Research facility minimizes its carbon footprint to attract international talent

June 16, 2020 by  
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Spain’s coastal city of Badalona has recently welcomed the Centre for Comparative Medicine and Bio-Image, a new research facility designed to meet high standards of energy efficiency and sustainability. Pilar Calderon and Marc Folch of Barcelona-based architecture firm Calderon-Folch Studio teamed up with Pol Sarsanedas and landscape designer Lluís Corbella to create a site-specific building that would offer the highest levels of comfort as a means to attract and retain both local and international talent. Embedded into the landscape, the compact facility was constructed with a prefabricated wooden framework and clad in larch to blend in with the nearby forest. Because the Centre for Comparative Medicine and Bio-Image is located on sloped terrain, the architects placed the portion of the building containing the research floors partly underground to take advantage of thermal mass for stable climatic conditions year-round. Building into the landscape has also allowed the architects to create two access levels: one used as a general entrance for the administrative area, and the other for logistic purposes for the scientific-technical area. The separation of areas by levels optimizes building operations and adheres to the strict requirements of biological containment. Related: Green-roofed Honey Bee Research Centre targets LEED Gold “The new Centre for Comparative Medicine and Bio-Image holds a research center of the first order,” the designers explained in a project statement. “A research facility based on ethical research criteria, technical and functional complexity, and comfort features that have been resolved in an efficient and sustainable way that strongly considers its relationship with the environment.” Natural materials, large glazed openings and naturalized exterior spaces visually tie the research facility to the environment. Eco-friendly considerations were also taken with the use of a modular , lightweight wooden framework with loose-fill cellulose and structural insulated panels that minimize material waste. Moreover, the building follows passive solar principles. The research facility is equipped with high-performance energy and air-flow recycling technologies as well as a 250-square-meter rainwater collection tank for sanitary and irrigation purposes. + Calderon-Folch Studio Photography by José Hevia via Calderon-Folch Studio

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Research facility minimizes its carbon footprint to attract international talent

Half-buried home in Brazil is crafted from rammed earth

May 6, 2020 by  
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On a windswept hill a three-hour drive from São Paulo, Brazilian architecture firm Arquipélago Arquitetos has completed the House in Cunha, a low-lying, contemporary home that is primarily built of locally sourced rammed earth. To protect the building from the cold, prevailing winds, the architects partly buried the structure into the earth and repurposed the excavated soil as construction material for the building walls. The thick, earthen walls and the building’s sunken position also provide the benefit of thermal mass to help maintain comfortable and stable interior temperatures year-round. The design for House in Cunha takes inspiration from the surrounding landscape and the region’s traditional culture for ceramic crafts. Set atop a hill, the building is oriented for optimal views of the Mantiqueira Mountains, while its low-lying profile and rammed earth construction help blend it into the landscape. Related: Inspiring rammed earth hospital brings affordable care to rural Nepal The main walls of the home were constructed of rammed earth via a building technique that allows for easy assembly and disassembly. “All the characteristics of hardness, thermal inertia, color, brightness and tactile quality are factors due to the physical and chemical characteristics of that specific soil,” the architects noted. In addition to rammed earth construction, architects also used a local pottery technique to create straw-colored bricks for the remaining walls. Despite its use of traditional materials and construction techniques, the House in Cunha features a minimalist and contemporary design. The main living areas face north to take advantage of winter sunlight and open up to an L-shaped outdoor deck sheltered by deep roof overhangs. Large windows bring panoramic views and ample natural light indoors, while a mix of timber surfaces and brightly colored furnishings help create a cozy and welcoming atmosphere. The home also includes three bedrooms and two baths; the bedrooms face the northwest and also open up to the outdoor deck. + Arquipélago Arquitetos Photography by Federico Cairoli via Arquipélago Arquitetos

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Half-buried home in Brazil is crafted from rammed earth

Green-roofed Stonecrop home rises from rural English landscape

March 6, 2020 by  
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London-based architecture firm  Featherstone Young  recently completed Stonecrop, a new home in Rutland, East Midlands that’s also an example of how thoughtful architecture can draw new interest to declining rural communities. Topped with a sloping green roof that touches the ground, the sculptural building features two wings — one that houses the main living areas and the other for guest quarters — that wrap around a central courtyard. To reduce the home’s environmental footprint , the architects used locally sourced Clipsham limestone and oriented the home according to passive solar principles.  When the architects were asked by their clients to design a home on the edge of a village designated as a conservation area, they were initially met with pushback from the local planning authority. In response, the firm created a successful two-stage planning approach that not only detailed designs for a 347-square-meter sustainable home, but also showed how sensitive new construction could protect and enhance the surrounding countryside by preventing linear sprawl.  “Releasing overlooked sites such as these helps keep villages compact and distinct, and kicks against the usual housing development we see sprawling into the countryside,” explained Sarah Featherstone, architect and co-director of Featherstone Young. “This, coupled with the house’s two-wing strategy, makes for a more sustainable approach to building in  rural settings .” Related: Contemporary barn-inspired home adheres to passive house principles Stonecrop’s two-wing design also helps clients save on energy costs. When the secondary wing for guests is not in use, the clients can choose to only heat the main wing for day-to-day living. The principal wing is defined by its “buffer” wall of textured dry stone that provides privacy and thermal mass. In contrast, the three-bedroom guest wing, which is also constructed from the same locally sourced Clipsham  limestone , features a smooth ashlar finish. The two wings wrap around a central courtyard that helps funnel natural light and ventilation indoors. Large glazed walls frame views of the garden and meadow, while a natural material palette further ties the interiors to the outdoors.  + Featherstone Young Images © Brotherton-Lock and © James Brittain

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Green-roofed Stonecrop home rises from rural English landscape

Eco-sensitive community in northern India harvests rainwater

September 4, 2019 by  
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Near the Himalayas, a new eco-conscious residential development known as the Woodside has taken root in the mountains of Kasauli, a small town in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. Indian architectural firm Morphogenesis used a site-sensitive approach to design the luxury development, which not only follows the contours of the landscape to minimize site disturbance but also makes use of passive solar conditions and rainwater harvesting systems to reduce energy and water usage. Envisioned as a nature retreat for city dwellers, the Woodside is perched on extremely steep terrain that includes level differences of approximately 100 meters within the site boundaries. The development’s 37 cottages and the internal roads were strategically placed to minimize cut and fill operations as well as to preserve the existing vegetation and body of water on site. Locally sourced natural materials, such as stone, timber and slate, were primarily used for construction. Related: Passive solar school in Indonesia celebrates the natural landscape “The cottages are positioned on the slope in a manner that ensures unobstructed panoramic views of the scenic hills of the Shimla valley; the largest ones enjoy the farthest view,” the architects explained. The lush landscape is left mostly untouched save for agricultural uses. “This is achieved by maintaining a minimum height difference between the roof level of each cottage and the ground level of the preceding cottage uphill.” To minimize energy usage, the cottages, which come in four different types, all feature thick outer walls to provide a thermal mass to reduce reliance on air conditioning. The community’s rainwater harvesting systems also help reduce water use. The collected water is used for irrigation or is stored in a sump downhill for later use. + Morphogenesis Photography by Suryan & Dang via Morphogenesis

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Eco-sensitive community in northern India harvests rainwater

A new eco-minded neighborhood in Utah ski resort emphasizes land stewardship

August 6, 2019 by  
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On a Utah ski mountain, a new neighborhood is bucking the trend of gaudy, environmentally insensitive construction that has long dominated Mountain West resorts. For their first completed project in the United States, Canadian architecture firm MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple recently finished phase one of Horizon, the first pre-designed neighborhood on Powder Mountain, Utah. With eight cabins now complete, the village—which will consist of 30 cabins—has been designed to follow passive solar principles and to allow the majority of Powder Mountain to remain undeveloped as part of the project’s commitment to climate responsiveness and land stewardship. The Horizon village was created to serve as the “home base” for Summit Series , a startup for a conferences comparable to TED. Six years ago, the startup purchased Powder Mountain, the largest ski mountain in the U.S., for the purpose of making the site “an epicenter of innovation, culture, and thought leadership.” To translate the startup’s values of community, environmental responsibility, and social good into architecture, Summit Series tapped MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple to design a village with reduced site impact and an appearance that evokes the traditional mountain vernacular. Located at 9,000 feet elevation, Horizon will consist of 30 cabins of four different typologies ranging in size from 1,000 to 3,000 square feet, a series of strategically placed garages, and a communal lodge called the “Pioneer Cabin.” Every building will be elevated on steel stilts and oriented for optimal passive solar conditions. Moreover, thermal mass concrete flooring with hydronic in-floor heating will help keep energy costs down. Inspired by the region’s cedar-clad barns, the cabins will be wrapped in vertical shiplap cedar and topped with cedar-shingled roofs. Related: Affordable wooden cabin is precariously perched over a cliff in Nova Scotia “The theme and variation strategy, in combination with the dramatic topography, results in a neighborhood that has a powerful sense of both unity and variety,” says the project press release. “The dense neighborhood will allow the majority of Powder Mountain’s 11,500 acres to remain undeveloped, and conserved for future generations.” + MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects Images by Doublespace Photography

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A new eco-minded neighborhood in Utah ski resort emphasizes land stewardship

Porous brick walls keep this bold Vietnamese home naturally cool

July 11, 2019 by  
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In an effort to beat the tropical heat in southern Vietnam’s Long An province, Ho Chi Minh City-based architecture firm Tropical Space created a home that maximizes natural ventilation. Dubbed the Long An House, the residence takes inspiration from traditional Vietnamese architecture but uses contemporary design elements to create an energy-efficient house that follows the local vernacular yet stands out with a minimalist design. Topped with a sloped roof divided in two parts, the home features porous brick walls, an open-sky courtyard and a layout that harnesses the region’s cooling crosswinds. Spanning an area of nearly 3,230 square feet, the Long An House includes two floors arranged around a central courtyard open to the sky. A simple construction palette of brick and concrete defines the minimalist building, which is punctuated by views of greenery throughout. Brick is featured in the home in a variety of ways, not only as a structural and facade material but is also used for cooling the home. The front yard is paved with hollow clay bricks, which can absorb the rain and reduce heat on the floor, while porous brick walls let wind and light through without compromising privacy. “The Vietnam traditional house is stretched from front to back creating continuous functional spaces,” the architects noted in a project statement. “These spaces’ boundaries are estimated by light with different intensity and darkness. The layout utilizes the wind direction of the local area in different seasons.” Related: A “green veil” of plants protects this home from Ho Chi Minh City’s heat Oriented east to west, the Long An House is entered from the west-facing front yard with a vegetable garden that connects to the living area through massive glazed doors that fold open to allow cross-breezes to blow through the length of the home. The courtyard with a pool occupies the center of the home and is flanked by two corridors. The one to the north contains a galley kitchen, while a terrace is found on the south side. The rear of the home comprises a master bedroom and another courtyard (also with folding glass doors) with access to the chicken coop. Two en suite bedrooms are located on the upper floor. + Tropical Space Photography by Oki Hiroyuki via Tropical Space

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Porous brick walls keep this bold Vietnamese home naturally cool

Porous brick walls keep this bold Vietnamese home naturally cool

July 11, 2019 by  
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In an effort to beat the tropical heat in southern Vietnam’s Long An province, Ho Chi Minh City-based architecture firm Tropical Space created a home that maximizes natural ventilation. Dubbed the Long An House, the residence takes inspiration from traditional Vietnamese architecture but uses contemporary design elements to create an energy-efficient house that follows the local vernacular yet stands out with a minimalist design. Topped with a sloped roof divided in two parts, the home features porous brick walls, an open-sky courtyard and a layout that harnesses the region’s cooling crosswinds. Spanning an area of nearly 3,230 square feet, the Long An House includes two floors arranged around a central courtyard open to the sky. A simple construction palette of brick and concrete defines the minimalist building, which is punctuated by views of greenery throughout. Brick is featured in the home in a variety of ways, not only as a structural and facade material but is also used for cooling the home. The front yard is paved with hollow clay bricks, which can absorb the rain and reduce heat on the floor, while porous brick walls let wind and light through without compromising privacy. “The Vietnam traditional house is stretched from front to back creating continuous functional spaces,” the architects noted in a project statement. “These spaces’ boundaries are estimated by light with different intensity and darkness. The layout utilizes the wind direction of the local area in different seasons.” Related: A “green veil” of plants protects this home from Ho Chi Minh City’s heat Oriented east to west, the Long An House is entered from the west-facing front yard with a vegetable garden that connects to the living area through massive glazed doors that fold open to allow cross-breezes to blow through the length of the home. The courtyard with a pool occupies the center of the home and is flanked by two corridors. The one to the north contains a galley kitchen, while a terrace is found on the south side. The rear of the home comprises a master bedroom and another courtyard (also with folding glass doors) with access to the chicken coop. Two en suite bedrooms are located on the upper floor. + Tropical Space Photography by Oki Hiroyuki via Tropical Space

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Porous brick walls keep this bold Vietnamese home naturally cool

A climate-sensitive concrete home is carefully embedded into hilly terrain

March 22, 2019 by  
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When Medellín-based architecture studio Juan Manuel Peláez Arquitectos (JUMP Arquitectos) visited its client’s property in nearby Colombian town of La Ceja, the team was so impressed with the landscape that they resolved to minimize alterations to the site. To that end, they adapted the built forms to the uneven terrain by splitting the residence — dubbed the C47 House — into three gabled volumes united by two glazed bridges. Built of concrete, the homes take advantage of the material’s thermal mass to absorb heat during the day and release warmth during cool nights. Covering an area of 3,831 square feet, the C47 House consists of three connected buildings. To the north is the single-story garage with service quarters that connects to the central second-story building via a short glass-walled  bridge  and outdoor walkway. This middle building houses the kitchen and dining area on the ground floor as well as two bedrooms on the upper floor. A long glass bridge stretches out to the west and connects with the third building, a single-story volume comprising the living area and lounge. Each building is strategically laid out to minimize site impact. “The natural slope and ditches where the water runs in the rainy season were the morphological characteristics that would not be modified, on the contrary, it made us think that the spatial scheme of the house should be from three volumes connected by bridges so the terrain would remain the same,” the architects explained. “Once this path was found, we did several explorations to work the architectural program according to the volumetric fragmentation. For the inhabitants of the house, this idea of having spaces connected by bridges, but at the same time totally independent, they found it very interesting, above all, to change the relationship with the landscape and space in very short distances.” Related: Rammed earth ties a contemporary home to the rocky New Zealand landscape The positioning of the homes were also informed by the region’s climatic conditions, particularly how cold the temperatures in the area turn at night. The concrete walls help harness solar gain during the day, which is then dissipated as passive heating at night. Large windows flood the interiors with natural light and are carefully placed to frame select views of the neighboring hills and nearby forest. + JUMP Arquitectos Via ArchDaily Images via JUMP Arquitectos

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A climate-sensitive concrete home is carefully embedded into hilly terrain

Clyde Mews eco-village champions sustainable housing alternatives in Melbourne

January 23, 2019 by  
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Melbourne recently became home to Clyde Mews , an inspiring “eco-village” that champions sustainable, community-focused living in close proximity to the city center. Created as an alternative to resource-intensive, car-centric developments, Clyde Mews features attractive, pedestrian-friendly design and energy-efficient housing. Designed by local architecture firm Six Degrees Architects for property development company Excelon Group, the eco-friendly development includes eight contemporary townhouses fitted out with sustainable elements — such as solar panels and water-efficient appliances — inside and out. Located in the center of Thornbury near a mix of services and amenities, Clyde Mews includes eight dwellings clustered around a shared green space with an urban garden and a  reclaimed timber boardwalk. As a medium-density development, the project consists of six double-story, family-centric townhouses and two apartment units ranging in size from one to three bedrooms. In addition to the tight-knit community atmosphere, the design also stresses resident privacy through the careful consideration of layouts and window placements. Clyde Mews’ contemporary yet grounded appearance is achieved through a material palette consisting of recycled brickwork, black steel, stained glass, cyclone fences and sustainably harvested natural wood. All dwellings benefit from a 30,000-liter underground rainwater storage tank that collects and stores rooftop runoff for reuse in flushing toilets, filling washing machines and irrigating the communal garden. Each house is equipped with Canadian Solar photovoltaic solar panels as well as Fronius solar inverters. Related: Zaha Hadid unveils futuristic designs for “New Moscow” Inside, the Clyde Mews homes are outfitted with Aerotron ceiling fans, hydronic heaters and reverse-cycle air conditioners that work in tandem with passive design features to minimize energy use without compromising on comfort. Examples of passive heating and cooling include high thermal mass exposed concrete floors that absorb sunlight during the day and dissipate the heat at night; cross ventilation; an abundance of natural light through double-glazed windows; and a pitched roof design with operable roof vents to allow hot air to escape. Energy-efficient fixtures range from LED lightbulbs and high-star-rating V-ZUG or Miele appliances. + Six Degrees Architects Photography by Alice Hutchison via Six Degrees Architects

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Clyde Mews eco-village champions sustainable housing alternatives in Melbourne

A 1950s house receives a bioclimatic renovation in Mexico

July 23, 2018 by  
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When Mexican architecture practice Hector Delmar Arquitectura was tapped to renovate a dark and dated 1950s house in the city of Naucalpan, it did more than just update the dwelling to modern standards. The architects dramatically opened the existing structure up to light and the outdoors, expanded the footprint to a site area of 8,288 square feet and applied bioclimatic and sustainable strategies such as radiant floors and solar photovoltaic panels. The breezy home — called the C260 House — erases boundaries between the light-filled interiors and the lushly-planted landscape. Set on an old garden with large trees, the original 1950s flat-roofed house suffered from a lack of ventilation . In renovating the building, the architects began by tearing back layers of materials applied to the building after numerous alterations to reveal 21-centimeter-thick brick walls and concrete slabs that the architects retained as their starting point. The team also knocked down some walls to expose the home to cross breezes and installed thin protruding roofs to offer shelter from the elements and to give the residence an airy  pavilion -like feel throughout. The team also focused on using reclaimed and recycled materials in renovating the old home. “Carpentry and wooden features were reclaimed from demolition, also timber beams were reclaimed from a demolished restaurant nearby and used for shading the terrace and other additions,” the architects said. Related: This sustainable bioclimatic home is made of volcanic ash and prickly pear fibers The primary rooms of the home were moved to the new addition, while the old structure is now used for secondary functions including a gymnasium, three bathrooms, a dressing room, pool and service areas. Outdoor areas were carved from the garden to further emphasize the home’s connection with the landscape, and the concrete slab slopes were modified to capture storm water and to optimize thermal mass. The house is also equipped with solar hot water heaters, water pumps, radiant floors and a solar array. + Hector Delmar Arquitectura Via ArchDaily Images via Luis Gordoa

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A 1950s house receives a bioclimatic renovation in Mexico

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