This tiny living home made from wheatgrass, jute, and felt brings nature into our brutal cityscape

Getting close to nature through architecture comes in many forms. Some homes take to glass facades, dissolving the barrier between the outdoors and inside, then some homes feature blueprints that wrap around trees, incorporating their canopies and trunks into the lay of the house. Omri Cohen, a student designer at Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem, has a different idea. Cohen developed the Living Shell, an architectural shell built by growing jute, felt, and wheatgrass into a form of a textile that’s laid over a bamboo frame.

Turning to textile technology, Living Shell was born from Cohen’s quest to evolve layers of wheatgrass root systems into elastic, textile materials. Settling on the shell’s curvilinear structural shape, the wheatgrass textile wraps over its bamboo frame, forming layers of insulation and shade while it continues to grow. Cohen found durability in the inexpensive building material he developed from jute, felt, and wheatgrass. Layering the different roots together in a pattern that allows room for sustained growth periods, the textile’s thickness and durability increase over time as the roots continue to interlace and grow. While he has yet to build a life-size Living Shell, Cohen crafted 1:10 models to demonstrate the feasibility of introducing the Living Shell into rural and urban environments alike. Connecting the structure to an irrigation system, the textile overwrap would most likely receive nourishment from a programmed watering method.

While Living Shell functions like a house, it would more likely offer natural refuge hubs for small animals to gather nesting materials from and inhabit. Additionally, Cohen developed Living Shell so that urban dwellers and rural farmers have the opportunity to watch nature in action, for all of its natural growth, regenerative, and decay processes.

Designer: Omri Cohen

Layered around a bamboo frame, Cohen’s Living Shell is made from a textile developed from jute, felt, and wheatgrass.

Before building its life-size debut, Cohen created tiny 1:10 models of Living Shell.

Following tests to show how wheatgrass root systems grew through textile sheets, Cohen settled on some that could be woven together into a single textile sheet.

Cohen found a textile sheet that he could sew together and integrate the seeds of jute, felt, and wheatgrass.

Wheatgrass growing through the textile sheets.

The growth process of wheatgrass shows that the textile’s thickness would increase with continued irrigation.

Green skyscrapers that add a touch of nature + sustainability to modern architecture!

Skyscrapers have taken over most of the major cities today. They’re symbols of wealth and power! And most of the skylines today are adorned with glistening glass skyscrapers. They are considered the face of modern architecture. Although all that glass and dazzle can become a little tiring to watch. Hence, architects are incorporating these tall towers with a touch of nature and greenery! The result is impressive skyscrapers merged with an element of sustainability. These green spaces help us maintain a modern lifestyle while staying connected to nature. We definitely need more of these green skyscraper designs in our urban cities!

Zaha Hadid Architects designed a pair of impressive skyscrapers that are linked by planted terraces, for Shenzhen, China. Named Tower C, the structure is 400 metres in height and is supposed to be one of the tallest buildings in the city. The terraces are filled with greenery and aquaponic gardens! They were built to be an extension of a park that is located alongside the tower and as a green public space.

Polish designers Pawel Lipiński and Mateusz Frankowsk created The Mashambas Skyscraper, a vertical farm tower, that is in fact modular! The tower can be assembled, disassembled and transported to different locations in Africa. It was conceptualised in an attempt to help and encourage new agricultural communities across Africa. The skyscraper would be moved to locations that have poor soil quality or suffer from droughts, so as to increase crop yield and produce.

The Living Skyscraper was chosen among 492 submissions that were received for the annual eVolo competition that has been running since 2006. One of the main goals of the project is to grow a living skyscraper on the principle of sustainable architecture. The ambitious architectural project has been envisioned for Manhattan and proposes using genetically modified trees to shape them into literal living skyscrapers. It is designed to serve as a lookout tower for New York City with its own flora and fauna while encouraging ecological communications between office buildings and green recreation centers. The building will function as a green habitable space in the middle of the concrete metropolis.

ODA’s explorations primarily focus on tower designs, in an attempt to bring versatility and a touch of greenery to NY’s overtly boxy and shiny cityscape. Architectural explorations look at residential units with dedicated ‘greenery zones’ that act as areas of the social congregation for the building’s residents. Adorned with curvilinear, organic architecture, and interspersed with greenery, these areas give the residents a break from the concrete-jungle aesthetic of the skyscraper-filled city. They act as areas of reflection and of allowing people to connect with nature and with one another.

Heatherwick Studio built a 20-storey residential skyscraper in Singapore called EDEN. Defined as “a counterpoint to ubiquitous glass and steel towers”, EDEN consists of a vertical stack of homes, each amped with a lush garden. The aim was to create open and flowing living spaces that are connected with nature and high on greenery.

Designed by UNStudio and COX Architecture, this skyscraper in Melbourne, Australia features a pair of twisting towers placed around a ‘green spine’ of terraces, platforms, and verandahs. Called Southbank by Beulah, the main feature of the structure is its green spine, which functions as the key organizational element of the building.

Mad Arkitekter created WoHo, a wooden residential skyscraper in Berlin. The 98-meter skyscraper will feature 29 floors with different spaces such as apartment rentals, student housing, a kindergarten, bakery, workshop, and more. Planters and balconies and terraces filled with greenery make this skyscraper a very green one indeed!

Algae as energy resources are in their beginnings and are seen as high potential. Extensive research work has dealt with algae as an energy source in recent decades. As a biofuel, they are up to 6 times more efficient than e.g. comparable fuels from corn or rapeseed. The Tubular Bioreactor Algae Skyscraper focuses on the production of microalgae and their distribution using existing pipelines. Designed by Johannes Schlusche, Paul Böhm, Raffael Grimm, the towers are positioned along the transalpine pipeline in a barren mountain landscape. Water is supplied from the surrounding mountain streams and springs, and can also be obtained from the Mediterranean using saltwater.

Tesseract by Bryant Lau Liang Cheng proposes an architecture system that allows residents to participate in not just the design of their own units; but the programs and facilities within the building itself. This process is inserted between the time of purchase for the unit and the total time required to complete construction – a period that is often ignored and neglected. Through this process, residents are allowed to choose their amenities and their communities, enhancing their sense of belonging in the process. Housing units will no longer be stacked in repetition with no relation whatsoever to the residents living in it – a sentimental bond between housing and men results.

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In a world devoid of greenery, Designers Nathakit Sae-Tan & Prapatsorn Sukkaset have envisioned the concept of Babel Towers, mega skyscrapers devoted to preserving horticultural stability within a single building. The Babel towers would play an instrumental role in the propagation of greenery in and around the area. These towers would also become attraction centers for us humans, like going to a zoo, but a zoo of plants. Seems a little sad, saying this, but I do hope that we never reach a day where the Babel Tower becomes a necessity. I however do feel that having towers like these now, in our cities, would be a beautiful idea. Don’t you think so too?

Greenhouses that promote sustainable urban farming + push the boundaries of innovative architecture!

Did you know that greenhouses produce 6 to 10 times more crop yield as compared to open fields? Not only that, but 40% of the drainage water in greenhouses can be recycled and reused. They allow you to grow your own food, and combat the prevailing food crises! I could go on, and on, but you get the point – the benefits of greenhouses are innumerable. Hence, architects have been coming up with impressive greenhouse designs. These innovative structures not only promote sustainable agriculture and urban farming, but are also an impactful form of green architecture. I’m totally team greenhouse, are you?

Architecture studio RicharDavidArchitekti built a single-story home in the town of Chlum, in the Hořice district of the Czech Republic. However, this ordinary home has an extraordinary feature! It has a roof-shaped greenhouse on top! The greenhouse on the roof allows 360-degree views of the orchard surrounding the home. As the home and the greenhouse are connected, the residents can directly enter the greenhouse from within, without exiting the house. Also, the residual heat from the house warms up the greenhouse as well. This combination house and greenhouse is truly one of a kind!

Let’s look at what is basically the Queen of all greenhouses – the Tropicalia! Designed by French firm Coldefy & Associates, it will be located on the Côte D’opale in Northern France and construction will begin in 2024. Coldefy & Associates have collaborated with energy company Dalkia for the $62-million ambitious project. The gigantic greenhouse wants to immerse its visitors in a tropical environment that spans over 215,000 square feet and is covered with a massive 35-meter-tall dome. The indoor ventilated temperature will be maintained at 26°c to accommodate the needs of a diverse range of birds, butterflies, fish, reptiles, and exotic plants, fauna, and flora.

Designer Eliza Hague has come up with inflatable bamboo greenhouses! Hague is a student at the University of Westminster where she is pursuing her Master’s in Architecture. Her design features shellac-coated bamboo to emphasize the use of biomimicry in different disciplines of design – in her case it is providing eco-friendly architectural solutions inspired by nature. For the main structure, Hague drew inspiration from the Mimosa Pudica plant which closes its leaves when it senses danger and that is how she came up with collapsible beams featuring inflatable hinges. It gave the greenhouse a unique origami effect (it actually looks like paper too!) and also enables the structure to be easily flat-packed for transportation/storage. Rows of these bamboo-paper greenhouses can be connected to shared houses constructed from the soil, which has a high thermal mass, providing shelter from extreme temperatures in India. Hague envisions that the greenhouses would be shared by multiple families and would provide each family member with enough food to be self-sufficient, creating communal greenhouse villages in the city’s more rural and isolated areas.

Studiomobile and Pnat came up with the Jellyfish Barge which is a floating, modular greenhouse designed especially for coastal communities and can help them cultivate crops without relying on soil, freshwater, and chemical energy consumption. The innovative greenhouse uses solar energy to purify salt, brackish or polluted water. There are 7 solar desalination units planted around the perimeter and are able to produce 150 liters (39.6 gallons) of clean fresh water every day from the existing water body the greenhouse is floating on. The simple materials, easy self-construction, and low-cost technologies make it accessible to many communities that may not have a big fund.  The module has a 70 square meter wooden base that floats on 96 recycled plastic drums and supports a glass greenhouse where the crops grow.

Using experiential design as a medium, Studio Weave collaborated with garden designer Tom Massey to create the Hothouse which is a tiny greenhouse filled with edible tropical plants. The installation was made for the London Design Festival 2020 and is located in the International Quarter of London and provides a controlled habitat to grow specific plants that would not otherwise grow in the UK’s climate. The aim was to show the effects of climate change in a more tangible manner you can experience on an individual personal level.

When Notre Dame lost its roof to a devastating fire, Studio NAB, imagined replacing the roof with a giant greenhouse! The covered greenhouse would occupy the entire length of the cathedral, and both arms of its crossing. On the other hand, the spiral would be rebuilt as a multi-story platform, and would be filled with bees! This space could be utilized as a garden, and to hold educational workshops on ecology.

Architect Gerardo Broissin designed an intriguing pavilion that sits on the lawn at the contemporary art museum Museo Tamayo in Mexico City. The structure looks like it’s right out of another dimension, but it functions as a greenhouse! The pavilion has been created using concrete panels that come together like a puzzle. Named Egaligilo or equalizer in English, the puzzle-inspired panels of the pavilion are spread out across a steel frame, with bubble-like circles protruding from them. The interior wall comprises of white circles as well. The circles have minute spaces in between them giving Egaligilo two layers of skin. The perforated layers allow oxygen, sunlight, and rain to enter the pavilion and aid the plants in their growth. In fact, the pavilion creates its own microclimate, by preserving and maintaining certain atmospheric conditions within, allowing the plants to grow.

Bringing a touch of green to Magok, South Korea, Seoul Botanic Garden was designed and built to create an educational and public space that harbors flora and cultural insight from twelve tropic and Mediterranean cities across the globe. Positioned on the southwestern side of the Han River in the Magok neighborhood of Seoul, the new botanic garden’s location was chosen partly due to the region’s pastoral history. Blossoming a safe distance away from the surrounding marshlands, Seoul Botanic Garden’s rippled, concave roof emulates the formation of a flower’s petals, particularly mimicking the shape of a Rose of Sharon’s petal bed.

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A perfect fit amidst Poland’s green terrain is this house, commissioned for a single-family, designed by SK Architekci and visualized by Ideal Arch Visuals. Paying tribute and respect to the greenery, the house has a number of vertical gardens near the side passage and back entrance. It even primarily makes use of wood, to give it a natural aura, and the front facade is made entirely of glass, almost making the house look a little like an idyllic greenhouse among the trees! The house’s exterior has a simple yet striking silhouette that echoes homeliness through its symbolic house shape. Plus, who wouldn’t feel at home amidst such stunning greenery? It’s a home that also functions as a greenhouse!

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Designed completely with a cradle to grave mindset, the Lattice Tent serves all needs. From a shelter for humans in both recreational and safety setups, to even a greenhouse towards the end of its life, the Lattice Tent is made up of multiple thoughtfully designed components, beginning with a proprietary “hat” that serves as an attachment platform for utilities like radio antennae, satellite dishes, and rain harvesting systems, held up by a SUP (Set-Up Pole) that provides initial support. The Lattice name comes from the lattice-shaped outer skeleton that is inflated and then lined on the inside with lightweight yet durable walls that are made from an eco-friendly membrane. The entire Lattice can be packed tightly into a cylinder that occupies as much space as a gym bag. The Lattice can be easily broken down too by scattering seeds around it and allowing the membrane to erode to turn the Lattice tent into a hub for plant growth. Grazed on and trampled on by farm animals, the once rigid structure will be ground down and eroded to a point where what remains can be easily removed and disposed of.

Architectural Designs with green roofs that meet the needs of humans and nature alike!

Green roofs have been gaining a lot of popularity these days! They’re an eco-friendly alternative to conventional roofs as they provide natural insulation against heat and maintain a cool temperature. They also serve as efficient rainwater buffers and reduce energy usage! Not to mention they add an organic and natural touch to homes and help them effortlessly integrate with their surroundings. We’re major fans of green roofs, and we’ve curation a collection of architectural designs that truly showcase their beauty and utility. These structures will have you ditching traditional roofs, and opting for greener ones!

In the hills of Harriman State Park (New York), plans were made to build a beautiful, contemporary-style hobbit hole known as the Black Villa. The house is stunning inside and out, especially its most eye-catching feature: the luscious grass-covered roof. Green roofs have been growing slowly in popularity over the past decade, due to their economic and environmental advantages. They can reduce energy usage by 0.7% by providing natural insulation against heat and maintaining temperatures that are 30-40°F lower than conventional rooftops. (The Black Villa also decreases the need for electricity by using skylights and floor-to-ceiling windows.) Green roofs also reduce and slow down stormwater runoff, which helps immensely in areas with poor drainage systems (usually in urban areas).

KRADS, an architectural studio based in Denmark and Iceland recently finished work on a client’s very own holiday home nestled away somewhere in the mountains of southwestern Iceland, perched above Lake Þingvallavatn. Being the second-largest natural lake in Iceland, the views overlooking Lake Þingvallavatn are sweeping, especially from the vantage point of Tina Dickow’s and Helgi Jónsson’s holiday home. The pair of performing artists worked with KRADS to creatively integrate their holiday home into the lake’s surrounding mountainous terrain, forming intentional views of the natural, dense landscape and nearby Lake Þingvallavatn. To integrate the holiday home into this part of southwestern Iceland’s mountainous region, KRADS built concrete foundations in three staggered planes that follow the topography of the hilly landscape, building on the rest of the home’s frame from there.

The ambitious structure is called ‘Delta’ after the Pearl River Delta and is designed to rise seamlessly from the river with an accessible green rooftop for visitors to soak in the natural setting. The roof is a public park that showcases organic geometries in the form of architecture. The dynamic shape has been inspired by a river stream that has a new view, a new bend, a new discovery at every turn. Similarly, the museum too will have different views at every turn overlooking the surrounding park, hills, and lake from the winding terraces. A news article published in March reported that the total investment in the project was to be $496 million and that excludes the cost of acquiring a wide range of specimens—animals, plants, minerals, and fossils—that will be on display throughout over 365,000 square feet of exhibition-dedicated space.

Downtown Toronto and the city’s students just got a green upgrade in the form of a $65 million dollar project called Canoe Landing Campus! This structure is now a social nexus that acts as a community recreation center as well as an educational institute divided into public and Catholic elementary schools plus a childcare center – all of that under one gigantic green roof! ZAS Architects designed the campus to provide a much-needed social infrastructure to CityPlace which is one of the city’s most populated residential developments with over 20,000 residents. So a facility the size of Canoe Landing Campus was needed to cater to everyone while also being functional. Given the scale of the campus, it was important to make it energy-efficient and therefore the team added solar panels that generate 10% of the building’s total energy needs – a small start with the potential to grow a lot more!

Looking for an escape from your apartment and dive into nature? The Øyna Cultural Landscape Hotel in Norway is your destination. This hotel is wrapped in a lush green carpet and is hidden away on a hill with the sweeping views of the Trondheim fjord – a Nordic landscape with a long, narrow, deep inlet of the sea between high cliffs formed by submergence of a glaciated valley. Øyna’s location is right out of an enchanted forest storybook. Designed by Green Advisers AS, the hotel’s unique layout maximizes the guests’ connection with nature. All 18 rooms are built inside an existing sloping terrain with a cantilevered design so every person staying gets an unobstructed view of the cultural landscape.

Studio Gang is known for being a super innovative company that produces some of the most unusual architectural designs and their latest concept is a mixed-use sustainable hotel called Populous! With solar panels, a green roof, and other carbon footprint-reducing features, Studio Gang aims to have the doors of this hotel open by 2023 which also seems like a feasible projection for all of us to resume traveling like non-pandemic times again. Populous will be built in Denver, Colorado, and will measure 135,000 sq ft (roughly 12,500 sq m) with over 13 floors. While most of the interior layout will be dedicated to the hotel and its amenities, Studio Gang also plans to include 40 “micro-apartments” to stay aligned with its mixed-use functionality.

Designed by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), CopenHill is an intriguing mesh of a waste-to-energy power plant, a ski slope, hiking and running trail, and a section of lush greenery right in the middle of bustling Copenhagen. Home to 7000 bushes, 300 pine and willows trees, plus other varieties of nature, CopenHill bears a beautiful connection to nature. Measuring at 278 feet, CopenHill also showcases the world’s tallest climbing wall, plus a cross-fit area and trail for hiking and running. There’s a rooftop bar you can hit for some drinks and food!

Estudio Felipe Escudero designed ‘House Folds’, a low single-storey home in the valley of Nayón. The house displays a curved and playful form, but the highlight has to be its green roof! The green roof was built in an attempt to help the structure harmoniously integrate with its lush green surroundings. Although built from concrete, the home boasts a very free-flowing and organic form. It’s a flexible and open space accentuated with floor-to-ceiling windows, and intricate usage of concrete and timber to give it a warm aesthetic.

Architecture firm Coldefy will be creating a mixed-use building in Northern France. Named ‘Echo’, the structure will include an office space, and a catering and recreation program. The building will be accentuated by green terraces that will cascade one after the other, almost resembling a green river. Echo will be the ‘first bio-based building in Euralille’!

Giorgi Khmaladze Architects designed a coffee factory and offices in Tbilisi, Georgia. Built from concrete and boasting an intriguing geometric form, the structure has been equipped with a green roof! It features folded concrete facades, creating interesting edges, allowing the light to bounce off them, and resulting in a fun interplay of shadows and lights!

This mushroom-shaped home is the perfect example of architecture meets nature!

Nestled in a pine forest in Xin Yu City of the Jiangxi Province of China is a mushroom-shaped wooden house! Resembling a wild mushroom, the 50 square meter home was constructed by ZJJZ Architecture Practice. The spacious wooden architecture is a private haven in the serene forests of China and was designed to maintain a symbolic connection with nature. And indeed the structure really does harmoniously blend with its greenery-rich surroundings!

The wooden house consists of two sections – the main mushroom-shaped area which comprises the bedroom. The bedroom features a panoramic window which provides amazing views of the surrounding landscape. You can sit on chairs and gaze at the lush greenery. The cone-shaped roof overhead the bedroom is rounded on top, creating the impression of a roof that is expanding and endless. The accompanying loft which serves as a space for children is connected to the bedroom via a set of small-scale stairs. The bathroom and the storage space function as the second volume of the home. A horizontal window has been placed next to the bathroom allowing light to stream into space, while also restricting the view from the pedestrian path, maintaining privacy. The lobby at the entrance is a space to welcome guests and is accompanied by a circular skylight at the top. This skylight enables light to enter the space throughout the day, creating different expressions of light and shadows, leading to a beautiful lobby area.

As mentioned earlier, the home was constructed while maintaining a cohesive relationship with nature. It has been raised on a steel structure to minimize and reduce the impact of construction on the location. The architects envision that with time the surrounding green plants will grow healthily and embrace the building, creating an exquisite combination of architecture that meets nature! Although the house has been built from granolithic concrete, the roof is clad in pinewood, giving the structure a very organic and natural feel. The mushroom-esque home is at one with the greenery around it, it seems like an extension of nature, rather than a concrete structure built in the midst of it. Residing in this home will surely be a peaceful, serene, and calming experience!

Designer: ZJJZ Architecture Practice

Architectural designs that focus on humans and nature alike: Part 5

If there’s one thing that COVID-19 has done for sure, it’s waking us up to the fact that we need to live more sustainably and consciously…ASAP. In an initiative to encourage us to lead greener lives, architects have been incorporating sustainability into their designs. They have been opting for green roofs, and are attempting to create homes and workspaces that allow us to stay connected with nature. And not to mention these sustainable homes are extremely beautiful! I would sure love to make one of these green structures my home.

Green roofs have been growing slowly in popularity over the past decade, due to their economic and environmental advantages. They can reduce energy usage by 0.7% by providing natural insulation against heat and maintaining temperatures that are 30-40°F lower than conventional rooftops. The Black Villa also decreases the need for electricity by using skylights and floor-to-ceiling windows.

Designed by Chang Architects, Cornwall Gardens is an open, green, and environment-friendly home for you and your family. Thick vegetation has been seamlessly integrated into the structure, creating a home that is always connected with nature. The architect describes it as a “cool tropical paradise”, and we wholeheartedly agree!

Located in Iran, the RAD facade design is another example of architecture meets nature! Designed by Ali Goshtasbi Rad, each window facade has been provided with ample space to accommodate some beautiful greenery. The end result? A quaint red brick building brimming with plants and lush greenery!

Designed by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), CopenHill is an intriguing mesh of a waste-to-energy power plant, a ski slope, hiking and running trail, and a section of lush greenery right in the middle of bustling Copenhagen. Home to 7000 bushes, 300 pine and willows trees, plus other varieties of nature, CopenHill bears a beautiful connection to nature.

Designed by Studio precht, Bert looks exactly like a tree! The various homes branch out like a tree, creating a system of modular homes with spherical windows. The rooftop is also gushing with mini trees and shrubs, creating a green haven of sorts.

The Forest School was designed for Pune which is a popular student city that has seen dramatic urban growth in the last decade. Due to this boom, the air pollution in Pune was four times higher than the safe standard set by the World Health Organisation. The architect wanted to create a structure that served a purpose complemented by design – a healthy school environment, with opportunities for hands-on learning about the environment and climate change. The ‘green living skin’ serves to purify the air from pollutants and related challenges affecting the health of the inhabitants of a city.

In the Bosland forest of Limburg, Belgium, Burol and Schap designed a stilted 10-meter high cycling path, surrounded and weaving through trees and the lush forest. Giving you the feeling of flying, this path goes across the treetops and it would surely make for a great cycling adventure. I wonder if I ride fast enough, would I feel like Harry Potter, skimming the branches of the Forbidden Forest on a balmy summer evening!

The ambitious structure is called Delta after the Pearl River Delta and is designed to rise seamlessly from the river with an accessible green rooftop for visitors to soak in the natural setting. The roof is a public park that showcases organic geometries in the form of architecture. The dynamic shape has been inspired by a river stream that has a new view, a new bend, a new discovery at every turn. Similarly, the museum too will have different views at every turn overlooking the surrounding park, hills, and lake from the winding terraces.

This triangular cabin by Jacob Witzling and Sara Underwood has a very green roof! It makes for the perfect little getaway. You will be surrounded by nature and sheltered by a roof brimming with plants and shrubs. It could also work as a beautiful permanent residence if you’re okay with living in partial isolation!

PARK ROYAL on Pickering Hotel by Woha Architects is an explosion of green from whichever direction you approach it. Each curve of the building features gardens layered with reflecting pools, waterfalls, green walls, and sky gardens that are sure to relax you while helping promote the biodiversity in the city. Challenging the traditional boxy structure of hotels, this design is almost organic using the greenery to balance the electricity requirements of running a huge space like this.

Architectural designs that focus on humans and nature alike: Part 4

News this year has been dominated by COVID-19. The disease that has been creating a rampage across the planet is on its own warpath but one thing that it has done is reduced the focus from the eco-warriors. While the war to save our planet is ongoing, we, in our attempt to keep our family safe, need to balance it by advertising and advocating sustainable designs, and do our part in saving the world from the next climate challenge. One way to do this is by using a green roof. As temperatures continue to rise, green roofs cut the risk of overheating by reducing direct heat penetration into the house, in turn reducing the electricity bills by keeping your homes naturally cooler. Furthermore, green roofs provide habitat for biodiversity, absorb hazardous pollutants, and alleviate potential flood risks as runoff water is absorbed. The architectural designs curated here use this and other techniques aimed at balancing our needs and those of the world around us.

Green roofs have been growing slowly in popularity over the past decade, due to their economic and environmental advantages. They can reduce energy usage by 0.7% by providing natural insulation against heat and maintaining temperatures that are 30-40°F lower than conventional rooftops. The Black Villa also decreases the need for electricity by using skylights and floor-to-ceiling windows.

Shilda winery in Kakheti, Georgia by X-Architecture lets nothing come in the way of you and the rolling hills that host your vineyards. Designed to be one with the field around it, the green patches continue onto the roof of the sloped dining area – the overall feel being of those rooms coming up from the earth.

Washington Park’s Portland Japanese Garden goes green with Japanese architect Kengo Kuma’s expertise. The garden’s design is quoted to be one of the most authentic experiences outside of Japan and the revamp increases the walkable area to accommodate the increased traffic. The space boasts of multiple buildings including the Jordan Schnitzer Japanese Arts Learning Center – a gallery that holds exhibitions around the year. Our attention, however, is grabbed by the living roof that helps absorb rainwater and reduce the run-off during the rainy season.

PARK ROYAL on Pickering Hotel by Woha Architects is an explosion of green from whichever direction you approach it. Each curve of the building features gardens layered with reflecting pools, waterfalls, green walls, and sky gardens that are sure to relax you while helping promote the biodiversity in the city. Challenging the traditional boxy structure of hotels, this design is almost organic using the greenery to balance the electricity requirements of running a huge space like this.

Aston Martin partnered with S3 Architecture to create the Sylvan Rock – an angular home nestled in a lush, 55-acre property that can be accessed through a picturesque 2,000 ft driveway wrapped in trees and rock walls. The home will be built using sustainable building methods, materials, and efficient systems – attending to the planet’s needs is as important as attending to a client. The main residence’s structural shape mimics the geological rock formations found on the property. It is enveloped in blackened cedar and glass which reminds of well-crafted swords in their sheaths. The residence is spread over 5,983 sq ft featuring four bedrooms, four bathrooms, two half baths, a custom wine cellar covered in Aston Martin’s trademark cross-hatched lattice design, a three-car gallery garage, a pool, and an 873 sq ft pool house! Even the pod architecture was designed to be flexible and easily reconfigurable so guests staying for an extended time had facilities like remote office location, business colleague retreat, home school, and a treehouse.

We were all slowly pivoting towards a more flexible lifestyle and then the pandemic sped that up leaving us to adapt to remote working overnight. It went from being a perk at new-age companies to a mandatory practice without a definite end in sight. And while we never imagined this is how the transition would happen, it has opened up all kinds of creative solutions for home offices. Igor Leal’s Sunken Studio is another unique design to add to that list, it was made to keep you away from the everyday disturbances by giving you a sleek subterranean workspace. Also, you can get creative with your ‘roof’ – will you like to have a picnic lunch or play golf? The 500 square foot studio concept was a custom solution requested by a client in Rio De Janeiro who wanted a fully functioning workspace that he could spend long hours in. That is why it features a sitting area, kitchenette, bathroom, and desk area.

The ‘micro-tropicality’ house by RAD+ar uses the green architecture as an answer to the tropical heat the house faces in Indonesia. The pitched roof helps the flow of rainwater from the roof to the ground while the grass absorbs and retains as much water as it can, to be used later to irrigate their space. ‘Living in the tropics is never simply about avoiding the rain and the sun’ RAD+ar shares. ‘The history of tropical architecture can be traced back as early as the beginning of indigenous tropical vernacular society’.

Danish kolonihaver, or “colony gardens” are communal groupings of leisure lots—each complete with a little cabin—that are peppered around the urban and periurban corners of the country. These structures captured by Henry Do show how the colony is not just there to save space or look futuristic, they actually serve a purpose for the citizens of the Dutch capital. They’re similar to allotment gardens, multi-year land rentals in a dedicated area, leased for the express purpose of gardening. When applied for, local residents can rent out the lots if they are looking to grow their own gardens. Due to the way each plot of land is set up, it gives a long vertical area for people to garden, as opposed to regular subdivisions which just provide a very small lengthwise area. Sounds like the perfect summer vacation!

Meet the Dune House by Studio Vural, a seaside holiday dwelling that is carved into sand dunes and operates without relying on public utilities. Using a vast solar field and miniature wind turbines, this house produces more energy than it consumes and nothing beats the oceanic view it boasts of.

In the Bosland forest of Limburg, Belgium, Burol and Schap designed a stilted 10-meter high cycling path, surrounded and weaving through trees and the lush forest. Giving you the feeling of flying, this path goes across the treetops and it would surely make for a great cycling adventure. I wonder if I ride fast enough, would I feel like Harry Potter, skimming the branches of the Forbidden Forest on a balmy summer evening!

For more such exciting and sustainable designs, check out our previous posts of this series!

These repurposed shipping container offices are designed to be economic and eco-friendly!

Repurposing shipping containers to create homes and offices is a sustainable trend that is gaining momentum. Similar to the tiny houses, these structures are compact, modular and can be designed to fit any purpose that you may have for a place -right from a remote campus, ICU pods, office network, or even a small town. The possibilities are endless and CAPSA Containers hosted a competition, ‘Design for Tomorrow’ that is focused on innovative and alternative construction solutions. Construction is responsible for 30% of the greenhouse gas emissions so these designs can help us build more responsibly and sustainably – they are ecological, economic, and meet the societal expectation of doing better with less, reducing environmental footprint, and limiting the consumption of natural resources.

“Bio-based materials, recycled, reused, smart, and sustainable construction will be our tools to meet these challenges. In the diversity of offer that the construction offers today, the marine container is an alternative offering a great number of assets: modularity, mobility, scalability,” says the team at CAPSA.

Designers: Bureau Agreste by Hugues Hernandez, Morgan Baufils, and Ariane Marty. Flowers in the Garden by Eu Jin Lim. Side Up Project by Mengfan Sha, Wang, and Zhang.

The winner is ‘Bureau Agreste’ – a modern shipping container office that provides professionals with a dedicated working space. The contemporary aesthetic masks the fact that it is an eco-friendly space. It has two levels with an open floor plan that makes it feel roomier and encourages productivity. It also features solar panels on the roof along with a rainwater harvesting system which makes it perfect for off-grid locations – this way businesses can save on the high rent they would usually pay in big cities. The container suspension frees up the ground space for organizing recreational outdoor activities (or even parking!) and gives the elevation needed for natural light. The first floor is organized concentrically around the central point of arrival, from the collective space (exchange and debate) to the intimate space (concentration and introspection). “The project aims to a certain resilience and seeks to minimize its ecological impact, by the use of recycling end-of-life containers, rainwater recovery tank, photovoltaic panels, dry toilets, wood stove, ceiling fan or even the use of bio-sourced materials from the local industry,” says the winning design team.

The second place was awarded to ‘Flowers in the Garden’ which was designed to be a hybrid of communal workspace and a garden. The project challenges traditional office settings by integrating the natural environment as a part of the whole workspace. It is an organic but playful structure with soft screens and in-between green-buffering spaces that creates a diverse ecosystem of perforated mass that is always ‘breathing’. This office design lets you stay healthily distanced but not socially separated and provides a refreshing break from staring at your screens.

The third place goes to the ‘Side Up Project’ that creatively transforms shipping containers into a semi-open space. It uses containers like LEGO blocks and combines multiple ‘side-up’ containers to form a flex space that could be used for work, camps, exhibitions, or events. The design turns the closed, small individual containers into a connected entity allowing occupants to move freely through the space while creating pockets that can be used for specific purposes. Not only is it a place for productivity and collaboration, but also a catalyst for future sustainable working communities.

Transformable to infinity, these repurposed shipping containers are the ideal ingredient for the wildest architectural projects while reducing the construction industry’s negative impact on the environment. These sustainable workplaces are definitely one of the coolest office designs we’ve seen!

Architectural designs that focus on humans and nature alike: Part 3

How often did we hear the capitalist’s of the world say “We can’t just stop all our factories and businesses to stop global warming.” Meet the year 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic that has us all shut down, literally. While we stay at home and flatten the curve, we need to focus on what can we do after this ends. One solution is to promote the trend of green living! Vertical Gardens, urban farms, sustainable housing are the terms the millennials are understanding and living upto. Architectural designs play a major role in promoting them by having the green built into your setup, giving a cool relief to the increasing urban jungle. This curated collection is sure to inspire you to add a small green space in your home, to begin with. After all, slow and steady wins the race against global warming!

Danish kolonihaver, or “colony gardens” are communal groupings of leisure lots—each complete with a little cabin—that are peppered around the urban and periurban corners of the country. These structures captured by Henry Do show how the colony is not just there to save space or look futuristic, they actually serve a purpose for the citizens of the Dutch capital. They’re similar to allotment gardens, multi-year land rentals in a dedicated area, leased for the express purpose of gardening. When applied for, local residents can rent out the lots if they are looking to grow their own gardens. Due to the way each plot of land is set up, it gives a long vertical area for people to garden, as opposed to regular subdivisions which just provide a very small lengthwise area. Sounds like the perfect summer vacation!

Shilda winery in Kakheti, Georgia by X-Architecture is one of those places where you can literally lose yourself in the surrounding hills! Made to resemble the sloping vineyards, this design provides ample natural lighting to your living space while making the most of your surroundings.

Meet the Villa Vals, designed by Bjarne Mastenbroek and Christian Müller, respectively of the architectural offices SeARCH and CMA. Their design plan was to completely integrate the villa into the landscape to avoid disturbing the unspoiled nature. That is why access to the villa is only possible via the nearby wooden Graubünder shed, through an underground tunnel that runs straight through the mountainside. The façade of the house is slightly slanted, adding to the view of the mountain scenery across the valley opposite the house.

The Faroe Islands, a green country between Norway and Iceland consists of 18 islands spread across the ocean. This place is a remote, peaceful and quiet place with its pristine nature. Pyramid-shaped mountains stripped of long fjords, old churches with roofs covered with grass, lakes, stunning waterfalls and colorful houses in small villages overlooking the ocean. This place has maintained the perfect balance between civilization and nature.

Meet the Dune House by Studio Vural, a seaside holiday dwelling that is carved into sand dunes and operates without relying on public utilities. Using a vast solar field and miniature wind turbines, this house produces more energy than it consumes!

The AMKC House by Dannel Reskala of Sonny Sutanto Architect is proof that green architecture can be modern architecture as well!  The wire mesh creates an enclosure for the plants to grow, provide natural lighting while co-existing with the urban environment.

The hexagonal pyramids on the roof of this museum are now covered in a layer of grass, helping the building settle into its marshland environment in the Netherlands. Rotterdam firm Studio Marco Vermeulen carried out the renovation of the Biesbosch Museum – a building with multiple pitched roofs. The holistic nature of the design minimizes energy consumption, with glazing fitted with heat-resistant glass that eliminates the need for blinds. Meanwhile, the earthworks on the north-western side and the green roof serve as additional insulation and a heat buffer.

Designed by Singapore studio Chang Architects, this home was created to accommodate a multi-generation family with space for future additions if the children marry. The concept behind the project looks to enhance livings spaces within a tropical climate through the implementation of well-designed communal spaces, connecting family members. The design creates a tropical haven, bringing greenery and light into every space. An abundance of greenery is also implemented at every opportunity, creating a house that directly connects to nature and brings a certain vibrancy to the indoor and outdoor spaces. With the central pool space framed by cascading planters and green stepped decks, the overall planning is to have passive cooling to create a healthier living environment.

MVRDV’s design for Valley emphasizes the contrast between the corporate history and the more residential future of the Zuidas. Its offices boast high floor-to-ceiling windows, large, brightly lit floorplates and full-service amenities. The residential levels have large openable windows and sliding doors for outdoor spaces integrated within the stone facades. Outdoor ceilings and terraces are clad in natural stone as well, as are the fixed, automatically hydrated planters of varying heights that facilitate Valley’s distinct green appearance. Full glass railings protect residents against wind and sound without impeding on their panoramic views.

Houses in rural Vietnam are planned around common spaces like gardens, ponds, lakes where people connect together. In urban areas, there is a lack of community spaces affecting the users and their connectivity with each other. Ho Khue Architects designed the main concept of the structure from terraced fields. The units are stacked on each other with stepped terraces which provides plenty of light to the apartment units. On the inner sides, atriums are provided so as to get natural light and air ventilation.

Reality is stranger than fiction they say. Not sure about being stranger but it surely is more environment friendly in this case! Hobbiton in New Zealand lets you go visit and even stay in the shire.

For more such exciting and sustainable designs, check out Part 1 and Part 2 of this series!

Awesome $200 Small Houses Made out of Recycled Junk

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If you haven’t been paying attention, we still live in interesting economic times. Derek Diedricksen has decided to make things a little less interesting by build little $200 houses out of junk.

Actually, this is a pretty cool idea, which comes to us from Oddity Central. Diedrickson, or “Deek,” builds tiny ...
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