O2 Studio renovated an old Netherlands home into a gorgeous energy-neutral villa

May 10, 2018 by  
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In the Netherlands, an old home dating back to the 1960s has been given an energy-neutral makeover, and the results are stunning. At the request of the owners,  O2 Studio revamped the home into an energy-efficient powerhouse . In addition to using passive strategies, like adding more windows and skylights to let in optimal natural light, O2 Studio installed an innovative hybrid system of PV panels and geothermal heat to generate clean energy. Located in Bunnik, near Utrech, the family home is a great example of how to renovate an old structure using sustainable materials and energy-efficient features to bring it into the 21st century. The architects decided to retain the original layout of the structure, but wanted to flood its interior with as much light as possible. Thanks to several windows and a skylight, the house is naturally lit throughout the day, reducing energy use and costs. The home’s self-sustaining energy system takes advantage of both geothermal heating and solar power  through a roof-mounted PV array. Related: Kumar residence is an energy-efficient, zinc-clad renovation in San Francisco On the interior, a new glass staircase leading to the upper floor was installed to enhance the home’s open floor plan. The ground floor of the home was extended to make space for an open kitchen and seating area, which leads to the outside through extremely large glass sliding doors — again, bringing in natural light wherever possible. The kitchen and dining area was placed 50 centimeters lower than the entrance level — a strategic design tactic that seamlessly connects the inside of the villa with the outdoor garden and a beautiful river nearby. In fact, the home is surrounded by greenery , giving it a contemporary cabin-in-the-woods feel. + O2 Studio Photography by Ossip via O2 Studio    

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O2 Studio renovated an old Netherlands home into a gorgeous energy-neutral villa

This "boat" on wheels turns city dwellers into urban adventurers

April 3, 2018 by  
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Urban adventurers, prepare to set sail: A temporary installation in Utrecht, the Netherlands is transforming its site into an unknown land full of discoveries. When city dwellers engage with the project, they become “urbanauts,” contemporary adventurers that sail through the public space. Rome-based design collective  orizzontale  conceived the project as an LED-lit,  modular wooden structure that reimagines the concept of a boat, resulting in a flexible urban space that merges art, design and technology. The Urbanauts project forms part of RAUM, a workshop in Utrecht that hosts the Berlijnplein, a large public exhibition space . Together with local creators, international creators, and the public, RAUM will build a program of festivals, installations, events, and workshops in 2017 and 2018. Related: Dark highway underpass transformed into a brilliant tunnel of light The “urbanauts’ headquarters” includes different urban parcels that can be expanded and personalized. Elevated platforms and a small tower provide vantage points from which to observe the surrounding area. Thanks to the iron cage on top, which holds a red LED sign, the tower also works as an urban landmark. + orizzontale

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Plastic-fishing group in Amsterdam turns trash into contemporary furniture

March 12, 2018 by  
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If we remove plastic from the world’s waterways, what happens to it next? Amsterdam -based Plastic Whale , the “first professional plastic-fishing company in the world” according to founder Marius Smit , came up with a creative answer: circular furniture . They teamed up with LAMA Concept and Vepa to design the Plastic Whale Circular Furniture collection, all of which is made with trash fished from the city’s canals. Plastic Whale takes thousands of people plastic fishing in Amsterdam’s canals every year, removing tons of plastic trash, according to their video. They’ve created fishing boats out of plastic collected and then decided to make something new with the garbage: office furniture. They enlisted the help of design firm LAMA Concept to design the pieces, and furniture manufacturer Vepa to produce and sell them. Related: Pentatonic launches new brand of modern furniture made with nothing but trash They’ve created a boardroom table , chairs , a lamp , and an acoustic panel. Vepa director Janwillem de Kam said in a statement , “For the manufacture of the furniture we use PET bottles that have been collected by Plastic Whale. We also melt steel waste into the base of the chair. We are fast moving towards a waste-free factory and even ensure that we process the waste from others in this collection.” Plastic Whale said they also utilize residual fabrics for the chair. LAMA Concept co-owner Yvonne Laurysen said they were inspired by whales for the furniture’s designs : “Think, for example, of the look and feel of the characteristic skin, the adipose tissue, and the impressive skeleton.” Surfacing whales inspired the boardroom table’s appearance, the chairs got their look from the shape of a whale’s tail, barnacles provided inspiration for the lamp, and a whale’s bellow offered the spark for the acoustic panels. When a customer is done with the furniture, they can return it to Vepa, which will create new pieces and even return a deposit. The furniture can be ordered via exclusive dealers with prices available on request; you can email Vepa for more information. Some of the proceeds will go to organizations fighting the plastic problem like SweepSmart in India. You can find out more about Plastic Whale’s collection here . + Plastic Whale + Vepa + LAMA Concept Images via LAMA Concept and courtesy of Vepa

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DIY tiny cabin is made out of old skateboards and a horse trough

March 12, 2018 by  
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When it comes to DIY , sometimes just one simple tool can make all of the difference. Nick Orso spent two years researching, planning, and building an eco-friendly tiny cabin on wheels . Using a simple Excel spreadsheet, he created the final design to scale for the “Tiny Cabin That Excels.” Built with reclaimed materials such as old skateboards and a salvaged horse trough repurposed as a water basin, his beautiful timber cabin – which also includes a composting toilet and tankless water heater – may be compact, but it comes with a lot of character. Nick Orso’s mobile cabin is located in a picturesque lot near a historic estate just out of Center City, Philadelphia. With large french doors and plenty of windows, it makes a perfect woodsy retreat. That said, since it’s built on a standard flatbed trailer, the mobile tiny home can be installed just about anywhere. Related: Escape Traveler is a tiny cabin on wheels that can be moved anywhere Orso built the cabin using quite a few reclaimed materials , such as an old horse trough, which was installed as the shower basin. His passion for skateboarding is also reflected throughout. In the kitchen, for example, he lined the side of the bar with recycled skateboards salvaged from a friend’s skateboard shop. Now, almost completely finished, Orso seems a bit hesitant as what to do with his cool cabin , “I hope to put it up in the woods as kind of retreat, and then who knows what that could lead to? It was a passion I had, he explains, “and I decided to throw away my free time and sanity to achieve it”. Via Urban Engineers Photography by Urban Engineers , and video by Urban Video Productions

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DIY tiny cabin is made out of old skateboards and a horse trough

California puts solar procurement on hold despite production records

March 12, 2018 by  
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California set two new solar power records this month, Greentech Media reported . But utilities seem to be slowing down their procurement of new capacity. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) proposed utilities procure almost no extra renewables this year — but critics worry how this affects the State’s renewable energy targets. Solar energy is thriving in California. Power plants sourced 0.5 percent of electricity from solar in 2010 in the state, according to the Los Angeles Times , but that figure had risen to 10 percent last year. Pacific Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas and Electric, the state’s three investor-owned utilities , which “comprise approximately three quarters of electricity supply” according to the California Energy Commission, are all ahead of schedule on clean energy procurement plans, and are on their way to meeting California’s mandate of sourcing 33 percent of energy via renewables by 2020. Related: The U.S. just generated 10% of its electricity from solar and wind for the first time But these investor-owned utilities didn’t procure any new renewable energy capacity last year, and CPUC has proposed they procure nearly none in 2018. Independent Energy Producers Association CEO Jan Smutny-Jones told Greentech Media, “They’re basically saying, ‘There’s too much going on; we don’t know what to do, so we’re not going to do anything for a while.’” The state is still setting records. The California Independent System Operator (CAISO) saw solar serve a peak percentage of demand at 49.95 percent on March 4. The peak prior to that was 47.2 percent in May 2017. CAISO senior public information officer Anne Gonzales told Greentech Media, “The record is a result of a cool, sunny day. Because it was a weekend, and the weather was mild, the minimum load was relatively low, around 18,800 megawatts. Meanwhile, solar production was more than 9,400 megawatts.” The next day, March 5, CAISO set another record: solar production hit a peak of 10,411 megawatts. The record before that was 9,913 megawatts, set in June 2017. Smutny-Jones told Greentech the CPUC is “too absorbed in modeling”, adding, “For me, it’s a little hard to sit in a meeting and talk about 100 percent renewables when our chief regulator isn’t moving the ball.” Via Greentech Media Images via Bureau of Land Management on Flickr and Depositphotos

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Two men build a floating "Fatberg" in Amsterdam

March 9, 2018 by  
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Friends Mike Thompson and Arne Hendriks have created a floating island made of fat, a “ Fatberg ” as they call it. With a current weight of over a metric ton, the car-sized Fatberg began as one drop of fat in a glass of water in 2014. Today, the Amsterdam sight is one to behold, and Thompson and Hendriks hope to someday pull it to the North Pole. Why? The Fatberg is part art-project, part political-statement, part ridiculous-human-experiment. “Basically we’re doing this because fat is a very interesting material—it’s probably the most iconic material of time,” Hendriks told Gizmodo . “It’s organic, but it speaks about energy. It speaks about health. It speaks about over-consumption. It speaks about beauty.” The Fatberg in Amsterdam is not related to the fatberg discovered clogging the sewers beneath the streets of London in 2013. London’s fatberg was a product of improper waste disposal, with fat and grease congealing in the underworld. Amsterdam’s Fatberg is a deliberate creation, composed of various animal and plant-based fats. Its creators hope to someday add human fat, sourced from post-liposuction donations, though this remains an artist’s dream at the moment. Related: Boston man crosses harbor in a pumpkin boat To create the Fatberg, Thompson and Hendriks cut their collected solid fat, boil it into a sludge, then pour it on their creation, which floats at its own dock. Although it is not yet strong enough to carry a human, it does seem to have provided a habitat and food source for seagulls. To this end, Thompson sees the Fatberg as serving a practical purpose. “We’re talking about a floating energy reserve,” Thompson said. “We can maybe replace these melting icebergs with this floating energy reserve that allows us to store energy for times ahead. Because who knows what the future holds.” Via Gizmodo Images via Fatberg

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Two men build a floating "Fatberg" in Amsterdam

Soaring wooden watchtower hovers over 17th century Dutch fortress

March 9, 2018 by  
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Dutch firm RO&AD Architecten recently built a massive timber tower that looks out from the historic Fort De Roovere in Halsteren, Netherlands. The Pompejus watchtower and open-air theater rises 100 feet off the ground, providing beautiful views of up to 13 miles in any direction. Named after the first commander of the fortress, Pompejus de Roovere, the tower hovers over the West Brabant Water Defense Line. The area has a lot of significance in local history. The West Brabantes Water Defense Line, which was built in 1627, was an important shipping routes that faced attacks from Spanish and French forces. Fort de Roovere was one of the very first fortifications that used flooding as a defense strategy. Since the area’s battle days, the community has restored the forts and canals and introduced fresh green space . Related: Sunken Pedestrian Bridge in the Netherlands Parts Moat Waters Like Moses! Today, the area is a very popular recreation area. The tower will be used by locals and tourists as a viewing platform and open-air theater , as well as an information point on the history of the fortress. Pompejus stands on the edge of the fortress, towering over the moat and slanted in to direction of the “enemy”. The tower itself stands over 80 feet, but because the fortress landscape is 30 feet off the ground, the wooden landmark rises over 100 feet and provides expansive views. The tower’s leaning frame is made out of steel, but its facade is comprised of a series of asymmetrical timber panels interspersed with various openings. The large cutouts allow natural ventilation and light to enter the wide wooden stairwell that leads to the top of the tower. Interestingly, Pompejus was a social project developed with lots of community participation. Crowdfunding allowed locals to sponsor the tower’s construction and many local companies funded parts of the construction process such as materials and transportation. Interns from local schools and volunteers from the surrounding community were brought on to assist with the project. + RO&AD Architecten Via Archdaily Photography by Katja Effting

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Dutch villa smartly taps into solar energy and optimal site conditions

March 1, 2018 by  
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EVA Architecten took the long view when designing Villa IJsselzig, a modern home optimized for energy efficiency and durability. Set next to the river Hollandse Ijssel, the villa respects the neighboring buildings by adapting a similar form but also quietly stands out with its distinctly contemporary design. Renewable energy including solar and a heat pumps power the home while the carefully positioned openings reduce unwanted solar gain. Topped with a dark copper roof and reddish-brown bricks, Villa IJsselzig was built to appear as a singular sculptural mass. The river-facing facade to the north is left mostly transparent with full-height glazing that wraps around the communal areas while the home’s opposite side on the south is mostly closed off from view and protected by a garden for privacy. The placement of these openings and orientation also mitigate solar gain , particularly unwanted heat build-up from the south, and are supplemented by extra-insulated walls. Related: Solar-powered M House is a light-filled modern Dutch villa In contrast to its dark facade, the interior, designed in collaboration with NEST architects , features a lighter palette. The interior is organized around a wooden core surrounded by white walls. The wooden core contains the staircases, storerooms, and other facilities thus opening up the other rooms to flexible open-plan use. The living spaces are located on the ground floor whereas all the bedrooms are placed on the upper floor and overlook the river. + EVA Architecten Via Dwell Photos by Sebastian van Damme

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The Netherlands plans 26,910-square-foot floating solar farm at sea

February 16, 2018 by  
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Around 26,910 square feet of floating solar panels could provide clean energy for the Netherlands . Six Dutch companies and institutions are developing the offshore solar plant, Project Solar-at-Sea, devised by Oceans of Energy . The pilot will have $1.48 million in government funding, Reuters reported. Utrecht University will conduct research – as the solar modules are expected to offer a power yield 15 percent greater than they would on land. Could an offshore solar farm provide renewable energy the Netherlands needs? Six Dutch organizations plan to find out. A pilot project of around 323 square feet of solar panels could be in place this summer, around nine miles from The Hague in the North Sea Farm, a testing zone, to scrutinize equipment, energy output, weather conditions, and the impact on the environment . Related: Dutch engineers unveil ‘floating island’ to combat rising sea levels There are significant challenges in an offshore solar project. Utrecht University solar power expert Wilfried van Sark said in the university’s press release that sometimes the solar panels will be underwater – “when the waves reach heights of ten meters, this is unavoidable. The panels will wobble a bit, too. The impact of those dynamic shifts in tilt angle hasn’t yet been studied, either.” Floating solar farms can be found on lakes around the world, but ones at sea are much rarer. But there are also benefits to operating a solar farm on the waves. Van Sark said seawater offers a cooling effect, so the yield of the solar panels is anticipated to be higher than on the ground. Oceans of Energy pointed out in their press release a solar farm at sea doesn’t use up valuable land space. Maritime Research Institute Netherlands (MARIN), Energy Research Center of the Netherlands (ECN), Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research (TNO), and TAQA Energy are also part of the consortium. The team hopes to operate 26,910-square-feet of solar panels by 2021. Inhabitat reached out to Oceans of Energy for project images but they are still confidential; we hope to see them when the pilot project kicks off. + Oceans of Energy + Oceans of Energy press release + Utrecht University Via Reuters Images via Depositphotos ( 1 , 2 )

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Adventuring Naya becomes first wolf sighted in Belgium in a century

January 23, 2018 by  
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A female wolf originally from East Germany has traveled across Europe to arrive in Belgium , marking the country’s first sighting in at least 100 years. Farmers in Belgium’s Dutch-speaking Flanders region have been notified of Naya’s presence after she killed two sheep and injured one in the town of Meerhout. While it is unlikely they are thrilled by Naya’s adventurous spirit, her arrival is nonetheless an inspiring event for a continent that long ago hunted most of its wolves to near-extinction in most places. With the Belgian sighting in the books, wolves have now officially returned to every country in mainland Europe. The nearly two-year old Naya was first tagged with a tracking device by Technical University of Dresden when she was six-months-old. However, she did not depart from her pack rooted in rural Lübtheener Heide, a region between Hamburg and Berlin , until last autumn. She has since been living the dream of traveling through Europe , first traversing the Netherlands before arriving in Belgium. “She passed through four or five natural parks in the Netherlands but she left them all after one or two days showing that she was looking for something else,” Hugh Jansman, a researcher from the Wageningen University and research center, told the Guardian . Related: Wolves return to Rome’s periphery for the first time in 100 years Data gathered from her tracking device indicates that Naya has covered between 30 and 70 kilometers per night. “I followed the places where she stayed,” said Jansman . “We found leftover roe deer and hares, so she has been eating wild animals as well, as expected. And one thing we can tell is that she has totally avoided humans, and anything to do with humans.” Naya is part of a thriving movement of European wolves returning to live in their former habitats. “ Agricultural areas are being abandoned by people so they are re-wilding again, leaving lots of space for carnivores. The countryside is being abandoned by young people who are moving to the cities,” said Jansman. “This increase in wolves numbers and distribution area is going quite rapidly. So it is not a matter of if wolves are coming to the Netherlands , and probably Belgium, but how fast.” Via The Guardian Images via Depositphotos (1)

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