Posted in design and architecture, engineering, Solar and Alternative Energy

Striking Australian Home is Shaped by the Sun’s Path | Inhabitat – Green Design Will Save the World




This amazing modern home in Northcote, Melbourne, features a building envelope that was carefully shaped to ensure maximum sun exposure in the backyard. The owners wanted to be sure they had full sun exposure in their garden to be able to grow vegetables year round, so Australia-based firm, Harrison & White focused upon smart solar design as one of the home’s most important strategies. The architects used a technique called “reverse shadow casting” to design the exterior and included sustainable materials like recycled plastic decking for the shade screen.

more at Striking Australian Home is Shaped by the Sun’s Path | Inhabitat – .

Posted in design and architecture, engineering, Solar and Alternative Energy

Plastic Pavilion

Bottling it up: Taipei's plastic brick pavilion A construction worker walks past the EcoArk building made with plastic bottles during a media preview in Taipei April 9, 2010. REUTERS/Nicky Loh

From Scientific American (and Reuters):

TAIPEI (Reuters) – A Taiwan company has built a three-storey exhibition hall using 1.5 million plastic bottles instead of bricks to raise interest in recycling, creating what the builder described as a world-first.

Far Eastern Group, a Taiwan-based conglomerate known for construction and financial services, commissioned the 130 meter (426 ft) long, 26 meter (85 ft) high structure almost three years ago and will donate it next month to the city government.

Builders took bottles from Taiwan’s waste stream for reprocessing into plastic containers that interlock strongly enough to block the elements and withstand storms or earthquakes, said Arthur Huang, managing director of the contractor Miniwiz Sustainable Energy Development Ltd.

No one else in the world had built an exhibition hall with walls made entirely of bottles, he said.

“The chairman of Far Eastern is very gung-ho on the sustainability thing,” Huang said. “He always says sustainability can’t wait. He’s looking five to 10 years ahead.”

The pavilion, dubbed the EcoARK, includes an amphitheatre, museum space and a screen of falling water collected during rainy periods for air conditioning. The clear plastic containers in the wall allow natural light to flood the cavernous interior.

Far Eastern will donate the T$133 million ($4.22 million) building to the city next month for use as a fashion pavilion during a flora exhibition in November, Huang said.

After the show, the wall panels will be packed up and reassembled elsewhere, he said.

Outside Taiwan, builders have used recycled bottles to make igloos, greenhouses and even a floating tropical island. Recycled bottles are normally reprocessed into new consumer goods.


Posted in communication and networking, design and architecture, engineering, museum

Pritzker Prize for design “like a park”

From NPR:

The Pritzker Architecture Prize usually goes to just one architect. But this year, two Japanese partners are being honored — a woman, Kazuyo Sejima, and a man, Ryue Nishizawa — who lead the firm SANAA.

The Pritzker jury praised their buildings for being “deceptively simple.”

Simplicity greets visitors to the Glass Pavilion for the Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio. Set among trees, its layers of ultraclear glass walls fluidly curve between thin white ceiling and floor. The building almost disappears into a pool of reflections and transparencies.

Sejima says SANAA strives to make “architecture like a park.”

“In Japan we have a park, which means very open space, and there, different aged people share the space,” says Sejima. “And sometimes a big group. At the same time, beside them, I can go spend my very quiet time alone.”

Sejima and her partner designed such a space between glass walls at the back of the Toledo pavilion — one that creates a sense of quiet emptiness: Behind the visitor, the art; in front, trees and sky — all enhanced by reflections in the glass of other visitors passing by. SANAA offers similar choreography in its housing projects in densely packed Tokyo, says Japanese architect Hitoshi Abe, who chairs the Department of Architecture and Urban Design at UCLA.

Listen to the story and see pictures of the Toledo Museum of Art.

Pritzker Prize winners design
The Rolex Learning Center, Ecole Polytechnique Federale (Lausanne, Switzerland, 2009)
Posted in chemistry, design and architecture

Recycled house

Featured on Fast Company:

affresol modular home model

At a time when extreme weather events seem to be relatively common, would you feel safe living in a home made out of recycled plastic? Affresol, a U.K. modular home designer, is betting on it. The company is launching a range of $63,000 prefab homes made out of recycled waste plastic. And believe it or not, Affresol claims the homes are well-insulated and completely waterproof, fire retardant, and rot-resistant.

Affresol’s secret is a material called Thermo Poly Rock (TPR), a strong, light form of concrete made out of plastic granules fused together with a chemical reaction. Any kind of plastic can be used, but Affresol is sourcing its waste from companies that make PVC windows and doors.

Each modular home features 40 TPR panels bolted together to make the load-bearing frame. Customers can choose to decorate the outside of the home with stone, brick, or block. The three bedroom house isn’t designed to last too long–it has a lifespan of approximately 60 years–but the whole thing can be recycled when it’s ready to be torn down.

Affresol is moving ahead in the next few months with a pilot of 19 prefab homes in Merthyr Tydfi, Wales. Three years down the line, the company hopes to build 3,000 homes each year. While the scheme is limited to the U.K. for now, we can imagine Affresol homes as a potential housing solution for countries looking to rebuild after a disaster–the homes are relatively cheap, durable, and can be built in just four days.

[Via Ecofriend]

Posted in biology, design and architecture, engineering

Global living

Not global in the world sense, but in the circular sense:

Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic domes have reached new heights: as tree houses for the rich and famous. Arboreal architect Dustin Feider is installing them all over the Los Angeles area. Producer and writer Mark Levin has two in his backyard. The LA County Museum of Art has exhibited one. And the nest shown here belongs to Doors guitarist Robby Kreiger. “There’s way more business in California,” says 26-year-old Feider, a Wisconsin native who landed in LA last year. “There are a lot of creative people — with a lot of money.”

He chose the geodesic shape for his constructions, which average $20,000 and 1,500 pounds, because it requires minimal material for great strength; the wooden polygons distribute stress across the entire structure. And lucky for the dome’s leafy host, Feider uses a cable suspension system to hang the orbs without drilling a single hole in the trunk or branches. “The house moves with the tree,” he explains, “like a boat in water.”

Kreiger says he wanted a dome so he could sit in it at dusk and watch the wild critters scurrying through the canyon below, “to see them without being seen.” Luckily, LA’s fauna appears to be unfazed by giant floating buckyballs.

Read original post.

Posted in biology, design and architecture, engineering

New farmhouse design using old methods

From BBC News:

The farmhouse has been designed to blend in with its surroundings in the south of Scotland as much as possible
The farmhouse has been designed to blend in with its surroundings in the south of Scotland as much as possible

It is highly unusual for anyone to welcome being “fleeced” during the building of their new home.

Yet that is one key part of a green farmhouse scheme which has recently been approved in southern Scotland.

Among the elements which will make the Cairn Valley farmhouse near Moniaive “carbon neutral” is using the nearby sheep to help keep the humans warm.

Their wool will be used to provide insulation in a scheme which is proud of its eco-credentials.

Dumfriesshire farmer Neil Gourlay, 49, said the project had been a “lifelong dream”.

He said he was keen to do “something different” that would also be environmentally friendly.

One element he was particularly keen on was to use sheep’s wool as insulation rather than selling it for what he described as a “pittance”.

He admitted: “I’m a miserable Scotsman in some respects.

“We could do a lot more with reclaimed materials that are just as good as brand new.”

That means that wool sheared from his sheep will be used as insulation – a practice he hopes might catch on with other farmers.

That is not where the use of elements from the Dumfries and Galloway landscape ends.

Locally reclaimed timber is intended to form part of the farmhouse design.

Existing external dry stone walls will be extended to come into the building.

While the sloped roof to the main living area will be covered in turf and also feature a variety of low-growing plants.

Read on…

Posted in biology, design and architecture

Body-inspired Art, architecture


3D-printed work by Yousef Al-Mehdari, a student at the Bartlett School of Architecture, is now featured on the blog, in a proposal for a site on the island republic of Malta.

The project explores religious ritual and the human body, alongside an interest in “transitory sculptures,” processional routes, and a kind of body-futurist rediscovery of architectural ornament. Vortices of limbs ossify into cathedrals; overlapping anatomies become windows and valves.

Al-Mehdari suggests that a careful – even mathematically exact – study of human bodily movement could serve as a basis for generating new types of architectural form. As if we could take conic sections through Merce Cunningham, say, and turn the resulting diagrams into churches.

[Image: Yousef Al-Mehdari]
[Image: Yousef Al-Mehdari]


Read more, and see more of the artwork here.