Circular, solar-powered beach house is a sustainable holiday retreat

February 6, 2019 by  
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A charming, circular escape from the city has popped up on an idyllic stretch of beach in New Zealand . Powered with solar energy and built with weather-resistant materials, the St Andrews Beach House is the work of Austin Maynard Architects , a Fitzroy-based design practice that prides itself on sustainable architecture. The “Euclidean form” of the dwelling was inspired by the beauty of the remote site and is designed to take advantage of views in all directions. Located on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula along secluded coastline near national parkland, the St Andrews Beach House is surrounded by stunning vistas of the water, wild bush, sand dunes and scrub. The simple two-story circular structure was a site-sensitive response to both the fragile environment and the client’s brief for a ‘bach’ — a New Zealand word commonly used for a very modest holiday home. The simplicity of the home’s design helps focus attention on the landscape, while its self-sustaining construction minimizes the building’s environmental footprint. “Less than five meters in radius, St Andrews Beach House is an object in the landscape,” the architects explained in a statement. “A Euclidean form set amongst the rough terrain. The plan of the house is generated using the rational and precise geometry, as the circle extrudes into a tube. The internal spaces are generated by a tightly controlled plan adhering to the rules of form, guiding and arranging segments that divide the space, with a spiral staircase as its central core, providing light and air but also snug spaces. This is not a slick beach house, but a relaxed and informal escape, designed with materials that will patina and weather, like an old coastal wharf.” Related: Swanky laneway house in Melbourne is built from recycled red brick The communal living areas are located on the ground floor while the bedroom and bathroom zone are upstairs. In addition to the home’s small footprint and use of durable materials, the beach house was built with rooftop solar panels as well as double-glazed windows. A large cylindrical concrete water tank harvests rainwater for reuse in the toilets and for irrigation. + Austin Maynard Architects Images by Derek Swalwell via Austin Maynard Architects

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Bureau of Land Management moves forward with the sale of sacred land

February 6, 2019 by  
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The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is moving forward with the sale of land in the vicinity of New Mexico’s Chaco Culture National Historical Park. The land, which is considered sacred ground by Native Americans in the area, was approved amid heavy criticism from environmentalists and tribal leaders. The land is being purchased to pursue the development of oil and gas, with around 50 parcels of land up for grabs. One of the biggest issues surrounding the sale is that it was approved while the government was partially shutdown , which resulted in limited access of information. Related: Damage to Joshua Tree during the government shutdown could take centuries to repair According to AP News , critics claim that government officials failed to properly inform everyone on the sale of the property. They also asked if the BLM had enough staff members on hand to properly analyze the land and sale requests. In fact, Senator Tom Udall issued a scathing report on the land sale and called out the BLM for not being transparent throughout the process. “It’s a mistake that while critical public services were shuttered for 35 days during the government shutdown, BLM still moved forward with this opaque process,” Udall shared. Critics of the sacred land sale also wondered if the BLM will open a protest period, which is usually standard in these types of transactions. Fortunately, the agency has opted to delay the sale to give tribal leaders and environmentalists a few weeks to protest. The BLM is officially accepting protests beginning on February 11. The land sale is expected to go through at the end of March. If the protests are successful, a portion of the land that is up for sale will be withdrawn. Supporters are hoping that land within 10 miles around Chaco will be deemed off limits. This area, which would serve as a buffer zone, would help protect features that are sacred to local tribes, including kivas and stone structures. Chaco is currently inaccessible by paved roads. Local tribes hope to preserve the remoteness of the area, which has served as a religious and economic center for centuries. The BLM has not issued any comments about the land sale. Via AP News Image via Zenhaus

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Bureau of Land Management moves forward with the sale of sacred land

Eco-friendly Brae restaurant and retreat targets net-zero energy in Australia

January 22, 2019 by  
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Sustainability is woven throughout Brae , a renowned restaurant and retreat nestled on a hillside of a 30-acre organic farm in rural Australia. Designed by Fitzroy-based studio Six Degrees Architects , Brae is best known for its seasonally inspired menu and talented chefs — the restaurant was named among the world’s 50 best restaurants in 2017 — and the idyllic establishment also boasts six eco-friendly guest suites designed to target net-zero energy consumption. Durable and recycled materials are used throughout the handcrafted buildings, which are powered with solar energy and use recycled rainwater. After Six Degree Architects completed Brae in 2013, the firm revisited the site to add a new accommodation building that would emphasize the restaurant’s commitment to sustainability and seasonality. Completed in 2016, the six guest suites are housed in a structure referencing the archetypal utilitarian rural shed and built with simple and robust materials including recycled timber and brickwork, raw steel and brass. Local builders and tradesmen built the project, and the guest suites are carefully fitted out with bespoke, engaging objects to make each room feel homey and welcoming. “The restaurant is renowned for seasonally sourcing raw produce from either the property or local region,” the architects explained. “There was a desire to bring this careful, considered approach into the crafting of the rooms and restaurant. Simple robust materials, contrasting hard and soft, and a level of intricate detailing remind you that hands have made and shaped the buildings. The project purposefully plays off the materiality and self-build nature of old rural buildings, reinterpreting them into contemporary and luxurious interiors, framing views of the working landscape beyond.” Related: Peek inside the BIG-designed garden village for one of the world’s best restaurants The guest suites are oriented for south-facing views of the landscape, while a landscaped berm to the north protects the building from view of the carpark. To achieve net-zero energy use during operation, the project is equipped with 48 solar panels that generate a daily average of nearly 44 kWh. Rainwater is harvested in two 40,000-liter tanks and reused for drinking and washing. Waste is broken down in a large worm farm. Thanks to these systems and passive thermal design, the 500-square-meter Brae guest suites have achieved a NatHERS energy rating of 7 stars. + Six Degrees Architects Photography by Trevor Mein via Six Degrees Architects

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Eco-friendly Brae restaurant and retreat targets net-zero energy in Australia

A dark, damp house becomes a sustainable, sun-soaked abode

November 9, 2018 by  
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Formerly cold, dim and damp, a terrace house in Northcote, Victoria has been reborn into a vibrant and welcoming dwelling with an emphasis on gardening. Designed by Green Sheep Collective for a client named Jill, the compact project, named Jill’s House, saw a modest expansion of just 22 square meters of space yet gained its bright and spacious feel thanks to a thorough renovation. Created to meet the client’s aspirations for a “very healthy home,” Jill’s House embraces recycled materials, low VOC finishes and passive solar principles for a minimal energy footprint. Having developed deep ties with her local community, the homeowner wanted the renovated house to be suitable for long-term living and retirement. As a result, the redesign prioritized accessibility, low maintenance and durability. Tapping into its extensive experience in eco-friendly retrofits, Green Sheep Collective opened the home to greater amounts of natural light while improving energy efficiency with the reorientation of the living areas to the north and the installation of high-performance materials, such as improved insulation and low-e double glazing. The open-plan living area also enjoys a seamless connection with the outdoors to support the client’s hobby of gardening. “The comfort, energy efficiency and longevity of the house have been improved immeasurably,” the designers noted. “Despite an existing north wall along the boundary, sunlight is brought deep into the house via a raked ceiling paired with electric-operated clerestory windows that soar above the kitchen and dining areas, doubling to encourage the ‘stack effect’ for ventilation and distinguish the extension from the original Victorian home.” Related: Smart Home targets affordability and eco-friendly design in Australia Adding to the overall sense of vibrancy, bright pops of color woven throughout were inspired by the client’s favorite Derwent pencils from childhood. A natural materials palette  — including plantation timber flooring and recycled red bricks — lend additional warmth and complement the restored furnishings that include the dining table, dining chairs and lounge suite. + Green Sheep Collective Photography by Emma Cross via Green Sheep Collective

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A dark, damp house becomes a sustainable, sun-soaked abode

BIGs massive Lanescraper building may become Australias tallest tower

August 10, 2018 by  
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Bjarke Ingels Group has unveiled designs for the Lanescraper, a supertall building proposal that has been shortlisted for Melbourne’s Beulah Tower competition. Envisioned with a footprint of over 2.5 million square feet, the Lanescraper aims to serve as a bustling mixed-use destination housed in what could be the tallest tower in Australia. The $2 billion project would see a dramatic redevelopment of the post-industrial Southbank neighborhood, so-named after its location south of the Yarra River. Selected as one of six shortlisted designs, the Lanescraper reinterprets the concept of Melbourne’s laneways and block neighborhoods into a giant “vertical block” made up of a series of stacked and staggered volumes with laneway-inspired gaps in between. Rising to a height of nearly 1,200 feet, the Lanescraper will feature a mixed-use program with car parking, food and retail, interactive/discovery spaces and the BMW Experience Center at its lowest levels. Stacked above will be the entertainment and cultural options in addition to office and commercial space, childcare facilities and a hotel. The bulk of the building will be reserved for residential use, which occupies the uppermost levels. The design is developed around the idea of two cores—one large and one smaller—which lends itself to an optimized walking layout and circulation. The stacked and staggered boxes also help break down the mass of the building to a more human scale. The design was created in collaboration with Fender Katsalidis , ARUP, Jan Gehl, GTA Consultants, bloomimages, and Brick Visual. Related: BIG and CRA break ground on greenery-infused Singapore skyscraper “The stacked blocks between the cores extend upwards and interlock to provide connectivity and structural rigidity, appearing as a zipper of diverse programmatic functions that step back respectfully from Southbank Boulevard and Power Street,” explains Bjarke Ingels Group. “In doing so, the tower tapers inwards and negotiates the space between the surrounding buildings, minimizing vis-à-vis at the top and overshadowing of the public realm below. An evolution of the skyscraper beyond the proverbial ‘village-in-the-sky’ to a tower uniquely Melburnian: the LANESCRAPER.” + Bjarke Ingels Group Images via BIG

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BIGs massive Lanescraper building may become Australias tallest tower

This massive Sun Ray could sustainably power 220 homes in Melbourne

July 17, 2018 by  
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What if renewable energy infrastructure could be both functional and beautiful? Exploring that notion is Italian architectural practice Antonio Maccà, who designed ‘Sun Ray,’ a massive solar collector that could generate enough energy to power 220 Melbourne homes — with approximately 1,100 MWh of electricity produced annually. Shortlisted for this year’s Land Art Generator Initiative Melbourne design competition, the conceptual design was conceived as a symbol for the future of sustainable energy that also doubles as public artwork. Envisioned for the City of Port Phillip in Melbourne , Sun Ray consists of a series of flat mirrors — each with a single-axis tracking system — laid out in a round shape with a diameter of 279 feet and elevated atop slender steel columns. To capture the sun’s energy, Antonio Maccà tapped into linear Fresnel reflector technology, in which mirrors are used to focus sunlight onto a solar receiver. A power block tucked underground transforms the solar energy into electricity before feeding it into the city power grid. “Sun Ray is a new symbol of renewable energy, lighting the way to the State of Victoria’s zero- greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions target,” explained Antonio Maccà in his project statement. “It is also a cultural attractor for Melbourne, an investigation of light as a physical and symbolic source of illumination for life. It is a place for reflection, relaxation, learning and play — and it is a linear Fresnel reflector solar power plant that provides heat and electricity for hundreds of homes in St Kilda.” Related: This gigantic solar hourglass could power 1,000 Danish homes Residents and visitors can interact with the Sun Ray by using it as a shade canopy. The 50 primary mirror lines cast shade over the public park space, while the mirrors create a constantly changing play of light and shadow as they turn to track the sun. The winning design of the 2018 Land Art Generator Initiative Melbourne will be announced on October 11. + Land Art Generator Initiative Renderings by Antonio Maccà

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This massive Sun Ray could sustainably power 220 homes in Melbourne

Green-roofed holiday home is fashioned from three shipping containers

February 21, 2018 by  
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Led by a desire to reduce landscape impact, Melbourne-based Studio Edwards turned to cargotecture for a sustainably minded getaway on the Surf Coast in Victoria, Australia. Raised atop stilts on a steep slope, House 28 was fashioned from a trio of 20-foot shipping containers sourced from nearby Port Melbourne. In addition to minimized site disturbance, the green-roofed holiday home uses a rainwater catchment and filtration system to gather water and features double-glazed windows and doors to increase energy efficiency. Set overlooking the Wye River and Australia’s Otway Coast, House 28 is securely anchored to the hillside by steel stilts and deep concrete pile foundations. The architects joined two of the containers to form one long module housing the entrance, a spacious living area, and open kitchen with dining, while the other container comprises two bedrooms and a bathroom. The containers were angled towards one another and connected with a blackbutt timber deck. Related: Shipping container delivers heightened drama to a modern island home For a rugged finish, the containers were externally insulated and clad with galvanized steel sheeting. In contrast, the minimalist interiors are lined with marine-grade plywood for a warm feel. Full-height doubled-glazed windows and doors overlook the ocean to the south and keep the narrow buildings from feeling constrained. A garden of native dichondra covers the roof providing extra thermal insulation and rainwater filtration. + Studio Edwards Via Dezeen Images by Tony Gorsevski

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Rammed-charcoal home extension is a handsome oasis between the trees

August 8, 2017 by  
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Melbourne-based Branch Studio Architects crafted this dark and handsome number hidden away among the trees in Victoria. Built as a house extension with a master suite, the Pavilion Between Trees features rammed-charcoal walls, clean and crisp lines, and a dark earthy palette of complementary materials. Full height glazing opens the interior up to the outdoors and frames view of the forested surroundings. Connected to the main house via a corridor, Pavilion Between Trees is a semi-detached structure that appears to standalone in the landscape. The 85-square-meter compact extension is simply but tastefully furnished and includes a master bedroom, en-suite bathroom, and extra storage space arranged in a linear plan. The rooms are delineated by subtle changes in floor level rather than walls. Natural light plays a key role in the design and is let in through clerestory windows and full-height glazing. The lighting brings out the texture of the earthy material palette, from the grainy rammed-charcoal walls to the smooth naturally finished timber and steel joinery, that are left exposed to develop a patina over time. Related: Rustic Off-Grid Pump House is a Solar-Powered Weekend Getaway in Australia The home addition was built on a clearing between existing mature trees to reduce site impact. Full-height glazing, which wraps around the western end and that also punctuates the north and south sides, frame views and strengthens connection to the outdoors. The clerestory windows also offer glimpses of the tree canopy. An outdoor washing area also allows the homeowners to enjoy the outdoors in a private space protected by a mesh screen. + Branch Studio Architects Via Dezeen Images via Branch Studio Architects

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Drone video reveals progress on Heatherwicks tree-covered mountain architecture in Shanghai

August 8, 2017 by  
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Shanghai’s “tree-covered mountains” are coming to life as evidenced in #donotsettle project’s latest video. Filmed with a DJI Mavic Pro drone, architects Wahyu Pratomo and Kris Provoost’s footage shows a sneak peek into the construction progress of the Heatherwick Studio-designed project for M50, the city’s contemporary art district. The six-hectare plot will feature staggered, mountain-like volumes enveloped by 1,000 trees. Par for the course for Shanghai’s futuristic cityscape, this unusual 330,000-square-meter mixed-use development will comprise housing, offices, retail, a hotel, and a school. As seen in the drone footage, trees have already been installed on the undulating building’s columnar planters. The planting will help soften the appearance of the concrete volume once they mature. Related: Heatherwick Studio wants to build a tree-covered mountain in the middle of Shanghai “Conceived not as a building but as a piece of topography , the design takes the form of two tree-covered mountains, populated by approximately one thousand structural columns,” said Heatherwick Studio . “Instead of being hidden behind the facade, the columns are the defining feature of the design, emerging from the building to support plants and trees.” The development is slated to open in 2018. + Heatherwick Studio Via ArchDaily Images via #donotsettle

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Drone video reveals progress on Heatherwicks tree-covered mountain architecture in Shanghai

Reconnect with nature in this gorgeous retreat built for slow living

January 24, 2017 by  
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A safe haven from the frantic pace of modern life has popped up in the Australian town of Balnarring. Melbourne-based Branch Studio Architects designed this lovely modern studio and retreat with a deliberately low-tech aesthetic that emphasizes connection with the outdoors. The simple yet chic home is extremely flexible and can adapt to a seemingly limitless number of uses. The client prioritized flexibility early on in the design process, requiring “a space that could be nothing one minute and everything the next, required to regularly and effortlessly switch between an empty nondescript shell of limitless possibilities to a fully functioning private residence.” Thus the Balnarring Retreat features a large open-plan space where furniture, such as the Murphy bed and desk, are built into the walls and can be folded down when needed. Storage is also hidden away in the walls to minimize clutter. The custom furnishings are made to be folded and unfolded by hand to promote mindfulness. Related: Rustic Off-Grid Pump House is a Solar-Powered Weekend Getaway in Australia The Balnarring Retreat also houses a kitchen, a study, and a bathroom. The north wall is fully glazed to let in natural light and frame views of the pond. The space immediately in front of the glazed north wall is a sunken ‘day bed’ that can be filled in with plywood boxes when extra floorspace is needed. + Branch Studio Architects Images by Peter Clarke

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