Steel-framed treehouse slated for Malaysian national park

July 19, 2019 by  
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Visitors to the Taman Tugu National Forest Park in Kuala Lumpur will soon have a playful steel observation tower to take in the immense tropical forest. Designed by Daniel Tiong, Nature’s Catalog consists of three cubed steel frames which interlock vertically to create multiple level, open-air platforms that rise up to through the tree canopy. Recently named the winner of the Greenovation Gazebo Design Competition, the Nature’s Catalog design will be installed along a newly opened forest trail in Malaysia’s National Forest Park, Taman Tugu. The location is an idyllic tropical stetting where hikers on the trail will be soon able to enjoy the beautiful views from the tree canopies. Related: Awesome two-story treehouse is half jungle gym and all childhood dream come true The observation tower is comprised of three steel cube-like framed with open sides, creating a series of open-air platforms that rise up vertically from the ground. To get to the structure, a roped off trail leads from the hiking path. A perforated split staircase leads visitors to the first level platform, which then rises up through the middle platform. There, a sunken courtyard provides a nice space for large groups. A fun cat ladder leads up to the top of the observation deck , allowing for prime views of the lush tropical landscape. The multiple platforms were all purposely laid out in tight configurations, and at differing heights, creating private reading or contemplation spaces, open terraces, as well as courtyards, reading areas, a meditation room, etc. Additionally, the tower’s platforms are made out of perforated panels so that the forest trees and vines can grow unobstructed through the slats over time. Due to the natural, remote location, all of the building materials, which are minimal apart from the steel frames themselves, will be delivered by hand and assembled on site in order to reduce impact on the existing landscape. + Daniel Tiong Photography by Steven Ngu Ngie Woon, Daniel Tiong

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Steel-framed treehouse slated for Malaysian national park

Passive solar home makes the most of a difficult, triangular site in Sydney

July 17, 2019 by  
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When asked to renovate and expand a home on a challenging triangular lot in Sydney, local architectural practice studioplusthree decided to build upward to make the most of the awkward site. By elevating the home’s new addition into the canopy of a large existing fig tree, the architects maximized access to natural light and city views while taking advantage of the tree’s shade. Dubbed the Platform House after its “new living platform,” the updated house also boasts increased energy efficiency thanks to the use of passive solar strategies as well as the installation of solar hot water panels and a rainwater collection system. Completed over the span of 36 months on a tight budget, the Platform House has been enlarged to cover an area of 2,131 square feet with a 753-square-foot basement. The existing ground floor was retained but reconfigured to house four bedrooms, a sitting room and an outdoor courtyard, while most of the attention was given to the new elevated extension. In contrast to the all-white ground floor volume, the new “platform” is clad in blackened timber and cantilevers out to provide shelter to the courtyard below. Related: A prefab home in Sydney celebrates indoor-outdoor living “Responding to the triangular site, the diagonal cut of the first floor volume is manifested in elements throughout from window reveals to planter boxes and outdoor seating,” the architects explained in the press release. “Acting as both cladding and screen, the upstairs volume is wrapped in a charred cypress , all of which was undertaken by hand, on-site. The design aims to integrate functionality into the details to enrich family living — such as the northern edge of the elevated deck, expressed in a continuous element that incorporates planting, outdoor seating, privacy screen, benchtop and storage.” For added privacy, the new living platform is partially sheathed in a series of sliding perforated bronze screens that protect against solar heat gain yet still let in natural light when closed. Deep eaves and recessed blinds shelter glass openings, while the fig tree provides additional protection against the western sun. The open-plan living spaces also open up to a north-facing outdoor terrace. + studioplusthree Photography by Brett Boardman via studioplusthree

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Passive solar home makes the most of a difficult, triangular site in Sydney

Architects use prefabricated glulam pillars and vibrant colors to create playful beach home in Rio de Janiero

February 25, 2019 by  
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São Paulo-based architects, Nitsche Arquitetos have unveiled a beautifully colorful beach home made out of a unique blend of building materials, including prefabricated timber pillars, multi-colored window shades and a translucent polycarbonate roof. Completely surrounded by a dense native forest adjacent to one of the most beautiful beaches located along the São Paulo coast, the Casa Praia Vermelha is elevated off the ground by six large glulam pillars to set the home’s living areas high up in the tree canopy The house has two main levels, plus the bottom floor, which houses the garage and storage. The structure is lifted off the ground by six large glulam pillars (Glued laminated timber) to blend the home into the surrounding lush greenery. Along with the abundance of trees, the home’s flat roof overhangs significantly to provide extra shading and the large windows help provide natural ventilation when opened during the searing summer months. Related: Architecture students build a tiny CLT classroom in just 3 weeks The exterior of the home manages to stand out among the green canopy, however, thanks to its series of colorful window shades. The varying hues of yellow, orange and red give the design a fun,whimsical aesthetic. Contrasting to the vibrant colors is the design’s more austere building materials, including a thermos-acoustic metal cover and translucent alveolar polycarbonate roof tile cover that illuminates the interior with muted natural light. The square volume of the home is comprised of eight rectangular modules, four make up the large living room and kitchen spaces, while the remaining four house the bedrooms. Thanks to the translucent roof, the interior is bright and airy, with hints of warm wood to create a comfortable and welcoming living area. To further blend the home’s interior into its natural surroundings, large sliding doors open up to an open-air deck with a splash pool in the corner. + Nitsche Arquitetos Via Archdaily Photography by André Scarpa and Cacá Bratke, via Nitsche Arquitetos

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Architects use prefabricated glulam pillars and vibrant colors to create playful beach home in Rio de Janiero

It’s time to decide: clean your room or plant a tree

February 5, 2019 by  
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Are luxury and sustainability compatible? The Parq Vancouver complex in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia strives to have it all by balancing two luxury hotels, a casino and eight restaurants with LEED gold standards and a host of environmental initiatives, including the option to forgo one common hotel amenity in favor of a greener option. One of the Parq’s newer programs is a twist on skipping housekeeping in favor of an alternative reward, something becoming more popular among hotels . At the Parq , when a guest checks in for more than two nights, they can skip room cleaning and opt instead for either 500 bonus Marriott points per night or having a tree planted. That’s one tree for every two nights. If they stayed at the hotel long enough, soon they’d foster a small grove. Related: Meet the teen planting 150 trees for every person on Earth To personalize the tree planting program, the Parq allows guests to include their names or dedicate the seedling to somebody else. This information appears on a webpage showing a cartoon version of the forest, including where the tree is planted and to whom it’s dedicated. Workers plant the trees in the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area near Calgary, Alberta. Cutting down on hotel housekeeping is better for both the environment and the hotel’s operating costs. Less frequent washing of towels and bedding means decreased water usage and fewer chemicals dripping into sewers. “You get the benefit of not using cleaning chemicals in the rest of the room,” Jeanne Marie Varney, who teaches courses on sustainability at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration, told the New York Times . “Not running vacuum cleaners saves energy .” The Parq, open since late 2017, also offers an unusual 30,000-square-foot park on its sixth floor, designed by landscape artist Christopher Phillips of PFS Studio. This elevated park combines an oxygen hit from more than 200 pine trees with dramatic views of Vancouver’s skyline. If that’s not enough green space , travelers can visit next door province Alberta to look for the tree that exists because they skipped room cleaning. The Ann & Sandy Cross Conservation Area welcomes hikers and snowshoers. + Parq Vancouver Via New York Times Images via Heiko Stein

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It’s time to decide: clean your room or plant a tree

A Victorian cottage gets a stylish and sustainable makeover

January 17, 2019 by  
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In one of its latest eco-conscious retrofits, Australian architecture firm Green Sheep Collective has given a single-fronted timber Victorian cottage a sustainable transformation in inner Melbourne. The renovation and expansion project combined recycled and eco-certified materials with low-tech, passive solar principles to reduce the carbon footprint of the home while improving livability. Filled with light and contemporary flourishes, the updated house — named Magnolia Soul — has also been designed to embrace the outdoors. Commissioned by a young family with pets, Magnolia Soul was designed with an emphasis on spacious indoor-outdoor living as well as healthy and eco-friendly materials. During the renovation, the architects preserved a mature magnolia tree — a stunning Magnolia x soulangeana — and turned it into a main focal point. In addition to the tree, the existing property conditions also informed the building’s siting, mass and volume, which were all optimized to follow passive solar principles. Moreover, the building footprint is minimized in favor of maximizing the garden area. “A unique folding roof form envelopes and cradles robust living spaces, whose lowered floor level is embraced by adjacent decking,” the architects explained, having created a flexible open-plan interior layout with strong sight lines to the outdoors. “Views of the magnolia tree are intentionally framed by the roof structure, through a high-angled window and bay window seat. The generous and versatile window seat creates a lovely place to relax, read a book, admire the flowering magnolia or sit on the edge of the garden. High angular ceilings offer views of the magnolia, allow dappled light to penetrate deep into the residence and provide stack effect ventilation.” Related: Smart Home targets affordability and eco-friendly design in Australia The home is oriented for optimal thermal comfort : north-facing windows draw in natural heat for winter, while deep eaves and strategically placed windows for cross ventilation combat unwanted summer heat gain. Low-E double glazing and effective insulation also accommodate a temperate climate. Recycled, low-emission and ethnically procured materials were used wherever possible. For added resource savings, the home is equipped with a rainwater tank that reuses roof runoff for the laundry and toilets. + Green Sheep Collective Photography by Emma Cross via Green Sheep Collective

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A Victorian cottage gets a stylish and sustainable makeover

Eco-friendly guesthouse in Brazil sports a green roof and rammed earth walls

January 2, 2019 by  
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In continuation of its work on the eco-conscious Camburi community center , Sao Paulo-based architecture firm CRU! architects recently completed the Guesthouse Paraty, a sustainable social building project that provided construction jobs and training to the local community. To minimize the environmental impact of the building, the architects used natural materials sourced locally, from red earth excavated on site to the tree trunks and bamboo cut from the surrounding forest. The guesthouse was also built to follow passive solar principles to keep naturally cool in Brazil’s tropical climate. Designed with flexible usage in mind, the nearly 37-square-meter Guesthouse Paraty can be used as short-term lodging, a workspace or a play space for children. The compact, single-story building includes three beds — the bedroom consists of a double bed and a lofted single bed, while a convertible futon sofa is located in the living area. The open-plan living space also includes a small cooking area and dining table. To keep the guesthouse from feeling cramped, the architects installed expansive walls of glass that usher in daylight and frame views of the outdoors; the glazed entrance on one end of the building also opens up to a sheltered outdoor living space. Because the project location is far from the town center, the architects wanted to use materials sourced from the site. As a result, the building was constructed with rammed earth walls and topped with a green roof finished with locally sourced black earth and plant matter. The formwork used for the rammed earth walls was recycled to build the roof structure. The columns supporting the weight of the roof were built from bamboo. Further tying the building in with the site is the inclusion of the existing massive granite rock that now forms part of the bedroom wall. Related: Bamboo community center empowers the local Brazilian community The overhanging roof eaves and the green roof mitigate unwanted solar heat gain. All windows are operable and strategically positioned to optimize cross-ventilation . Insect screens were installed to protect against mosquitoes. + CRU! architects Photography by Nelson Kon via CRU! architects

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Eco-friendly guesthouse in Brazil sports a green roof and rammed earth walls

SELVAGEN designs a geodesic dome pavilion inspired by a tree

January 1, 2019 by  
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Nature meets computational algorithms in Brazilian design practice SELVAGEN’s Arena Arbor, a striking geodome pavilion created for the CasaCor Pernambuco 2018, a major conference that explores interior design, architecture and landscape architecture. Developed using parametric design methodologies, the pop-up event space takes inspiration from the structure of a tree from the root system to the way light filters through the canopy. Spanning an area of 65 square meters, the dome-shaped pavilion was primarily erected as a space for lectures and debates, but it also serves as a resting space located in a quiet area near the back of the site. The structure was mainly constructed from medium density fiberboard (MDF) arranged in triangular modules punctuated with small windows and angled to prevent the accumulation of water. A star-shaped window was inserted at the top of the dome to let daylight through. “The whole space was conceived as a metaphor related to the tree , due to its meaningful symbolism as a natural element representational of life and the ludic aspect it brings in our memories for playful and comforting moments that will deeply affect the experiences people will have when inside the arena,” SELVAGEN explained in a project statement. “Also, by analyzing the morphology of a tree, it was possible to understand the functional particularity of each component for the construction of the whole, which was fundamental for Arbor Arena’s location, floor, structure, roof and lighting as the tree’s environment, root, trunk, crown and flower.” Related: Gorgeous street library in Bulgaria offers 1,500 books for free The interior, also built of timber, is organized around a half-moon stage and  amphitheater -like seating that takes inspiration from the roots of a tree. Native vegetation, including palm trees, was also brought indoors. The pavilion can be accessed from two entrances, both of which are framed in weathered steel perforated with a triangle pattern in reference to the building’s triangular motif. + SELVAGEN Via ArchDaily Images by Guilherme Paiva via SELVAGEN

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SELVAGEN designs a geodesic dome pavilion inspired by a tree

A guide to the best eco-friendly holiday gifts for pets

December 13, 2018 by  
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Our pets are our best friends … our family. That’s why it is important to spoil your animals with eco-friendly gifts that will make them and the planet happy. From chew toys made from sustainable hemp and wool to collars made of recycled plastic, here our some of our favorite holiday gifts for pets. Chew toys Whether your dog likes to snuggle with its chew toys or is a tough chewer who rips everything to shreds, these toys will make Fido the happiest pup on the planet. Each option is handmade in the U.S. from sustainable hemp canvas and eco-felt wool. They are durable enough to withstand extra-tough dogs, and they can also hold up to a washing machine. Pet beds Whether you have cats, dogs or both, all your furry friends will love the Snuggle Bed , a cozy sleeping space that can transform into many bed types to suit your pet’s preferences. This particular bed is OEKO-TEX certified; the company’s pet beds are also made from 100 percent recycled materials . Related: A guide to the best eco-friendly holiday gifts for family Cat trees Cats love climbing, scratching and — above all else — resting in baskets. Let your cat do all three with this cat tree , which features a carpeted base, a dangling ball for play, a scratch post and a basket-like sphere made from  banana leaf material . Best of all, this tree will fit right in with your home’s beautiful furniture. Aquariums If you keep fish as pets, make their home the best is can be with an eco-friendly aquarium. This specific tank uses fish waste to fertilize herbs growing atop the tank; the plants in turn clean the water for the fish . Related: How to make your own eco-friendly aquarium accessories Collars and leashes Adorn your lovable pets in nature-inspired collars and leashes made from recycled plastic bottles. For added style, this version mimics the “distinctive look and feel of a classic polo shirt,” making your pet cooler and classier than you. Images via  Rhaúl V. Alva , Honest Pet Products , Pet Play , Wayfair , Back to the Roots  and Lupine Pet

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A guide to the best eco-friendly holiday gifts for pets

Simple DIY upcycled holiday decor

December 7, 2018 by  
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Traditional Christmas decorations can quickly get expensive and extremely wasteful. But you can change that in your home this Christmas season by turning everyday household items into holiday decor. All you have to do is take a shopping trip through your house and upcycle old stuff into Christmas decorations. With just a little time and creativity, you can create these holiday decorations for just pennies, and keep the waste at a minimum. Pasta Christmas tree All you need for this project is some raw bowtie pasta, cardboard plates, a hot glue gun, and spray paint. Choose a color of paint that will match your holiday decor, like silver, gold, or green, and paint your pasta before gluing the pieces together to make a tree. This is just the beginning. You can also use penne rigate, fusilli, rotelle, radiatori, ditali lisci, or pasta shells to make a variety of different ornaments. When you watch the video tutorial for this craft, it will give you a creative spark. And, the surprising thing is, the holiday decorations and ornaments don’t even look like pasta when you are done. Toilet paper Santas This is a craft idea that you can do with the kids. All you need is some toilet paper rolls, colored paper, a marker, glue, scissors and string. First, measure and cut a piece of red paper that will fit around the toilet paper roll, then use your marker to draw bricks. Glue the red bricks to your toilet paper roll, then use the red paper again to cut out Santa’s legs and part of his hat. You will need white paper for the “fur trim” of Santa’s hat and pants, and black paper for the toy bag, feet and mittens. Sock monkey ornaments If you have some old sock monkeys hiding in the bottom of the closet, or have some sewing skills, you can create some cute sock monkey ornaments to put on the tree. All you need to make your own sock monkey is a pair of socks, two buttons, cotton stuffing or polyester fiber, scissors and some needle and thread. Wine bottle cork Christmas tree Another super easy idea for upcycled holiday decor is a Christmas tree made from wine bottle corks. You can paint the corks or decorate them with buttons, glitter, and textiles before tying them in red ribbon. Or, you can keep it simple and arrange plain corks (possibly with some red wine stains) into the shape of a tree. Then glue them together and add a decorative ribbon. Bottle light tree With some rebar, wine and/or liquor bottles, and a few strings of Christmas lights, you can create your own bottle light tree to light up your front yard. The possibilities are endless with this project, and the bonus is you have to drink some booze to make it happen. Cinnamon stick candle holder All you need for this idea is some cinnamon sticks, hot glue, some ribbon or lace, and a few holiday embellishments that you can find in your yard, like pine cones. And, in just a few short minutes you will have custom candle holders that will make your house smell amazing throughout the holiday season. Recycled Christmas village You can take this idea and run with it any way you like. You can use plastic containers or mason jars to house trees you can make from paper. And, you can use cereal and snack boxes like BettiJo at Paging Super Mom to create your village . Tech lover wreath Do you have some old computer parts, cell phones, and cords taking up space in your home? Well, stop letting them collect dust and turn them into a holiday wreath. All you need is a wreath form and some old tech to create this cute, geeky decoration. Light bulb garland and ornaments This upcycled holiday decor idea uses old light bulbs, paint, and some ornament hangers. You can add them to some garland or hang them on your tree. And, if you want to take this idea to another level  — and you have some art skills — you can turn the light bulbs into reindeer, snowmen, Santas, or even a grinch with the right paint and crafty accessories. Lanterns It doesn’t get much easier (or cheaper) than this. You will want to start by creating a holiday image with vintage angels and stars, or any other Christmas-inspired thing you can think of. Then, print out your design and cut out a piece that will fit around a soup can and another that will fit a box of matches.  Finally, glue or tape the pieces to the can and matchbox, just don’t cover the striking surface on the box! Images via Personal Creations , Elin B , Diana_rajchel , Shutterstock

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Simple DIY upcycled holiday decor

This canopy walkway elevates Shenzhen library-goers into the treetops

August 20, 2018 by  
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A new pagoda-like library in China’s megacity of Shenzhen sweeps visitors above the tree canopy with an elevated walkway. Located in Xiangmi Park, a densely forested area originally used as an agricultural research center, the Xiangmi Park Science Library celebrates its verdant surroundings with a “treetop walk” and an abundance of glazing. International architecture and design firm MLA+ led the design of the library and visitor center, and ZEN landscape architects handled the landscape design. Completed in 2017 in Shenzhen’s central Futian District, the Xiangmi Park Science Library covers an area of 1,500 square meters. The park had been protected from urban encroachment for 35 years and includes a large lychee orchard on a hill, fishponds, a flower market and a rich diversity of local flora and fauna. The architects have compared the site to an “undiscovered treasure box in the middle of a metropolis” and thus aimed to preserve and enhance the natural environment as much as possible. Drawing inspiration from classical Chinese garden architecture, the pagoda-like library building is made from steel and glass for an airy and lightweight feel; the cantilevered elements provide solar shading and reference local architecture. In addition to library stacks, the building includes a meeting room, a reading area, terraces and administrative offices. Related: BIG completes an energy-efficient sculptural skyscraper in Shenzhen “Perched in between the trees , the building offers an ever-changing experience of its surrounding landscape,” the firm said. “This experience varies from floor to floor. With its dematerialized ground floor, it becomes a part of the shaded forest floor. Structural elements blend with the surrounding tree trunks. Upper levels sit in between the dense canopy of leaves and therefore have a more enclosed, intimate feeling. The very top floor offers the views of the surroundings and the city. Experiencing the library is like climbing a tree — a tree of knowledge.” + MLA+ Images © Vlad Feoktistov

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This canopy walkway elevates Shenzhen library-goers into the treetops

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