Group of friends build a DIY cabin retreat, complete with suspended tree decks

December 3, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

While most couples tend to meet up with friends at a local bar or restaurant, Jeff Waldman and his partner, Molly Fiffer, decided they wanted to create a more nature-based social spot to spend time with their friends. So, the ambitious couple, who have no design or construction experience, spent more than two years creating an amazing DIY outdoor retreat tucked into a heavily forested 10-acre lot deep in California’s Santa Cruz Mountains. What began as a simple structure to enjoy the outdoors has resulted in not only a beautiful off-grid cabin made out of reclaimed wood, but a series of elevated tree decks, a wood-fired hot tub, an open-air outdoor shower, and the cutest little outhouse you’ve ever seen. The cabin was inspired by Waldman and Fiffer’s vision of building a serene place where they and their friends could get away from the hustle and bustle of daily life in order to reconnect with nature. Once they found the perfect spot in the forest, the couple then went about salvaging building materials, including a large front door and most of the windows. The ambitious couple did most of the work themselves, with the help of friends, without having any prior design or building experience. The result is a stunning retreat comprised of the wooden cabin, winding elevated decks suspended from the trees, an outdoor shower and what very well could be the coolest outhouse on earth. The cabin The main cabin is at the heart of the impressive forest retreat. Using a salvaged front door and windows to guide the construction, the wooden cabin design morphed into a beautiful structure with a sloped roof. Set off the ground to reduce impact on the landscape, the cabin includes a large open living space and a sleeping loft. Large windows flood the interior with natural light and a wrap-around wooden deck is perfect for gatherings or just soaking up the incredible views. Related: The adorable Acorn tiny cabin is made of wood salvaged from an old mansion Made out of local redwood sourced from a nearby mill, some of the beams used in the construction were salvaged from Habitat for Humanity’s Restore. Waldman explains that the group was very careful to protect the local landscape during the building process, “The loft floor is made from madrone slabs, which we milled from the trees we cleared from the site. On that note, we’ve been proud of the fact that we’ve cleared small problematic trees, or end of life heart rotted large madrone, but have yet to cut down any redwoods. We cherish those.” Suspended decks with outdoor shower and hot tub In line with the group’s dedication to protect the existing trees, they decided to add a series of suspended decks to the design. Anchored into the tree tops, the decks are 15-20 feet high and are accessed via a 20-foot long bridge. This low-impact construction allowed the group to build a series of interconnecting surfaces without disrupting the landscape. Although the suspended decks are incredible for strolling through the tree canopy, there are also a few surprises along the way. A lovely outdoor shower sits approximately 10 feet off the ground. The shower, which is left completely open on one side, is heated via an off grid heater and has solar-powered lights . Also on one of the platforms is a wood-fired hot tub that is heated with leftover scraps from the cabin build. Off-grid outhouse Located 100 feet behind the cabin is a 10 x 10 outhouse, set off the landscape with blocks. The incredible cube-like structure has a surprisingly contemporary aesthetic. The entrance is an open air deck with an outdoor sink that was reclaimed from the local rebuilding center. The exterior cedar siding, which was bought on eBay, has been treated with Scandinavian pine tar to achieve the jet black color and protect the exterior against the damp coastal climate. The interior, which is clad in black bear wallpaper, is installed with a solar-powered fan and lights. The Dojo Also on site is the Dojo, which houses an open air kitchen that operates with a propane stove and is also installed with a solar-powered lighting system. The structure is covered with a grey tinted polycarbonate roof to allow natural diffused sunlight through to the interior space. Although it looks like heaven on earth already, Waldman says that the cabin retreat is a work in progress. When not having ax throwing or archery competitions, the group is making plans to build a guest hut and treehouse. + Jeff Waldman Photography by Jeff Waldman

Read more here:
Group of friends build a DIY cabin retreat, complete with suspended tree decks

Amazon’s Christmas trees are hurting the environment

November 29, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Earlier this year, Amazon announced it would be selling and shipping fresh, full-size Christmas trees this holiday season. But there is an environmental issue with the e-behemoth’s new plan — the shipping process will leave a giant carbon footprint. Back in September, Amazon said that it would be shipping 7-foot-tall live Douglas firs, Fraser Firs and Norfolk Island pines to customers’ front doorsteps, a process that is extremely eco-unfriendly. Char Miller, professor of environmental analysis and history at Pomona College said that Amazon’s new Christmas-Tree-in-a-Box program will bring some unwelcome surprises because of the fossil fuels required to get the tree from farm to front door. The long-haul trucking will result in a major carbon footprint, plus there could be more waste in landfills because of the box and packing materials required for a tree of this size. On the positive side, Amazon will most likely get the trees quickly from farm to home, and that means they could last longer. The company said that it will ship the trees within 10 days of cutting them down — maybe even sooner — and the trees will have no trouble surviving the trip. Amazon started selling the trees this month, with some qualifying for Prime free shipping, making the deal more enticing. Customers can also pre-order their trees and select their desired delivery dates. According to the Associated Press , last year the company only sold trees shorter than 3 feet, but it did have some other merchants selling bigger ones on its platform. Amazon decided to jump into the market itself, because the full-size trees are popular with customers. The Amazon holiday preview book revealed that the 7-foot Fraser fir option will come from North Carolina and costs $115. It also offers $50 wreaths and $25 red-leafed plants with a decorative candy cane. While the deals might be intriguing, don’t forget the impact of shipping and packaging this program has on the planet — plus, what better way to celebrate the season of giving than by supporting your local pick-your-own farms? Via AP and TreeHugger Images via Annie Spratt and Kieran White

Read the original post: 
Amazon’s Christmas trees are hurting the environment

This home gently wraps around towering 80-year-old coconut trees

November 27, 2018 by  
Filed under Green

Comments Off on This home gently wraps around towering 80-year-old coconut trees

Bombay-based firm  Abraham John Architects deftly crafted a beautiful home to carefully sit near 19 80-year-old coconut trees. The massive, 6,500-square-foot private residence is broken up into various fragmented volumes, taking on a small village feel that gives the home its name, Villa in the Palms. According to the architects, the unique layout was essential in ensuring that not a single tree was felled during the building process. To build the home around the trees, the architects created a unique, fragmented layout, reminiscent of a traditional Goan Village. Additionally, the team used traditional Goan building techniques and materials in the project. The exterior walls are clad in resilient laterite stone, giving the home an earthy aspect that blends it into the natural surroundings while providing a strong thermal envelope. Also climate-inspired are the pitched roofs that slope at different angles to harvest rainwater and withstand strong winds during monsoon season. Related: A modern, energy-efficient home is built around a beloved madrone tree The home is broken up into several individual spaces, which are connected by various outdoor decks, passages and bridges that wind through the trees, pools and gardens. The main living area provides stunning views of the gardens. The room is flooded with natural light through a large skylight that also provides sun for the interior garden. To blend the home further into its natural setting, the outer frame was installed with large screens made out of 100-year-old reclaimed teak wood . The living space, kitchen and dining room all look out over the pool, which is comprised of three distinct bodies of water covered with teak-wood bridges and little islands that were built to protect the existing trees .  This area also opens up to the natural gardens of lush greenery and, of course, the towering palm trees. + Abraham John Architects Via Archdaily Photography by Alan Abraham via Abraham John Architects

View original here:
This home gently wraps around towering 80-year-old coconut trees

How to provide a backyard habitat to protect animals in the winter

November 26, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

Comments Off on How to provide a backyard habitat to protect animals in the winter

We live in an ecosystem where plants and animals depend upon one another for survival. During the cold winter months, the animals in your area may struggle to find adequate food, shelter and water; however, you can make a difference in these tough situations. To help animals survive the winter, here are a few simple actions you can take in your own yard in the name of wildlife conservation . Hold off on deadheading Birds eat seeds and make nests from grasses. Critters store nuts and seeds from plants . Although you might find it unsightly, leaving the dried heads of roses, wildflowers, sunflowers, coneflowers and blazing star makes it easier for birds to forage during the winter. So instead of cutting them back in the fall, allow them to overwinter, and trim them back in the spring instead. Rethink your landscaping selections Every gardener knows that some plants appeal to animals more than others. We need flowers for insects to pollinate, attractants for butterflies and plants that produce seeds for small critters to eat. Most of this activity happens during the summer months, which is why animals store up for winter. But when the stores run out or animals seek fresh foods, the right plants in your garden can provide year-round feedings. Related: How to plant fruit in the winter If you are due for a change or some additional shrubbery, consider planting trees that produce nuts such as hazelnut, walnut or oak trees. Plant foliage that produces berries year-round to feed the animals. Some examples include bayberry, viburnum, chokeberry, wintergreen teaberry, dogwood and winterberry holly. Also plant trees that produce pine cones as a food source for birds, and while you’re considering evergreens, note that the juniper tree also provides berries. Some varieties of crabapple trees are an additional option for providing fruit throughout the winter. Create water reservoirs Animals can’t drink snow or ice — keep fresh water available. Build a small pond or maintain bird baths. Keep your water source warm enough to avoid freezing with an easy-to-find heater that you can run in your pond or bath. A layer of ice on the top of your pond will not only trap invertebrates and frogs inside, but it also reduces the amount of oxygen in the water. If you live in a generally mild climate but have a water source ice over during an unseasonal cold snap, place a pot of hot water on the icy surface. Related: Birdbath care during the winter You don’t want rodents falling into the water sources, so make sure that any water available is in the form of a bird bath or other elevated source. Reservoirs, like rain collection barrels, should be completely sealed around any openings to repel critters who could get trapped inside. Build protection out of debris Your yard clippings, especially tree branches, make an appealing refuge for foraging rodents, rabbits, squirrels and reptiles . They also allow birds to have a protected space for building nests in preparation of spring. To create a brush pile for housing, start with a pile of the largest branches and cuttings. Stack smaller debris on top for additional layers of protection and warmth.  Critters and nesting birds will thank you for the protection. You can also encourage animals to take shelter in your woodpile by stacking wood pieces with copious spacing. Criss-crossing split wood chunks provides protection for rabbits, squirrels and other small animals. Craft tiny animal homes Animals that are cold during winter will seek out warmth and shelter wherever they can. That’s why you’ll find rats sneaking into the house, mice burrowing into covered patio furniture or taking over the RV and birds tucked into the rafters. To keep them happy and warm without sharing your living space, build them their own homes. In addition to mounds of protective foliage, put together a row of basic wooden birdhouses resting on posts, hanging from trees or mounted to the fence. Bat houses have visual appeal and functional elements, too. If you have space, choose an area away from the main activity on your property to place a recycled chicken coop, bus stop shed or other small building; lay down straw for added warmth. Put out food Fill your bird feeders and remember to check them often during the winter. Those that keep food dry are the best. Also make and hang some pine cone feeders from your trees. Simply smear some nut butter on the pine cone and roll it in bird food for an easy and animal-friendly craft that the whole family can work on together. Related: Attracting backyard birds in winter Leave the leaves Autumn is dubbed fall because of the obvious characteristic of leaves dropping everywhere. As leaves float away from the trees and onto your property, resist the urge to get out the leaf blower and yard debris cart. Instead, move those leaves over to your flower beds. Not only will they provide mulching benefits to your plants, but they will also offer a habitat for ground birds, such as the thrush, and frogs, which prefer the moist environment that leaves provide. While it’s tempting to strip the yard down to the ground during your fall list of chores, remember to think about the animals. By holding off on debris removal and taking a few calculated steps, you’ll not only improve their winter habitat, but you will also have a more appealing green space with foliage and animals to view. Via Humane Society , Discover Wildlife and HGTV Images via Annie Spratt , Maria Shanina , Peter Trimming , Zailin Liu , Phil Roeder , Erin Wilson , Wes Hicks , DaPuglet and Rachel Kramer

See the original post here: 
How to provide a backyard habitat to protect animals in the winter

Former convent in Valencia is reborn as an ornate entertainment hub

October 30, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Comments Off on Former convent in Valencia is reborn as an ornate entertainment hub

In the heart of Valencia, Spain , the old convent of San José has undergone a sensitive transformation that has turned the historic site into a vibrant gathering space for civic events, a food market and a soon-to-be hotel. Barcelona-based interior design practice Francesc Rifé Studio was tapped for the adaptive reuse project and inserted modern updates while preserving the property’s architectural integrity. The renovation project was completed this year under the name of Convent Carmen. Built in the 17th century, the church has been modified into the main access point for the site and been remade into a multifunctional venue and “21st-century sculpture.” Metal framework was installed to give the space a contemporary edge and to house all new light fixtures and other elements in order to leave the original church walls untouched. New audiovisual technical elements, for instance, including an adjustable color lighting system with RGB, was fitted into the structure. The designers also took cues from the church’s layout and emphasized the dome with three metal circles, from which a sculptural light fixture hangs. “Through this element was intended to develop an obvious past-future connection, and as it happened in the Renaissance the dome takes an essential role,” the architects wrote in the project statement. “This space for the celebration of the religious rite now becomes a privileged place for musicians, lecturers and a multitude of actors, which will make this one of the main participatory focuses of the city. The simplicity of this intervention demonstrates the importance of holding back and making little noise when the context already expresses its memories with force.” Related: Architects convert old Dutch church into a gorgeous library Outside the church, the garden has been redeveloped into a “gastronomic market.”  Shipping containers were repurposed into small-scale restaurants offering different types of cuisines, from fried Andalusian to Japanese sushi, all coordinated by Michelin-star chef Miguel Ángel Mayor. The casual setting, illuminated by fairy lights, features shared and varied seating options built mainly of tubular metal and phenolic surface boards dyed black. The addition of palms and other trees give the outdoor space an oasis-like feel. + Francesc Rifé Studio Photography by David Zarzoso via Francesc Rifé Studio

Read more: 
Former convent in Valencia is reborn as an ornate entertainment hub

The ‘Billion Tree Tsunami’ is transforming northwestern Pakistan

June 27, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Comments Off on The ‘Billion Tree Tsunami’ is transforming northwestern Pakistan

Once arid hillsides have now become wide swaths of lush green woodland in northwestern Pakistan , where hundreds of millions of trees from 42 different species have been planted as part of the provincial government’s “Billion Tree Tsunami” program. “Before, it was completely burnt land. Now, they have green gold in their hands,” forest manager Pervaiz Manan told AFP . The reforestation effort aims to control erosion, combat climate change , reduce flooding, increase the chances of precipitation and provide economic opportunities for locals. “Now our hills are useful, our fields became useful,” local driver Ajbir Shah said . “It is a huge benefit for us.” Much of the land being replanted was decimated between 2006 and 2009, when the Pakistani Taliban controlled much of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province where the project is now underway. In addition to the more than 300 million trees planted in the region under the provincial government, 150 million trees were given to private landowners to plant, while 730 million already-planted trees have been protected to allow for regrowth. The mind-blowing number of trees , over a billion, has been confirmed by independent observers. “We are 100 percent confident that the figure about the billion trees is correct,” World Wildlife Fund Pakistan manager Kamran Hussain said. “Everything is online. Everyone has access to this information.” Related: Pakistan just broke the world record for the hottest April day ever The Billion Tree Tsunami comes at a time when Pakistan’s forest stock has shrunk to a perilous low; only 5.2 percent of the country is covered in forests, well below the 12 percent recommended by the United Nations . Started in 2014, the Billion Tree Tsunami program still needs to implement some safeguard systems, such as fire protection, before its expected completion in 2020. In 2017, the federal government of Pakistan began its own project to plant 100 million trees by 2022. While some are skeptical of the project’s long-term success, with infrastructure historically taking precedent over environmental concerns, the Billion Tree Tsunami offers hope. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa ruling party leader Imran Khan said, “Every child in Pakistan should be aware of the environmental issue which, until now, has been a non-issue.” Via Phys.org and AFP Image via Haroon (HBK)

View post:
The ‘Billion Tree Tsunami’ is transforming northwestern Pakistan

Passive solar cabin embraces a dramatic Washington landscape

June 27, 2018 by  
Filed under Green

Comments Off on Passive solar cabin embraces a dramatic Washington landscape

Seattle-based design firm Prentiss Balance Wickline Architects designed the Lot 6 Cabin, a charming retreat with mid-century modern influences in Winthrop, Washington. Set at the base of a dramatic, steep slope and surrounded by a pine forest, the cabin was built for a pair of outdoor enthusiasts who wanted a holiday home that offered a seamless indoor-outdoor living experience. The low-slung dwelling was also designed for energy efficiency and features a super-insulated envelope informed by passive solar strategies. The 1,100-square-foot Lot 6 Cabin consists of two perpendicular “bars.” One volume, which extends toward the slope, contains the kitchen, living area, dining space, utility room and garage . The other volume reaches out toward the meadow and comprises the bedroom, a bathroom and a “flex” room that can be used as a guest room or office. The glass-wall hallway and main entrance connects the two volumes. “Cladding remains consistent from exterior to interior in order to more clearly distinguish the bars as separate volumes, drawn together yet held apart like magnets at the glassed-in void of the hall,” the architects explained. “Each bar has a distinct ‘slope side’ and ‘meadow side’ materiality. At slope-facing walls, a standing seam metal roof appears to bend and continue as a wall; its inner faces are lined with sanded plywood panels. Horizontal shiplap siding clads the exterior side of meadow-facing walls, with simple, painted drywall at the interior.” To blur the line between indoors and out, the architects installed large glazed openings, a spacious deck and a semi-enclosed outdoor room that shares a double-sided fireplace with the interior living room. The home’s low, horizontal mass and use of dark materials help recede the building into the landscape. To reduce energy use, Lot 6 Cabin is equipped with on-demand propane water heating as well as in-floor radiant heat . + Prentiss Balance Wickline Architects Images by Eirik Johnson

Original post: 
Passive solar cabin embraces a dramatic Washington landscape

Mirrored art complex in Bangkok seamlessly co-exists with the surrounding trees

June 21, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Comments Off on Mirrored art complex in Bangkok seamlessly co-exists with the surrounding trees

A reflective facade and calculated layout blends Bangkok’s new Naiipa Art Complex into the environment. Designed by Bangkok-based Stu/D/O Architects , the mixed-use building carefully wraps around the existing trees on the property while using its mirrored cladding to camouflage the structure into the lush green backdrop. The Naiipa complex (which means “deep in the forest”) is a 25,000-square-foot building that includes an art gallery, music studio, dance studio and office space, along with restaurants and coffee shops. According to the architects, the plan was to provide a community-focused center that wouldn’t disturb the existing greenery . Stu/D/O said, “The project is named after the concept of concealing the architecture in the forest as the vision of greenery is expanded by using reflective glass all around.” Related: Gorgeous mirrored facade extension allows brick Belgian notary to blend into the landscape To create a subtle volume for the large building and its multiple uses, the design was divided into two main sections separated by a tree-filled courtyard. Building A is an elongated structure that was carefully built around an existing pink trumpet tree to protect its growth. The second building is a cube-like four-story structure. A winding multilevel walkway that connects the two buildings intertwines around the existing trees , giving visitors a chance to truly connect with nature. To disguise the complex within its surroundings, the architects used three different types of glazing to create a mirrored effect : reflective, translucent and transparent. According to the firm, the multiple glazed walls, along with the “rhythmic folding pattern” of the facade, helped accomplish the goal. The east side of the building uses a translucent double facade that helps filter direct sunlight and reduce heat on the interior. As visitors follow this facade to the entrance, the building begins to “fold,” creating a narrow entrance reminiscent of a vibrant forest. Inside, the sun’s rays are reflected off the exterior facade , creating displays of shadow and light throughout the day, again imitating a forest canopy. The structure welcomes visitors with a floating “Bird Nest” gallery that is clad in reflective glass and appears to be surrounded by trees, creating a true feeling of ‘Naiipa.’ + Stu/D/O Architects Via Archdaily Images via Stu/D/O Architects

Read the original here:
Mirrored art complex in Bangkok seamlessly co-exists with the surrounding trees

A striking concrete home in Ontario targets minimal environment impact

June 21, 2018 by  
Filed under Green

Comments Off on A striking concrete home in Ontario targets minimal environment impact

Toronto-based Teeple Architects has paired a beautiful but unusual site in Ontario with the sculptural Port Hope House, an award-winning residence that boasts a wide array of sustainable features. Located east of Toronto , the single-family rural home takes inspiration from the client’s 75-acre property that consists of a woodlot, a fallow field, an abandoned Grand Trunk railway cut and a steep cliff that falls into Lake Ontario. Built with long concrete walls, the Port Hope House appears like a rock outcropping lifting upwards. Teeple Architects carefully sited the Port Hope House to reap the advantages of the property’s four distinctive site conditions — the quiet and dark woods to the north, the open fallow field, the rail cut that hints at man’s intervention and the dramatic lake embankment to the south. The project was rendered as a “tectonic expression” that rises from the earth as a single, curving volume and then splits into two framed volumes so natural light can penetrate deep inside the home. “As an architectural composition, the project offers a unique interpretation of the domestic space — a fundamental object of architectural inquiry — based on the particular experiences and opportunities of a site,” Teeple Architects explained. “Expressed as a small handful of sculptural but restrained moves, the project breaks the mold of contemporary home design in imagining the house as a natural form, an organic but certainly not pre-ordained result of creative exchange between architect, client and environment.” Related: Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum is sustainably built from CNC-milled beetle-kill timber To minimize its environmental footprint, the light-filled house features a high-performance envelope with heat-mirror film glazing and follows passive solar principles. The long concrete walls offer high thermal mass and are clad with charcoal zinc siding. Water and sewage are treated on site to reduce reliance on the grid. Rainwater is harvested for irrigation, and geothermal energy has been tapped for heating. + Teeple Architects Images by Scott Norsworthy

Read the original post:
A striking concrete home in Ontario targets minimal environment impact

Some of the oldest and largest baobab trees are dying

June 12, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Comments Off on Some of the oldest and largest baobab trees are dying

A new survey of baobab trees throughout southern Africa has shown that most of the two dozen largest and oldest trees in the region have died in the past decade or are currently very ill. While human-caused physical damage to individual trees may explain specific die-offs, researchers believe that climate change, which is occurring faster in southern Africa than many places on Earth, may be the most significant factor in the trees’ poor health. “Such a disastrous decline is very unexpected,” chemist and survey organizer Adrian Patrut told NPR . “It’s a strange feeling, because these are trees which may live for 2,000 years or more, and we see that they’re dying one after another during our lifetime. It’s statistically very unlikely.” The iconic baobab are culturally important for many communities. A common myth explains the baobab’s unique shape as a result of gods punishing the tree for its vanity in its extraordinary size, with the baobab being uprooted and flipped upside down with its “roots” facing upwards. Baobabs can be cultivated for their nutritious leaves and fruit and may prove to be a source of economic development . The trees are also ecologically significant, providing habitat and food for a wide variety of mammals, birds, insects and reptiles. Related: Can this tree provide financial security for 10 million people in Africa? Because of their unique shape and growth patterns that distort their tree rings, accurate dating of a baobab is difficult. Despite some questioning of Patrut’s methods, researchers nonetheless recognize that baobab die-offs is an unsettling trend that deserves more study. As southern Africa likely faces intense temperature increases and drought , the urgency to understand and better protect the baobabs is clear. “The decline and death of so many large baobabs in recent years is so tragic,” ecologist David Baum told NPR . “It is heartbreaking that any should die — but even worse that we might be seeing the beginning of the end of all the giant baobabs on the planet.” Via NPR Images via Depositphotos (1, 2)

Read the original here: 
Some of the oldest and largest baobab trees are dying

Next Page »

Bad Behavior has blocked 1308 access attempts in the last 7 days.