fills this beautifully renovated brick house with daylight The design team made sure that the existing bungalow is kept in its original state. They connected the original structure and the addition with a glazed link which creates two internal courtyards and introduces more natural light into the en suite and study. Related: Timber-clad Cut-away Roof House in Sydney puts a modern spin on traditional pitched roofs Built on an extremely tight budget, the rear addition relies on a grid system that forms double-height spaces through modular design. This system of modules allows simple reconfiguration of courtyards, light wells and stairs. + Architect Prineas Via Architizer Photos by Chris Warnes

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Teslas electric truck will have a 200-300 mile range

August 25, 2017 by  
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More details have been obtained about the Tesla semi truck, which is set to be unveiled next month. According to Reuters , the big rig will have a working range of 200 to 300 miles. Tesla CEO Elon Musk is also considering developing an electric tractor trailer to accompany the vehicle. Scott Perry of Ryder, a fleet operator in Florida, told Reuters that Tesla is building “an electric big-rig known as a ‘day cab’ with no sleeper berth, capable of traveling about 200 to 300 miles with a typical payload before recharging.” It is possible Perry has seen the truck first-hand, as Elon Musk mentioned in June that he would be gathering feedback from the trucking industry. At a meeting with Tesla shareholders, Musk said “We’re getting them closely involved in the design process, so the biggest customers of the heavy duty Tesla semi are helping ensure that it is specified to their needs, so it’s not a mystery. They already know that it’s going to meet their needs, because they’ve told us what those needs are. So it’ll really just be a question of scaling volume to make as many as we can.” A conventional semi truck can travel over 1,000 miles on a single tank of fuel. This means the Tesla version will have a substantially lower range. To make up for this, Elon Musk is considering developing an electric tractor trailer. Now, he and his team just need to make sure the technology is feasible. Even if Tesla’s big rig doesn’t surpass 300 miles, there is still likely to be a market for it. Approximately 30 percent of US trucking jobs are regional trips of 100 to 200 miles, according to Sandeep Kar, the chief strategy officer of Toronto -based Fleet Complete. “As long as (Musk) can break 200 miles he can claim his truck is ’long haul’ and he will be technically right,” said Kar. The fact that the vehicle will have self-driving technology is an added benefit. Read more: Solar-powered Tesla Tiny House hits the road in Australia Transportation firms are also interested in acquiring electric semi-trucks, as they are less costly to maintain than conventional vehicles. Energy from the grid is also less expensive than diesel . The main challenge is ensuring the big rig’s battery doesn’t take up precious cargo space. When Tesla was pressed for comment via email, a spokesman replied, “Tesla’s policy is to always decline to comment on speculation, whether true or untrue, as doing so would be silly. Silly!” Tesla isn’t the only automobile manufacturer seeking to expand into the trucking industry. Reportedly, Daimler , the largest truck manufacturer in the world, will begin production this year on an electric delivery truck. The big rig will have a driving range of 100 miles and will be able to carry a payload of 9,400 pounds, or about 1,000 pounds less than its diesel counterpart. + Tesla Via Reuters , The Verge Images via Tesla

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Teslas electric truck will have a 200-300 mile range

Australia’s largest commercial timber building rises in Sydney

July 12, 2017 by  
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Timber constructions are rapidly carving their rightful place in urban environments all over the world, and now, beautiful Sydney is home to the Australia’s largest commercial all-timber building. The International House by Tzannes Architects is a beautiful seven-story building constructed entirely with engineered or cross laminated timber . Located between the Barangaroo South area and the historic heart of the city, the International House is a beautiful all-wood design. With the exception of the single ground retail level, which is made out of conventional concrete, the striking building was constructed with engineered or cross laminated timber , including the floors, columns, walls, roof, elevator shafts, etc. The building is the first timber commercial building of its size in Australia. Related: Nation’s largest cross-laminated timber academic building is an icon of sustainability The architects chose to go with timber for its many sustainable features , but were also determined to create a design whose all-wood aesthetic would serve as an iconic landmark for the city. According to the architects, “We have turned the structural limitations imposed by the use of timber to advantage and celebrated them, forming a unique colonnade form evocative of a forest of trees which gives the building its distinctive character.” The project used a massive 3,500 cubic meters of sustainably grown and recycled timber . Using timber instead of concrete resulted in saving thousands of tonnes of greenhouse gases from being emitted into the environment. + Tzannes Architects Via Archdaily Photography by The Guthrie Project

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Copycat Tower Bridge in China sparks controversy

March 2, 2017 by  
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China is infamous for copying famous architecture from other countries – according to The New York Times the country boasts 10 White Houses, a couple of Great Sphinxes, four Arcs de Triomphe, and at minimum one Eiffel Tower. Now in the city of Suzhou, a Tower Bridge based on London’s iconic landmark is drawing attention, although the New York Times says it’s unclear why the bridge , which was completed in 2012, has suddenly been garnering international notice. Images of Suzhou’s Tower Bridge have drawn awe – one news outlet described the Chinese bridge as even more magnificent than the original. Suzhou’s bridge certainly is much larger; it accommodates a five-lane highway and flaunts four towers instead of two. Pedestrian walkways and observation platforms allow people to enjoy the views and architecture of the bridge. Related: China officially bans ‘weird’ architecture But not everyone is enamored with the Chinese Tower Bridge. Suzhou, which has been called the Venice of the East, has its own architectural traditions, such as whitewashed courtyard houses and ancient gardens. Some of China’s most beautiful traditional architecture can be found in the city. Li Yingwu, president of Beijing-based firm OAD Group , called Suzhou’s Tower Bridge plagiarism. He said, “I was really surprised that it got built in Suzhou, because it has preserved its culture really well. It shows that local officials lack confidence in their own culture. They don’t understand that architecture essentially is about culture. It’s not merely an object.” One news outlet, JSChina.com.cn , even suggested the copycat bridge would hinder promotion of the country’s traditional culture. Suzhou has 56 other copycat bridges, according to The New York Times, imitating international bridges like Australia’s Sydney Harbor Bridge or Paris’ Alexandre III Bridge. Architect Cheng Taining of the Chinese Academy of Engineering told Beijing News in 2015 some officials believe foreign-style structures bestow status on an area, making it look more modern or sophisticated. Via ArchDaily and The New York Times Images via CCTV Facebook

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