Friday, June 29, 2012

Barn House Eelde by Kwint Architects

Kwint Architects has designed Barn House Eelde.

This private home features 1,052 square feet of living space and is located in the countryside south of Eelde in the Netherlands.

To see more goto:

Friday, June 22, 2012

How to Live Without Air Conditioning and Beat The Heat (Spoiler: It's All About Design)


Air conditioning is a recurring topic on TreeHugger. It has become one of those luxuries that became necessities; as Cameron Tonkinwise noted a few years ago, "The window air conditioner allows architects to be lazy. We don't have to think about making a building work, because you can just buy a box". It let us move to places that would otherwise be just about uninhabitable, like Phoenix or Florida. We rounded up earlier stories a few years ago in The Deluded World of Air Conditioning Revisited, but it's time for an update.

Keep Cool With Culture, Not Contraptions

Renoir: Luncheon of the Boating Party/Public Domain

What happens when humans treat themselves like dairy products chilled behind glass?
Civilization declines.
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Summer In The City: Urban Strategies for Keeping Cool

Really, when you look at most of the lists of ways to keep cool, you would think that everyone in America lived in a detached house in the 'burbs. But lots of people live in cities and apartments where suggestions like "don't use the dryer" or "plant a tree" are not relevant. How do you keep cool in the city?
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How Air Conditioning Changed How and Where We Live

Jan Tik/CC BY 2.0

Before air conditioning, in a bygone and surely less comfortable era, people employed all sorts of strategies for keeping cool in the heat. Houses were designed with airflow in mind -- more windows, higher ceilings..... In addition, many homes had porches where families could spend a hot day, and also sleeping porches with beds where they could ride out a hot night. Many home designs took passive solar design principles into account, even if they didn't name them as such.
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Quotes of the Day: On the Evils of Air Conditioning

We should consider also the insidious effect of central air- how it enables the development of parts of the country previously uninhabitable and which would still be but for the constant cooling, and how it is destroying the street culture of areas already established. How we are sacrificing neighbourhood and community by forcing our immediate personal climate to adapt to us instead of us adapting to it.
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Design Is The Key To Keeping Cool Without Air Conditioning

Vince Michael of The School of the Art Institute of Chicago Time Tells describes how he stays cool without air conditioning: "Short answer: real brick walls and trees."
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More Architectural Tricks To Keep Cool Without Air Conditioning

We have covered many of the old ways of keeping cool, but Matt Grocoff points out another at the Old House Web: Cupolas. He writes:
Cupolas are as functional as they are decorative. As warm air rises cupolas allow hot air to escape at the high points in the house while bringing up cooler air from below. They also create a steady air-flow even when there is no breeze outside. In some homes, cupolas provide soft, indirect sunlight that illuminates the home without bringing in the heat.
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27 Tips For Keeping Cool From Planet Green

Sean McGrath/CC BY 2.0

When it comes to green living, Planet Green is the go-to for how-to, and has been beating to death the subject of beating the heat. We round up a few cool thoughts.
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Friday, June 15, 2012

The Special Sandstone Metal Mix Building

Designer:            Alex Shipley
Date:                     June 12, 2012
Quick synopsis on the building:
The name of the building is “The Special Sandstone Metal Mix Building.”  There is no sandstone.  He agreed it was confusing but still liked the name because of the alliteration.

There are seven floors and a basement.  Each floor has the following metal skin and even the window frames are made of that same metal:

7th:  Tin
6th:  Copper
5th:  Bronze
4th:  Brass
3rd:  Silver
2nd:  Platinum
1st:  Gold

The basement has seven storage rooms for act as depositories for the metals.  The eighth room in the basement is general storage.

Comments on the Design:
Michelle Schuneman:  That’s a lot of windows to wash and put blinds on (I’m saying that as a Mom, not an architect)!  Oh my!!!  Nice drawing!

Jennie Bennett:  Well I would have to ask if it is LEED certified building because with all of those windows he is sure to get the daylighting credit.

Mike Robb:  I would like to be on the first floor and if I have to replace the windows I might need a raise.

Brian Ward:  That is awesome! Some quick comments:

1.       The entry door appears to be larger than necessary, however if you have giants or very tall employees, this might be helpful.
2.       I like the sloped or curved floors. Give the employees roller blades and it could be even more fun.
3.       All metals do not play well with each other. The more nobel the element (higher number of molecules in the periodic table) the more stable they are. For example aluminum is less noble than gold. The more noble metals will steel atoms away from the lesser metals and cause a galvanic reaction. Water typically accelerates the process. You might revers the order of the metals to have the more noble metals on top so that as rain runs down the building it reduces this affect. If the building is in Arizona then you don’t have to worry about it.  Your mother is a chemical engineer and can correct my butchering/incorrect statements about this process. Now that I think about it, I could be completely backwards. I don’t get to work on many buildings with Gold or silver. Just remember not all metals get along well J
4.       The 7th floor is a little short for tall people.
5.       Be sure to draw a line for the ground so people can see where the basement is.
6.       Always leave space on the façade for the name of the building. The Special Sandstone Metal Mix Building company might not pay for the building if their name is not on it.

Very nice work Alex! Keep drawing.

Maricela:  I would add to Jennie's comment that with all those metals he could submit for a special LEED certification too!

Also, I like the style, very Gaudi like, love the subtle curves!

Peter Schmidt:  Move over Frank Gehry!

I thought the basement walls were column grids for a minute there… scared me that he would have a structural system in mind, of course he would not have placed columns behind his windows anyway? 

So are we talking stud back up here?  I like the fact that his windows maybe align, but I’m thinking curtain wall would save on having to build tiny sections of non-glazed wall areas!  If he does not go into architecture, he could certainly capture the wedding cake market!

Brent Camp:  Alex may be a neo-rationalist genius - Move over Aldo Rossi

Rene Rodriguez:  I like how he proportioned the windows. Starting with large windows in the bottom floors and proportionally adjusting the size to the smallest in the top floor. Good Job!!

Adam Porter:  The golden rectangle affixed over Alex’s gold building.  Smart kid
Leslie Crowder:  Let Alex know it is a beautiful building and the people that work in the building are very luck due to all the natural light!   Also let Alex know that planning for general storage space in a building is always a good idea.

Although, if Alex wants to work for Baker on Design-Build projects he will need to modify his design slightly to include only one metal, he will need to use a ruler to remove all curves, and he will need to take out most of the windows.

Christina Radu:  I like that, although this is design for a large building, Alex thought of the variety and hierarchy not only of materials but also of windows: larger windows on the lower floors, smaller windows on the upper floors (where, presumably, if the building is in an urban setting, there is more abundant light). Variety is always good for this size of a building.

Sally Parker:  No trees?

Susan Garcia:  The façade has a nice classical progression from base to top story, while also having quite a modern style with curves and – I also have to say -lots of glazing which is very nice for the occupants.  Has he considered natural ventilation with all these windows?

The idea of all them metals is wonderful!  Did he consider the cost of all these metals?  I hope he has a client with lots of budget!! 

I do also think it’s a beautiful design.  We should feature it on YEOW.

Rassa Davoodpour:  I loved it.
I am still laughing about it.
We need to hire him for our new project.
Thanks for sharing with me.  I had a tough day but you made it all well.
Kiss him for me.

Gretchen Pfaehler:  It reminds me of the Hundertwasser Haus.

Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre by Peter Rich Architects


© Iwan Baan

"Mapungubwe, located on South Africa’s northern border with Botswana and Zimbabwe, prospered between 1200 and 1300 AD by being one of the first places that produced gold, but after its fall it remained uninhabited for over 700 years, until it’s discovery in 1933. The society living in what today is Unesco World Heritage Site, is thought to have been the most complex in the region, implementing the first class-based social system in southern Africa. And besides the cultural heritage, Mapungubwe is also home to an immensely rich flora and fauna, including over 1000 years old Baobab trees and a big variety of animal life, including elephant, giraffe, white rhino, antelopes and 400 bird species.

In this surreal setting Peter Rich has designed a 1,500 sqm visitor’s center which includes spaces to tell the stories of the place and house artifacts, along with tourist facilities and SANParks offices. The complex is a collection of stone cladded vaults balancing on the sloped site, against the backdrop of Sandstone formations and mopane woodlands.

© Iwan Baan

The vaults have been designed in collaboration with John Ochsendorf from MIT and Michael Ramage, Univ. of Cambridge, using a 600 years old construction system to achieve a low economical and environmental impact. The traditional timbrel vaulting, using locally made pressed soil cement tiles, allows the design to be materialized with minimal formwork and no steel reinforcement. In addition, the ambition was to also integrate local unskilled labor into a poverty relief program by training them to produce the over 200,000 tiles necessary in the construction of the domes.

The Mapungubwe Interpretive Center was realized using latest developments in structural geometry along with an ancient construction technique, in order to implement a contemporary design, meant to house hundreds of years old artifacts." -

For more photos, go here to Iwan Bann's website.

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Watertower


Stained-Plexiglas Watertower Illuminates the Brooklyn Skyline in Dazzling Color

Thank you Dan for today's YEOW!

There are approximately 1000 pieces of salvaged NYC plexiglas mounted on the steel structure of artist Tom Fruin's newest sculpture, a 25' by 10' patchwork water tower—set atop a collection of artist's studios at 120 Jay Street in DUMBO, Brooklyn—called, simply, Watertower.
Beginning June 7th, the tower will be lit from within by digitally-controlled light sequences playing from dusk till morning for a full year. A welcome addition to Brooklyn's skyline, Watertower will be visible from Lower Manhattan, FDR Drive, and the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges at night.


Monday, June 4, 2012

SEAI opens up with Building Energy Rating database

Posted by: Jeff Colley in urban environmenturbansustainableSustainabilitylow energyhousinggreenglobal warmingenergy efficiencyemissionseco buildingdesignconstructionConstruct Irelandcimate changecarbonbuilt environmentarchitecture on

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In an act of laudable transparency, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland has put every the details of every Building Energy Rating yet published  for dwelling in the country online. The SEAI National BER Research Tool includes information from almost 290,000 BERs for new and existing homes that have been published to date, along with provisional BERs.

The database contains a vast trove of information including everything from age of construction, to structure type, to the minutiae of each building's energy performance spec. One caveat before researchers get ahead of themselves: Deap - the software which generates BERs - is a standardised assessment tool, which makes lots of assumptions about buildings in terms of occupancy patterns, temperature and hot water usage, and even insulation levels. BER assessors typically don't engage in destructive surveys or advanced non-destructive methods like thermal imaging - meaning that it's difficult to accurately gauge insulation levels. In some cases - typically with floor insulation and fairly commonly with walls - it's often impossible to tell whether insulation is installed consistently or at all.

This problem was clearly demonstrated in the Energy Performance Survey of Irish Housing - an unpublished study commissioned by SEAI in 2004 as part of its preparation for the introduction of BERs. The study found that visual inspections of a representative sample of 52 houses built between 1997 and 2002 showed that 85% appeared to be properly insulated in accordance with the 1997 version of Part L of the building regulations. However, when 20 of the 52 houses were subjected to thermal imaging tests, 19 - or 95% - were found to be in contravention of Part L due to missing insulation and cold bridging. So which is it? 85% compliant, or 95% non-compliant?

The point I'm getting at is: use the data in the National BER Database, but apply a generous dose of cynicism. It's an amazing resource, but it should be used with caution.

A couple of immediate data grabs to get the ball rolling: The average rated home in Ireland is a D2, coming in at 261 kWh/m2/yr, and only 0.5% are A-rated. Clearly, the sustainable building sector's got its work cut out.....

To register click here .

The next issue of Construct Ireland - which is on the cusp of going to print - will include an analysis of the extent to which new homes are complying with the ambitious sustainable energy targets under the latest version of Part L.And while there are some great low energy buildings being built, there's still an awful lot of dross too. If you're building or upgrading to a higher standard and you'd like to speak to companies in the sustainable building sector, click here and we'll even send you a free copy of the next issue.

Be sure to let us know what notable facts and trends you're spotting in the data, and feel free to post your thoughts below.

The Fifth Facade: A Peek Inside NYC’s Hidden Rooftop World

from the

Even for native New Yorkers who are rarely surprised by the secrets offered up by their fascinating home, the hidden NYC that Alex MacLean captured might be something completely new. And if you have never lived in New York, you are sure to be blown away. The architect turned pilot turned photographer took to the skies in a helicopter to capture a world that very few ever get to see: the rooftop outdoor spaces that bring some urban dwellers right into suburbia.

(image via: Princeton Architectural Press)
Flipping through the pages of MacLean’s Up On the Roof (a copy of which was provided to WebUrbanist by the publisher), all of the trappings of suburban life are evident. The barbecues, picnic tables, gardens and swimming pools call to mind neighborhood backyard parties – only these are no backyards. These are the tops of tall buildings right in the middle of one of the most vibrant cities in the world.

(image via: Princeton Architectural Press)
MacLean became aware of this secret world almost by chance. An intriguing image he saw on Google Earth inspired the pilot to take a swing over Manhattan while out on a photography assignment. The initial reason for the detour was quickly forgotten when MacLean began to notice an entirely unexpected layer to the city far above the sidewalks. From then on, he began documenting those amazing rooftop spaces.

(image via: Princeton Architectural Press)
Just like suburban backyards, the roof spaces run the range from sparse and minimal to flawlessly manicured to absolutely chaotic. It is wonderfully mesmerizing to examine each page, leaning in close so as not to miss a single detail. These high-up spaces have been used for everything from playgrounds to restaurants to art exhibits to fully-functional urban farms and even golf courses. In one bizarre case, a replica of a World War I British fighter plane sits on a rooftop runway.

(image via: Princeton Architectural Press)
While many of the older buildings sport retro-fit rooftop spaces – added on many years after the buildings were constructed – some new buildings have rooftop living and recreational spaces built in. MacLean notes a particular new building in Williamsburg on which the roof space is segmented into many individual outdoor areas, to be sold later at a premium to residents.

(image via: Princeton Architectural Press)
The nearly 200 rooftops detailed in MacLean’s book are perfect examples of urban adaptivity. Even urbanites who wouldn’t dream of leaving the city crave an outdoor space in which to relax. Since rooftops account for one third of all impermeable surfaces in New York City, it only makes sense to put all of that space to use.

(image via: NY Mag)
It is interesting to note that, since rooftops have typically been used to house industrial objects like water towers, compressors, and ducts, these things now have to coexist with the rooftop living spaces. In some cases the solutions are remarkably elegant, such as enclosures that camouflage all of the mechanical things. In others, the spaces meant for people simply wind their way around the inconvenient objects.

(image via: NY Mag)
MacLean’s engrossing book can be enjoyed simply for its beautiful photography and glimpses into ordinarily-inaccessible places. But for urban enthusiasts, it also inspires a sort of giddy excitement over future possibilities. As more and more of the world’s population settles in densely-populated urban areas, more cities will start to resemble New York…and more urbanites will head to the roof for their daily dose of nature.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Biophilic Building Design Held Back by Lack of Data

Biophilic design is still at the bleeding-edge of green building design and hasn’t taken off yet. The obstacle may be the lack of data on the impact of biophilic design on health and well-being. Or perhaps it’s because there still hasn’t been that one model site that makes current practice irrelevant. Other possible reasons: “collective ignorance” or a ”lack of imagination.” At a session at the American Institute of Architects (AIA) conference in Washington, D.C., some of early innovators in this field, Bill Browning, Founder, Terrapin Bright Green, Jason McClennan, CEO, International Living Future Institute / Cascadia Green Building Council, and Bob Berkebile, a principal at BNIM and an early green building innovator, discussed the many obstacles preventing more widespread use of these approaches and argued for rapidly stepping up research and promotion efforts.

Biophilia, which has been defined in earlier posts, is “the innate emotional affiliation of humans with all living things.” Defined by famed biologist, E.O. Wilson, the concept of biophilia has kicked off rich areas of research and practice in the fields of biophilic and bio- or eco-mimetic design among all kinds of designers.
To make the case for biophilic building design, Browning repeated arguments he has made at other conferences, but also highlighted some interesting example projects. Administrators at a U.S. post office building where people sorted mail kept careful records of how many pieces were actually sorted per hour. With the redesign of the building to let in natural sunlight, a biophilic design enhancement, ”levels of productivity went up dramatically.” In another project, Walmart tested the impact of sunlight, creating a store with one half with a regular roof, and the other half with a skylight. The sky-lit side had “much higher sales.”
He described how our opioid receptors tell us when we are having a biophilic reaction. For example, when we see a plain grey background, we don’t get much excitement. However, when we see a lush garden under a clear sky, with a foreground and background, paths, and water, our brain says “I like, I like, I like,” with our opioid receptors firing full blast.
Fractal patterns are something we also like. The dense organic network of forests, waves rippling on the ocean, or a roaring fire can be stared at for hours. And looking at these things may actually be not only interesting for our brains, but also soothing, emotionally. In Japan, there’s Shinri-yoku or “forest bathing,” which involves sitting out in a fractal-rich forest for a few hours to simply soak in the natural environment. In one Japanese study, stress hormones were found to simply “drop away in the forest.”

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194 Anagram ArchitectsAnagram Architects is a design consultancy firm established by Vaibhav Dimri and Madhav Raman in New Delhi in 2001. The partners are graduate architects from the School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi. The firm’s practice is diverse and encompasses public infrastructure planning, urban design, architecture, sceneography broadcast design, furniture design and interior design256 Anagram Architects346 Anagram Architects

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