As someone who’s lived in Hell’s Kitchen, worked in the fashion district and spent every Sunday in Central Park, I understand the need to see grass whenever possible… but in New York’s lower Westside or on top of some rundown railroad tracks? No way. I’ve walked to the Piers a million times, but never in a million years would I have believed there was a field of grass growing 20 feet above my head that will soon be turned into a luscious green park. Then again, I’d walked all over the Meat Packing District as it transitioned from loading docks to the latest NYC hot spot for art, fashion, and food, so anything’s possible.
For decades, the grass and wildflowers have been collecting dust while sucking carbon dioxide out of the dirty air and spewing out oxygen as a waste product. The idea of developing a park in the lower Westside is much needed, perfectly located and environmentally viable. Planting more trees and adding more plants will only help convert more carbon dioxide to oxygen, not to mention bring friends and families together to see a little bit of history on the tracks.
A vacation home you can order and have delivered to your destination of choice. The Ecopod, made from an old shipping container, is a tiny home away from home. This little guy goes for around $27,000 canadian and seems to be more like a hard shell tent, than a home. Get this, no bathroom, no kitchen, and no air conditioning.
The ecopod does come with a single 80 watt solar panel, a 12 volt battery system, recycled car tire rubber floors, windows and a drop down deck. The deck is designed to lift up and close off your ecopod, while your away for extended periods of time. Basically the deck is the old siding of the original container, and when closed, the container, is a container once again.
This 3,900 square foot house in Santa Monica tests the hypothesis that it is not necessary to sacrifice beauty for sustainability – that one can have both. Furthermore, it suggests that attentiveness to sustainability can inspire and elicit beauty where it might not be otherwise.
The house incorporates a number of passive and active green strategies, as well as a number of recycled and sustainably harvested materials. The structure’s openness and siting not only provide the sense of continuous space and connection to the garden that the client desired, but also allow sunlight and ocean breezes to warm and cool the house naturally. The koi pond cools the air before it enters the house; the concrete floor absorbs the sun’s heat, saving it to be released at night. Motorized skylights over the stair atrium draw warm air out of the house and also provide museum-quality lighting for the client’s art collection. A diagonal void carved through the house not only allows southern light to penetrate deep into the northern areas of the house, but also intensifies the abstract spatial qualities that are at the heart of the house’s aesthetic.
So, what to do with all those extra shipping containers flowing in from China? Well, if you work out the architecture firm MMW in Norway you use them a green building material. The firm seems to really specialize in re-using this waste product generated by the shipping industry. I know what your thinking, how is this a waste product? Well, you see, there is no value in shipping empty containers all the way back to China. So, basically these ultra tough steel containers are really nothing more that giant size cardboard boxes and we all know what we do with those.
So, using these industrial cardboard boxes, MMW created a new Gallery building for Alexandra Dyvi. She wanted a semi temporary gallery.
To make an open feelingMMW has let a huge amount of fresh crispy northern light through the building by placing circular windows opposite each others. These shapes bring on the history from way back where at this site many of the most beautiful ships from Oslo where built at this site. Also the traditional industry ladders/stairs gives an impression of linking it all together with the shipbuilding industry from last century. Huge safety glasses at the end of each container give wanted supply with water and weather, sun and sky. The start of it all came with 10 ordinary containers, insulated on the inside, and covered with sheets of plywood and sheetrock (gwb) all painted like a classical with cube.
A beautiful California house designed by McGlashan Architecture, which is designed to fade into the natural landscape. Look at the intense living roofs, which mirror the surrounding vegetation on the hills. Forms and color palettes are inspired by the hillside landscape. Living roofs shelter three levels of living space while preserving a thriving habitat. Skylights brighten and ventilate rooms below.
The longer I stare at Habitat Hotel, the more I realize what an inspiring, albeit superfluous, idea it was. Created by Enric Ruis-Geli of Spain, the model of Habitat Hotel was exhibited in “New Spanish Architects” at the MoMA last year. While Enric heads up Cloud 9 Archictecture, his background is heavy in directing and set design for experimental theater. This past adds a spectacular quality to this model, now a permanent piece in MoMA’s collection.
Habitat Hotel is, however, a brightly lit model of a hotel, so it’s hard not to think Vegas. A Vegas hotel with smarts.
Think LEDs are just for your TV, remote control or cell phone? Guess again. Once the tireless workhorse of the electronics industry, LEDs have become the darling of the design world — making inspired appearances in modern day chandeliers, textiles, furniture, and multimedia art. And guess what? Some modern offerings are actually affordable — like this cluster of blow-me-away Balloon Lamps by Japanese design studio Kyouei Ltd.
Did I say affordable? These mood setting lanterns are available for $30 each at Charles & Marie. The lamp arrives flat, ready for you to give it some life. Snap the balloon on to the fixture, and blow into the valve until the lamp has reach your desired dimensions. Suspend them individually, or in a constellation designed by — why, you.
Here is another custom home design by the Australian Architecture firm, URZ-SANBY Architects. This one is in the Kangaroo Valley and follows the same in door out door concept of their other designs. The entire house opens up to become part of the environment.
The brief was to build a simple weekend retreat that would respond to the local climate, the immediate site and the surrounding landscape. The site is 65 hectares, located in Kangaroo Valley, and is surrounded by steep sandstone escarpments to the south and views down the valley to the North. There were no existing services on the site.
The decision to make the house entirely self-sufficient, was made early in the project as a means of controlling the budget. This then drove the design process, toward a well considered environmental response in terms of form, structure and materials and led to a new exploration of sustainable systems and technologies for our practice.
So, your the average Green Guy or Gal, and you dream of one day living in your very own shipping container. Right? You have the usual sleepless nights tossing and turning as you try to decide just how many to use, one, three, maybe twenty? Should you stack them, keep them all at one level or my favorite dilemma, should you use the containers only as the outer walls, and add on a roof? Right that last one is the real bitch. Well, I am sorry to say you now have another option to add to your dream list, what type of drive way will your dream container have?
Your thinking, What! Plus you have that confused, look on your face, I know that look. Dude everyone knows driveways are made of concrete in the U.S. Why don’t you crawl out of your recycled box and get a clue. Well, my Green friend, your wrong. Concrete is just but one option and in fact if you are a really container head like me, you might just want to checkout what the Cordell Shipping Container House and see what they are now calling a driveway, an awesome earthy colored layer of recycled glass, called Filterpave. Filterpave consists of granite and 100% post consumer waste glass material in a resin binder that allows rainwater to percolate through the paving, thereby reducing storm run-off, as well as providing for absorption of hydrocarbons (oil, etc).
This fabulous pre-fab comes from the Salzburg based company, Espace Mobile. Their sleek home is made from spruce wood and aluminum metal sheeting for optimal energy conservation. Factory made and set up for you by crane, this home comes with a three-year warranty. Kind of like a car, but without the wheels.
However, unlike a car, it’s comfortable to live and work in. The interior and exterior are fully customizable, and the only things not included in the price are the piece of land you’re putting it on, the foundation, the connection costs, the transport and the set up.
Are you over my Portland Post? Well, dig in, because yes, here is yet another example of G Living Portland Style. The PBS series, voiced over by Brad Pitt e², has featured Portland as a city designed to the human scale. Meaning a city which has been built to give you a sense of place. You are able to walk across a street without getting killed, or feeling like an alien amongst the 6 lanes of cars. Just simple old school European village concepts re-shaped for the modern over crowded world we live in now. I know here in L.A. my favorite spots are Main Street Venice/Santa Monica and 3rd Street in Santa Monica, just because of the restrictions on cars. Get rid of the cars and all of the sudden a city feels so much better. You can actually hear birds, trees, and the person next to you. Shocking I know.
I have always thought Venice should ban all cars and have a simple Light Rail system and expanding of the Canals. It would become the most prized place to live in L.A. They could setup parking garages in key locations to all the tourist and residence. If they did something like that, I might even stay in L.A.
Here is a pretty special outdoor living style home down under, Kangaroo Valley House by Alexander Michael.
From the Architect
“There are primarily two parts to this building, one being the main living area, the other being the two individual bedrooms separated from the main building by a semi-covered walkway. As this was a weekender, I wanted it to feel like one, and so the walk outside to get to the bedrooms gives it a kind of resort atmosphere, as well as doubling as an escape from the bustle of the living area.
The Living area is basically a simple rectangular space with a polished concrete floor, eighty percent enclosed by retractable glass walls, and single-span composite timber beams supporting the sub-roof ceiling. At twenty meters long, by seven meters wide, there is no internal structure, the only division being the Utility Pod bringing the services up through the concrete slab to the kitchen, WC, laundry, and media room. Like a house of cards, the entire pod is fabricated from structural fibrous cement sheet, only held together by exposed galvanised steel braces. The Pod stops well short of the ceiling to allow for visual flow-through. Like the Pod, I’ve used the same material to sheet all of the exterior walls as well as the top of the sub-roof. In its raw state, fibrous cement sheet is a wonderful, but under-utilised and misunderstood material, thanks mostly to its infamous predecessor, asbestos sheeting. Covering all of this like a giant sun-shade, is a primary roof structure of galvanised steel supported by twelve massive timber columns, four of which stand in the twenty-seven meter long reflection pond. It is this roof that supports the sub-roof by four fine steel rods, allowing three sides of the living area to be opened to the landscape.”