Tiny Toronto lighthouse serves multiple functions at once

March 2, 2017 by  
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This minimalist wooden lighthouse installed at Woodbine beach in Toronto doubles as a temporary drop-off location for local charity donations. Portuguese design firm João Araújo Sousa & Joana Correia Silva Arquitectura wrapped The Beacon in aged wood to make it look as if it has been part of the beach for a long time. The Beacon, which shoots a vertical beam of light into the night sky, captures the essence of traditional lighthouses, while translating their archetypal conical shape into a single spatial gesture. Beside its role as a lighthouse, the structure also functions as a place where people can leave non-perishable foods and clothes for charities. Related: The government is giving away free lighthouses to the right owners The lower part of the structure acts as a repository for such items and features openings at different heights through which they can be easily inserted. While the architects hope the Beacon will become part of a larger, permanent network of donation hotspots in Toronto , this small structure can also be repurposed as a wildlife observation tower , a wilderness shelter or a fire lookout tower . + João Araújo Sousa & Joana Correia Silva Arquitectura Photos by Steven Evans

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Tiny Toronto lighthouse serves multiple functions at once

Renovated California cabin with star-studded history goes up for sale

February 10, 2017 by  
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This renovated lodge-inspired house preserves the star-studded legacy of the original structure. First built for the 1923 silent movie “The Courtship of Miles Standish”, the home was formerly owned by Daryl Hannah. The existing owners commissioned architect Chris Peck , interior designer Lisa Strong , builder Eric Dobkin and landscape architect Samantha Gore to dream up a beautiful 6,195-square-foot estate expansion and renovation. The house, currently listed for sale , is tucked amidst the trees of the iconic Uplifters Ranch neighborhood of Rustic Canyon, and offers privacy to its occupants. In 2012, current owners Marla and Larry Butler commissioned a team of designers to renovate the cabin  into a larger building that would preserve as much of the original materials as possible. Stones from the original cabin were reused, while naturally fallen lodge pole pine timber from Montana dominates most of the exterior and interior. Related: 6 Tiny Homes under $50,000 you can buy right now An open-plan kitchen and dining room feature double-case windows and bi-fold doors that offer spectacular views of the surrounding nature. A large terrace with a plunge pool and stone walkways functions as an outdoor entertaining area. Original furniture, fixtures and windows strengthen the connection to the past. + Chris Peck + Samantha Gore + Lisa Strong Design

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Renovated California cabin with star-studded history goes up for sale

Kengo Kuma unveils blossoming glass and timber villas for Bali

January 24, 2017 by  
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From Ibuku’s gorgeous bamboo structures to D-Associates’wood and brick DRA House , Bali’s contemporary architecture strikes a delicate balance between contemporary and vernacular design. Among the most recent projects planned to be built on this Indonesian island is a cluster of six unique villas, a yoga pavilion and a greenhouse designed by Kengo Kuma . The 215,000-square-foot project named Tsubomi Villas, or “flower bud” in Japanese, will include six villas enveloped in overlapping layers of wood that form hyperbolic paraboloid roof canopies . The buildings, planned to be built on a sandstone cliff on the Bukit Peninsula, the southernmost point of Bali , look like they emerge from the ground like flowers. Related: Kengo Kuma unveils plans for spiraling timber-clad library in Sydney The Tsubomi Villas combine glass and timber to provide a feeling of openness and tranquility. The design blurs the line between interior spaces and the surrounding landscape, inviting the lush forest inside. + Kengo Kuma & Associates Via Architizer

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Kengo Kuma unveils blossoming glass and timber villas for Bali

Ron Arad designs the modular Armadillo Tea Pavilion for indoor and outdoor use

October 18, 2016 by  
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As a modular structure, the Armadillo Tea Pavilion can be expanded as needed and reconfigured to suit a variety of needs. The base model measures 18 square meters and comprises five molded shells connected together with fixings crafted from hand-patinated brass and bronze. Made from timber , the shells can be completed using the buyer’s choice in a set range of finishes depending on the pavilion’s intended use. Durable PVDF-coated timber composite is offered for outdoor applications, while oiled hardwood-veneered plywood is suggested for internal use. Related: The Nest Pod is futuristic prefab home that can pop up anywhere in the world “The Armadillo Tea Pavilion is designed as an independent shell structure, for use indoors and outdoors, which provides an intimate enclosure, shelter or place of reflection within a garden, landscape, or large internal space,” says the description on Revolution Precrafted. Interested buyers can submit a form on Revolution Precrafted’s website to inquire about availability and price. + Armadillo Tea Pavilion Via Fubiz Images via Revolution Precrafted

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Ron Arad designs the modular Armadillo Tea Pavilion for indoor and outdoor use

Contemporary Finnish lake house is built with seven types of timber

September 15, 2016 by  
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The warm and welcoming House Åkerudden owes its cozy character to its timber-lined and light-filled interior. Its gabled form is a reference to the local vernacular of Tenala, a rural community 60 miles west of Helsinki. Unlike the neighboring architecture, however, the lake house combines treated and untreated timber for a highly textured appearance that complements the surrounding field landscape. The house is clad in vertical strips of aspen and sits atop oak batons, while the outdoor decks are built with locally sourced Oregon pine. “The building’s idiom is simple and oblong and it settles naturally into the open field landscape,” said studio founder Mathias Nyström, according to Dezeen . “In its simplicity and apparent modesty, it approaches vernacular architecture without mimicking it. The goals were authenticity, simplicity, locality and sustainability.” House Åkerudden was built with a locally sourced spruce frame, which is kept exposed and was lightly treated with white-tinted oil. Oiled and untreated black alder paneling, as well as oak veneer, pine, and larch surfaces line the interior. Black-painted oriented strand board clads the staircase. Related: Timber-louvered house maximizes privacy and light in rural Germany Natural light streams in through large windows on all sides of the home that frame views of the outdoors. The home, aided by the double-height space in the large open-plan lounge and kitchen that occupy one half of the building, help make the home feel airy and spacious. The other half of the home comprises the bedrooms, bathrooms, and study, and is separated from the communal areas by an entrance hall. + MNy Arkitekter Via Dezeen Images © Mathias Nyström and Kuvio Architectural Photography

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Contemporary Finnish lake house is built with seven types of timber

Vernacular-inspired Delaware home built with recycled barn wood

August 31, 2016 by  
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The house, called Rural Loft, is located in an area of Delaware dominated by agriculture . It channels the local vernacular and references the form and materiality of barns. In fact, its exterior cladding was made using wood reclaimed from an agricultural structure planned to be demolished. Related: Old Belgian barn is transformed into a gorgeous contemporary home The interior spaces are organized around a central core with bathrooms, storage spaces and utilities. Sliding doors open onto two exterior decks and blur the line between inside and outside. A rain screen made from reclaimed barn wood siding facilitates air circulation and keeps the house well ventilated. + DIGSAU Via Dezeen Photos by Todd Mason

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Vernacular-inspired Delaware home built with recycled barn wood

Fully-furnished tiny house from France easily fits a family of three

August 24, 2016 by  
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The 217-square-foot house has a space-efficient layout that fits all the amenities of a regular-sized home. The sitting area lies above a small room that can be used as a guest room or play area for a small child. A small, operable window ensures the crawlspace is well ventilated. The kitchen is split into two areas-one with a sink and the other with the stove. A pull-out table forms a small dining space next to the kitchen. Accessible via a ladder is the main sleeping area with a big bed, while the bathroom features a composting toilet . Related: Tiny $33K Home Offers Off-Grid Luxury Living on Wheels The Odyssée, which costs $49,800, comes fully furnished and features a variety of natural materials such as red cedar, oak, ash and spruce. If you’re interested in visiting one of Baluchon’s built projects in person, check out the company’s website for open house dates. + Tiny House Baluchon Via Treehugger Images via Tiny House Baluchon

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Fully-furnished tiny house from France easily fits a family of three

Beautiful timber office sequesters carbon in Austria

August 19, 2016 by  
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Located in Mödling, Austria, 52 Cubic Wood is mostly clad in vertical strips of timber carefully crafted and joined together. In addition to its beautiful appearance, timber was chosen over concrete and steel because of its advantage as a “carbon sink” thanks to trees’ absorption of carbon dioxide through photosynthesis. That carbon is not released until the timber decomposes or is burnt. Aside from the timber cladding, a mirrored facade partially covers the ground level. The angled mirrors reflect the foliage of the outdoor gardens. Large windows also frame views of the outdoor landscape and bring in natural light to illuminate the interior. Related: World’s tallest hybrid timber tower by Shigeru Ban coming to Vancouver The office spaces span two floors and are similarly clad in light-colored wooden surfaces and complemented with timber furnishings. “52 cubic wood – produces carbohydrate (glucose) from carbon dioxide CO2 (which equates to 260.000km by car) with the help of the sun,” write the architects. “Additionally oxygen is released in the form of breathable air for 100 years per person. This happens interference-free without waste and emissions, it‘s quiet and fully automatic. This is the beauty of the factory called ‘The forest’.” + JOSEP + Atelier Gerhard Haumer Via ArchDaily Images via JOSEP , © Bernhard Fiedler

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Beautiful timber office sequesters carbon in Austria

This timber installation challenges students to think about new ways to design homes

August 5, 2016 by  
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The structure was built during a 5-day workshop, involving over 200 students who worked under the guidance of 12 studio directors and the wood engineer Rémy Meylan. Meant to unfold as a series of successive spaces, the structure aims to “invoke questions, contains possibilities, and is open for interpretation. The project was a collaboration meant to challenge the designers to think outside of the architecture box, and helped the students explore how design could take place not from the top down, but as a mutual effort. The space acts as a sort of “genetic code” for future construction concepts. Related: Rintala Eggertsson’s MILU is a Sculptural Wooden Pavilion Made from Locally Sourced Timber One of the main topics explored through the project is the feasibility of architectural design that brings forth a multilayered discourse on space, culture, and ideas. The project has been recently completed and is open to visitors on the EPFL campus in Lausanne . + EPFL | École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne + ALICE Studio Architects Lead photo by Aloys Mutzenberg

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This timber installation challenges students to think about new ways to design homes

7 plants that could save the world

August 5, 2016 by  
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Perennial Wheat Grains are the staple food of humanity: the vast majority of people on the planet eat either rice, wheat, or corn on a daily basis, and those are all annual crops. The issue with annuals, which complete their life cycle in a few months and must then be replanted, is that they require tremendous inputs of water, fertilizer and, often, pesticides, and herbicides, in order to remain productive on the same plot of land each year. The constant tillage required to plant and replant grains slowly degrades soil over time and leads to erosion by water and wind. That said, many modern plant breeders have been hard at work in recent years attempting to domesticate some of the perennial grains that are found in nature, because they require a fraction of the agricultural inputs for the amount of yield when compared to their annual cousins. Researchers at the Land Institute in Salina, Kansas are leading the way and have already developed a strain of perennial wheat called Kernza , though they say it may be another ten years before they have perfected it as a crop to replace annual wheat. Azolla Azolla is a tiny floating aquatic fern that grows naturally in wetlands all over the world. Individual azolla ferns are about the size of a thumbtack, but they are considered one of the fastest growing species on the planet, as they can double their quantity every other day in warm shallow water. The reason for this is their ability to absorb atmospheric nitrogen and convert into a form of all-natural, fast-acting fertilizer. Humans have been taking advantage of this trait for millennia, incorporating azolla as a member of aquatic polycultures, primarily in the rice padis of Asia. In recent times, azolla has been grown as a form of organic fertilizer, a source of bio-energy and as a sustainable alternative to corn and soy for use in livestock feed. Its phenomenal growth rate makes it a promising plant for the purposes of carbon sequestration, which is currently under study at the Azolla Institute . Related: INFOGRAPHIC – Edible, Medicinal, or Just Bizarre, Here are 50 Amazing Facts About Plants Algae Algae range in size from unicellular organisms to giant kelp over a hundred feet in length. Like azolla, their aquatic nature allows an incredibly fast growth rate making them a prime target for biological research. Some species are edible, bringing micronutrients into the human diet that are deficient in modern agricultural crops. Some species are grown as organic fertilizer, while others are used in biological filtration of sewage. But the potential of algae as a fuel source is where it gets really exciting. They can grow in shallow water, even salty water, making it possible to produce fuel on land unsuitable for agriculture. Algae grows so fast, it is harvested weekly, rather than annually. It is estimated that 15,000 square miles of algae production could supply the United States with all of its fuel needs – that’s about 1/7 of the land currently planted in corn in this country. Some algae fuel is already being sold and experts predict that by 2025 the technology will be refined to the point where the price per gallon will break even with the cost of petroleum. Sedum Unlike algae and azolla, sedums like it dry. They grow naturally from cracks in the sides of cliffs, meaning they survive both intense heat and extreme cold equally well and have little need for either soil or water. These traits make sedums perfect for vegetating rooftops and walls — they are the preeminent species for living architecture and are already in widespread use for this purpose. Plus, they have beautiful succulent foliage that comes in an array of soft color tones, making it possible for buildings to become living works of art. Bamboo Bamboo is probably the fastest growing terrestrial plant—some species shoot up 2 to 3 feet a day, creating enchanting groves in the process. Bamboo is edible, useful for building and can be used to make fiber, paper and a biodegradable alternative to plastic. Of course, there are many other plants that fulfill these purposes, but bamboo has the advantage of being a perennial grass. It can be harvested again and again without replanting, making it useful for reforestation projects to heal land that has been degraded by conventional forms of forestry and agriculture. Bracken Fern Some plants grow surprisingly well in conditions that are toxic to others. Bracken ferns, which are a weedy fern species growing on disturbed land all over the world, have an uncanny ability to grow in soils polluted with heavy metals, like lead, nickel, cadmium, copper and arsenic. Scientists have been experimenting with using them to remove heavy metals from contaminated industrial sites, as the ferns actually absorb them from the soil and store them in their tissues. After being allowed to mature, the ferns are then harvested and incinerated. The resulting ash contains large quantities of the precious metals which are then recycled for other uses. Related: Before Supermarkets, People Foraged for Food Out in Nature (and We Still Can) Chestnuts Like perennial wheat, chestnuts have the potential to serve as a staple food source that improves environmental quality rather than degrades it, as most modern agricultural systems do. They are enormous trees that live for hundreds of years, and, unlike most nut crops, they are relatively low in protein and high in carbohydrates, with a nutritional composition roughly equivalent to potatoes. Their high-calorie, low-protein nutritional profile makes them one of the only tree nuts suitable as a staple food. In fact, they were the number one staple food in the hilly regions of the Mediterranean basin in southern Europe until the early 19 th century, where they were ground into flour and used for bread. Chestnut trees thrive in the dry, infertile soils of the region, where grains cannot be cultivated on a large scale. Thus, they have the potential to make marginal agricultural lands into highly productive forested landscapes, with all the benefits of natural forests and none of the environmental costs associated with the large-scale production of annual grains.   Images via Shutterstock

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7 plants that could save the world

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