Lexus concept car displayed as a light sculpture in Miami exhibition

When you’re visiting car exhibit shows, you expect to see nothing but cars on display. The brands have to figure out how to make it a bit more exciting and innovative since looking at cars can become repetitive and if you’re not really a car enthusiast, it can get boring. But when you’re displaying a car at an art and design exhibition, then you can expect a more non-traditional way to look at the vehicle.

Designer: Marjan van Aubel

An installation to celebrate the Lexus LF-ZC Battery Electric Vehicle Concept Car is now on display at the Miami Art & Design Week. The “sculpture” is called “8 Minutes and 20 Seconds” which is the time it takes for light to reach earth. So instead of the usual car display, what you get is a self-illuminating 3D skeleton of the concept car itself. It’s made from organic transparent photovoltaic (POV) sheets and is powered by solar energy. Each cell gives off a spectrum of color and movement and they are transparent to give off the maximum effect of light and patterns.

The EV Skateboard, which is where the engine will be located, is highlighted with an LED panel. It is the main feature of the car so this is where eyes will be drawn. Depending on where you’re standing, you’ll get a different perspective of the sculpture. There are also motion sensors which will let the car respond to those walking around, triggering a ripple through the LED light panels. You will also hear bamboo chimes since the concept car uses bamboo materials as well.

Every 10 minutes, you’ll get a crescendo of sound and light patterns. Since the sculpture is located in a garden setting, the color temperature also shifts along with the natural circadian rhythms of its surroundings. It’s a pretty interesting thing to see this in person and to experience a different kind of display for cars, even if it’s still just a concept car.

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This prefab traditional farmhouse finds a contemporary twist with energy-efficient building practices

Friends Lab House is a prefabricated, single-story barn-style residence located in the grassy fields of a family-run farm in Hampshire, England.

On the hunt for a home to share with friends and family while spending time on their farm in the English countryside, a young couple looked to AMPS Arquitectura & Diseño to design and build a sustainable, single-story farmhouse. When it comes to sustainability, AMPS architects consider it a top priority.

Designers: AMPS Arquitectura & Diseño

The young couple who reached out to AMPS found that they were on the same page in that regard, leading to a match made in barn-style heaven. Dubbed Friends Lab House, the traditional single-story farmhouse reveals a contemporary flair through energy-efficient principles and artisan details.

Especially true in the wide-open countryside of Hampshire, England, new architecture must blend into its surroundings and that was one of the Friend Labs House’s residents’ main requests. In addition to building an expansive, sustainable home, AMPS ensured the residence would harmonize with its surroundings by mirroring the look of the farm’s other homes.

The Friends Lab House finds its veil with permeable black-stained Accoya timber batten screen cladding that hearkens back to the other blackened timber structures around the property. Just beyond the Friends Lab House, dense woodlands run parallel with the lengthy home, a subtle ode to the home’s sweeping surroundings.

Describing the home’s initial plans, AMPS founder Alberto Marcos says, “A similar formal and color approach to the existing farm was used for the design of the new house, but reinterpreted in a thoroughly contemporary way, from structure to finishes and importantly, a very high level of energy efficiency.”

Characterized as “a house designed to sit silently on the landscape,” AMPS outfitted the Friends Lab House with all of the energy-efficient specs needed for a self-sufficient home. During the home’s prefabricated and industrialized construction process, CLT or contra-laminated timber panels were used to equip the home with strength and dimensional stability.

Punctuating the home’s semi-double-pitched roof, AMPS also set up photovoltaic panels for sustainable energy production throughout the year and changing seasons. In addition to the home’s green construction process and solar-paneled roof, AMPS integrated a ground-source heat pump and a borehole connected to a treatment plant to supply water.

Towards the center of the residence, the living room finds half-bay overhangs and windows that open up completely to the south-facing grassy fields. In direct contrast to the home’s sleek black exterior, the home’s interior combines limestone and lime-based mineral micro-mortar (MORTEX) floors with chestnut paneled and MORTEX walls. While the home’s spacious personality is contained to one level, the double-pitched roofs and high ceilings give the home a lofty, airy feeling.

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These smart homes are designed to adapt to rising sea levels by mimicking a pufferfish!

Puffer Village is a system of smart homes with built-in architectural technology that allows them to adapt to changing water levels and stormy weather conditions.

Sajjad Navidi is a 3D visualizer who uses architecture to prepare for impending climate change-related crises. Upon completing their latest rendering, Puffer Village, Navidi prefaces their project, “One of the major future crises of the world is rising sea levels, which could pose a serious threat to human survival.” To combat the threat of rising sea levels, Puffer Village is conceptualized as a small community of smart homes that adapt to changing tides and rising sea levels by mimicking the defense response of pufferfish.

Designer: Sajjad Navidi

In designing Puffer Village, Navidi looked to areas of the globe that would feel the consequence of sea-level rise sooner than others. Describing the planned location for Puffer Village, Navidi notes, “Ganvie is one of the largest lake villages in Africa in the Benin region. One of the biggest problems for the people of this region is the high sea level.”

As storms sweep the town and tides threaten homes’ foundations, residents of Ganvie have no choice but to face the uncertainty of rising sea levels. Navidi goes on to describe the damaging effects that high tides have on the wooden houses of Ganvie.

Looking to nature, Navidi hoped to find a solution that could adapt to changing water conditions. Finding inspiration in the pufferfish that populate Ganvie’s ​​Lake Nokoué region, Navidi planned out smart homes that would adapt to threatening water and storm conditions the same way pufferfish respond to predatory threats. Describing his findings, Navidi notes, “The biomimetic structure of [the] pufferfish and its strategy [in dealing] with enemies is by inflation with water or air.”

Following periods of research and ideation, Navidi planned a home layout with integrated, automatic inflation and load-bearing smart technology. In its neutral position, each home of Puffer Village remains rooted to the lake’s floor and keeps a flat-roof shape.

Even amidst stormy conditions and high tide, each home of Puffer Village turns into a sort of buoy by filling the home’s bottom compartment with water in order to remain anchored to the lake’s floor.

Navidi also ideated a smart inflation system built into each home of Puffer Village that increases each home’s interior volume by inflating the home’s balloon-skin roof with air. Each home also practices energy efficiency by acquiring the power needed for each smart response system through underwater tidal turbines and photovoltaic panels.

Aquaponics fill out the home’s interior, while solar power is generated from overhead photovoltaic panels and water energy is acquired from underwater tidal turbines.

The home’s layout is inspired by the mating circle created by male pufferfish. 

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This passive house features a living green roof that merges the home with its forested surroundings!

Hill House is a passive house designed and constructed by Snegiri Architects with a living green roof that blends the home seamlessly with its natural woodland surroundings.

Passive houses and green homes are rising in popularity, cropping up across the globe, and slowly, but steadily establishing a new standard for residence architecture. Photovoltaic panels, living roofs, and rainwater collection systems are some of the most common sustainable and energy-efficient elements that grace the outside and inside of such homes. Snegiri Architects, a firm based in Saint Petersburg, Russia, finished work on a passive residence called Hill House, complete with a living green roof that merges the home with the nearby forest.

Building new homes, especially passive houses, in dense woodlands without felling trees is a near-impossible task unless you incorporate them into the home’s layout. Managing to preserve the forested lot’s preexisting trees, Snegiri Architects built Hill House to be entirely integrated into the surrounding environment. Plotted with diverse plant life and shrubbery, Hill House’s living green roof sprawls with a grass carpet filled with stonecrop and dwarf plants including chamomile and sedum.

The gradual incline of Hill House’s green roof conceals the home’s structural presence, bringing the home inch by inch into the bordering woods. The rest of Hill House’s exterior strikes a balance between black-stained wood-paneled facades and natural, unstained wood-paneled eaves. With this contrast, the home blends naturally into its surroundings, but its interiors remain bright with light window accents.

From top to bottom, the Hill House undoubtedly reaches the energy efficiency standard set by passive house building techniques. The terrace and most of the rooms are oriented towards the home’s sunny side to collect the maximum amount of sunlight during the day and energy-saving windows prevent the heated or cooled air from leaving the home. The home is also ventilated with air recovery, and Swedish slab, monolith, mineral wool, and linseed oil-soaked larch all provide the home with insulation from its foundation to its roof.

Designer: Snegiri Architects

This rammed earth tiny home concept reinterprets farmhouses with a pitched green roof and photovoltaic panels!

The Rammed Earth House in Slovenia merges traditional rammed earth building techniques with modern solar energy production methods to reinterpret the early 20th-century farmhouse for today.

Rammed earth is a sustainable building method that has been around for millennia. Dating back to as early as the 9th–7th millennium BC, rammed earth has been trusted as a reliable building method and material for homes and structures on every continent except Antarctica. Bringing the method to Slovenia, three architects Merve nur Başer, Aslı Erdem, and Fatma Zeyneb Önsiper conceptualized their tiny home called Rammed Earth House to reinterpret early 20th-century farmhouses, holding onto a traditional pitched roof and introducing modern solar energy production methods.

In conceptualizing the Rammed Earth House, the team of architects set out to balance contemporary energy production practices with traditional building methods. Located in Dobrava, a settlement in Slovenia’s flatland region, the Rammed Earth House is inspired by the famed floating roof designed by Slovenian architect Oton Jugovec. Since rammed earth involves compacting a mixture of subsoil into an externally supported framework, the three architects behind Rammed Earth House conceptualized a concrete foundation and timber framework. It’s generally difficult to make changes to a rammed earth structure, but the home’s overhang roof allows cement to be added in the case that extra stability is needed. Rammed Earth House is sheltered with an overhang green roof that works to protect the building material from the threat of erosion as Dobrava experiences rainy, temperate, and snowy seasons.

Rammed Earth House’s sustainable build allows for passive insulation and heating methods to cool and warm up the home. 

Specifically oriented to take in the sun rays during winter months and block them out during hotter seasons, the Rammed Earth House takes cues from its surrounding environment and climate to ensure comfortable, passive heating and insulation throughout the year. Windows are also strategically placed around the house to allow cross-ventilation throughout the home and changing seasons. The green roof also holds an array of photovoltaic panels to power the home with harnessed solar energy and a rainwater collector for water recycling and an integrated septic tank system. Inside, each living area is appropriately situated to benefit from the passive heating and insulation methods. The house’s north facade, for example, features fewer windows than the west facade to decrease potential heat loss during colder months.

Designers: Merve nur Başer, Aslı Erdem, and Fatma Zeyneb Önsiper

This solar power generating photovoltaic bike pathway will run charging stations + sustainable city infrastructure!

As we slowly, but hopefully find ourselves leading more sustainable lifestyles, city infrastructure seems to quickly follow suit. Electric car charging stations cropping up on street corners and smart benches using solar energy to generate power for WiFi hotspots have become everyday occurrences. In creating a sustainable bikeway, architect Peter Kuczia reinterpreted the typical bike path through a sustainable lens and conceptualized Solar Veloroute, a multifunctional photovoltaic pathway, and structure for city pedestrians and bikers.

Many people who live in cities are taking to biking for their preferred mode of transportation, prompting designers and city officials to reimagine bike paths and public transport. Bike roads, also known as Veloroutes are steadily becoming city staples, even mainstays for commuters on foot or bike. With the demand for Veloroutes increasing, Kuczia created a Solar Veloroute that comprises a photovoltaic tunnel structure that serves as a solar canopy for cyclists and pedestrians as well as a public facility where commuters can enjoy lit pathways at night and charging stations for bicycles or smartphones. Solar Veloroute presents as a partly-enclosed, rounded archway constructed from overlaid non-reflective glass-glass solar panels, which are attached to round tube steel purlins.

While the Solar Veloroute collects solar energy during the day for on-site charging stations and lighting, the surplus energy collected can be distributed and used for additional services. On the structure’s sustainably sourced power, Kuczia says, “Just one kilometer of [Solar Veloroute] could provide around 2,000 MWh of electricity and could power 750 households or provide electricity for more than 1,000 electric cars driving 11,000 km per year.” To ensure that Solar Veloroute doubly serves as an informal educational experience for the public to learn about sustainability, Kuczia placed display panels and posters with information about the benefits of using solar power on a global scale.

Designer: Peter Kuczia

A fabric membrane provides an additional layer of protection for pedestrians and cyclists while gently distributing light.

The partly enclosed photovoltaic archway is an architectural symbol for change from a gas-powered lifestyle to a more sustainable one.

By following a repeatable series of steel elements, the Solar Veloroute can be replicated in any climate and city with the same kind of rectangular photovoltaics.

The photovoltaic panels collect solar energy to create power for charging stations and overhead lighting.

This sustainable “vertiport” powered by photovoltaic panels will use air taxis to boost eco-tourism!

It is 2021 and for some weird reason when we entered the 2000s we all dreamed now would be when we would have flying cars or “air taxis” if you want to make it sound more realistic. However, there is one thing we didn’t include in our imaginative stories, these flying cars or air taxis will pick us up and also land in specific places only unlike Uber or Lyft that comes right outside your door. Keeping the future and these logistical details in mind, Chinese air mobility company EHang announced plans for a “vertiport” in Italy called Baobab designed by Giancarlo Zema Design Group (GZDG). Baobab will be an innovative eco-sustainable vertiport that produces energy and recharge the drones wirelessly!

EHang is developing an eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing) vehicle which will be capable of picking up one to two passengers (initial model) then autonomously flying them to their destination. It is actually not a distant dream, EHang has actually already delivered 40 functioning air taxis to customers for testing, training, and demonstration purposes. So the company joined hands with GZDG to build a vertiport that has been inspired by the African baobab tree. The 30-meter-tall (98-ft) tower will have 360-degree windows and will be constructed from steel + laminated wood. The passengers will take an elevator to the platform for takeoff and landing on the roof terrace. Below the terrace, there is a waiting room as well as a 200 sq m (2,153 sq ft) panoramic restaurant that will offer views of the lush landscape. The vertiport will feature several photovoltaic panels that will generate over 300 kilowatts of power per day. On the roof, there are green areas with seats and three landing areas for electric drones that are recharged wirelessly from the landing pad floor which will feature some of the non-slip photovoltaic panels integrated with LED lights for night lighting and signage.  Baobab, the three independent plug-and-play charging stations, and two-passenger EH216 eVTOLs will run on the power provided by clean energy.

Baobab is a vertiport designed with the intention of boosting the eco-tourism industry – air taxis will pick passengers up at the tower and take them on sightseeing tours of the surrounding countryside. While the exact location for this project is yet to be announced, the EHang is already working on additional structures for Europe and Southeast Asia.

Designer:Giancarlo Zema Design Group

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