The first floor spaces were expanded and joined so that dining and gathering can occur “anywhere and everywhere.” The kitchen became the nexus of all activity, joining the living and dining spaces on the first floor to the study/ loggia and entry hall on the half-level below. The new living space is tall and spacious with terrace doors, windows, skylights and a light shelf on the south wall, welcoming in abundant cross ventilation and natural light. The L-shaped addition embraces a new cypress deck that floats across a grass terrace to a stone wall and rock garden, creating a unifying transition to the outdoors. This main level addition and the second floor addition, perched as a treehouse, embrace the backyard and capture the traversing daylight.
Descending from the kitchen at an angle to the addition, a reclaimed walnut stair the full width of the loggia leads down to a study with a honed concrete radiant floor, bamboo casework, and a Paperstone desk.
A second-floor master bath designed as a retreat, a connecting entry hall and new play room adjacent to the study, and a new bedroom and bath carved from an enclosed garage round out the plan. Throughout, the use of smart envelope design, passive solar gain, radiant heat, high insulation values, water-saving fixtures, and low VOC/formaldehyde-free materials complete the sustainably-minded, balanced design.
Soleta ZeroEnergy One is a sustainable home designed by FITS (Foundation for Inventics and Sustainable Technologies), located in Bucharest, Romania. It is part of an initiative called the Soleta zeroEnergy, which seeks to create self-sustainable homes.
Soleta zeroEnergy is a new concept of premium eco homes, developed by the Justin Capra Foundation for Inventics and Sustainable Technologies (FITS). The finalized functional prototype of this concept, Soleta zeroEnergy One, is in Bucharest, Romania. Following the architectural and constructive concepts of this prototype, a whole family of Soleta homes, with multiple functionalities and of different sizes, easily adaptable to a host of destinations, such as home (permanent use or vacation), office, kindergaden or sport/fitness joints was developed.
Affordable and versatile, with minimal energy consumption, low running costs and positive eco-impact, Soleta concept is a viable alternative solution for conventional housing construction technologies. Soleta homes are defined by an unusual architecture, enclosing a bright, healthy, fully monitored environment.
The pillars of Soleta concept can be summarized by four fundamental principles:
1. Reducing energy consumption, by minimizing loss and employing energy-saving measures.
2. Using renewable energy forms such as geo, solar, wind, hydro and so on.
3. Creating the most efficient way of using conventional forms of energy, when renewable energy sources are not available. In order to reduce pollution, a set of active measures, such as tree planting, garbage recycling, etc. are employed.
4. Creating a modular living solution architectural concept which allows increasing the comfort and functionality by adding future modules at any time after erecting the building, without interfering with the structural integrity of the building.
zeroEnergy concept. Ecology.
In the last few years, studies has shown that many of the low-energy homes constructive solutions creates a serious discomfort for their inhabitants. These homes are over-insulated, the costs for a healthy interior environment are sky-rocketing and the home-environment interaction is lessening. The ancestral link between nature and home is currently missing. In stark contrast, Soleta zeroEnergy employs a series of energy-efficient technologies that minimizes loss and provides the necessary energy for the home (zeroEnergy concept) using renewable sources (sun, wind, hydro, geo, etc.), without adversely impacting the environment.
Therefore, the exterior sides of the home, directly exposed to the elements (walls) are kept to a minimum and high-efficiency window panels that provides natural lighting (free sunlight) are used. Soleta homes comes with: natural ventilation system, integrated forced ventilation with energy recovery system, thermal energy storage integrated in floor, LED lighting and rainwater storage and treatment system. For further economy, a smart energy, climate and ventilation monitoring and managing system (KNX) is used. Reducing energy consumption by up to 45%, this system can also be remote controlled using a mobile phone or a similar device.
For heating and warm water production, there are many solutions available:
A combined system of solar heat collectors – water-water heat pump;
High efficiency wood or wood pellets stove – solar heat collectors;
Air-air heat pump – solar collectors.
Soleta homes are built using natural, locally available, renewable materials, with the exception of polyurethane thermal insulation and plasterboards for the interior walls finishing (the latter could also be replaced by plyboard, made from natural wood.) The structure is made of glue-laminated wood, and the roofing is also constructed of wood: traditional shingle tiles. The floors are constructed of pinewood, thermally insulated with yet another natural material, cellulose. The stylish exterior walls are made of white-painted spruce wood planks.
Soleta zeroEnergy One
Soleta One is the first Soleta ZeroEnergy concept home built in Romania.
Soleta zeroEenergy One has a particular and innovating architecture. Besides the 48 sqm. interior, a suspended under-roof sleeping area with 9 sqm. (96 sqft) and an exterior terrace with 22 sqm. (237 sqft) are built as an integrated, fully functional unit. Currently, Soleta One is FITS’s showroom, and we welcome daily visits. Soleta One is located in Bucharest, Romania, in the front of the U.S. Embassy.
Photos: Courtesy of FITS
With 2014 now firmly underway, there’s no better time to stick to a new year’s resolution and spruce up the interior of your home with contemporary eco friendly living. Though enjoying a newly redecorated home is often considered a treat, improving its energy efficiency can often add a further sense of satisfaction to any new style of decor. But how exactly do you go about this? The trick of course, is to find the right products and materials that can help you help the environment.
For your floor
If you’re looking to have fabulous wooden flooring added to your home, it is important to make it as environmentally friendly as possible, and you can do this by either purchasing engineered flooring or alternatively, bamboo flooring.
Engineered flooring consists of less wood by plank and can save more trees from being felled in the long run.
On the other hand, bamboo flooring grows far quicker than other types of wood, which means that it doesn’t take up to twenty years for a bamboo tree to grow back once that it has been felled.
For your Ceiling
Artificial lighting is a big part of our lives, and for many years it has been used in a vastly uneconomical way. In fact, your average incandescent light bulb only works at an efficiency of around 20%, meaning that 80% of the energy is being used up as heat.
LED light bulbs however, can achieve an efficiency of around 80% and additionally, the bulbs can last up to 25,000 hours, meaning that you will only have to replace the bulbs every five or six years.
If you are looking for a modern or contemporary redecoration, LEDs paint the perfect scene for any home looking for an environmentally conscious home setting.
For your pleasure
Of course, the whole purpose of redecorating a home is to make it more enjoyable, comfortable and welcoming to not only yourself and your family, but also any guests that you may also have from time to time.
In this area, there are a range of products that can help you combine luxury and eco living. For example, eco-friendly televisions, stereos and kettles are all very popular among modern homes.
Even oak furniture for example from Oak Furniture UK can be sourced more effectively to become more environmentally friendly, so looking out for eco-friendly materials at every turn is more than just a little worthwhile.
Photo Sources: 1. Capoferro Design Build Group, 2. Croma Design, 3. Blansfield Builders, 4. Rasmussen / Su Architects, 5. LDa Architecture & Interiors, 6. Siemasko + Verbridge, 7. Planika Fires, 8. GO LOGIC, 9. Furman + Keil Architects, 10. Garret Cord Werner Architects, 11. StudioLAB, 12. dSPACE Studio, 13. Coates Design Architects, 14. Giulietti Schouten Architects, 15. Alan Mascord Design Associates, 16. Jan Gleysteen Architects
Concord Green Home is a transitional style green home which has been designed by ZeroEnergy Design, in collaboration with interior designer and homeowner Kauffman Tharp Design, located in a neighborhood of existing older homes in Concord, Massachusetts. This home is a walkable distance from the center of town. Among the design priorities of the homeowner was to be a healthy home with excellent air quality, to use Not So Big House principals to maximize space, to be energy efficient, and to anticipate future uses and needs as owners change. The design evolved from two iconic Massachusetts vernacular precedents: the farmhouse and the iconic Cape Cod and Islands style. The overall form is taken from the former, while the latter provided inspiration for details like the clean white trim. Both precedents also inspired “rough luxe” meets coastal interiors.
To maintain health and air quality, eco-friendly elements include a fresh air ventilation system with energy recovery, a whole house HEPA filtration system, radiant and radiator heating distribution, and low/no VOC materials. The home’s energy performance focuses on passive heating/cooling techniques, natural daylighting, an improved building envelope, and efficient mechanical systems, collectively achieving overall energy performance of 50% better than code. To address the site opportunities, the home utilizes a footprint that maximizes southern exposure in the rear while still capturing the park view in the front.
“A metal roof is the right place to invest, not only for its durability, but also for its aesthetic,” states the architect. Those little details you see at the edge of the roof are snow guards, which keep the snow from sliding off the roof into huge piles on the ground.
The front door opens into a hallway that extends from the front of the house to the back, providing a view to the backyard as well as a straight line to a door that leads to the patio. “It’s a ‘stone runner’ that connects the front yard to the backyard,” explains the architect. In fact, the same bluestone is used in the form of pavers on the front walk, covers the hallway, and then continues out on to the patio. This creates a strong connection from the front yard through the house and out to the back yard.
The entryway incorporates farmhouse touches like this bench, it also has an open, light and elegant style throughout, hinted at via the Murano glass chandelier. Healthiness begins at the front door; remove your dusty shoes and pop them into the storage bench so as not to track dirt indoors. Continuing the war against dust, dirt, pollen and other allergens, the first floor utilizes radiant heat flooring throughout. This kind of heating is a healthy alternative to forced air system because it helps keeps allergens from circulating.
“The kitchen is the living center of home life these days, a place where everyone loves to spend time,” explains the architect. “We wanted to embrace this and celebrate the kitchen space. Thus, it has the cathedral ceiling, the views outdoors, and can be used in a number of ways.” Flexibility was built in, providing places for cooking, drinking morning coffee, gathering, having a meal or doing homework. The cathedral ceiling gives this kitchen an open feeling, making it seem larger than it really is. The skylights and glass doors let the light from the southern exposure flood the space. These doors also extend the kitchen out onto the patio, providing access both physically and visually.
Floors throughout the first floor are heart pine.
This nautical-themed space is in what’s known as an “away room,” which is a quiet spot that can be isolated from the rest of the house. Part of smart, sustainable design is to plan for the future and provide multiple uses within the floor plan. While a current owner needs an office, this room also connects to a full, ADA-accessible bath and can serve as a first floor bedroom if their needs should change or if future owners have different needs. The doors have been outfitted for window treatments for privacy should this change ever take place.
These doors provide a farmhouse vernacular detail on the bottom, and the glass on top allows the away room to share natural light with the dining room. When necessary, they can close off the away room, but they can be opened to make both spaces feel larger.
Kauffman Tharp scored the candle lanterns from Vagabond Vintage and gave them a makeover that began with “a paint wash that looks like zinc,” she says. “We tied them with thick, rough manila rope to plumbing pipe that spans between the ceiling beams (I did a bronze paint wash on the pipes to match the curtain rods). Battery-operated pillar candles from Restoration Hardware have built-in timers.”
Tip: “Hang natural linen draperies high and wide at the windows to add verticality to the space, while blocking none of the natural light,” Tharp advises.
The large custom Belgian linen pendants make a style statement that stands up to the scale of the ceiling, yet blend with all of the natural textures and colors in the room. While the heart pine counters lend a farmhouse feel, the island’s counter is a more contemporary concrete surface. The island is 10 feet long and incorporates a Shaw’s Original Farmhouse sink, re-purposed cabinets, and a pair of Miele dishwashers on one side, as well as seating on the other side.
This nook is “a really great informal and comfortable way to incorporate more seating into the kitchen; seating that has a view outdoors,” states the architect. As a bonus, it includes extra storage under the cushioned bench. As for the nook’s furnishings, Kauffman Tharp says, “I love to use items intended for a completely different purpose in a whole new way. I was attracted by the texture of this basket I found on sale at West Elm. I turned it upside down, hung it with jute twine, and paired it with $9.99 spot lights from IKEA “High style for low money. Fun.” The antique table is from Spain. Kauffman Tharp fitted it with an iron bowl on the bottom shelf, which once held hot coals for warming one’s feet.
The furnishings in the living room have a bit of Belgian flair, industrial touches, and the overall feeling of an elegant yet relaxed coastal getaway. “Industrial and vintage elements keep it interesting,” Kauffman Tharp says. “I repurposed an old glass pie display as a side table with seashells inside, and the rusted tin chimney piece from France acts as a quirky foil on the low table.”
Similarly, seating areas and built-ins were designed for the living room. “The furniture and what would be happening between the windows and walls was always part of the plans.” A large mirror in the living room makes the space feel larger and reflects light and a view of the park.
This bathroom borrows light and space from the staircase. It is tucked underneath the staircase (hence the slanted ceiling), and it borrows the natural light from a seating area on the landing.
What would usually be a first floor powder room has instead become a full, ADA wheelchair-accessible bathroom complete with a shower. “The bathroom is detailed like a big shower; a European-style wet room,” Horowitz explains. “The walls are completely covered in tile, and they slope toward a floor drain. Because the room is so beautifully finished, you don’t feel like you are walking into a big shower stall,” says Horowitz. A few eco-friendly moves include a dual-flush toilet and using a piece of scrap marble for the counter.
“We were always looking for moments and opportunities to create space and make the best of everything,” Horowitz says. The storage bench and recessed reading shelf create “a nice place to sit down with a book; the windows were placed low to work well on the facade; from the bench they provide a view out to the playground that is at eye level.”
Creating a special, cozy alcove for a bed creates a comfortable space just for sleeping, and leaves a lot of other space to use for “sitting space, play areas, dressing and storage” the rest of the day.
By preventing the bed from hogging up the whole room, a comfortable seating area in the master bedroom provides a relaxing place to read. The painting is by Tharp, and the fabric on the chairs is by Lee Industries, known for sustainable practices.
This vanity was fashioned from an antique kitchen worktable. This was not an easy task: The top was crooked and it needed to be plumbed. But it was well worth the effort, as it adds that unique European farmhouse touch to the room. The sinks are from Signature Hardware and the faucets are made by Rohl’s.
Although you can’t see it in the photos, this master bathroom also incorporates a laundry room. “Laundry rooms used to be placed in basements, then they moved to the first floor, and today, we realize it’s most convenient to have it on the same floor as the bedrooms, where we put our clothes away,” Horowitz explains.
The metal roof helps to keep this area cooler in the summer, reflecting the warmth from the sun. This room is another flexible space that can be used as a studio, home office, exercise room, playroom or extra bedroom. All of the mechanical necessities are tucked underneath the other gable, leaving this space open and usable.
“If you ask me whether it is better to finish a basement or an attic, I will vote attic every time,” Kauffman Tharp says. “Dark and dank vs. sunny and breezy. Which would you choose?”
“I have always dreamed of living on the ocean, and yet we love this town. So, I designed the house to live like a vacation home. Why not get that feeling every day of the year?” Kauffman Tharp says. “The interiors are relaxed, use natural materials and connect with the outdoors — barefoot simplicity meets casual elegance. These are the things that we all love about a vacation home, and I help my design clients build those features into their own homes.”
Photos: Eric Roth
H3 House was designed by 314 Architecture Studio to give a sense of connection to the water element that surrounds it, inspired by the love of the owner for yachting, situated in Athens, Greece. The detached property covers a total area of 1,000 square meters, set in a plot of land 7,000 square meters. The relationship to water is in evidence with artificial pools around the exterior of the house, creating a sense of cool tranquility. The water for the smaller artificial pools and the main large swimming pool is supplied by a borehole, and the water supply for irrigating the garden areas comes from a rainwater drainage and collection system. The bio-climatic design of the house allows the sun to supply heat to the property in winter, and to mitigate its impact in summer when hot air is vented to the outside. The use of geothermal energy provides energy saving cooling and heating systems via fan coil systems. The solar spiral system installed in roof areas operates in combination with solar panels installed to the rear side of the plot, and are used to heat the pool water. Photovoltaic panels for electricity generation are installed at the same point.
The house uses eco-friendly materials, and the interior, including all the furniture, was designed to meet the owner’s specific requirements. The design aims to create a luxury ergonomic environment with clean lines and a minimalistic aesthetic. An abstract sculpture by Yiannis Aspra in the surrounding grounds of the house is a striking feature. The architecture, building materials, as well as the energy management and conservation technologies conform to the highly dynamic requirements of a modern residential home, but at the same time are environmentally friendly.
Photos: Courtesy of 314 Architecture Studio
The Kerchum Residence is a perfect mix of modern home design and sustainability designed by Natural Balance Home Builders in Vancouver, British Columbia. The home is located on an unsuspecting street in Vancouver’s Dunbar neighborhood, is the first LEED Platinum single-family residence in Western Canada. The home features clean, modern lines that distinguish it from the surrounding craftsman-style homes, yet with a proportion and scale that feels right at home on this quiet West Side street.
Photos: Courtesy of Natural Balance Home Builders
We just received information about M-22 House, a modern residence designed by Michael Fitzhugh Architect that is nestled along the top of a tall ridge overlooking West Grand Traverse Bay in Northern Michigan. This incredible dwelling has been designed with its own hydroelectric power generation, among many other wonderful green features.
From the architect: The design of the house recreates the sense of discovery felt while ascending the back of the ridge to the views revealed once at the top. The materials and spaces were inspired by the elements; water, wind, earth and fire. From each room the materials, light and a strong connection to the site is felt. The house also boasts an innovative geothermal heating and cooling systems along with its own hydroelectric power generator which uses rainwater, geothermal water and gravity to generate power for the house. A mix of concrete, steel, composite siding and large glass openings complement the clean form of the house’s exterior.
This is a truly unique structure and is a model for future sustainable design and construction methods.
Photos: Courtesy of Michael Fitzhugh Architect
Chalk Hill Off-Grid Cabin is a straw-bale getaway home for a San Francisco couple and their two active boys, located at 4,300 feet elevation in the wilds of Nevada County. Designed by Arkin Tilt Architects, the 872 square foot residence mediates the northern edge of a forest glade, with driveway access and entry against a steeper slope to the north. The entry/mudroom, bath and mechanical space are located in the wood-framed, wood-sheathed piece. One open living/dining/kitchen/bed room is half a level lower, accessing a terrace at grade, opening to the glade and sun from the south. One sleeping space is located in an open loft above the kitchen which provides additional sleeping space for kids and guests, and the other is a more intimate queen bed sized sleeping bay along the opposite edge of the living room.
The metal roofs, earth-cement on bale walls, and fire safe perimeter aim to survive a wildfire,
Solar hot water collectors provide domestic hot water as well as space heating by flowing the heated fluid first through a heat exchanger and then into tubing buried in a 3 foot bed of sand beneath the floor slabs.
Queen-sized sleeping area in bay.
P.V. Panels on the roof harvest electricity, stored in batteries at the house, powering the well pump and other domestic needs.
One sleeping space is located in an open loft above the kitchen.
Photos: Eric Millette Photography
This prefabricated cabin is comprised of only 550 square feet, built on Lake Pend Orielle near Sandpoint, Idaho. The one bedroom, one bathroom cabin was designed by FabCab and built by Selle Valley Construction, Inc, using timber frame and SIPs (structural insulated panel). SIPs, are a composite building material consisting of an insulating layer of rigid polymer foam sandwiched between two layers of structural board. FabCab designs and sells pre-fabricated environmentally-friendly homes and accessory dwelling units (ADUs). The company specializes in design for all ages and environmentally sustainable design by providing clients eco-friendly and universally designed cabins that support healthy lifestyles. There are many uses for FabCabs including a home, guest house, home office, writer’s or artist’s studio, caregiver’s residence, in-law apartment, rental unit or a cabin on a vacation property.
Exposed Fir timber frame beams and tongue and groove ceiling contrast nicely with the rich gray paint. Castle Combe wide plank flooring.
Custom floating cabinets with gray quartz counter tops and stainless subway tile backsplash.
Fir barn doors with large appliance pulls.
Custom floating cabinets with gray quartz counter tops. Brizo Trevi Cross faucet and shower head. Tierra Sol Nu Travertine “Walnut” vein-cut floor, shower and back-splash tile.
Steam shower with Brizo Trevi Cross fixtures. Tierra Sol Nu Travertine “Walnut” vein-cut tile.
Photos: Marie Dominique Verdier
With a compact form and several integrated sustainable systems, the Capitol Hill Residence in Seattle, Washington achieves the client’s goals to maximize the site’s views and resources while responding to its micro climate. The residence has been designed by Balance Associates Architects, located on a ridge with a 180 degree view of the surrounding lakes and mountains. The form of the house cantilevers off its concrete base on three sides in order to stay within the footprint of the previous house.
A majority of the glazing is located on the eastern side of the house to capture the view and to provide privacy from neighbors. The center section of the house is designed as a translucent slot to filter daylight into the core. This area serves as the main circulation space in the house and is planned to contain a translucent stair and bridge.
Sustainable systems include a rain water catchment system in the form of an entry water feature, solar panels, and solar shading in addition to our standard sustainable building practices such as high levels of insulation, low-e glazing, and selection of environmentally friendly materials.
Photos: Steve Keating Photography