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

This elegant vacation retreat rises from the pink earth in Mexico

August 29, 2018 by  
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Mexican design studio Taller Héctor Barroso crafted a cluster of pinkish holiday homes that appear to emerge straight out of the earth. Dubbed Entre Pinos in reference to the surrounding pine forest, this modern vacation retreat derives its natural appearance from local soil that covers the exterior and interior brick walls. The soil was  recycled from the onsite excavations for burying the foundations, and it blends the buildings into the landscape. Located in the idyllic town of Valle de Bravo, two hours west of Mexico City , Entre Pinos comprises five identical weekend houses arranged in a row to follow the site’s sloping topography. Covering an area of 1,700 square meters, the homes were built from local materials, including timber, brick and earth. Each weekend home consists of six smaller volumes arranged around a central patio. The volumes toward the north are more solid and introverted, while those to the south open up to embrace the garden, forest and sunshine, which penetrates deep inside the buildings. The communal areas, as well as one of the bedrooms, are arranged on the ground floor and connect to the outdoors through terraces and patios. Three bedrooms can be found on the top floor and frame views of the pines through large windows. The Entre Pinos project recently received a 2018 AZ Award in the category ‘Best in Architecture – Residential Single Family Residential Interiors.’ Related: This gabled home wraps around an existing pine tree in Mexico “The firm led by architect Hector Barroso seeks to generate architectural proposals that manage to merge with their environment, taking advantage of the natural resources of each place: the influence of light and shadows, the surrounding vegetation, the composition of the land and the geographic,” reads the project statement. “Thanks to this, the projects merge in harmony with the environment that surrounds them, creating spaces that emphasize the habitable quality of the architecture.” + Taller Héctor Barroso Images by Rory Gardiner

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This elegant vacation retreat rises from the pink earth in Mexico

Breezy, prefab cafe blends contemporary and traditional styles in Thailand

July 24, 2018 by  
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BodinChapa Architects designed Pasang, a contemporary, prefab cafe built with modular elements near the verdant city of Chiang Rai, Thailand . Envisioned as a community space where visitors and locals can interact and learn about the region’s relationship with pineapple farming, the cafe references the landscape with its natural material palette. Fitted with operable wood and glass louvers, the building can also be opened up to cross breezes for natural ventilation. Located in a “sufficient economy village” and slightly hidden away from sight, the 90-square-meter Pasang takes its architectural cues from the country’s Lanna vernacular architecture, which used prefabrication in the construction of houses and temples. Constructed with a steel frame fitted with glass, the cafe was designed to embrace the surrounding landscape of fields, fruit orchards, stream and mountains beyond. To mitigate the region’s tropical climate and harsh solar gain, the architects partially wrapped the glass facade with screens of operable louvers . The glazed casement windows can also be opened to let in cooling breezes. “Designed to span the pillar every 1 meter with wood louvers and glass louvers between, the structure can serve as both the wall of the building and voids for natural ventilation ,” explained the architects in a project statement. “By opening all the louvers, [one] can clearly see the form of the architecture and connection of the interior. The building has conveyed a locality in a contemporary style, which is a combination of traditional local wisdom and modern construction technology.” Related: Colossal cardboard temple pops up in Chiang Mai in just one day The cafe is topped with gabled roofs to echo the surrounding architecture. The light-filled interior is divided into split levels to allow for views and to avoid obstructing the flow of natural light and breezes indoors. The kitchen and main seating area are located on the ground floor, while the bathrooms are housed in a freestanding concrete structure. Additional seating can be found on the upper level. + BodinChapa Architects Images by Rungkit Charoenwat

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Breezy, prefab cafe blends contemporary and traditional styles in Thailand

This cozy cabin in the woods was once just an old tool shed

July 24, 2018 by  
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An old tool shed has undergone a dramatic transformation in the hands of James Cutler, principal architect at American design practice Cutler Anderson Architects . Reimagined as a cozy, multipurpose cabin, the Studio / Bunkhouse now serves as a work and living space for James and his 12-year-old daughter. Nestled in the woods and faced with a large expanse of glass, the 80-square-foot cabin embraces stunning views of Puget Sound on Washington’s Bainbridge Island. Placed just 30 feet away from the main house, Studio / Bunkhouse serves as a compact getaway accessible via a raised wooden walkway. The foundation was made using bags of ready-mix concrete , while the building was framed by James and his daughter out of locally milled rough-sawn Douglas Fir timbers. He also covered the exterior in rigid insulation as well as overlapping custom-cut 16-by-24-inch Corten steel shingles, which complement the surrounding Madrone and Cedar trees. A large window wraps around the west side to let in light and frame landscape views. “During the daytime hours, the building is a design studio , yet when the daughter comes home, she often joins her father and curls up on the lower bunk to read (it’s warm and cozy now),” according to the project statement. “Then, they switch the computer to TV mode and watch the evening news or movies. Since built, the building has surprised the designer and family by becoming the cozy, de facto family/media room for the main residence.” Related: Elegant net-zero home wraps around a large pond in Connecticut Inside, the two bunk beds fold up on traction struts, while the studio desk also folds up to save space. Rolling file cabinets hide the inverter/charger and 4.5 kilowatts of backup batteries. The space is also equipped with a cast iron wood-burning stove and a small fridge that can run off battery power. When all the furniture is folded away, the cabin can also be used as a poker room. + Cutler Anderson Architects Images by Art Grice

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This cozy cabin in the woods was once just an old tool shed

This minimalist timber writers studio in Switzerland is suspended in mid-air

July 18, 2018 by  
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Most writers need a quiet space to gather their thoughts and work. Tapping into this need for solitude, Oslo-based Rintala Eggertsson Architects designed ‘In Praise of Shadows,’ a minimalist writer’s studio  built primarily of timber and suspended in the air on the grounds of the Maison de l’Écriture, a literature institute in Montricher, Switzerland. The compact timber cabin takes inspiration from the cross in the Swiss coat of arms for its geometric form and is lifted into the air beneath a curvaceous and porous roof. The In Praise of Shadows cabin was developed as part of the Maison de l’Écriture’s writer’s residency program. Rintala Eggertsson Architects was invited — along with 16 other architecture practices — to take part in an international design competition; a total of six designs were chosen. Rintala Eggertsson Architects’ studio was built with a structural steel frame fitted with three layers of insulation to ensure energy efficiency. The cladding and the interior walls were made entirely from lightweight timber. “Shaping a space for a writer is a demanding task, as it has to stimulate the creative process on one hand and represent a firm framework for the physical needs on the other,” Rintala Eggertsson Architects said. “These seemingly distant opposites don’t need to out-compete each other, but rather enter into a dialogue where the shift from black to white is a journey in itself. In our design proposal, we tried to emphasize this connection between the bodily functions of the inhabitant and the mental tasks he or she will take on.” Related: Dreamy light-filled writer’s studio pops up in a lush Brooklyn garden The interior is split into four half-levels with floor space varying from 86 square feet to 183 square feet. The service areas, which include the water and heating equipment, are located on the lowest level. The toilet and kitchen are placed on the next half-level near the entrance, while the living room is just above. The writer’s room can be found on the top-most floor. The cabin’s windows were carefully oriented to allow natural light and views while preserving privacy. + Rintala Eggertsson Architects Images by Valentin Jeck

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This minimalist timber writers studio in Switzerland is suspended in mid-air

This solar-powered school produces enough surplus energy to power 50 homes

June 27, 2018 by  
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This timber elementary school and kindergarten in Switzerland boasts more than just good looks — the School in Port, designed by Zürich-based architecture firm Skop , also gives back to the community through excess energy production. Located in a residential neighborhood, the energy-plus building and communal power station draws from a rooftop array with more than 1,100 solar panels that completely covers the school’s energy needs and powers 50 additional households. Moreover, the school is visually tied to its neighbors with a contemporary zigzagging roof that references the pitched roofs of the local vernacular. Skop won an international competition in 2013 to design School in Port, which is largely informed by sustainable principles. The building was prefabricated using timber sourced from sustainably-managed forests. Wood, which was chosen for its ability to sequester carbon , was also used throughout the interior and in the furnishings. All other construction materials were chosen for their non-toxic, recyclable and low-impact properties. The school covers an area of more than 180,000 square feet to cater to 280 children from kindergarten to elementary school. The light-filled interior is organized around a “central circulation zone,” a zigzagging east-west spine and open learning space that branches off to staggered classrooms and other enclosed spaces to the north and south. Flexibility is a major theme of the interior design — in addition to the multifunctional circulation zone, adjacent classrooms and group working spaces can be connected through large doors — that encourages a variety of teaching and learning methodologies. Related: This minimalist prefab hotel offers stunning views of the Swiss Alps “Placed on a gentle slope, the building takes advantage of the topography and links various outdoor spaces according to the different access routes of the school children,” Skop explained. “On the main level, all rooms benefit from the spatial qualities of the folded roof. Each classroom appears to be an independent little house, creating a cozy and homelike atmosphere for the children.” The School in Port has achieved a MINERGIE-A rating and is also connected to the district heating. + Skop Images via © Simon von Gunten and © Julien Lanoo; illustration via © Skop

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This solar-powered school produces enough surplus energy to power 50 homes

A 1920 Swiss barn is reborn as a modern home for a family of five

June 11, 2018 by  
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Swiss design studio Ralph Germann architectes  has overhauled an old drafty barn into a beautiful contemporary home with a new timber annex. Located in the rural village of Orsières in southeast Switzerland, the barn renovation and expansion project was commissioned by a family of five who sought a modern and light-filled abode. The adaptive reuse project—named the House EKC—was built with locally sourced materials and is equipped with an air-water heat pump, solar thermal panels, and dimmable LEDs. The House EKC covers an area of 2,153 square feet and includes a 108-square-feet outdoor terrace . The old barn had originally been used for hay storage in the upper loft while the lower volume was used as a stable for goats or sheep. Ralph Germann completely gutted the barn and rebuilt a reinforced concrete structure, including the walls and slabs, to meet seismic code. Thermal insulation was applied in the interior in order to preserve the barn’s “‘vernacular’ aesthetics.” “The insertion of large windows into the masonry respected “the principle of origin”,” said the architects. “The glass simply took the place where wood has originally been and supplies light and passive heat. A balcony-loggia made out of concrete and wood took the place of the old balcony which was used to sun-dry the hay.” The new wooden annex mimics the proportions and low gabled roofline of the historic barn. The timber, which includes larch and spruce wood, were sourced locally from the Val Ferret region. Related: The rustic exterior of this abandoned barn hides a surprising space to get away from it all The light-filled interior features plaster walls and ceilings finished in mineral paint “white RAL 9010” that reflect light and helps create the illusion of more space. Oiled-brush larch wood lines the floors. The main staircase is built of solid larch and serves as the backbone of the house. The solid larch furniture was designed by Ralph Germann to ensure a cohesive interior design. The custom design also presented the opportunity to create a high-back bench in the dining area that doubles as a guardrail for the staircase. The kitchen features white laminate with “Dekton gray concrete” countertops. + Ralph Germann architectes Images by Lionel Henriod

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A 1920 Swiss barn is reborn as a modern home for a family of five

The energy-efficient Aspen tiny home is built tough to withstand Canadian winters

June 11, 2018 by  
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Over the years, tiny homes have popped up everywhere from coastal landscapes to lush woodlands. But now, one Canadian-based builder is proving that tiny homes can be just as resilient in the harsh frigid winters of British Columbia. Borealis Tiny Homes come installed with various features that keep the interior warm and cozy year-round, including radiant underfloor heating, efficient heat recovery ventilation systems and gel fuel fireplaces. Clad in honey-toned cedar and dark metal slats, the company’s latest project, the Aspen, is a luxurious tiny home on wheels  that boasts a a sleek, cabin-inspired design. According to Borealis, the structure was built with locally-sourced materials whenever possible. A local wood mill crafted the Aspen’s interior paneling and loft area. The cedar siding, metal roofing, hardwood flooring and bamboo countertops are also local products. Related: Custom ordered tiny homes provide compact living options without sacrificing on comfort Inside, the tiny home is quite spacious. There is 200 square feet of living area on the lower level and a 68-square-foot upper level sleeping loft.  The living space is bright and airy thanks to several windows that let in optimal natural light . The home is also equipped with LED lighting. The minimalist decor inside the tiny home is custom-made to be extremely space-efficient. The living room has a fold-out sofa and small working area in the corner. Stairs that double as storage space lead up to the kitchen, which is equipped with a beautiful bamboo countertop. The space is installed with full-sized appliances, and there is additional space for a dishwasher or washer/dryer combo. The sleeping loft , which is big enough for a queen-sized bed, is accessed by climbing some steps up onto a landing and then into bed. Thanks to the high ceiling, the bedroom is incredibly spacious, especially when compared to traditional tiny homes. The Aspen is also equipped with various energy-efficient features to withstand the cold Canadian climate. The radiant flooring has an additional heat recovery system to keep the home at a pleasant temperature all year long. The temperature is also maintained by a gel fuel fireplace, which provides a nice ambiance for the cabin-like tiny house. + Borealis Tiny Homes Via New Atlas Images via Borealis Tiny Homes

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The energy-efficient Aspen tiny home is built tough to withstand Canadian winters

Norwegian-inspired timber cabins unveiled for a landscape hotel in France

April 19, 2018 by  
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Visitors to Breitenbach will soon have the chance to stay one of several tiny timber cabins scattered across the idyllic French countryside. Built of new and recycled timber, the 14 Norwegian-inspired cabins form the proposed Breitenbach Landscape Hotel designed by Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter . The 17,000-square-meter hotel will immerse guests in the French landscape with lodgings that offer luxury, privacy, and stunning views of the outdoors. Located on a hillside in northeastern France, Breitenbach Landscape Hotel will be spread out across the slope and include 14 cabins, a main reception building, sauna , and director housing. The project features a natural material palette dominated by new and recycled wood; some of the cabins will also be topped with green roofs. Large glazed sections open the cabins—of which there are four types—to views of the landscape. Related: RRA’s Mandal Slipway offers a contemporary twist on the local Norwegian vernacular Though the minimalist cabins exude a Scandinavian character, the hotel also celebrates the local culture and traditions. “Breitenbach Landscape hotel will have a prominent role linking the hotel activity to the site and local traditions,” wrote the architects. “Breitenbach landscape hotel will also look at art and culture as a part of strategy to enhance the region cultural practices. Visitors will have the possibility to take part of the local culture and art through some areas dedicated to exhibition and local knowledge.” + Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter Images by reiulf ramstad arkitekter, WsBY, tejo

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Norwegian-inspired timber cabins unveiled for a landscape hotel in France

Four living trees grow through this dreamy treehouse retreat in Montana

March 27, 2018 by  
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Many of us can remember having a childhood treehouse, but Montana Treehouse Retreat owners Kati and Daren Robison have taken this idea one step further. Nestled on seven acres of private woods near Glacier National Park in Montana, this two-story cabin has four living trees growing through it—two through the decks and two through the interior. Although spacious enough to accommodate a group of up to five people, the Montana Treehouse Retreat is also a perfect romantic getaway for two. The treehouse’s grand entrance takes the form of a spiral staircase that winds around a giant Douglas fir tree . This unique stairway provides access to 500 square feet of living space, with two outside deck ares, a full kitchen, dishwasher, and three padded benches that double as sleeping quarters. The first floor also has a full bathroom with a full-sized shower and sink. Related: The Treebox is an amazing modern home set high up in the treetops On the second floor, the master suite loft has a queen mattress, private bathroom, and a sliding glass door that leads out to the second-story deck. Here, guests can relax and enjoy a glass of wine or cup of coffee, all while taking in the secluded forest setting. The cabin also offers a private wooded space with a campfire ring, walking trails, and cross-country ski trails for the winter months. Whether inside the cabin or out, visitors to the Montana Treehouse Retreat can experience a dwelling that harmonizes with nature in a unique and innovative way. + Montana Treehouse Retreat Via Uncrate    

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Four living trees grow through this dreamy treehouse retreat in Montana

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