Green-roofed villa blends into a Costa Rican jungle landscape

May 27, 2020 by  
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Hidden in the lush mountains of Costa Rica is Atelier Villa, a green-roofed residence that Czech architecture firm Formafatal created as part of the boutique retreat Art Villas Resort. Designed to blend in with the surroundings, the minimalist home was built primarily of natural materials. It also features weathered aluminum wall panels that open up to provide a seamless indoor-outdoor living experience. The Atelier Villa is one of four structures in the Art Villas Resort located on a 2-hectare hill above Playa Hermosa. Masterplanned by Formafatal, the resort comprises the Art Villa, a concrete structure designed by Refuel; the Coco Villa, a set of five egg-shaped houses designed by Archwerk studio; the Wing, a tropical multifunctional pavilion ; and the private Atelier Villa. The property can host small-group retreats of up to 24 people and is open for rent via Airbnb. Related: Breezy, prefab home stays naturally cool in tropical Costa Rica Elevated off of the ground, the Atelier Villa appears to float above the landscape and uses its raised position to take in views of the distant ocean and green hills. “The first and foremost priority is not only the idea of ‘erasing boundaries between interior and exterior’ but also highlighting constructional simplicity and pure lines (pura vida >> pura arquitectura),” the architects explained of the minimalist, steel-framed design. Formafatal wrapped the boxy, 26-meter-long home in operable, perforated aluminum panels, which don’t heat up in the sun and are rust-resistant, as well as Shou Sugi Ban -treated timber. A minimalist design approach was also applied to the interior, which is largely open-plan to provide uninterrupted sight lines of the outdoors throughout the home. Natural materials were used for the interior surfaces as well as the furnishings, which, aside from the lounge and dining chairs, were custom-made for the villa. Many of the furnishings were made with help from local craftsmen. + Formafatal Photography by BoysPlayNice via Formafatal

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Green-roofed villa blends into a Costa Rican jungle landscape

An origami-like CLT roof crowns this office in Japan

April 7, 2020 by  
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When Tokyo-based architectural office UENOA was tasked to design a new office building for structural screws manufacturer SYNEGIC Co., Ltd, the client also asked them to create “advanced architecture that [would] expand the possibilities of wooden structures.” The architects rose to the challenge by experimenting with new ways of using cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels in construction. The result is a sculptural office with a sweeping roof frame built of heavy CLT panels that touches the ground on four sides. Located in Miyagi prefecture north of Tokyo, the new SYNEGIC office building is oriented north to south and spans 834 square meters across two floors. The ground floor of the hexagonal-shaped building is partitioned into a series of rooms for a variety of functions including meetings, offices, storage, bathrooms and technical equipment. In contrast, the cross-shaped second floor does not have partition walls and comprises an open-plan office, conference room and sample room. Related: First CLT Passive House project in Boston breaks ground The highlight of the project is the massive folded roof with exposed trusses. The architects created the structure by connecting flat laminated timber trusses with widths of 105 millimeters — the typical size for lumber used in Japanese houses — to triangular CLT panels. The use of CLT allowed the architects to take advantage of time-saving prefabrication and avoid on-site hardware joinery. The heavy CLT panels used for the roof have also been used as partition walls for bearing vertical loads on the ground floor.  “After thoroughly controlling the texture of the CLT surface just like a marble, we are trying to join screws with consideration of design and workability rather than general CLT hardware,” the architects said. “Through these ambitious processes commensurate with the high cost of CLT, it was possible to realize a large CLT wall in the atrium that has no modules and emphasizes the wooden texture more.” + UENOA Images by Hiroyuki Hirai via UENOA

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An origami-like CLT roof crowns this office in Japan

How to stock a vegan pandemic pantry

April 7, 2020 by  
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As what used to be ordinary errands become brave forays into a coronavirus -paralyzed world, online grocery stores have seen a huge uptick in orders. People with dietary restrictions may be especially challenged. “When you’re vegan, it’s so much harder to find some of the things you need,” said Ryan Wilson, co-owner of Wisconsin-based Vegan Essentials. He and his wife Courtney Ernster, who founded the mail-order grocery in 1997, have been working around the clock to keep up with demand. Here are some tips from Wilson on what to buy for a vegan pantry, where to get these items and why getting groceries might take longer than you expect. What vegan pantry supplies to buy The first instinct is to stock up on dry goods and pantry staples: flour, sugar, vegetable oil, rice, dried beans and lentils. Ground flax seed makes an easy egg replacement in baked goods, and perhaps grab as much shelf-stable soy milk as you can carry. Related: Keep your pantry stocked with these staples for a plant-based diet But Wilson surprisingly said people are ordering “anything and everything.” Even items that usually sit for a while are now flying off the shelves. “It is truly a period where no matter what we have, every single thing is going, whether it’s frozen meals, refrigerated products, dry goods, even dog food and treats are going out at faster paces than usual.” What are Wilson and Ernster stacking in their own pantry? Turns out they’re thinking farther ahead and bringing home jerky, canned chili and heat-and-serve pouch meals. “Things that are easy if you want to tuck some extra stock on the shelf just in case there’s limited cooking abilities or anything of that sort,” Wilson explained. “Things that are just very easy to open up, grab, heat or just eat straight from the pack.” We’ve been avoiding thinking about grid failure, but he makes a good point. A can of chili won’t fail you like dried beans and rice will if you can’t turn on your stove. A few sweets can be comforting at a time like this. Dates and dark chocolate have some nutrients and can be eaten on their own or baked into delicious treats. Where to buy vegan food online Like many people, the pandemic finally eroded my resistance to Amazon Prime, partly because of the free delivery from Whole Foods. Alas, I filled up my online shopping cart only to find out there were no delivery windows available. This is a problem plaguing many grocery stores that deliver. As a warning, all of the stores in this section may let you down at times, as items continue to fly off shelves and stores remain understaffed. In addition to retail giants like Amazon and Instacart, many more specialty businesses appeal to vegetarians, vegans and health -conscious individuals. Bob’s Red Mill , beloved purveyor of whole foods, is a superstar when it comes to grains, cereals, flours, mixes, beans and seeds. Bob’s Red Mill also has a dedicated gluten-free production line. Related: The best sources for plant-based protein Vegan Essentials can fulfill your alternative meat and cheese needs, and this online grocery sells vegan treats such as white chocolate, caramels and snickerdoodle dessert hummus. It also stocks all the standard things a vegan household needs, from pantry staples to cleaners. Deja Vegan specializes in vegan snack foods, like cookies, crackers and bars. A business partner of PETA , Deja Vegan donates half of its profits to animal causes. Coronavirus-related complications to supply and demand When you’re ordering groceries during the pandemic, it helps to be patient and ready to substitute items. Vegan Essentials’ experience is probably typical of many online food businesses right now. “It went from being a normal volume we were very, very much able to handle to getting about three to five times our normal business almost overnight,” Wilson said. “Which of course is only exacerbated by the challenge of people being restricted and everybody kind of being stuck inside.” Supply chains have mostly been reliable, Wilson said, but he has encountered some shortages. At the lowest point, he was placing orders and only receiving half of what he needed for his customers. “But it seems that right now we’re getting about 75 to 80% of what we need,” Wilson said. “I’m hoping in the next few weeks as companies start to ramp up production and things smooth out, I’m hoping we can get that back to having everything on hand all the time.” There’s also the problem of quickly adding staff as demand soars. Vegan Essentials is relying on a network of family and friends who have suddenly lost their jobs. More than ever, trust among employees is paramount. Wilson said, “We try to keep self-contained where we kind of know everybody and everyone feels safe and doesn’t wonder, ‘Was that person going places they shouldn’t have gone?’” Vegan Essentials is getting more international orders than it has had in the past, including from new customers in Australia, France, Japan, Germany, Sweden and Finland. “We haven’t heard specifically why people are looking to order from the USA more than just sticking with the usual places in Europe that can get things to them a little bit sooner. But it could just be that now that people are confined, they’re looking for a little extra variety to have something different on hand.” Because grocers are essential businesses, the folks at Vegan Essentials will keep working to meet demand. “There’s not much else we can do right now but work and keep things moving,” Wilson said. “So we may as well just keep doing the best job we can.” Images via Maddi Bazzocco , Martin Lostak and Andrea Davis

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Story book of timber designed for University of Arkansas

April 2, 2020 by  
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Dublin-based Grafton Architects and Fayetteville-based Modus Studio have won an international design competition for the Anthony Timberlands Center for Design and Materials Innovation at the University of Arkansas’ Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design. Developed to bolster the university’s role as a leader in mass timber advocacy, the $16 million applied research center will be a “story book of timber ” promoting timber and wood design initiatives. The architecture of the Anthony Timberlands Center will also be used as a teaching tool and showcase the versatility and beauty of various timbers to the public. Crowned the competition winner after a months-long process that included a total of 69 firms, Grafton Architects also made recent headlines when its co-founders, Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, were named the 2020 recipients of the Pritzker Architecture Prize . The Anthony Timberlands Center will be the firm’s first building in the United States and will be located in Fayetteville, Arkansas on the northeast corner of the University of Arkansas’ Windgate Art and Design District. The new applied research center will house the Fay Jones School’s existing and expanding design/build program and fabrication technologies labs as well as the school’s emerging graduate program in timber and wood design. Created with the public in mind, the Anthony Timberlands Center will draw the eye of passersby with its dramatic cascading roof that responds to the local climate while capturing natural light . Inside, soaring ceiling heights and rhythmical open spaces evoke a forest setting. Related: Canada’s first net-zero carbon, mass-timber college building to rise in Toronto “The basic idea of this new Anthony Timberlands Center is that the building itself is a Story Book of Timber,” said Farrell in a University of Arkansas press release. “We want people to experience the versatility of timber , both as the structural ‘bones’ and the enclosing ‘skin’ of this new building. The building itself is a teaching tool, displaying the strength, color, grain, texture and beauty of the various timbers used.” + Grafton Architects Images via Grafton Architects

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ODonnellBrown designs affordable, modular outdoor classroom

April 1, 2020 by  
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In a bid to support creative and independent learning in the outdoors, Glasgow-based architectural practice  O’DonnellBrown  has designed and built a prototype for a Community Classroom that can be assembled, adapted and dismounted in a cinch. Completed for just £10,000 (roughly $11,278), the entirely self-initiated project is based on a kit of parts that was developed using standard structural timber section sizes that make up the skeletal frame. The use of plywood modules empowers the classroom’s users to easily reconfigure the space to suit a diverse range of activities. Stripped down to a simple plywood skeletal frame, the minimalist Community Classroom combines function with beautiful architectural expression. The prototype, which was completed in September 2019 in Glasgow, measures 24 square meters of gross internal space but can be easily expanded thanks to its  modular  system. The Community Classroom kit comes with an easy-to-follow construction manual and can also be equipped with modules for seating, shelving, worktops and presentation surfaces. “The  classroom  is intended to promote and support creative and independent learning in a healthy, versatile and fun environment,” a Community Classroom press release stated. “It has been designed in line with the Curriculum for Excellence and the National Improvement Framework, to facilitate inclusive learning and mental wellbeing.” Sponsors and stakeholders, including the RIAS and Saint-Gobain, have provided material and technical support for the project.  Related: A modular classroom for environmental education pops up in a Barcelona park True to its name, the Community Classroom was developed alongside the  community , including the national children’s charity Barnado’s Works, which helped connect young volunteers to the project. The Community Classroom has hosted community-based workshops and events, including a craft workshop by local community center Nan McKay Hall. This project will continue to host events by a diverse range of users in the future as part of its mission to raise the bar for outdoor learning opportunities. + O’DonnellBrown Images © Ross Campbell

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Light-filled home makes the most of affordable, sustainable materials

February 10, 2020 by  
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Proving that building on a budget doesn’t have to mean compromising on aesthetics, Uruguayan architecture practice Bercetche Estudio has completed the WS House, a single-family home on the outskirts of Montevideo. Built primarily with unpainted natural timber inside and out, the home takes on a minimalist design that highlights its simple palette of natural materials. A strong connection with the outdoors and access to natural light is also emphasized throughout the home. Located in the La Tahona neighborhood about a half-hour drive east from the capital, the WS House stands out from its suburban neighbors with its contemporary form comprising boxy, flat-roofed volumes of varying heights. Spanning an area of nearly 2,750 square feet, the home is shaped like a horseshoe that wraps around the main entrance. Oversized square pavers that lead from the road to the front door emphasize the geometry of the home, while the timber cladding is applied in both horizontal and vertical orientations for visual interest. Related: Danish home champions wood over concrete for lower carbon emissions The main entrance leads directly to the open-plan living area, dining room and kitchen, which seamlessly connect to the outdoor terrace with a sunken circular pool through sliding glass doors. Flanking the main living areas are two bedroom wings: the master bedroom with an en suite bathroom is located on one side, and a secondary bedroom wing contains three flex rooms and two baths. Large windows let in ample natural light and views of the outdoors. “It is an easy-to-read house, built with sustainable and economical materials, which prove that with well-manipulated basic components, an expressive and energy-efficient house can be made,” the architects explained. “[The house] shows great respect for the environment and, through a nice space distribution, takes advantage of it. Two opaque volumes separated from each other generates a permeable ‘in between’ that gives rise to all the common activities of the house.” + Bercetche Estudio Photography by Sebastian Aguilar via Bercetche Estudio

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Light-filled home makes the most of affordable, sustainable materials

ZHA gets the green light for worlds first all-timber soccer stadium in England

January 10, 2020 by  
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After years of delays, Zaha Hadid Architects has finally gained planning approval for Eco Park Stadium, the world’s first all-timber soccer stadium in Gloucestershire, England that will serve as the new home of the Forest Green Rovers football club. As a beacon of sustainability, the structure will aim to be carbon neutral or carbon negative and will include renewable energy systems as well as low-carbon construction methods and operational processes. Set in a meadow, the Eco Park Stadium minimizes its visual impact on the surrounding landscape with a natural material palette and a soft, undulating profile topped with a transparent membrane roof to reduce the building’s volumetric impact and encourage turf growth. The building will be constructed almost entirely of sustainably sourced timber , from its structure and roof cantilevers to the seating terraces and floor slab — elements that are typically built from concrete and steel in most stadiums. The stadium design can also accommodate future growth; the structure will initially serve 5,000 spectators, while phased development can increase capacity to 10,000 seats without the costs of major construction works. “The really standout thing about this stadium is that it’s going to be almost entirely made of wood — the first time that will have been done anywhere in the world,” said Dale Vince, Ecotricity founder and Forest Green Rovers chairman. “When you bear in mind that around three quarters of the lifetime carbon impact of any stadium comes from its building materials, you can see why that’s so important — and it’s why our new stadium will have the lowest embodied carbon of any stadium in the world.” Related: Zaha Hadid’s 2022 World Cup stadium in Qatar adapts for future use The Eco Park Stadium will be the centerpiece of the £100 million Eco Park development, Ecotricity’s 100-acre sports and green technology park proposal. Half of Eco Park will include state-of-the-art sporting facilities, including the new stadium, while the other half will be dedicated to a green technology business park with sustainably built commercial offices and light industrial units. The proposal will also include a nature reserve on the site and a possible public transport hub. + Zaha Hadid Architects Images by MIR and negativ.com via Zaha Hadid Architects

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This lake house in Chile was designed to complement the surrounding environment

July 29, 2019 by  
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The BEG House by Rudolphy + Bizama Arquitectos is located off of Lake Riñihue in the Los Ríos Region of Chile. With stunning views of the lake and the Andes Mountains to the south, the designers made sure to prioritize these vistas from each of the main spaces. Sunlight brightens the home through two large northern skylights and spreads through the use of circulation spaces. The walls to the south are made almost completely out of glass sliding doors, so the residents can either open them to enjoy the fresh air or close them while still receiving a majestic lake view. To provide even more light and ventilation, there are several interior courtyards built into the home as well. The region is known for rain, so the windows and glass doors separating the interior to the courtyards give one the feeling of being outside and enjoying the cool rain while staying comfortable and dry inside. These courtyards also allow for the merging of the property with the surrounding natural spaces for the home and the environment to work as one. Related: Contemporary A-frame home soaks up lakeside views in Mexico The dark color of the exterior of the house, constructed of pre-painted metal sheets, helps the structure blend into the environment with thoughtful pops of brightly-colored wood used as a slight contrast. The metal brings the walls and the roof together, and the slopes of the roof on the interior are built at different heights to mimic nature. The natural, organic shades of wood on the interior gives the residents even more connection to the setting while contrasting beautifully with the dark metal exterior. With the exception of the kitchen, the entire inside is unpainted to show off the light wood. The abundance of rain also nourishes the dense, rainforest shrubbery that surrounds the property, creating plenty of greenery to complement the lake views and make this home truly unique. + Rudolphy + Bizama Arquitectos Images via Rudolphy + Bizama Arquitectos

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This lake house in Chile was designed to complement the surrounding environment

Farmhouse-inspired family home combines salvaged and sustainable materials

January 7, 2019 by  
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Salvaged materials from a century-old farmhouse and barn have been given new life as Ben’s Barn, a spacious family home in Kennebunk, Maine that takes inspiration from New England’s rural architecture. Designed by Portland, Maine-based architecture practice Caleb Johnson Studio for a young family, Ben’s Barn was constructed with a mix of reclaimed materials sourced not only from the former farmhouse and barn that had stood on another portion of the site, but also from a midcentury modern teardown in Weston, Massachusetts. The well-worn and midcentury fixtures have been combined with new, sustainable materials to create a contemporary and light-filled environment. Created as a “lifetime family home,” Ben’s Barn covers an area of 4,425 square feet — including a loft — with four bedrooms and four baths. Because the clients are a family with young children, the home is designed with ample space for indoor play, yet it also provides an accessible first floor bedroom suite for visiting relatives or for the homeowners who intend to age in place . Ben’s Barn comprises two large gabled structures — a bedroom wing and a kitchen/master wing — connected with a double-story glazed link. The timber roof structure was salvaged from the former farmhouse on site, as were the interior wood cladding and interior doors. Granite blocks reclaimed from the farmhouse foundation were reused as steps and seating in the landscape. The cabinetry and fixtures were also taken from a midcentury modern teardown. Related: Geothermal-powered forever home targets environmental and social sustainability “The structural system is a hybrid of a stick-framed shell over an amalgam of new and antique timbers, fortified with structural steel, all used without obscuring their identity or function,” the architects said. Consequently, all the exposed interior structural elements were left deliberately unfinished, as was the exterior weathering steel facade that will develop a rusty patina over time. + Caleb Johnson Studio Photography by Trent Bell via Caleb Johnson Studio

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Reclaimed materials and a massive green wall transports Denali shoppers to the great outdoors

November 9, 2018 by  
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Earlier this fall, Connecticut-based, multidisciplinary design practice Pirie Associates completed a biophilic store that evokes the image of a romantic, aging barn bursting with lush greenery. The newly opened Providence, Rhode Island store was created as the eighth brick-and-mortar location for the outdoor clothing and gear retail chain Denali . The store sits next to Brown University on Thayer Street and brings together a massive, low-maintenance vertical green wall with a predominately timber material palette to pull the outdoors in. Most of the materials were reclaimed in keeping with the company’s commitment to environmental stewardship. Sheathed within a brick-and-steel envelope that complements the surrounding urban fabric, the new Denali Providence store greets passersby with full-height glazing on the ground floor. Though the shop might seem like the average brick-and-mortar building from the outside, shoppers are treated to a visual surprise in the woodland-inspired interior with a double-height space filled with 20 birch tree poles — with the bark intact — as well as a large vertical green wall filled with New England plants and overhead skylights that provide natural light. The design aims “to transport customers to a new state of mind with a biophilic interior ‘kit-of-parts’ [that Pirie Associates has] now used in several locations,” the firm said in a press release. To lure people upstairs, two 32-foot-tall birch tree poles were strategically positioned through the U-shaped stairwell and stretch upward from the ground floor to the ceiling of the second level. Related: Nearly 10,000 plants grow on NYC’s largest public indoor green wall Apart from the paint, electrical equipment and HVAC, most of the materials used to construct the store were reclaimed or recycled and were often locally sourced. Salvaged materials include the barn doors, corrugated sheet metal and the nearly two dozen birch tree poles. The vertical green wall that spans two stories was designed for low maintenance and is integrated with a self-irrigation system. + Pirie Associates Photography by John Muggenborg via Pirie Associates

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Reclaimed materials and a massive green wall transports Denali shoppers to the great outdoors

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