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design strategies + innovative technologies that promote a sustainable built environment
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Into the woods: a timber-clad Swiss home brings the outside in

Into the woods: a timber-clad Swiss home brings the outside in | sustainable architecture |

Switzerland's striking natural landscape offers many picture-perfect views –  but Gautschi Lenzin Schenker Architekten's 'House in Rombach' was designed to make particular use of its bucolic setting. Located in a suburb at the edge of Aarau, the capital of Aargau canton, the area's green vistas took centre stage in the design process. Subsequently, the team focussed on creating a generous top floor, from which the owners and their guests can take in the area's picturesque scenery...

Francoise ROCAFORT's curator insight, June 21, 1:26 AM

Into the woods: a timber-clad Swiss home brings the outside in

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The Floating House by MOS Architects

The Floating House by MOS Architects | sustainable architecture |

The Floating House is the intersection of a vernacular house typology with the shifting site-specific conditions of this unique place: an island on Lake Huron. The location on the Great Lakes imposed complexities to the house’s fabrication and construction, as well as its relationship to site.

Annual cyclical change related to the change of seasons, compounded with escalating global environmental trends , cause Lake Huron’s water levels to vary drastically from month-to-month, year-to-year. To adapt to this constant, dynamic change, the house floats atop a structure of steel pontoons, allowing it to fluctuate along with the lake.

scarlettarch's curator insight, July 13, 2014 8:23 AM

simple elegant functional

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A House with an Origami-Like Roof

A House with an Origami-Like Roof | sustainable architecture |
In Japan is a tent-like home with an unusual roof that looks as if it has been folded like origami. It keeps the family safe during storms and earthquakes.

In the Mie Prefecture of Japan situated in a old village surrounded by mountains is the ORIGAMI house, designed by TSC ArchitectsThe design centers around a roof that appears folded like origami. The architect wanted the form of the house and the roof to feel like one body. The side with the sharp peak has numerous windows to look out to the mountains, while also keeping the interior filled with sunlight.

The design also allows for plenty of covered outdoor space while also controlling the amount of light and wind that enters the house.

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Pop-Up House by Multipod Studio

Pop-Up House by Multipod Studio | sustainable architecture |

Multipod Studio have designed the Pop-Up House, a housing concept that is low cost, uses recyclable materials and can be built in four days.

The structure, compiled of insulating blocks and wooden panels, delivers affordable thermal insulation. Heating represents close to 28% of global energy consumption and is also one of the main household costs. Determined to develop solutions, Multipod Studio have patented a unique approach to passive construction that delivers outstanding thermal insulation at an affordable cost.

No special tools required, the house is assembled using lightweight and recyclable materials for quick installation.

The materials used are inexpensive and the thermal envelope means no additional heating is necessary. 
The Pop-Up House is an innovative concept that aims to challenge passive house construction.

Catherine Devin's curator insight, March 28, 2014 7:02 AM

This ise also an interesting option for seasonal, holiday use, optimizing the building lifecycle for this particular type of use.... while giving also some flexibility in this type of business.

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Think Small: Renzo Piano's Vitra House

Think Small: Renzo Piano's Vitra House | sustainable architecture |

Vitra’s carefully curated campus in Weil am Rhein, Germany, contains works by Herzog & de Meuron, Frank Gehry, FAIA, and Jean Prouvé, among other top-tier designers. Now the venerable Swiss furniture company has added a tiny prefab house by Renzo Piano Building Workshop to the mix. In 2013, Vitra unveiled Diogene, a 43-square-foot prototype.

In keeping with the no-frills lifestyle of its ancient Greek namesake, the philosopher Diogenes, the house consists of only one room. A slim, ultra-efficient layer of insulation is sandwiched between the cabin’s wood frame and aluminum skin. “The house is really minimal,” says Vitra project manager Aja Huber. “It’s a life where you have to think, do you want the sofa or the bed?”

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Cantilevered Two Hulls House Overlooking the Sea in Nova Scotia, Canada

Cantilevered Two Hulls House Overlooking the Sea in Nova Scotia, Canada | sustainable architecture |

Two Hulls is a detached house in Nova Scotia, Canada, that allows water to flow freely underneath the structure.

Floating above the sandy beach, Two Hulls is one of the many fascinating detached houses designed by  MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects. Cantilevered on concrete foundations, it allows the water to flow freely underneath the structure, without harming the house in any way. The perfect place to construct a seaside refuge home, the isolated plot of land, guarded by trees and lush vegetation on one side and the sea on the other,  offers mind-blowing views, encouraging a relaxing lifestyle...

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An Energy-Saving, Ecological Glass Box Above the Landscape

An Energy-Saving, Ecological Glass Box Above the Landscape | sustainable architecture |

Amsterdam firm Paul de Ruiter Architects designed a home to provide a comfortable environment all year round while minimising its energy use and impact on a site in a protected ecological area.

In order to build on the site, which is a habitat for many plants and animals, the owners were required to return what had previously been farmland to its original pre-agricultural state. They planted 71,000 young trees that will eventually obscure the house from view and added a rectangular pond above the underground storey.

Energy-saving techniques employed in the building include a fabric screen built into the insulated glazed facade that can be rolled down to reflect the sun, and create a void between the glass and the screen through which ventilation flows. Wood from the private forest will be burned to heat water for the house once the trees have matured, while photovoltaic cells on the roof and a planned windmill will generate electricity.

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La Sentinelle, Quebec: A House Overlooking a Lake & Landscape

La Sentinelle, Quebec: A House Overlooking a Lake & Landscape | sustainable architecture |

This house in Quebec by Canadian studio naturehumaine has a gently sloping roof that follows the descent of the surrounding landscape.

'Named La Sentinelle, or the Sentinel, the house is described by the architects as "a bird sitting at the edge of the cliff overlooking the lake", as a reference to the L-shape made by the angular metal roof.

The constraints of the site led to an L shaped footprint where an east-west oriented rectangular block was placed at the top of the topography, and a north-south oriented block was slid underneath.

A folded roof rises from the lower block covering the upper block and extending towards the cliffs edge as if it were about to take off, reminiscent of the wings of a bird.'

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Ogaki House by Katsutoshi Sasaki + Associates

Ogaki House by Katsutoshi Sasaki + Associates | sustainable architecture |

This geometric design is influenced by the surroundings and the conditions of the site.

In winter seasons, the strong west wind (the fall wind of Ibuki) blows, so the design suppresses the load of the building by extending its roof up to the close to the ground soil and fending off cold winds at the roof. In summer seasons, the structure discharges the accumulated heat inside to the outside through the void of the inner court.

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Continuity through Variation: Cotacachi House by Arquitectura X

Continuity through Variation: Cotacachi House by Arquitectura X | sustainable architecture |

This retreat in a small town in the northern Andes is located two hours north of Quito, at an orchard site 2470 meters above sea level, between the Imbabura and Cotacachi mountains.

This typological variation of the traditional courtyard type, through understanding the modern bi-nuclear house, combined with the properties of rammed earth construction and the layering of lighter complementary materials, strive towards a synthesis of the local and the universal, towards continuity through variation...

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Blu Homes Prefab: Breezehouse

Blu Homes Prefab: Breezehouse | sustainable architecture |

The Breezehouse, one of Michelle Kaufmann’s iconic designs, is the model for the first Blu Homes development in New York State, consisting of 12 home sites ranging from 6.8 to 24 acres overlooking the Hudson River Valley and the Catskills.

The local developer worked with conservancy groups to sustainably develop the project set amid woods, streams, ponds, and vistas. The three-bedroom, three-bath dwelling features a light-filled indoor environment that connects seamlessly with the natural landscape. Structural steel framing and advanced building science make it possible to withstand extreme weather, including high snow loads and wind gusts of up to 110 mph.

Blu Homes are LEED Silver certifiable upon leaving the factory and are solar-ready. Beyond the standard green features that Blu includes in every home, such as recycled steel framing, radiant heat flooring, high R-value walls and energy-efficient appliances, Blu Homes can achieve net zero energy status, Energy Star rating and higher LEED certifications with the inclusion of other available green elements.

Debbie Walsh's comment, February 2, 2013 4:23 PM
Very cool!
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Meme Meadows Experimental House by Kengo Kuma and Associates

Meme Meadows Experimental House by Kengo Kuma and Associates | sustainable architecture |

This translucent cabin by architects Kengo Kuma and Associates is an experimental house in Hokkaidō, Japan, designed to test the limits of architecture in cold climates.

Inspiration came from the traditional architecture of the indigenous Ainu, whose "Chise" style buildings clad with sedge or bamboo grass hold in the warmth of a central fireplace that is never allowed to burn out.

"The fundamental idea of Chise, 'house of the earth,' is to keep warming up the ground this way and retrieve the radiation heat generated from it," say the architects. The Experimental House was constructed around a coated larch frame and it has a thick layer of polyester insulation sandwiched between the polycarbonate cladding of the exterior and the glass-fibre fabric of the interior. This insulation was made using recycled plastic bottles and it allows light to pass into the house through the walls.

As the first experimental house completed for the Meme Meadows research facility, the building will be used by the environmental technology institute to test how different factors affect the thermal qualities of its construction.

Pedro Barbosa's curator insight, January 27, 2013 4:38 AM

There is a new group of trendsetters uniting architects, designers, tech guys and just curious-all-of us, creating new mashups that can turn into future trends some day


Pedro Barbosa | |

Alaskan EcoEscape Permaculture's curator insight, October 24, 2013 1:39 PM

Interesting green build????  It's certainly not a natural build though.


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Materiality, Light + Thermal Control: House in Yamasaki by Tato Architects

Materiality, Light + Thermal Control: House in Yamasaki by Tato Architects | sustainable architecture |

Located in a residential area in Hyogo Prefecture, the house was designed for a family with two children. “The residents requested that, as the area has short hours of sunlight in winter, they’d like to bring in as much light as possible,” said Yo Shimada of Tato Architects.

More from the architects:

I wanted to create light, stable indoor climate and came up with a plan of three sheds of house type arranged on a 1.8 m high foundation platform. The first floor was lowered by 760 mm below ground to optimize the heating system and regulate temperature, while preserving views to the surrounding mountains and sky for the entire residential neighborhood.

The bathroom shed and the sunroom shed provide lighting and ventilation for the lower floor and form an overhead courtyard. The sunroom collects heat in winter, and exhausts heat in summer through the five motor-operated windows.

Corrugated polycarbonate panels are used for outer walls of the three sheds to take in solar radiation, with moisture and water-absorbing sheets between the panels and structure.The inside of the walls are formed with a heat insulating layer, and the ceiling and walls of bathroom are further filled up with light transmitting thermal insulation material of reproduced PET bottles.

A house appearing as small as a peasant’s work shed of an innovative material as corrugated panels creates a new vernacular in this agricultural area. Read the article and view more photos of this very unique house that connects new and old within the rural landscape.

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Mirror Houses by Peter Pichler Architecture | Bolzano, Italy

Mirror Houses by Peter Pichler Architecture | Bolzano, Italy | sustainable architecture |

The true purpose of the twin houses is clear: stringent environmental regulations and a contemporary concern for comfort demand a plethora of mechanical and electrical equipment and a highly insulated envelope. But with a great glass sliding door opening each unit to the breeze, the houses offer their temporary residents a taste of something like Thoreau's rougher-hewn Walden cabin, whose simplicity and intimate scale fostered his sense of connection to the environment. In their outward appearance, the Mirror Houses do little to blend in with their surroundings—the opposite, in fact—but, from the inside, the building seems almost to disappear, registering only as a frame for the view. “There but not there,” one might say...

Barzisa Sabine's curator insight, August 25, 10:00 AM

A real connection to the environment ! great

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The Håkansson Tegman House by Johan Sundberg

The Håkansson Tegman House by Johan Sundberg | sustainable architecture |

Johan Sundberg designed the Håkansson Tegman house in Höllviken, Sweden. Angled around an inner garden, the design rests on the tradition of the Danish atrium house from the 60s and 70s. Three small bedrooms form the northern wing of the house, while the western wing is a continuous sequence of spaces consisting of a kitchen, dining room, library, living area, and winter garden.

The outer walls along the streets are clad with clay bricks as a screen. The stucture is a steel-enforced timber frame. Windows and sliding glass doors are made from Schüco aluminum profiles. The front and garage doors are custom made from ammonium smoked oak.

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Omizubata N House in the Forest of Karuizawa by Iida Archiship Studio

Omizubata N House in the Forest of Karuizawa by Iida Archiship Studio | sustainable architecture |

The village of Karruizawa, Nagano Prefect, is a destination commonly sought after by Tokyo dwellers looking for a peaceful getaway. It’s easy to see the zen-like qualities a rural retreat like Omizubata N House offers its owners when they escape the city and its 13 million inhabitants. The interior of the oversized cabin is finished entirely with wood adding to the natural feel of the forest surroundings.

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Wallaby Lane House and Studio

Wallaby Lane House and Studio | sustainable architecture |

Wallaby Lane House and Studio is located at Tinbeerwah on the Sunshine Coast. The dwellings were designed by Jolyon Robinson of Robinson Architects for a family relocating from Sydney.
The site, a long sliver in shape, is just over two hectares. Established bushland in the center of the property separates the two buildings. The property is not serviced by town water or sewerage, so an onsite waste water treatment system looks after both buildings and rainwater is harvested.
The house sits high on the site and is linear in plan to follow the natural contour. The house plan is spacious yet compact. No space is wasted. Orientated to the north, large eaves and a fly-over roof shade the building. Cross ventilation, natural daylighting and beautiful views to Cooroy Mountain are maximized.

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Elegant + Eco-Friendly Appleton Residence in Venice, California

Elegant + Eco-Friendly Appleton Residence in Venice, California | sustainable architecture |
Appleton is an elegant eco-friendly residence located in California. It features an uncluttered interior, connecting the inhabitants with the courtyard.

The orientation of the house was thought out to maximize passive solar design and natural ventilation. Every room is connected to the courtyard, allowing inhabitants to move freely from inside to outside. The use of natural materials softens the contemporary lines of the overall design, highlighting the connection to the exterior.

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Maximizing Views with Minimal Environmental Impact: House Ufogel in Austria

Maximizing Views with Minimal Environmental Impact: House Ufogel in Austria | sustainable architecture |

This Austrian house Ufogel is a functional home set on a hillside overlooking some of the best mountain views in the area, blending the comforts of a traditional house with the futurism of contemporary design. It is set on stilts to maximize spectacular views while minimizing the environmental impact of its construction. Windows, both small and large, provide light to every part of the building without sacrificing personal privacy, a consideration that’s often missed in the design of compact houses. The interior of the house is fairly minimal in style, dominated by a single wood finish and accented by clever little details in each room.

I.B.G.-'s curator insight, January 7, 2014 2:42 AM

 ejemplo de eficiencia, funcionalidad y diseño ...

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A Prefab Timber-framed Bioclimatic House by Tectoniques Architects

A Prefab Timber-framed Bioclimatic House by Tectoniques Architects | sustainable architecture |
This "bioclimatic" house in France features a timber frame, larch and composite timber cladding, and a planted roof.

Lyon architects Tectoniques introduced a range of measures to maximise the environmental and thermal performance of the house -called Villa B - along a north-south axis, with plenty of glazing on the south facade helping with solar gain. The house is built using dry construction methods and features a prefabricated modular timber frame built on a concrete slab with larch cladding covering the exterior...

ParadigmGallery's curator insight, November 26, 2013 12:12 PM

This home is fantastic. I found the description of the details of the build informative and interesting, giving me insight into the thought process that determines interior and exterior materials, the biorclimactic approach and more. Awesome images of the interior and exterior.


Michel Bastian's curator insight, November 30, 2013 3:50 AM

Bio-bio !

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The +Energy House in Germany

The +Energy House in Germany | sustainable architecture |

From the architect:

The +Energy House lies down as a flat structure on the sloping site and forms at the upper floor a platform that connects inside and outside together and offers a magnificent view of the countryside. The two-storey structure incorporates mixed construction systems: concrete on the ground floor, with wood upstairs.

Additionally, dowelled laminated timber elements enable the structure to be entirely built without glues, with a clients request for pollution-free construction and ecological building materials.

notliebags's comment, September 27, 2013 12:18 PM
cool design
António Sousa Correia's curator insight, September 27, 2013 7:56 PM


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Minimalism + Light: Curved Courtyard House in Naruto, Japan

Minimalism + Light: Curved Courtyard House in Naruto, Japan | sustainable architecture |

A minimalist house with a curved exterior that provides privacy, security, natural light and air circulation, and plenty of space for children to play.

Osaka-based architect Naoko Horibe was given a tall order when she set out to design this residence in Naruto-Shi, Tokushima, Japan. First, the property is located in an area that tends to flood during heavy rains. Second, the clients wanted their new home to provide security and privacy, while at the same time having enough space for their children. And last, but not least, they asked for the house to have good natural light and air circulation throughout.

To work around the potential flooding situation, the foundation and floor were built fairly high. The house itself is designed such that the rooms are built around a central courtyard. The rooms loop together and create a path for the kids to run around. 

The courtyard helps bring light into the interior, helping to achieve one of the clients’ requests. It also helps with air circulation.

View more photos at the article link.

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Off-Grid, Design/Build: The House on Limekiln Line

Off-Grid, Design/Build: The House on Limekiln Line | sustainable architecture |

An extraordinary off grid home built with local materials, that fits right into the rural Ontario landscape, the House on Limekiln Line is an extraordinary artifact, addressing a 220 year old heritage, with a modern aesthetic.

From the architects:

The House on Limekiln Line, a design-build off-grid house, is sited in a rich agricultural landscape.The house is understood as both a mediator to and a microcosm of its immediate cultural and climatic context. An “observation shed”, the house is composed of a series of scales of spaces, each with distinct vantage points, visual alignments, and framed vistas to the larger context beyond, facilitating stewardship of and respect for the productive landscape in which it sits...

Natalie Curtis's curator insight, April 19, 2013 9:22 AM

Off grid living at its finest- definitely needs to be explored more in some cases. The local materials are a great way of resourcing too!

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Sonoma Mountain House by Nielsen Schuh Architects

Sonoma Mountain House by Nielsen Schuh Architects | sustainable architecture |

The Sonoma Mountain House is organized to enhance this experience of drama and discovery, as an integral part of daily life.

A single fold in the uplifting roof allows the house to pan across the immediate setting, and expand outward, while embracing the upslope. A continuous deck extends the from the pool along the length of the house, bridging over the driveway to the guest house. The curved terrain drops abruptly where the guest house tower floats over the slope.

Guests arrive to find they are in the treetops. Spaces that occupy the sheltering structure are open and flowing, so that boundaries dissolve both inside and outside. Materials and finish balance comfort and refinement with the rustic setting. An exuberant structural framework knits into the forest surrounding the house...

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D*Haus: Dynamically Responding to its Environment

D*Haus: Dynamically Responding to its Environment | sustainable architecture |
Conceived for the harsh, climatic extremes from ‘Lapland to Cape Horn and Aleutians to Auckland’ The D*Haus concept can respond dynamically to its environment by controlled adaptation to seasonal, meteorological and astronomical conditions.

D*Dynamic can ‘metamorphosize’ and transform itself into 8 Configurations, adapting from winter to summer, and day to night by literally moving inside itself. The thick heavy external walls unfold into internal walls allowing glass internal walls to become facades. Doors become windows and vice versa. The layout can be adapted to suit different living situations, as the design can change its shape and perspective both seasonally and throughout the course not only dawn to dusk but also twilight to sunrise....

One can rotate the house so that the user is in sunlight, while the house generates energy through solar panels. From a manufacturing point of view, the design deploys one set of materials to achieve so many possibilities...

'D*Haus designs are inspired by the philosophy of dynamic living: we truly believe in ideas that can help improve and inspire our daily lives. This can be done through flexibility, adaptability and originality.'

Patrick Tay's curator insight, January 7, 2013 9:44 PM

Blending architectural, art and design.