Old Dutch farmhouse gets a modern makeover with locally-sourced materials

December 2, 2016 by  
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Architect Jeanne Dekkers converted this brick farmhouse in the Dutch village of Banholt into a beautiful family house and studio. The team renovated the existing building with spruce-clad extensions that line the edges of an inner courtyard, resulting in a bright and airy space with a gentle environmental footprint. The farmhouse is located on the outskirts of an agricultural region in the Netherlands . The architects converted a former shed into a studio space and connected it to the new carport, creating a layout that resembles that of traditional farmhouses of the region. The additions are separated from the existing brick structures thanks to horizontal timber cladding. The old horse stable was transformed into a light and modern living space with an office. Two large openings made of Iroko wood frame the landscape and let the light inside. A stainless steel core containing the kitchen, bathroom and toilet occupies the central area of the building. Two round staircases clad in wood connect the ground floor with the second floor. Related: Historic Belgian farmhouse renovated into a modern solar-powered home The team collaborated with local artisans through the project, prioritizing local materials and local building techniques. They also reused some of the original materials, including old steel ledgers, roof tiles and bricks. + Jeanne Dekkers Architecture Via Dezeen Photos by Holly Marder

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Old Dutch farmhouse gets a modern makeover with locally-sourced materials

Scientists blend photosynthesis and quantum physics to improve solar cells

December 2, 2016 by  
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Four physicists at the University of California, Riverside decided to blend photosynthesis and quantum physics to work towards greener solar cells . Plants effectively regulate energy flow from the sun, but since current affordable man-made solar cells hover around just 20 percent efficiency, the scientists decided to take cues from vegetation. Current solar cells require feedback controllers and voltage converters to manage fluctuations in the amount of energy streaming from the sun, and end up wasting loads of energy. Their lack of efficiency is one hurdle standing in the way of mass adoption. But plants don’t need such hindering mechanisms. The UC Riverside team decided to reevaluate solar energy conversion in light of both photosynthesis’ efficiency and quantum physics principles. Related: Newly discovered form of spiralized light breaks everything quantum physics says about photons The physicists created what UC Riverside calls a novel kind of quantum heat engine photocell, a device that assists in the sunshine-to- electricity conversion process. Their new photocell draws on two quantum mechanical photocell systems that absorb either one or two colors of light, allowing the photocell to alternate between absorbing light at high and low power. According to UC Riverside, this innovation could allow a photocell to “convert varying levels of solar power into a steady-state output.” For UC Riverside assistant professor Nathan Gabor, who took part in the research, the journey to a better solar cell started in 2010 with the simple question, “Why are plants green?” He found out no one truly understands why, and decided to search for an answer. His quest, drawing on his physics background melded with deeper study into biology, may unlock the secrets to a more effective solar cell. The journal Nano Letters published the physicists’ research online in November. Via University of California, Riverside Images via Nathaniel Gabor and Tamar Melen and Pixabay

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Four major cities pledge to ban diesel cars by 2025

December 2, 2016 by  
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Air pollution plagues many large cities , and now four major metropolises are taking a stand. At the C40 Mayors Summit ending today in Mexico City, Paris, Madrid, Mexico City, and Athens pledged to ban diesel cars by 2025. They also urged car manufacturers to take action, saying they will provide incentives for their residents to walk, bike, or drive alternatively-fueled cars. Air pollution leads to three million deaths every single year, with most fatalities occurring in cities, according to the World Health Organization. As diesel cars pump out contaminating fumes, the four cities decided to remove those vehicles from their cities. In addition to carbon dioxide, cars emit nitrogen dioxide and tiny particles, worsening air quality especially in congested urban areas. Related: 6 brilliant smog-eating designs ridding cities of air pollution According to The Guardian, it’s not precisely clear if the pledge will include a total ban, or if it will simply ban cars from some areas of the cities, and if so, exactly which areas. But such a move could be especially beneficial for Mexico City, which just this year banned over one million cars in an air pollution crisis. Mexico City mayor Miguel Ángel Mancera said in a statement , “It is no secret that in Mexico City we grapple with the twin problems of air pollution and traffic.” Public transportation , like the subway and bus system, will be expanded, according to the mayor, as will bicycling infrastructure. Athens mayor Giorgos Kaminis indicated he wants to take his city even one step further by removing every car from Athens’ center. Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo challenged the car industry to take pollution as seriously as the four cities. “Today, we…stand up to say we no longer tolerate air pollution and the health problems and deaths it causes – particularly for our most vulnerable citizens,” she said. “Big problems like air pollution require bold action, and we call on car and bus manufacturers to join us.” Via The Guardian Images via Mike Norton on Flickr and Pixabay

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Sustainable home in Cornwall is wrapped in steam-bent wood

October 25, 2016 by  
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Tom and his wife Danielle bought an existing lodge located in the woodland at Trevano near Heslton, and designed a timber-clad extension that blends seamlessly into the surrounding landscape. It is linked to the original cottage and outbuildings which the architects restored and modernized. Raffield translated his passion for sculptural design and sustainable materials  into his newest design-the biggest one to date-which promises to become his masterpiece. The timber-clad extension uses an innovative take on steam-bent furniture and lighting. Related: Students Construct a Dramatic 10-Meter-High Steam-Bent Lookout Tower at Helsinki Zoo “We wanted to build a house with the same consideration and attention to detail we put into our furniture and lighting,” said Raffield. “The experience of building your own space and creating pieces to put inside has been incredibly liberating. Then being able to share that experience is both nerve wrecking and incredibly exciting,” he added. The project recently appeared on the UK Channel 4 TV show “Grand Designs”. + Tom Raffield Via World Architecture News

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Thatch-roofed Dune House mimics the windswept dunes and grasslands of Latvia

September 15, 2016 by  
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The house was built close to the Baltic Sea, where the owner can enjoy kitesurfing and have an easy access to the beach. Informed by the surrounding landscape, the design of the house accentuates traditional building techniques and locally available building materials. The team designed a modern shape and combined it with the softness of reed hatch. Related: The Dune House is A Striking Daylit Vacation Home For Architecture Lovers in Suffolk While the structural frame of the house, made of laminated timber , is visible on one side, while the reed hatch covers most of the exterior wall on the other. Timber planks line the ridge of the roof. Pine wood dominates the interior that references rural architecture . It houses a wood-burning stove , an open-plan lounge, kitchen, dining area and living room. Related: Black House Blues is a gorgeous woodland haven for music lovers “We wanted to make the interior soft, simple and clean,” said Kalinauskas. “We believe this kind of spatial experience helps the inhabitants feel relaxed without any disturbing details so they can enjoy the beautiful surroundings,” said the architects. + Archispektras Via Dezeen Photos by Juozas Kamenskas

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Thatch-roofed Dune House mimics the windswept dunes and grasslands of Latvia

RM Passive House in Spain is a zero-energy Mediterranean dream home

July 28, 2016 by  
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The house, located in Spain , functions as a single-family residence that provides privacy for each member of the household. The 198-square-meter (2,131-square-foot) house is located on a beautiful site overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Its volume is broken up into several smaller volumes that share a 409-square-foot wooden terrace . Related: Amazing Net Zero House in the Canary Islands has On-Site Wind Turbines The main challenge was to design a zero-energy building while providing a high degree of comfort. The RM House consumes extremely small amounts of energy which it produces from renewable energy sources. It complies with the rigorous Passivhaus standard and has a reduced environmental footprint thanks to efficient construction systems and materials. + Calderon Folch Sarsanedas

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Bucolic UK renovation hearkens back to simpler, greener times

February 26, 2016 by  
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Cedar-clad Elizabeth II house in Amagansett shelters its residents from outside noise

February 9, 2016 by  
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Ukraine’s leafy green ‘Tunnel of Love’ is a passageway for trains and lovers

February 9, 2016 by  
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Image via Bored Panda We love seeing natural architecture here at Inhabitat, and the leafy green Kleven train tunnel is a beautiful example of what happens when nature is allowed to grow freely around manmade infrastructure. Image via YouTube The tunnel was made over many years as the passing train molded the trees’ lines. The train turned a luscious piece of woodland into a unique passageway as it traveled back and forth 3 times a day over several years. Photo © Oleg Gordienko In addition to serving as a train route, the tunnel is used by lovers to make a wish – it is said that if they are sincere in their love, their wishes will come true. If you are out and about Ukraine , don’t miss this fantastic green passageway – whether you are with a loved one, or on your own. Via Pijama Surf Photos © Oleg Gordienko / Amos Chapple / Rex Features, unless otherwise noted

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Dynamic residence in Singapore brings nature to the city with a green roof and vertical gardens

January 18, 2016 by  
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