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sustainable architecture
design strategies + innovative technologies that promote a sustainable built environment
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Sonoma Spa Retreat, Sonoma, Calif.

Sonoma Spa Retreat, Sonoma, Calif. | sustainable architecture |

San Francisco–based Aidlin Darling Design crafted the program of this private spa retreat, located in the mountains of Sonoma, Calif., to serve as a place of respite, with the structure sited within a grove of oak, manzanita and madrone trees, close enough to the main house so as to be convenient, but far enough to ensure privacy on the 10-acre site.

The entry is situated behind two curving earthen walls that make the approach somewhat like moving through a concrete Richard Serra sculpture. Inside, the 1,802-square-foot structure includes a yoga and meditation studio, a steam room, changing rooms, and a refreshment bar. The spaces are organized on a wood deck surface that projects out over the landscape to the northeast and southeast to provide a private sundeck, which is shaded by a slatted canopy. Retractable glass walls open the interior spaces to the outdoors.

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Wellness Villa Sealand

Wellness Villa Sealand | sustainable architecture |
Luxury, sustainability, space and comfort, this wellness Villa in Sealand, the Netherlands, has it all. The clients live in Rotterdam and wished a weekend house to relax and receive guests.


The villa is located half a mile away from the North Sea coast, hidden in a tree filled area along the edges of the dunes. The orientation on the plot and the way the facades are treated, generate maximum privacy. Large glass facades and roof lights provide both daylight and view into the green surroundings.

A 100m2 spacious living room has attached rooms for owners and guests, which creates a blend of loft, holiday house and hotel.
An open gallery on the upper floor gives access to a room that connects to the living room through a glass wall, but can be transformed into a fully equipped and blinded cinema room.

The wellness area in the basement consists of a 12m pool and 3 saunas. The wellness area is directly connected to both the living area and the garden...

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Sustainability, Simplicity and Natural Materials at New York's Won Dharma Center

Sustainability, Simplicity and Natural Materials at New York's Won Dharma Center | sustainable architecture |

A retreat designed by Hanrahan Meyers Architects reinforces the Buddhist mantras of simplicity and nature in upstate New York at this beautiful, simple and green meditation center.

Located in the Hudson River Valley, New York, the 22,000 sf project was under construction when Chung Ohun Lee, of the organization's leaders, attended the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. She was so inspired by Obama's speech—in which he vowed to cut emissions by 8% over 40 years—that she asked the architects to switch from conventional building systems already ordered to such energy savers as geothermal heating and solar hot water.

While many of the building systems were changed after Lee's trip, the architecture itself needed few adjustments- wood framing (dimensional lumber and glulam beams) was used rather than steel, and interiors used locally harvested oak for flooring with furniture made of FSC-certified, formaldehyde-free apple plywood. LEED certification would have added $50,000 to the cost, so the client instead opted to spend the funds on green features. It helps, Hanrahan says, that "reducing their carbon footprint is part of their philosophy."

But the real lesson is that even the most advanced systems require the client's participation to achieve significant energy savings...

Lauren Moss's insight:

A beautiful structure that aptly reflects the philosophy of its users serves as an architectural manifestation of key Buddhist principles and values. The minimalist design is an inspiring example of a fundamental commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship- the building employs modern technology and innovative green systems, in conjunction with passive design strategies and the use of locally-sourced materials...

ParadigmGallery's curator insight, April 5, 2013 4:22 PM

inspiring design, philosophy and implementation...enviable commitment to going greener and owning the responsibility we all have to adapt our approach to new builds....


Jasbin's comment, April 22, 2013 2:31 AM
A beautiful photography
Snow Lion Crystals's comment, September 7, 2013 4:14 AM
Lovely article, simply inspiring.
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Sustainable Design | Greenhalgh House by CCS Architecture

Sustainable Design | Greenhalgh House by CCS Architecture | sustainable architecture |

Greenhalgh House is a sustainable home designed by CCS Architecture , located in the Alpine Meadows area near Lake Tahoe, California. This is a second home for the owner, who wanted efficiency in performance, regarding the needs of a retreat home.

This eco construction adopted rustic modern design using cedar materials. The house is grid connected, but it is also grid independent. To provide maximum view of Sierra Nevada mountains, all of the main rooms are faced to the south, with cross ventilation provided by the operable windows and sliding glass doors on both sides of the home. Concrete materials used partially at the first floor act as thermal mass storage to maintain the room temperature.

This green architecture building is completed by 600 sq ft of photovoltaic panels provided at the roof, facing south. During the days when the house is not in use, electricity is produced and stored to be used on peak days when in use. There is also thermal hot water system located at the roof. Radiant floor heating is powered by the hot water provided by hot water heater powered by the PV. The hot/cool air trapped between the roof and and panels can be used also as additional heating/cooling...

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