Suspended Greens in Urban Spaces

suspended Suspended Greens in Urban Spaces

It’s true what they say about the grass being greener. Or in this case, the moss.

For those of us living in an urban space, the sight of plants can be rare. Perhaps that’s what prompted the 2007 Awards for Emerging Architecture, for which architect Taketo Shimohigoshi was one of three prize winners. Recognized for his innovative thinking and ability to find “green space” among the crowded skylines of an over-populated and ever-expanding city, Shimohigoshi came up with moss-covered building-to-building beams designed for structures in Tokyo.

It’s one thing for buildings to incorporate plants and flowers near their entryways or in the lobby, but few can boast skylines with vegetation in mid-air, where (as the designer says) “nature is not in its natural place.”

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Loq-kit | The Prefab That Snaps

loq kit01 Loq kit | The Prefab That Snaps

Ever feel like the American dream is slipping away, especially in regards to home ownership? Not so long ago, it wasn’t beyond the realm of possibilities for a young twentysomething urbanite to own his or her home. But today? Forget about it. Especially if we’re talking about a green house.

But luckily for twentysomething urbanites, people are coming up with innovative solutions. Patrick Freet of PAF Architecture has tackled both the issue of “G” and affordability by creating Loq-kit, which recently won 2nd place in the C2C Home Competition. Freet says the solution is to focus on technology, not the old craft-based system. Although Loq-kits are not yet for sale, Freet has created an extensive web site to open a dialogue on the designs, green building and home ownership in general.

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Cubelights by Nick Foley

design cubes a Cubelights by Nick Foley

I’m thinking designer Nick Foley’s Cubelights would rock on my bedside table instead of the lame lamp I have now. These clever and groovy fixtures connect with rare earth magnets, each acrylic cube illuminating with an LED circuit when the cubes come together. Striking specific arrangements, the cubes can create an “N,” a checkerboard-type design, a nice arch, and on you might be able to go. When you connect an acrylic cube to a wood cube, they light up and you get a nice, peaceful glow.

But as you know, Cubelights are not the only designs for which Foley has used LEDs and magnets. There’s also his amazing Pear Tree light, which would work quite nicely in the corner of my living room, right next to the couch.

You’ve got my attention, Mr. Foley… what’s next? I’ve got more rooms to fill.

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The Modern Rammed Earth Home

rammedearth modern The Modern Rammed Earth Home

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So, you love modern and you love earthy, how about a modern rammed earth home by CHRISTOPHERCHRIS PTY LTD ARCHITECTURE | Australia.

A contemporary new home for a young family relocating from a busy city environment to the Mornington Peninsula. Constructed primarily from locally sourced rammed earth and ship lapped cedar panelling, the house is sited across the ridge of the property.

The elemental form of the building is enhanced by the contrasting and intersecting selection of material, textures and colours, threaded together by the linear rammed earth wall. Key views to the valley are enjoyed from all living areas and bedrooms, whilst the master bedroom is privileged to a unique vista down to the peninsula and onwards to bass straight. Photos after the Jump
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The House of Tomorrow | Visually Stunning and Affordable

houseoftomorrow 03 The House of Tomorrow | Visually Stunning and Affordable

Say what you will about the French (I’ve always found them to be quite friendly and exquisite, much the antithesis of the cranky, smelly stereotype), but their House of Tomorrow is très bon !

Recently featured in the French mag Architectures à Vivre, La Maison de Demain is a newly designed prefab that was unveiled last month at the Bâtimat Show in Paris. Comprised of three separate sections, the house surrounds an open middle section that can be enjoyed during the summers and covered by a mobile canopy in the winter. This setup provides a ridiculous amount of natural light, if that’s your thing, and makes the open area (which I’m guessing would be the structure’s social center) easily accessible from just about everywhere.

houseoftomorrow 01 The House of Tomorrow | Visually Stunning and Affordable

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Marmol Radziner Prefab Coming To Venice

marmol radziner 01 Marmol Radziner Prefab Coming To Venice

Another day, another prefab. This one from the architecture firm Marmol Radziner. Yeah, the peeps who brought us the Office of Mobile Design in Santa Monica and the four bedroom, five bath prefab pseudo-mansion in Nevada (among other genius designs) are bringing their fully customizable vision to Venice, California.

Marmol Radziner, having played major hands in the design game for over 15 years, prides themselves on creating a complete environment rather than just a house. So, this recently announced Venice project is creating quite a buzz.

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Dwell Mag Isn’t Dwelling On Sustainability

dwell magazine dec 2007 01 Dwell Mag Isnt Dwelling On Sustainability

In the November edition of Dwell magazine, editor-in-chief Sam Grawe laments the ubiquitous nature of sustainability, saying it’s a fad that’s come and gone. Like a pair of acid wash jeans, sustainability has had its day. It’s overused, and he’s over it.

The final straw? Jack Bauer educating us about the dangers of global warming on an upcoming episode of 24. (Sam obviously isn’t addicted to the series as some of us are. Don’t worry Jack, you’re forgiven for what you don’t know).

dwell magazine dec 2007 02 Dwell Mag Isnt Dwelling On Sustainability

In case you haven’t worked it out, Sam is being facetious. But his point is this: amidst all the spotlight grabbing and bandwagon jumping, Dwell has been quietly, steadfastly covering sustainability for years. In fact, every edition of the magazine since 2000 has featured a sustainable project. Minus the “certified organic” stickers or sustainability sirens. It’s just as it should be: real people, working on real projects.

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The Dubai International Financial Center | Green Skyscrapers

lighthouse tower The Dubai International Financial Center | Green Skyscrapers

Keeping in step with Dubai’s desire to do everything better than anybody’s ever done anything, they’re stepping up the green game with the Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC). It’s nicknamed “The Lighthouse” because it’s designed to serve as a beacon for modernity that guides people toward this forward-looking cityscape Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos

Solar Decathletes Unite and Take Over

solardecathlon 01 Solar Decathletes Unite and Take Over

You don’t have to let go of the good life living on solar power. Heck, maybe life gets even better. At least the winners of this year’s Solar Decathlon from Darmstadt University (Technische Universität Darmstadt) in Germany sure make it appear that way. Their gorgeous prototype not only proved that they could create a home generated by solar power, but they also proved they could design a house more stylish than anything on recent magazine pages.

Twenty collegiate teams competed in the Solar Decathlon and all of them built attractive and energy-efficient solar powered homes, but Darmstadt University took the cake showcasing some of Germany’s best technology and developing a house for the local climate. The site for this year’s Solar Decathlon was again Washington D.C., so the house was designed for a humid and hot atmosphere.

A long line of onlookers waited to check out Darmstadt’s solar house best described as a flat roofed, glass cube wrapped in beautiful oak shutters. On the outside and from a distance, the house appeared relaxed, earthy, and very low tech. But in fact, when up close, the oak louvers were the solar panels equipped with photovoltaic cells, serving to generate electricity, as well as providing protection from overheating. To increase the efficiency, the shutters always move along with the sun’s angle.

solardecathlon 02 Solar Decathletes Unite and Take Over

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Tomorrow’s Prefab(ulous) Homes

livinghome01 Tomorrow’s Prefab(ulous) Homes

LivingHomes Modular Housing of California recently launched their line of semi-custom homes that are LEED certified. I’ve researched so called enviro-friendly homes as well as “intentional communities” over the last few years, and I’m definitely in favor of a switch to greener building methods.

I do have some thoughts regarding LivingHomes, though, which have nothing to do with their product, only their advertising. They compare themselves to traditionally built housing in their materials, time of building and costs. But this is apples to oranges in my opinion.

The modulars take up to six months for manufacturing before delivery to your property, with (good news) installation taking anywhere from eight hours to two days. These houses are the quantum-leap evolution of mobile home construction attainting the next level of sophistication with a definite “Frank Lloyd Wright goes green” design. LivingHomes claims their costs are twenty to forty percent less per square foot than an equivalent stick-built (currently between $180 & $270, not including design fees, transport or install or foundation costs), while being comparable in design, equipment and construction of a traditional home. I like this. Their final cost is around the million dollar mark (give or take a few thou), which in today’s market is above average. But, of course, financially solid purchasers have globally responsible desires, too, so why not take this plunge?

livinghome02 Tomorrow’s Prefab(ulous) Homes
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Inversion Tunnel House | Looking Back

thetunnelhouse01 Inversion Tunnel House | Looking Back

Imagine how many people would have been drawn into art classes if the outside of Art League Houston had looked like this in the first place

Dan Havel and Dean Ruck called this tunnel “Inversion” and saw it as a celebration of the old space that had once housed art classes. Just before these houses were demolished to clear the site for a coffee house, they peeled off the exterior wood and recycled it into this awesome art installation. Locals knew the buildings and the classes they’d housed, but suddenly the sight drew in more attention. Kids and adults climbed in from off the streets to get lost in the stunning vortex of wood scraps.

Unfortunately, when the houses were finally demolished, so too was the tunnel.

thetunnelhouse02 Inversion Tunnel House | Looking Back Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos

Functional Design | The Hawaii Gateway Energy Center

hawaii solar center01 Functional Design | The Hawaii Gateway Energy Center

Ahh, Hawaii. The sand. The surf. The sustainable buildings. The Hawaii Gateway Energy Center is aptly named. It’s quite literally a gateway – the first building created in an anticipated complex for renewable energy and high tech research. It’s also the Visitor’s Center – the gateway for tourists into the complex. And since Hawaii is one of America’s leaders in renewable energy research and use, the state itself serves as America’s gateway into a more renewable and sustainable world.

Not Only Are They Useful, They Look Cool

Because it is a tourist attraction (located close to the airport), the architects at Honolulu-based Ferraro Choi wanted the building to be visually exciting as well as environmentally beneficial. Architect Bill Brooks notes that “visitors come up the stairs with their eyes wide open” and that the structure is often noticed from the air. This is probably due to the enormous (and enormously cool) steel truss supporting the photovoltaic panels on top. The panels provide shade and energy – 10% more, in fact, that the building actually uses. Located in a beautiful area of Kona overlooking the water, the Center houses the auditorium, the welcome center and, of course, the bathrooms.

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