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
Lincoln Park Residence is a single family modern home that has been designed by Joseph Trojanowski Architect, and is situated near Lake Michigan in Chicago, Illinois. The homeowner’s, a management consultant and a physician and their young daughter live here. With their busy lifestyles, they had very little time to house hunt, but they were outgrowing their two bedroom condo. After two years and 140 showings later, they stumbled on an empty lot in Lincoln Park, once home to a CTA bus barn. A local developer had been saving the land to build his own place, but due to the economic downturn, he put it up for sale. The couple scooped up the property in August 2010, “this was the perfect lot because, unlike most Chicago residences, it’s square-shaped as opposed to long and narrow, plus it’s near the lake and everything else we’ll ever need,” states the homeowner.
The three-story structure is comprised of 4,600-square-feet of living space. “I knew from the beginning that we would create a forward-thinking house,” says Trojanowski, “and nothing was designed out of habit or routine.”
The home’s living room features floor-to-ceiling windows and mid-century inspired furniture designs. Choose thick glass with a reflective treatment. “If you live in the middle of the city on the ground floor and you have large windows, you’re living where everyone can see you,” states the homeowner. Windows by Fleetwood boast a laminate coating that creates a mirror-like effect and blocks UVA/UVB rays. So the homeowner’s can see out, but no one can see in.
Sliding glass doors act as instant, sleek room dividers, while the smart addition of a dumbwaiter allows for the wife to make breakfast in the kitchen and then sent up to her husband’s third-floor office.
To maximize the natural light that floods in from three sides of the home, floor-to-ceiling windows were installed and the walls were painted a crisp white.
Another defining element of the home: the use of green and healthy materials. The homeowner’s considered every component from floors to nails, lighting, carpeting, finishes… even the manufacturing practices used to make the products. When it came to insulation, they borrowed from the practices of Al Gore, who used AirKrete for his personal estate. “Sometimes, we did have to pay more for our choices, but we feel so good about them now.”
Photos: Mike Schwartz Photography
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
Village House was designed as a weekend retreat for a young family in northern Sjælland, Denmark, designed by Powerhouse Company. The house is an exploration on the possibilities of the Summer cabin, the traditional Danish vacation home. While keeping the cabin’s footprint small, spatial as well as sustainable, there is a wide range of spatial possibilities, by using a five-fingered floor plan.
The 1,184 square foot (110 square meters) house is a cluster of five wings, like miniature cabins. These fan out like a hand spreading five fingers over the site, generating a variety of views, light effects and outdoor areas. This variation means the house provides an enjoyable environment all year round and at all times of day. For example, a large window above the living room allows sunlight to bathe the dining table at around midday.
Summerhouses are traditionally family spaces, but when children grow older they need more independence from their parents. Hence the ‘village of cabins’ organization, with radiating individual spaces that are united in the centre. Each member of the family effectively has the option of privacy when they need it. Meanwhile a star-shaped central space, uniting the living room and kitchen, forms the shared area which nevertheless offers pockets of seclusion to spend time alone while still in the family circle. This solution faithfully reflects the rather different desires of the family members. One wanted a picturesque, cozy and archetypal summerhouse, while another wanted a spacious and contemporary feeling. Both desires are united in the design.
In basing Village House on the classic Danish summerhouse, while adding modern ideas of space, Powerhouse Company has created a contemporary harmony. The elementary wooden structure has a pitched roof, and it is black, the most discreet color in nature, like the dark shadows in the surrounding woods. Inside, the uniform white surface maximizes the northern light.
The rustic but modern solution is low maintenance, which is more important for a holiday home than offering lots of space. From an architectural point of view, its close relationship to the context is especially significant in a holiday home. The house contrasts with the routine home of the clients, and provides the basis for a separate lifestyle. Isn’t that what we are looking for when we go on holiday?
Nestled in the cliff-top estate “The Cove at Pezula Estate” outside Knysna, on the west coast of South Africa, this home was designed by SAOTA Architects. The residence was integrated into the topography and natural color of the fynbos, maintaining a seamless connection with landscape and ocean. The contemporary interiors of this incredible family home was designed by Antoni Associates, featuring sea views from large expanses of windows to the East and South.
The idea was to create a living space with a single roof element floating over it that responded to the slope of the site. The roof is set at a high level so that it is hidden from the living space, creating the illusion that one is surrounded by the landscape. A triangular cut-out in the roof connects one with the sky. A solar analysis was done to eliminate direct sun from the building. A skylight hangs into the space to mitigate the scale of the double volume. Care was taken in selecting performance-glass that would minimize the impact of direct sun.
The choice of materials, off-shutter concrete, Rheinzink roofing, timber cladding, stone and exposed aggregate, allows the building to fade into the landscape as the materials age. One enters at the upper level of the double volume, looking towards the ocean. A grand stair draws one onto the living level which holds the kitchen, dining room and living room.
A spiral stair connects the living level to a private lounge and the master bedroom on a mezzanine level. This spiral staircase drops through the floor to a lower level which houses a guest bedroom, home theatre and a living room. An L-shaped wing houses the two children’s bedrooms.
In-keeping with a sustainable design approach, a huge underground cistern was created under the garden terrace to harvest rainwater, while a heat pump and water-based under floor heating system conserve energy.
Photos: Micky Hoyle Courtesy of VISI
Dutch Mountain home is a spacious single family home designed by architecture studio denieuwegeneratie, situated on a historical agricultural plot amidst hayfields and woods in a nature reserve in Huizen, The Netherlands. Although the plot has been overrun with small trees in time, it still bears the original character of the open field. To minimize disturbance of the landscape and as a reference to the surrounding hilly terrain, the 7,631 square foot (709 square meters) house is embedded in an artificial hill. At the same time, this answered the client’s demand for keeping his ecological footprint with the house to a minimum. The embedding in the hill simultaneously functions as camouflage and as a blanket, hiding the house from view from the north side and using the earth as thermal insulation. One enters the house through cuts in the mountain, sided with panels of slowly corroding scrap steel.
On the south side, the house has been opened to a maximum. The grand glass facade is framed in timber,which guides the transition from the artificial to the natural. The canopy regulates sunshine through the seasons and allows for a large terrace along the full width of the house. The terrace follows the split level of the ground floor, jumps up to the higher west facade creating a henhouse underneath. Finally, it curls back up to become the canopy.
The frame is constructed out of lark wood, forested from the immediate surroundings and therefore making it a hyperlocal use of material. Detailing creates a seamless transition between the interior and the exterior: the concrete floor, window frames and terrace finishing are all flush and continuous from inside to outside.
The spatial structure of the house is a rectangular 12 x 19 meter open space. Steel cross the entire 12 meter width allowing great flexibility to the interior arrangement. Inside the hall-like space, the rooms are stacked in a disorderly manner and built out of light wooden structures, facilitating easy implementation of possible future changes. The interior can evolve along with its inhabitants, a young family, rooms being added or removed through time.
There is a binary spatial experience in the house. Either you are in a room, with a cave-like atmosphere, daylight coming to you through deep cuts in the mountain – or you are in the large open space in front of the stacked rooms. This large space is oriented towards the 90 m2 glass facade which offers a spectacular view of the surrounding woods.
The contrast between shell and rooms is clearly visible. The concrete wall, needed to retain the mass of the mountain, is left unfinished. The welding joints of the steel spans are visible and the wood is untreated. Within this rough shell of untreated construction materials, the stack of rooms tells a completely different story: every room is finished by the inhabitants in a unique and colorful way, which expresses the individuality of the boxes.
The design is an experiment in sustainable strategies in both architecture – the hardware – and the technical installations – the software – which have been designed by Arup Amsterdam. The software concept consists of photovoltaics, LED lighting, wood pellet heating in combination with low temperature heating, CO2 monitored ventilation, a grey water circuit and the use of smart domotics. The result is a house in which the total amount of energy produced exceeds its consumption: excess energy can be used for a electric car.
The house is bold and unpredictable: an experiment in sustainable strategies in concept, structure, material and technical installations. A house that blends quietly in its surroundings, but stands out with spatial surprises.