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Epic fail. That’s what first crossed my mind as I watched the window break (twice!) during Tesla’s Cybertruck launch. Instead, the unfortunate incident brought immediate worldwide attention to Tesla’s new truck — mainstream press, social media, and (of course) meme makers all gobbled it up. Fast forward, and Elon Musk’s crazy concept for the Cybertruck is now considered genius.

In fact, Elon Musk actually forecasts failure at the beginning of his bold and audacious ventures. According to Marcel Schwantes (via Inc.), Musk demonstrates “a healthy amount of humility” when starting a project. For example, at an interview at an energy conference in Norway, Musk said, “You should take the approach that you’re wrong. Your goal is to be less wrong.”

As Musk points out, “When you first start a company, there’s lots of optimism and things are great. Happiness, at first, is high. Then, you encounter all sorts of issues and happiness will steadily decline and you’ll go through a whole world of hurt.” But, if you take your medicine and learn from your failures, there’s an upside. “Eventually, if you succeed … you will finally get back to happiness,” says Musk.

By acknowledging that failure is a likely outcome, Schwantes says, “you’ll be able to spot impending issues earlier and minimize the inevitable pain and suffering Musk describes.” In fact, Musk has a trick for keeping him abreast of potential pitfalls. He actively seeks out constructive criticism from close friends and confidants.

“A well thought out critique of whatever you’re doing is as valuable as gold. You should seek that from everyone you can but particularly your friends. Usually, your friends know what’s wrong, but they don’t want to tell you because they don’t want to hurt you,” says Musk. Even if you don’t agree with their feedback, Musk says, “You at least want to listen very carefully to what they say.”

In short, Musk believes failure is necessary on the path of success. He says, “Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough.” It’s something Elon Musk accepts and embraces. Don’t believe me? Check out this revealing infographic of Musk’s many failures as he built Paypal, Tesla, and SpaceX into the trailblazing companies they are today.
Keith Negley
Over the last 50 years, a once-nascent conversation about sustainability has evolved into a full-scale priority for the profession.

Passive design—or design that takes advantage of the climate to maintain a comfortable temperature range—has been used to heat and cool living spaces throughout human history, but the practice saw a strong groundswell among architects in the United States in the 1970s.

The 1973 oil embargo, sweeping policy overhauls like the Clean Water Act, and the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency all contributed to the conviction of a small group of passionate and environmentally conscious architects that they needed to design differently. These architects saw it as an essential task to revive practices that could heat and cool buildings without relying on the energy-intensive mechanical systems introduced in the decades prior. In the process, much of the sustainability discourse present in the architectural profession today began to take shape.

With climate change conversations becoming increasingly urgent, sustainability has shifted from a nascent movement to a major focus. We talked to four architects—two who started their careers working on passive residential projects in the 1970s, and two leading sustainability initiatives at larger firms today—about how they use passive design techniques, how a drive for designing lowenergy buildings informs their practice, and what sustainability means to them.

David Wright, Owner, David Wright, Architect, Grass Valley, Calif.

David Wright is a pioneer in the field of passive solar design, a practice he still continues today. He is also the author of The Passive Solar Primer: Sustainable Architecture (Schiffer Publishing, 2008).,

I graduated from CalPoly [California State Polytechnic University] in 1964, and there was not a lot of concern for energy conservation in the early ’60s. I joined the Peace Corps and was assigned to Tunisia, and one of the projects I worked on was a 60-unit affordable housing design for police, schoolteachers, and nurses—people who couldn’t necessarily afford “good” housing. I had learned several things about some of the traditional architecture in North Africa, which used natural conditioning features—orienting the buildings properly to let in sunlight in the wintertime, and allowing breezes off the Mediterranean to cool them in the summertime. Lo and behold, the buildings worked to naturally heat and cool themselves.

I finished my stint there and was reassigned to Guinea, in tropical West Africa. My job was to design and build an agricultural junior college, 300 kilometers up in the jungle. There, I was designing for a whole different climate. I looked at traditional ways of keeping the rainfall out, making sure the breeze could blow through, and generally adapting the buildings to the climate zone.

When I came back to the U.S. and became licensed, I moved to New Mexico because I was enamored with the idea of using natural materials like adobe. I analyzed the performance characteristics of traditional adobes in conjunction with more modern materials, and with—by then—a very strong understanding of physics and the laws of nature, started developing what became known as passive solar techniques.

It was fascinating to evolve new ways of space-conditioning buildings, and when the 1973 oil crisis occurred, we went from what I call the “lunatic fringe”—people out there in New Mexico trying to figure stuff out—to what I call “lunatic center.” All of the magazines, all of the newspapers, and all of the people writing books showed up to check out what was going on.

From then on, everything we did was an evolution. I got away from adobe and into super-insulated and earth-integrated buildings, especially in Oklahoma and Minnesota—but with heavy insulation and thermal mass, using all of the principals of passive solar. At the time, my staff and I all thought, “We’re going to revolutionize architecture here because we’re going to create buildings that are functionally formed in response to the climate, and that will become a methodology for architects all over the world to start developing their own microclimate regional-style buildings.”

It’s still totally fascinating to me as an [older] architect. I’m amazed at how the code [has] changed and how, today, the things that I and a couple of other guys [were talking about] in the 1970s are actually in the code now, especially in California—you have to pay atten
Jonathan Hillyer
To generate at least as much energy as it uses, a building may need more photovoltaic panels than its roof can accommodate. One solution is to extend the roof, as Seattle’s Miller Hull Partnership did when it designed that city’s Bullitt Center, a six-story building with a PV panel-laden trellis cantilevering beyond its exterior walls.

Miller Hull has repeated the strategy in Atlanta, where it and Lord Aeck Sargent, a Katerra company, have just completed the Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design at Georgia Tech. The new, 37,000-square-foot, three-story building has a large steel and aluminum trellis that reaches beyond the roof in three directions with the help of thin, cable-tensioned steel columns. About 40 feet off the ground, the trellis shelters gardens that serve as gathering places for students. The main shaded area resembles a kind of front porch, a play on the southern vernacular, says Brian Court, partner at Miller Hull and that firm’s design lead for the building. The porch opens into an atrium surrounded on three levels by classrooms, laboratories, and mechanical spaces. A lower, brick-clad extension houses a 175-seat lecture hall. The facilities are “not just for those students interested in sustainability as a career,” says Michael Gamble, director of graduate studies in the School of Architecture. Instead, Georgia Tech students from a range of departments will have “access to a building that actually teaches us something.”

The lesson is that it’s possible to build a “regenerative” building even in the hot, humid southeast. That was a goal of the Kendeda Fund (created by philanthropist Diana Latow Blank, the former wife of Home Depot co-founder Arthur Blank). Kendeda paid for the $18.6 million building and provided millions more for programming.

While the building is expected to receive a LEED Platinum rating, it was designed to meet the more stringent standards of the Living Building Challenge. To be certified, a building must produce more water and more electricity than it consumes. Net-positive water will be achieved by collecting an estimated 460,000 gallons of rainwater each year (runoff from the PVs is collected in channels and fed into a cistern and filtered to potable standards). As for electricity, the building’s 900 photovoltaic panels are expected to generate 455,000 kilowatt hours annually, 40 percent more than it is projected to use. To make the building energy-efficient, its designers focused on occupant comfort rather than fixed temperature goals and made extensive use of ceiling fans, radiant heating and cooling, and a dedicated outdoor air system (DOAS), combined with a super-efficient envelope. The building met other Living Building Challenge standards; for example, products were eliminated or reformulated to avoid chemicals on the program’s “red list.”

The building will not receive its final certification until it has demonstrated that it is energy- and water-positive for a year, notes Chris Hellstern, Living Building Challenge Services Director at Miller Hull. To achieve that, says Joshua Gassman, Lord Aeck Sargent’s sustainable design director, “Everything has to work together—it’s almost like building a Swiss watch.”

Not only will Kendeda be operationally efficient, Hellstern says, but it was designed to reduce embodied energy—the energy consumed in fabrication and construction—as well. Among other strategies, sustainably harvested wood was used for the main structural elements, reclaimed wood was used for decking, and 100-percent-recycled-content brick was incorporated into the cladding. “We used excess chunks of decking to build internal stairs, both to avoid creating landfill and to show that something that would have been wasted can contribute to both the beauty and the function of the project,” Gassman says. Speaking for the entire industry, Hellstern points out, “Unless we address embodied energy, we won’t meet climate targets.”
Granite Peak Photography
Many tiny home designers are guided by the principles of flexibility when it comes to being mobile, but rarely have we seen a tiny home creation that can be enjoyed on land and on water. Designed and built by our new hero, Scott Cronk, the Heidi-Ho, is a beautiful solar-powered tiny cabin built on a 30-foot pontoon.

According to Scott, the ingenious floating home creation was inspired by his need to explore the world on his own terms, “After wildfires in the Fall of 2017, I sold my home in Santa Rosa, Northern California, and moved to the Palm Springs area, Southern California,” he explained. “This houseboat is a way for me to spend my summers visiting friends in Northern California.”

The Heidi-Ho houseboat was built on a 30-foot long pontoon boat that can be pulled by a trailer. In fact, one of the driving forces behind the flexibility of the tiny home design was that it was an acceptable size for legal road transport. Accordingly, the deck is capable of being reduced to just 8.5 feet wide. In addition to being road ready, the entire cabin can also be removed from the boat deck to be used as a camping trailer.

And although this may have been considered limiting to some, Scott took on the challenge head on and created a spectacular living space. Although compact, the tiny cabin boasts a comfy living and sleeping area, complete with all of the basics.

The interior is light and airy, with wood-paneled walls and plenty of natural light. The interior living space is made up of custom-made bench seating, a removable dining table and a galley kitchen.

All in all, the compact cabin can sleep three. The main sleeping area is created by transforming the dining table into a double bed. Then, a bunk bed drops down from the ceiling for additional sleeping space.

The kitchen has everything needed to create tasty meals, including a three-burner stove top and oven and a refrigerator. Additionally, there is plenty of storage for kitchenware as well as clothing and equipment found throughout the tiny home.

Adding space to the design, the cabin features dual rear doors that can be fully opened. The doors lead out to the pontoon platform, creating a nice open-air space with boat seats to enjoy.
Luke Hesketh via Philip M Dingemanse
Australia’s new mountain bike trails in northeast Tasmania are now more accessible than ever thanks to Dales of Derby, a contemporary, purpose-built group housing complex that is the perfect base for adventure. Local architecture and design studio Philip M Dingemanse designed the building, which won the 2019 Barry McNeill Award for Sustainable Architecture with its energy-efficient and low-maintenance features.

A former tin-mining center, the tiny Australian town of Derby was transformed in 2015 with the opening of Blue Derby, a network of mountain bike trails that traverses some of the island’s most stunning rainforest landscapes. Tapped to design lodgings to accommodate large groups of mountain bike enthusiasts, Philip M Dingemanse created a project that would double as an introductory building to the small village of Derby. Drawing inspiration from the town’s mining history, the architects created a simple gabled form and clad the exterior with Australian vernacular corrugated metal and timber in a nod to utilitarian tin miner homes. The architects also split the gabled building into seven pieces, with four sections pulled apart, to bring the outdoors in, while the interiors are lined with wood for a warm and inviting atmosphere.

Built to sleep a large group of up to 24 people, Dales of Derby includes bunk beds that accommodate 16 people as well as four rooms with queen-sized beds that are accessed via a red vaulted foyer inspired by a mining tunnel. At the heart of the building is a large common area with a wood heater and a full kitchen with a dining area oriented toward the forest. To reduce the project’s energy demands, the architects installed solar hot water heaters and followed passive design strategies for optimal solar orientation and thermal control.

“The built form is a singular functional object separated into pieces and strung out across the hill between road and river,” the architects noted. “Gaps become significant framing moments of eucalypt forest while nighttime gable lighting castes a permanent golden hue to graying timber walls; a memory of the raw timber cut, glowing on the outskirts of the township.”

Tesla’s newly released version of solar roof tiles is promising to be a better green energy alternative. For one, it is easier to install than traditional shingles. Plus, these new Tesla tiles are more cost-effective than purchasing a new roof with separate solar panels. Because of the innovative upgrades, Tesla CEO Elon Musk optimistically projects the company will install 1,000 of these new solar roofs per week.

Tesla ventured into the solar roof industry three years ago in partnership with SolarCity, which Tesla acquired in 2016. The most recently upgraded solar roof tiles are designed to look like normal roof tiles yet double as power-generating solar panels.

This newly unveiled solar roof tile is a third-generation version that features more refinements like increased size, beefed up power density, reduced components for better efficiency and improved roof edges that no longer require time-consuming “artisanal” fine-tuning onsite. The new solar roof tiles are made from tempered glass and are three times more durable than standard roofing tiles.

As Musk explained, “With versions one and two, we were still sort of figuring things out. Version three, I think, is finally ready for the big time. And so, we’re scaling our production of the version three solar tower roof at our Buffalo Gigafactory. And I think this product is going to be incredible.”

Tesla’s website offers two varieties of solar roof — a normal roof with solar panels and the third iteration of the textured glass shingle roof. Musk has touted the latter to be cheaper, easier and faster to install than its predecessors. The version three roof has a 25-year warranty, and its glass material can endure 130-mph winds and hail of up to 1.75 inches in diameter.

Efficiency is the name of the game in the solar roof sector. Thus, for Tesla, the company plans to implement a “Tesla-certified installer” program that enlists outside roofers that are local to the client. Similarly, Tesla has optimized its roof installation so that the whole process should only span eight hours.

Musk has said that orders for Tesla’s version three solar panels have risen as a response to the power outages caused by California utility PG&E repeatedly shutting off electricity to hundreds of thousands of Golden State residents to prevent wildfires. Tesla therefore is recommending homeowners go green to avoid these rolling blackouts.

“We can make roofs come alive,” Musk shared. “There are all these roofs out there just gathering sunlight, but not doing anything with it. In the future, it will be odd for roofs to be dormant or not gathering energy.”
Laboratory for Vision Architecture (LAVA) and Australian design practice Aspect Studios have won an international competition to design the new Central Park for Ho Chi Minh City. Located on the site where southeast Asia’s first train station was located, the 16-hectare linear park will pay homage to its industrial heritage with walkways overlaid atop 19th-century railway tracks. In addition to historical references, the visionary public space will also integrate sustainable and futuristic “tree” structures engineered to provide shelter, harvest water and generate solar energy.

Located in District 1, the central urban district of Ho Chi Minh City, the proposed Central Park will replace and expand the existing September 23 Park. The new design will retain its predecessor’s lush appearance while adding greater functionality to include sculpture gardens, outdoor art galleries, water features, music and theater performance pavilions, a skate park, sport zones and playgrounds.

”The site has always been about transportation,” said Chris Bosse, director of LAVA. “It was the first train station in southeast Asia, it’s currently a bus terminal and in the near future it will be Vietnam’s first metro station. Our design references this history and future mobility. Known locally as ‘September 23 Park’, it also hosts the important annual spring festival.”

The designers plan to link the redesigned park to the new Ben Thanh Metro Station and memorialize the transport history with a dramatic twisting steel sculpture at one end of the park.

To improve the energy efficiency of Central Park, three types of eco-friendly structures will be installed, and each one will be created in the image of “artificial plants” and “trees.” The “water purification trees” will collect rainwater for reuse for irrigation, drinking fountains and fire hydrants. “Ventilation trees” will reduce the urban heat island effect and generate fresh air, and the “solar trees” feature angled solar panels to generate renewable energy used for powering the charging docks, information screens and the park’s Wi-Fi system. Construction on Central Park is slated to begin in 2020.

Adrià Goula via Guillem Carrera
In between the Mediterranean Sea and the coastal mountain range in northern Spain, Tarragona-based architect Guillem Carrera has completed Casa VN, an energy-efficient luxury home that pays homage to the region’s historic heritage. Set on a steep slope, the modern home uses terraces to step down the landscape and is faced with walls of glass to take advantage of panoramic views. To reduce energy demands, the house follows passive solar principles; it is also topped with insulating green roofs and equipped with home automation technology.

Casa VN is located in Alella, a village near Barcelona that was historically used for farming and marked by large estates and stonewall terraces. However, in recent years, changes in the economy have led to increased urbanization in the area. Given the landscape history, Carrera strove to conserve the original character of his client’s property while introducing modern comforts.

The goal was to “preserve the soul and the morphology, to preserve each one of those things that make it unique and characteristic: the terraces, the retaining walls, the different elements of pre-existing vegetation and the dry stone chapel,” Carrera said. “These elements are delimited and identified to be preserved in the plant, and once they have been delimited, a respectful implementation of housing directly on the existing land is established, so that the house coexists and interacts spatially and functionally with these elements. The resulting ensemble seeks to be a whole, timeless and heterogeneous, that is part of the place and the landscape.”

At 869 square meters, Casa VN recalls the large estates that were once typical in Alella. Locally sourced stone — the same used in the preserved stone chapel — and native Mediterranean landscaping also respect the local vernacular. Meanwhile, the residence features modern construction with a structure of reinforced concrete, steel and glass. Passive solar principles also guided the design and placement of the house to reduce unwanted solar gain and promote natural cooling.

Wilderness Safaris
After nearly nine months of renovations, African luxury and sustainable safari operator Wilderness Safaris has reopened Jao Camp in the heart of Botswana’s Okavango Delta. Powered entirely by solar energy, the eco-tourism destination features five spacious tented suites, a new spa and circular treatment rooms, a new Center of Knowledge museum and gallery and two new exclusive villas with a private vehicle, guide, chef and butler. All parts of the camp embrace the outdoors and landscape, from the use of local handcrafted materials to the framed views of the riverine forests and vast floodplains.

Surrounded by prolific wildlife, the Jao Camp features a main area elevated into the tree canopy. “Underpinning it all is our commitment to the pristine environment around Jao, minimizing our footprint and allowing our guests to experience the Delta in its fullest sense,” the Wilderness Safaris’ website reads. “Innovative insulation ensures comfort, while gauze and glass panels let natural light and the outside in. The suites and villas are cooled with a silent evaporative cooler at a fraction of energy used by conventional air conditioning.”

Jao Camp is also 100 percent solar-powered and draws energy from a new power plant that works on one of the world’s biggest Victron inverter systems and the largest lithium-ion battery bank in southern Africa. During the colder months, the suites are warmed by innovative, self-igniting Calore fireplaces fueled with pellets made from sawdust, a byproduct of working natural wood, without any additives or caking agents.

All of Jao Camp’s contemporary luxury suites come with private plunge pools, lounge and dining areas, en suite bathrooms and outdoor and indoor showers. The nature-inspired color palette and use of handcrafted natural materials, such as rosewood-clad ceilings and floors, help tie the interiors to the outdoors and keep the focus on the Okavango Delta. Moreover, the newly added Center of Knowledge museum and gallery shares information about the area, its history and its denizens.

Los Angeles Clippers/AECOM
The Los Angeles Clippers have released initial renderings of their brand new 18,500-seat arena expected to open in 2024. Team owner Steve Ballmer and the city of Inglewood are moving forward with the $1 billion, 900,000-square-foot NBA arena over neighborhood concerns and lawsuits over the project,

Designed by local architecture and engineering firm AECOM, the metal-clad, oval-shaped arena is said to be inspired by the “swoosh” of a basketball net. Ballmer told ESPN, “I want it to be a noisy building… I really want that kind of energy.”

The grand vision includes a basketball arena, corporate office building, sports medicine clinic, retail, community and youth-oriented spaces, parking garages, a solar-panel-clad roof, indoor-outdoor “sky gardens,” and an outdoor game-viewing area with massive digital screens.

Ballmer’s goal is to create, “the best home in all of sports,” he said in a statement accompanying the release of the renderings. “What that means to me is an unparalleled environment for players, for fans, for sponsors and for the community of Inglewood. Our goal is to build a facility that resets fans’ expectations while having a transformative impact on the city we will call home.” Ballmer, one of the richest people in the world, will privately finance the mixed-use development.

The project must overcome several legal challenges that cloud its potential success. First, from the Uplight Inglewood Coalition, an organization looking to strengthen Inglewood residents’ political power, is suing the city on allegations that the city’s deal to sell the land for the arena violated California state law. The California Surplus Land Act requires that public land be prioritized for affordable housing development before any other uses. Housing costs in the area had soared since 2016, when the NFL agreed to let the Rams and Chargers relocate to Inglewood.

“In the midst of booming development—which has caused skyrocketing rents and the loss of affordable housing—it simply does not make any sense to prioritize an NBA arena over the needs of Inglewood residents without investing in the needs of residents,” Uplift Inglewood member D’artagnan Scorza said in a recent press release, “Public land should be used for the public good, and access to housing is central to building strong communities.”

Second, James Dolan, owner and CEO of Madison Square Garden, owner of the New York Knicks and the nearby Forum has also sued the city, accusing leaders of secretly negotiating with the Clippers to build on land that it once leased. The 26-acre complex will house all team operations, from corporate headquarters to the team’s training facility. The Clippers currently practice in Playa Vista, have a business office in downtown Los Angeles, and play at the Staples Center (shared with rival Lakers and NHL’s Kings since 1999). Their lease ends in 2024, putting pressure on team ownership to finish construction on time for the next season.
Casey Dunn
Texas architecture studio Clayton & Little has built a barn from reclaimed oil field pipes and weathering steel panels, topped with solar panels to provide power to a vineyard in California.

The Saxum Vineyard Equipment Barn is on the James Berry Vineyard – part of the Saxum Vineyard group – in Paso Robles, a town in central California known for its olive groves, hillsides and wineries. It has been longlisted in the business building category of this year's Dezeen Awards.

Clayton & Little created the simple barn to provide covered storage for farming vehicles, implements and livestock supplies, while also being a structure to hold solar panels to power the nearby Saxum Winery.

The studio describes the structure, which is made reclaimed oil field pipes, as a modern version of a pole barn – a type of agricultural building that began being built in the USA in the 1930s.

The structure is mostly symmetrical with an open central storage area and enclosed rooms for storage on either side. The building is clad with perforated Corten panels that protect the machinery from the sunlight, while allowing the wind to pass through.

On top of the barn's long roof, which is supported by the reclaimed pipes, are a series of photovoltaic panels. These laminated glass solar modules act as the barn's roof, reducing cost as there was no need for a separate structure.

The solar panels offset the electrical demand of the winery, freeing it from the dependence of grid-tied power. Energy from the panels also supports irrigation well pumps at the vineyard.

"Designed to harnesses the local climate to maximise cross ventilation, daylight and solar energy, the recycled oilfield pipe structure holds a laminated glass photovoltaic roof system that produces a third more power than needed [at the winery]," Clayton & Little said.

The roof is also designed to collect rainfall for irrigating trees and adjacent grazing meadow, which is stored in cylinders nearby.

This is intended to dramatically reduce the vineyards dependence on mains water, and combined with the solar panels, effectively take it off the grid.

Saxum Vineyard Equipment Barn was awarded as one of this year's AIA Small Projects and joins BIG'S Klein A45 cabin in the Catskill Mountains and South 5th Residence in Austin by Alterstudio Architecture.

Founded in 2005, Clayton & Little is led by partners Paul Clayton, Brian Korte, Sam Manning and Nathan Quiring. The studio has two offices in Austin and San Antonio, Texas.

Other barns include an oak-clad structure in the Netherlands, Swallowfield Barn in British Columbia and a blackened wood structure by Worrell Yeung in Upstate New York.
Danish architectural firm COBE has unveiled designs for a new science museum in the Swedish university city of Lund that will be powered not only with rooftop solar energy but also with pedal power. Museum visitors will be invited to help generate electricity for the carbon-neutral museum by riding “energy bikes” on its concave roof. Constructed primarily from prefabricated cross-laminated timber, the eco-friendly building will be a sustainable landmark and help cement Lund’s position as a science city on the international stage.

Winner of an international competition, COBE’s proposal for the science museum will be located in the heart of the city’s new urban district, Science Villa Scandinavia. The museum will be sandwiched between the high-tech institutions ESS (European Spallation Source) and MAX IV, which are currently under construction and slated to become the world’s most powerful and advanced research facilities within neutron and X-ray research. The science museum’s purpose is to make the institutions’ groundbreaking research more accessible and inviting to both children and adults and to promote general interest in natural science and research.

Spanning a total floor space of 3,500 square meters, the two-story science museum will comprise exhibition halls, a gallery, a reception area, workshops, a museum shop, a restaurant, offices and an auditorium. A viewing platform and patio will top the concave 1,600-square-meter roof as will energy bikes and a solar array large enough to meet the museum’s electricity needs. A large, nature-filled atrium will sit at the heart of the museum to help absorb carbon dioxide, boost biodiversity and serve as a water reservoir and overflow canal in case of extreme rainfall. Excess heat from ESS will be used to heat the museum through an ectogrid system. The timber building is expected to reach completion by 2024.

“Ambitions for the design of the museum have been sky-high, and we feel that we have succeeded in designing a unique and inviting building, whose open atrium and concave roof lend it a dramatic and elegant profile that stands out and offers novel and innovative ways of using a museum,” said Dan Stubbergaard, architect and founder of COBE. “Moreover, we have made climate, environment and sustainability integral aspects of the process from the outset. By choosing wood as the main construction material, incorporating solar cells, using excess heat and creating an atrium with a rich biodiversity and a rainwater reservoir, among other features, we have achieved our goal and succeeded in creating a CO2-neutral building, if the design is realized as intended. Our hope, as architects, is that we can continue to increase the focus on and improve our ability to create sustainable architecture and construction for the benefit of future generations and the condition of the planet.”

Gustavo Alkmim via PITTA Arquitetura
Designed by Brazilian firm PITTA Arquitetura, the aptly named Casa Modelo serves as an architectural model for sustainable home design. Built using numerous bioclimatic principles, the solar-powered home has minimal environmental impact on its idyllic tropical setting just outside of São Paulo.

Built for the owner of a sustainable real estate development company, Casa Modelo is located in the remote area of Ubatuba. Surrounded by acres of lush, green, protected biospheres that span out to some of the country’s most beautiful beaches, the home has a setting that is as idyllic as it gets.

The incredible location set the tone for the design. Working with the homeowner, the architects sought to create a model sustainable home that could serve as a platform for future constructions in the area.

At the forefront of the design was the objective of reducing the home’s impact on the pristine natural setting. Inserting the 1,100-square-foot building into the lot with minimal interference was essential to the project. Accordingly, the timber home is elevated off of the landscape by a concrete platform and pillars that allow natural vegetation to grow under and around the structure.

The local climate is marked by severe humidity, ultra hot summers and considerable rainfall, all of which prompted the designers to create a resilient structure that could stand up to the extreme elements. Not only did elevating the home reduce its impact on the landscape, but it also helps keep ground humidity at bay and improves natural air circulation.

Passive, energy-saving features are found throughout the home, namely in the structure’s large openings and high interior ceilings. The open-plan living area and kitchen open up to the outdoors thanks to a long stretch of sliding glass doors with retractable timber screens on either side of the house. The doors can be completely or partially left open to ensure cool temps and natural ventilation on the interior, a feature that also creates a strong, seamless connection with the outdoors.

Paul Bardagiy
ant to save the planet? Quit using language like “save the planet” and talk about individual health instead. That’s the gist of the recently issued Living Standard report commissioned by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC).

Twenty-five years after the birth of LEED green building standards, the USGBC hired ClearPath Strategies, a global public opinion research company, to measure how the public sees green building. The resulting report shows a public relations problem: Even though building construction and operations account for nearly 40 percent of final global energy use and carbon dioxide emissions, most people don’t make the link between buildings and their environmental impact. This disconnect could be seen as bad news both for the design profession and for the planet. It could also be seen as an invitation to the building industry to take on a much bigger role in building a sustainable future — even if that’s not a word we use to describe it.

The Living Standard report illustrates how survey respondents ranked different concerns (health care and immigration, high; environment, middle) and potential solutions (recycling and water conservation, high; green building, way low). That survey also measured what kind of language made people feel more willing to take action. In the words of the report, “There is a real gap between the conceptual enormity of the problem and how people seek to address it in their daily lives.” Planetary health? Far too big a concept. Individual health? That’s something everyone can get behind.

The USGBC has long been concerned with public perception of green building, and rightly so. Before LEED (the now-standard acronym stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), there were few resources for people who were curious about the energy consumption, materials sourcing, or health impacts of buildings. Gail Vittori, a founding member of the USGBC and current member of the GBCI, describes how LEED and similar programs helped to develop not just a vocabulary but a way of thinking. “The value of a tool like LEED is that, as it started to have market penetration, you literally had hundreds if not thousands of teams of people sitting around a table saying, ‘What’s the VOC content in the paint?’ We take it for granted now, but in the beginning, you’d have to carve out two hours of time to get on the phone with Sherwin Williams to find someone who could begin to answer your question. How is it today that I can go into Home Depot and every single can of paint will not only tell me what the VOC content is, but most of them will be compliant with a very low VOC content? That’s market transformation.” As co-founder, with Pliny Fisk III, of the Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems (CMPBS), Vittori works with clients to integrate sustainable strategies into large-scale building projects. She notes that she and Fisk now rarely use the words “sustainable” and “green.” “Cleaning up the jargon is what this is about. The point is that you can talk about concepts in a way that doesn’t immediately create this chasm of, ‘Oh, you’re on the inside of that topic,’ or ‘You’re on the outside of that topic.’ We all have buildings as part of our lives.”

Market transformation, while necessary, tends to be slow. Meanwhile, research suggests that we have a six-to-10-year window to make changes to avoid irreversible environmental damage. Within that time frame, the U.S. and other wealthy countries will need to get their emissions down to zero, and for that to happen, whatever we design and build now has to be a part of that reduction. In the words of climate activist Greta Thunberg, “Everything needs to change, and it has to start today.”

So where to start? LEED provides a metric for building performance, as do local building programs like the Austin Energy Green Building Program. The 2030 Palette from the Architecture 2030 Challenge, which calls for buildings and major renovations to be carbon-neutral by 2030, offers “swatches” of possible design strategies and materials. A few miles down the road from CMPBS, architect Lauren Stanley, AIA, is developing a materials palette for a new house that she and husband Lars Stanley, FAIA, plan to build following the guidelines of the Living Building Challenge (LBC). Like LEED, LBC provides a metric for building performance, but while LEED
In a bid to revitalize Singapore’s Bedok Town Centre, international design firm ONG&ONG has completed HEARTBEAT@BEDOK, an award-winning, mixed-use development that serves as a key civic and community space for Bedok residents. The community building is also a beacon for sustainability and follows passive design principles to minimize energy demands as well as building operation and maintenance costs. A cooling microclimate is created with lush landscaping used throughout the site and around the building, which is draped with greenery on every floor.

Located on Singapore’s east coast, the HEARTBEAT@BEDOK was commissioned as part of the Housing and Development Board’s ‘Remaking Our Heartland’, an initiative that was announced in 2007 to ensure older towns and neighborhoods are adequately modernized to keep pace with the nation’s development. To bring new life to the area, the architects transformed a public park in the heart of the Bedok neighborhood into the site of a new community center that brings residents of different backgrounds together and cultivates community spirit.

“The Heartbeat@Bedok is an architecturally distinctive community building that is defined by the highest standards in modern sustainability,” the design firm explained. “Featuring an inverted podium-and-blocks design strategy, spaces within the new building are predicated on functionality. The elevated podium allows for optimized natural ventilation, with a group of microclimates created around internal public spaces. A covered area extends 145 m diagonally across the site, creating a 3-story atrium that enhances porosity between floors, while also working to improve overall connectivity and visual integration of the internal spaces.”

Completed in June 2017, the mixed-use development includes a community club, sports and recreation center, public library, polyclinic, a senior care center and public green space. In addition to the abundance of greenery, solar heat and radiation is mitigated with tapered facade glazing, solar fins and optimized passive solar conditions. A rainwater collection system and gray water system were also integrated into the building to ensure responsible and sustainable water use.

MAD Architects
Beijing-based architectural firm MAD Architects has won a competition for Zhejiang’s Yiwu Grand Theater with a proposal that’s stunning, sculptural and site-specific. Inspired by the Chinese junks that once sailed on the city’s Dongyang River, the Yiwu Grand Theater mimics the form of a glass-walled boat floating on the river while its subtle curves echo the Jiangnan-style eaves found in the region’s ancient vernacular architecture. Its facade of layered glass sails will be semitransparent to reduce overall energy consumption through passive solar means.

As the world’s largest wholesale commodities market, Yiwu has built its reputation on commerce, not culture. In a bid to elevate its soft power, the city hosted an international competition to design the Yiwu Grand Theater, a hub of arts and culture to be located on the south bank of the Dongyang River. The building will include a 1,600-seat grand theater, a 1,200-seat medium theater and a 2,000-person-capacity international conference center. The project will also offer new and easily accessible public green space with an amphitheater and large open plaza that extends into the water on its southern edge.

“The ‘Yiwu Grand Theater’ has been designed as a monument for the city that will serve to connect inhabitants to the waterfront from a new perspective,” the architects explained. “In its completion, it will stand as a world-class venue that will attract visitors from around the globe, putting Yiwu on the map as a cultural destination. The transparency and lightness of the glass express the texture of thin, silky fabric, creating a dynamic rhythm that makes them appear as if they are blowing in the wind. They act as a protective canopy around the building, resonating with the river, elegantly floating above the water’s surface, setting a romantic atmosphere.”

In addition to giving the Yiwu Grand Theater a sense of lightness in spite of its size, the semi-transparent glass curtain wall also helps to reduce heating and cooling costs while letting in ample amounts of natural light. In winter, the glass creates a solar greenhouse effect but can be opened up in summer to promote natural ventilation. The Yiwu Grand Theater is expected to begin construction in 2020.

Plus, Katerra offers an update on its K90 project in Las Vegas, Google pledges $1 billion toward affordable housing in the Bay Area, and more design-tech news from this week.

Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) and UNStudio are working with digital agency Squint/Opera on the development of Hyperform, a design platform that facilitates collaboration in 3D augmented reality. Initially prototyped last year, Hyperform allows multiple users to work in scale models as well as immersive 1:1 environments. Users can also create still renderings as well as video recordings. "In the future every physical object will be connected to one another, sensing each other and everything in between," BIG founder Bjarke Ingels said in a press release. "For every physical object there will be a digital twin. For every physical space a virtual space. Hyperform is the augmented creative collaborative environment of the future which will allow an instantaneous confluence of actual and imagined realities—the present and the future fusing in our augmented sense of reality." [Squint/Opera]

In its latest project, New York–based SoftLab has created a "circular constellation" in Manhattan’s Seaport District that features 100 sensor-enabled glowing poles that emit different colors and sounds based on visitors' touch. [ARCHITECT]

This week, tech giant Google pledged to invest $1 billion in land and money to construct houses to help ease the housing crisis in the Bay Area. Over the next 10 years, the company has promised to convert $750 million of its land that is currently zoned for commercial development into residential property for some 15,000 new houses. Additionally, Google will establish a $250 million investment fund to assist developers in creating 5,000 affordable housing units. "In the coming months, we’ll continue to work with local municipalities to support plans that allow residential developers to build quickly and economically," the company writes in a press release. "Our goal is to get housing construction started immediately, and for homes to be available in the next few years." [Google]

Menlo Park, Calif.–based technology and construction company Katerra has released an update on K90—its ambitious garden apartment project in Las Vegas that the company is aiming to complete in 90 days. While slab-up construction typically takes 120 to 150 days, Katerra is believes it can deliver in a little over half the time using proprietary tools such as a material auditing app that alerts construction teams to incoming materials—which are delivered directly to installation point rather than a general project-site drop-off—wall panels that have pre-installed electrical wiring, and its bath kit that includes carpet, tile, plumbing fixtures, hardware, wood trim, light fixtures, light sources, and mirrors. [Katerra]

Researcher from Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) in Japan published findings that adding a "self healing" protective layer of epoxy resin to perovskite solar cells (PSC) helps reduce leakage of pollutants, helping to push the technology toward commercial viability. “Although PSCs are efficient at converting sunlight into electricity at an affordable cost, the fact that they contain lead raises considerable environmental concern,” said OIST professor Yabing Qi in a press release. “While so-called ‘lead-free’ technology is worth exploring, it has not yet achieved efficiency and stability comparable to lead-based approaches. Finding ways of using lead in PSCs while keeping it from leaking into the environment, therefore, is a crucial step for commercialization.” [OIST]
COBE and Rasmus Hjortshøj – COAST
Copenhagen-based architectural firm COBE has just unveiled what are possibly the most beautiful and sustainable electric vehicle charging stations in the world. Built entirely from recyclable materials and powered by solar energy, these ultra-fast charging stations not only recharge a vehicle in just 15 minutes but also offer drivers a welcoming place to rest and relax. The first COBE-designed EV charging station was installed on the E20 motorway in the Danish city of Fredericia, with 47 more planned along Scandinavian highways: seven more in Denmark, 20 in Sweden and 20 in Norway.

Created in partnership with Powered by E.ON Drive & Clever, the COBE-designed EV charging station consists of a series of “trees” made primarily from certified wood. The tree-inspired structures feature a canopy that provides shade and protection from the elements, while also providing space for a green roof and solar panels. The modular structures are scalable so that multiple “tree” structures can be combined into a “grove.”

The Fredericia charging station features a “grove” of 12 “trees” with a 400-square-meter canopy. The Danish Society for Nature Conservation helped select the plantings that surround the charging station to enhance biodiversity and create a calming, “zen-like” atmosphere radically different from a traditional gas station setting.

“Electric vehicles are the way of the future,” said Dan Stubbergaard, architect and founder of COBE. “With our design, we offer EV drivers a time-out and an opportunity to mentally recharge in a green oasis. The energy and the technology are green, so we wanted the architecture, the materials and the concept to reflect that. So, we designed a charging station in sustainable materials placed in a clean, calm setting with trees and plantings that offer people a dose of mindfulness on the highway.”

The firm’s design of the ultra-fast EV charging station won the infrastructure award of the 2018 Danish Building Awards and is being implemented across Scandinavia with support from EU Commission projects Connecting Europe Facility and High Speed Electric Mobility Across Europe.

Garrett Rowland
Perkins+Will has overhauled the North American headquarters of consumer goods company Unilever, with new communal areas designed to help employees forget they're in a suburban office park.

British-Dutch manufacturer Unilever has long had its North American headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, just across the river from New York City.

But increasingly, the company has needed a more dynamic work environment to help recruit employees.

rchitecture firm Perkins+Will was charged with rethinking the corporate campus, which accommodates about 1,450 employees and several hundred independent contractors.

The goal was to create a showpiece headquarters that would be "smart, sustainable and Instagram-ready – with a feeling like you were in Manhattan".

Rather that razing the site and starting fresh, the architects chose to renovate four existing rectilinear buildings. They also added a lofty central atrium that rises 40 feet (12 metres) on the site of a former courtyard.

"The 325,000-square-foot renovation included interiors, as well as the construction of an entry pavilion and common area that stitched together the open space between individual buildings to create an entirely new, enclosed structure," said the firm.

The existing buildings, which date back to the 1960s and 70s, are completely revamped.

Traditional, cellular layouts are replaced with open workspaces, huddle rooms and lounges. Because there are no assigned desks, lockers have also been added, providing employees with a secure place for their belongings.

The central volume houses The Marketplace, where employees can shop, work and socialise. The vast, light-filled space features cafe tables and a giant staircase that doubles as seating.

Additional amenities at the campus include coffee stations, a fitness centre, a hair salon and a cafeteria.

Throughout the facility, concrete floors and exposed ceilings give interior spaces an industrial look. Wooden decor and eclectic furnishings help soften the atmosphere. In one area, the team created a living room, complete with a fireplace set within a brick wall.

The building features a range of smart technologies, including thousands of sensors that measure light, temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide and human presence.

"The final building design incorporates smart technologies by EDGE that record data and automate the building's features and functions, including internet-of-things systems that enable the building to learn from occupants' behaviours and remember their preferences," the team said.

In addition to the smart systems, the building's sustainable elements include solar panels and ample natural light.

During construction, 75 per cent of the construction material was diverted away from landfills. To help reduce car usage by employees, the company offers a shuttle service from New York City, Hoboken and Jersey City.
Nic Lehoux
Built entirely of teak harvested on-site, this breezy solar-powered home near the beach ticks all the right boxes for a pair of avid environmentalists who love surfing.

When a couple of surfers with a passion for sustainability wanted a surf getaway in Costa Rica, they turned to Olson Kundig to bring their dream to life.

"The clients are surfers as well as avid environmentalists, and were seeking a vacation home that would reflect their deep commitment to sustainable land management in Costa Rica," explains the Seattle–based architecture firm, whose commitment to sustainable design and contextual craftsmanship drew the clients’ attention.

"Designed as an open-air surfer hut, the project engages the Costa Rican landscape in various ways, from the vegetation accessible just off the main floor, to the larger weather and surf patterns one can experience on the top level."

The architects dubbed the 2,140-square-foot home the Costa Rica Tree House after its tall and slim three-story structure that rises above the treetops, as well as for its use of locally harvested teak as a primary building and finish material.

Since the clients wanted immersion in nature, the house is set amidst dense jungle on a fairly secluded peninsula near Playa Hermosa beach. Instead of treating the remote location as an obstacle, Olson Kundig saw the property as an "ideal opportunity to source local materials and be inventive with solving design challenges."

In addition to locally felled timber, the architects worked with the contractor to craft fully custom balcony railings out of welded steel instead of rebar, which would have been difficult to import to the site. Many of the furnishings were also locally purchased or fabricated by the contractor.

The clients also wanted the home to operate passively and remain open to the outdoors. "Creating an open, naturally ventilated house in such a wet climate was certainly a challenge," notes Olson Kundig. "The double-layer movable screens help to keep water out, and the large roof overhang and gutter drainage systems are likewise designed to keep the interior of the home protected and dry."

We take a first look at Tesla’s latest solar roof tile technology with custom fittings through a new document from Tesla obtained by Electrek.

As we reported yesterday, Tesla is currently completing the third version of its Solar Roof, which they claim will bring the price down significantly.

Tesla’s solar roof tiles are part of Elon Musk’s plan to offer solar products with better aesthetics in order to create a distinctive brand that can be differentiated from other installers on a product basis.

He said when first announcing the product that they were working on such solar products:

“I think this is really a fundamental part of achieving differentiated product strategy,”

The CEO believes that current solar products look all the same and that roofs are ugly.

The solar roof was Tesla’s solution to this problem. The tiles originally unveiled were sleek looking, but Tesla is now also making sure that they mesh with the rest of the roof for an overall sleek design.

In a new document sent to some customers and obtained by Electrek, Tesla describes the custom fittings:

“Custom designed flashings and ridgecaps fit around your home’s unique design and roof pitch while accentuating the Solar Roof tiles and ensuring maximum weather-proofing. The end result is a roof that looks better and lasts longer.”

Tesla also says that they are replacing vents and other things sticking out of the roof in order to match the solar tiles.

They wrote in the document:

“Vents and skylights are replaced or modified to match your new Solar Roof aesthetic. Certain air vents can be replaced entirely with Solar Roof’s integrated ventilation. Those vents that can’t be removed will be replaced or modified to ensure exceptional visual appeal.“

At Tesla’s 2019 shareholder’s meeting earlier this week, Musk said Tesla was still working on longevity testing for the new version of its solar roof tiles and that they are now installing the solar product in 8 states.

The CEO also boasted about the price of the Solar Roof V3 being equivalent to a shingle roof plus electric bill.

Stay tuned for more about Tesla Solar Roof pricing.
Nelson Garrido
When a client approached Lisbon-based architectural practice Studio 3A for a small residential project in the seaside village of Comporta, the architects knew that a major challenge would be keeping the house naturally cool during the oppressively hot summers. In keeping with their commitment to sustainable architecture, the architects used passive solar strategies and efficient insulation to mitigate solar heat gain. The firm also teamed up with design studio Mima Housing to prefabricate the buildings, named Cabanas in Comporta, which were topped with solar panels and sheathed in charred timber for a durable and maintenance-free finish.

The architecture of Cabanas in Comporta follows a modular design of three types: the “intimate module” that houses the bedroom and bathroom; the “social module” for the living spaces with room for an outdoor pool; and the “service module” that also serves as storage for items such as the client’s car collection. Together with Mima Housing, Studio 3A prefabricated the modular buildings with oriented strand board sandwich panels and wooden joints. The facades are clad in timber charred black using the Japanese technique of Shou Sugi Ban.

“As local connoisseurs, we based our construction method on the traditional fishermen huts/cabanas as an inspiration for our project,” explain the architects. These huts have been built in this area for years and are very functional and quick to build which were another important point of our brief. With this construction type we had a couple of challenges to face which was the hot-summer Mediterranean climate and the mosquitos which are well known to bug you in the area. We implemented various sustainable strategies to reduce the heat sensation such as the calculated overhangs in front of the main windows, low emissivity window panes and a tensioned solar shading system in between the cabana modules.”

Heat gain is further controlled with a double blind system installed in both the interior and exterior. The external blind also zips down to protect the home from mosquito invasions. Strategic placement of the buildings optimizes solar orientation and access to cooling breezes. Dark cement flooring is used to take advantage of thermal mass, while photovoltaic panels and heat pumps help heat the buildings in winter.

C40 Cities
The Reinventing Cities competition asked architects to find new uses for vacant and abandoned spaces in cities around the world. The results are an extraordinary example of what future cities could look like.

As the world moves to a zero-carbon future, cities will be key places to transform–particularly buildings, which account for more than half of emissions in most cities. Reinventing Cities, a competition launched two years ago by C40 Cities, a network of mayors focused on finding solutions to climate change, asked architects to reimagine new uses for vacant and abandoned spaces in six cities: Chicago, Madrid, Milan, Paris, Oslo, and Reykjavík. These are the winning proposals; the winning teams now have the chance to buy or lease each site to develop the projects.

On two vacant lots in Chicago’s Garfield Park neighborhood, a new net-zero carbon housing development is designed to run on renewable energy, grow food on the roof, and process stormwater onsite. The ultra-efficient buildings, designed to “passive house” standards, would be built in a local modular factory.

An unused market building in Madrid would be renovated with recycled materials and certified wood and would produce its own power through solar panels on the roof and walls. Inside the market, the community would have access to local, organic produce and workshops about climate change.

On vacant land in a part of Madrid sandwiched between an industrial and residential area, a new development would include student housing, rehearsal spaces and an auditorium for musicians, an organic store, and space for urban farming. Nearly half of the surface area would be devoted to green space.

A new zero-emissions student hub at the Polytechnic University of Madrid–with housing, sport and art facilities, and a lab for sustainability research projects–would use a passive design to shrink energy use. Outside, the walls would be covered in holes to create habitats for plants and animals.

A new factory in Madrid would manufacture biodegradable zinc-air batteries and run on energy from a solar farm on the property, creating more than 100 local jobs. Regenerative agriculture techniques would rehabilitate the soil, and an onsite “Compostlab” would produce compost from local waste.

At a former freight terminal site in Milan, a new social housing project would be the first in Italy to be carbon neutral. The design limits space for personal cars and has extra space for bike parking, charging stations for electric cars, and a neighborhood car-sharing scheme. The buildings would be powered by onsite renewable energy and connected to district heating.

decaARCHITECTURE and George Messaritakis
On the southern coast of Crete, Greek architectural firm decaARCHITECTURE has turned a commission for a modern residence into an opportunity for land preservation. Named the Ring House for its rounded shape, the house was created to follow the existing topography and looks like an extension of its hilltop location. The site had been scarred by environmentally insensitive infrastructural development but has now recovered its original morphology and has been replanted with native flora.

Located in the seaside village of Agia Galini, the Ring House is surrounded with beautiful sea views, yet suffers hot summers. To create a cooling microclimate, the architects built part of the structure into the earth and added several protected shaded areas, as well as an inner garden planted with a variety of citrus trees and edible plants. The resulting effect is one that the architects liken to an “oasis within an intensely beautiful but physically demanding environment.”

“At a broader scale, the house is a landscape preservation effort,” explain the architects. “In the past, the topography had been severely scarred by the random and informal carving of roads. The excavation material extracted during the house’s construction, was used to recover the original morphology of the land. Furthermore, a thorough survey of the native flora was done in order to understand the predominant biotopes in the different slopes in the plot. During the spring, prior to construction, seeds were collected on site and cultivated in a green house to grow more seeds. These were then sowed over the road scars for the regeneration of the flora.”

Concrete beams that follow the existing topography of the hill and frame the inner garden define the Ring House. The entrance sequence begins from the parking pad to a long, curved walkway that wraps around the inner garden and provides access to the bedrooms on one side of the home and the open-plan living areas on the other side. The house is powered with rooftop solar panels.

KRJ Architecture
The US Green Building Council has recognized the Missouri Alternative and Renewable Energy Technology (MARET) Center at Crowder College as a LEED Platinum facility. The building, which itself acts as a hands-on training tool for student learning, is one of very few LEED Platinum buildings that produces more energy than it consumes, making it “net-positive.”

This efficiency was achieved through significant modeling, planning and research by KRJ Planning & Research, who utilized renewable energy sources (solar heat, wind, biomass, solar electric), together with an exceptionally well-planned and constructed building envelope with an internal energy distribution system. Daylighting is utilized throughout the entire facility, keeping use of electric lighting to a minimum. Solar cells on the roof produce energy, as does a wind turbine on the site. HVAC is provided through geothermal means, in addition to hydronic heating and cooling that utilizes roof-mounted solar collectors. The building is cooled by groundwater alone. Even rainwater from the roof is collected and reused for plantings surrounding the facility.

The building is utilized by the college as a teaching facility to demonstrate how energy can be collected, stored and distributed, so accessibility to the facility’s mechanical systems was paramount for educational purposes. Likewise, the facility was organized to allow ease of building system modifications, allowing students to run energy use experiments. Finally, the facility was built with modular construction, allowing students and building prefabricators to participate and learn with these systems. Overall, the entire facility is an incubator for student and industry learning.

Of key interest to instructors and students alike, is how a facility in the Midwest, with high temperature extremes and high humidity levels, can be so comfortable and energy efficient year-round. Students involved in STEM projects, those interested in renewable energy businesses, and those seeking training and certification in alternative energy processes are all drawn to the facility.

“When we conceived of the idea to build a facility that would itself be used in teaching energy efficiency, we knew we needed to work with an architectural planning group that went well beyond the norm,” said Dr. Kent Farnsworth, former President of Crowder College. “We had worked with KRJ Architects in the past, and they had recently formed an innovative planning group to allow the types of in-depth planning and research that we required for this project.”

The 10,000-square-foot building was conceived in 2003, built in 2011-2012, and has been utilized as a teaching facility by Crowder College for several years. The facility itself has been tested, improved and modified, allowing students to take full advantage of cutting edge technology. Awarding of the LEED Platinum certification came in 2018, after the college renewed their interest in securing the USGBC certification.

David Kromm of KRJ Planning & Research stated, “we were thrilled to be selected to plan and develop this outstanding facility for Crowder College, and are honored that our work is being used as a teaching model for tomorrow’s leaders. The MARET Center is a great example of how innovation can lead to an efficient, functional, delightful and culturally meaningful facility.”

In addition to being used as a teaching facility, the MARET Center also houses a small business incubator.
Now you can add a tiny home or cabin kit to your cart.

You can buy just about anything on Amazon these days, from mundane household necessities to garish novelty items—and now, there are even DIY kits to help you construct your own tiny guest house, shed, office, or lounge. Take a look at the prefabricated units Amazon has to offer below, and get ready to upgrade your backyard.

Allwood Arlanda XXL
Ideal as a detached office, garden shed, or yoga studio, this 273-square-foot kit unit from Allwood will run you $10,695. The structure has large windows, a small porch, and a simple, clean design.

The Arlanda XXL from Allwood is available on Amazon for $10,695.

Ecohousemart Laminated Log House Kit
Made out of glulam—an engineered wood product made out of glued, laminated timber—this house kit has a gross area of 1,290 square feet. The home is designed to have three bedrooms and one bathroom, but note that additional materials not included in the kit are required.

Allwood Solvalla
This studio cabin kit from Allwood provides 172 square feet of outdoor and indoor space. The indoor space is well-lit from large windows on two sides, while the partially enclosed portion is covered with a shed roof and has vertical battens on one side to provide shade. The kit sells for $7,250.

Weizhengheng Expandable Container House
Geared toward those with an interest in sustainable design and lowering their carbon footprint, this expandable container house is made out of a galvanized, light steel frame and runs on a solar power system. The home is made in Germany and is available for $24,800.

Timber Frame House Lounge Kit by Ecohousemart
This prefabricated, cabin-like building is made out of a glulam and clad in northern spruce wood. The 1,000-square-foot structure can be customized depending on the type of foundation, windows and doors, or other requirements you might have, but does not come with these items: the kit mainly includes framing elements.

Allwood Getaway Cabin Kit by Lillevilla
Priced at $18,800, this cabin kit features 292 square feet of space, including a sleeping loft in the taller portion of the gable roof. Because the home has minimal insulation, it would ideally serve as a summer house, home office, or even a stand-alone retail building, but could easily be used as a residence or in colder climates with utility hookups and extra insulation.

Sunray by Allwood
This 162-square-foot cabin kit is available for $8,690 and is typically available to ship within three to five weeks. The kit is ideal for a lake or beach house, with large windows and shading on a deep front porch.
Earthship Media
An earthship is an accommodation with low environmental impact. The design of an earthship incorporates natural and recycled materials in the architecture and decor. It is built with conservation of natural resources in mind so that it produces its own water, electricity and food. Most earthships reuse discarded tires, cans and bottles for wall construction, and mud is common for wall plaster and floors. The energy savings through self-heating and cooling properties are remarkable. Most earthships rely on solar and wind energy as well as rain and snow harvesting for water needs.

The Phoenix Earthship is a prime example, located completely off the grid with its own garden. Available as a short-term rental through Airbnb, the Phoenix sleeps up to eight people in the 5,300-square-foot structure near Tres Piedras, New Mexico, so you can try out earthship living. Like most homes, the Phoenix has three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a large kitchen and a living room, and then there’s a jungle — inside.

The architectural and decorative details are incomparable with the building creating its own microclimate. That means plants and animals thrive in a space that is basically a greenhouse surrounded by the dry, sage-brush covered mesa surrounding it. The greenhouse and jungle areas feature a fish pond, birds, turtles, a food garden, banana trees and even a chicken coop that can provide fresh eggs during your stay.

The water process functions as a semi-closed unit, beginning with water runoff collection. After use, gray water feeds into the indoor plants that both drink and filter it, where it is stored and then pumped to the toilets as needed. From the toilet, the water heads to a traditional sewer where overflow is consumed by outdoor plants.

The entire structure looks like it was carved out of a hillside, with rounded walls and alcoves making up each space. Natural glass, clay, wood and rock can be found in every nook and cranny. Dubbed a “work of sustainable art,” the Phoenix Earthship provides plenty of opportunities to enjoy the actual nature outside the glass with a fire pit and seating, views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and spaces for unparalleled stargazing.

In contrast to the remote feel and off-grid design, the Phoenix provides solar-powered modern amenities such as Wi-Fi, television and a cozy indoor fireplace with a water fountain feature.
Dallas & Harris Photography via Charles Cunniffe Architects
The small resort-town of Telluride in the Colorado Rocky Mountains is known for its world-class skiing, remote location and, until now, lack of low-cost housing. When the tourist numbers begin to pile up during the busy season, those working in the hospitality industry at restaurants, shops and resorts are often forced to endure a long commute from the areas outside of town, where prices are cheaper.

The expensive hotel rooms and vacation homes are a dream for visitors, but when it comes to lower- to middle-class workers, affordable accommodations are scarce. Architecture firm Charles Cunniffe Architects out of Aspen recently completed a low-cost option for housing just outside of central Telluride, with rents as low as $385 per person.

The complex consists of a boarding house with room for 46 tenants, another building with 18 separate apartments and three tiny homes. You wouldn’t know by looking at it that Virginia Placer is considered low-cost housing. The architects blended the structures among the plentiful high-end resorts and expensive housing for which Telluride is known.

The buildings are placed at the base of a tree-covered mountain, and the exterior is made of high-quality wooden panels and a variety of metals, including steel. The apartment building utilizes open-air stairs and wooden balconies, while the boarding house has a huge deck with mountain views and a canopy for protection from the elements. Inside the boarding house, communal lounges and two kitchens are available for tenants to use.

With a focus on sustainability, the designers installed oversized windows into the apartments for passive solar and ventilation. The tiny homes across the street from the main two buildings share the same design of metal and cedar and total 290 square feet of living space per dwelling.

Scoring a spot in the development is a literal win — potential tenants are chosen through a lottery. Apartments range from $850 to $1430 a month, while a tiny home costs $700 monthly. The cheapest option for individuals is the communal boarding house for $385 per month per person.

Alexander C. Kaufman/Huffpost
After Hurricane María plunged Vieques into darkness, Tesla’s arrival heralded the dawn of a microgrid future. But it wasn’t that easy.

VIEQUES, Puerto Rico ― It looks like something out a brochure advertising what renewable energy could offer a remote, storm-ravaged island.

Electrical lines still hang perilously from poles across the street, but inside the mint-green, one-story Ciudad Dorada senior center, fans blow cool air and refrigerators stocked with insulin and other medicines run cold even as the noon sun broils in a cloudless Caribbean sky. On its roof are a set of Tesla photovoltaic solar panels, attached via cable to a pair of Tesla batteries hitched to the wall beneath.

And yet, a diesel generator growls on full blast behind the center.

Workers from Tesla, billionaire Elon Musk’s electric car and solar energy giant, arrived on Vieques just weeks after hurricanes Irma and María crippled the aging electrical grid and severed the transmission cable that connected this island to the Puerto Rico mainland seven miles west. The company selected the senior center as one of 11 sites on the darkened island that it would equip with power-producing panels and batteries.

Constructing the system was simple. But when workers attached the panels and batteries to the old electrical wiring in the former schoolhouse, the batteries blew out.

“It doesn’t work,” a nurse at the senior center said in Spanish during a HuffPost visit in late February. “It never has.”

The circuitry issue proved ominous. Officials promised that Tesla’s effort heralded a brighter future on Vieques, one that would free the island from dependence on fossil fuels and make it a model for the rest of Puerto Rico. But apparent supply shortages, regulatory hurdles and a lack of long-term planning dashed those hopes. Today the island still depends on dirty power from the mainland, and some solar panels and batteries sit useless and broken with another hurricane season less than a month away.

“We’re back to square one,” said Edgar Oscar Ruiz, 34, a local activist pushing for renewable energy on Vieques. “Tesla came in with great intentions, but that’s not enough.”

Vieques’ experience shows what renewable energy experts say are the risks of relying on corporate goodwill to deliver transformative change and highlights the potential hurdles that Puerto Rico now faces as it seeks to convert the territory’s entire electricity system to renewable energy and sell off parts of its public utility.

“There’s a cautionary tale here,” said Andrea Luecke, president of the Solar Foundation, an industry nonprofit.

A Sunny Proposal

Tesla staffers arrived in Puerto Rico a week after Hurricane María made landfall on Sept. 20, 2017, and before many relief workers. By November, the company sent an unsolicited proposal to the Puerto Rican government. The pitch included building solar power microgrids ― which would produce and distribute power autonomous of the territory’s main electrical grid ― on Vieques and Culebra, its smaller, more touristy neighbor. The content of the proposal, though never made public, is confirmed in a study released by the Puerto Rican government. Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Rosselló touted the effort in December 2017.

“These projects are part of the measures we are taking to build a better Puerto Rico after the passage of Hurricane María and ensure a reliable service for the benefit of the citizens who reside here,” Rosselló told Radio Isla 1320 back then.

Around the same time, Tesla contacted the municipal government on Vieques to begin talks about buying public land on which to build a microgrid, according to Carlos Jirau, a development consultant working for the mayor.

“Tesla was asking for the possibility to acquire land from the municipality to develop a microgrid,” Jirau said. He said he requested a formal proposal but never heard back.

It’s easy to understand the opportunity Tesla saw. In 2016, the company had converted the entire electrical supply of Ta’u, a 600-resident island in American Samoa, to solar power and batteries. A year later, Tesla built a massive solar and battery farm on the Hawaiian island of Kauai.

Vieques represented not only another test case for its technology but a chance to do some good. The island ― dubbed “the colony of the colony” by some locals because of its history of human and environmental exploitation ― was languishing in what
Chun Lai
Craig Hartman and his wife, Jan O’Brien—both architects—spent nearly 10 years visiting their weekend property in Sonoma County, California, before breaking ground. They stayed in a yurt on the rolling 35-acre former cattle ranch and contemplated a gentle architectural intervention. Finally, the first phase, a guest/caretaker cottage, is done, serving as the couple’s own retreat until the main house is built, and embodying key ideas for the whole site.

“Beyond sustainability,” says Hartman, “we wanted land we could make environmentally even better than we’d found it.” Removing the cattle dramatically helped restore native ecosystems, allowing oak seedlings to proliferate and mature (instead of becoming grazing fodder), and protecting on-site creeks from contaminated pasture runoff. But without client pressure, the project became “like a hobby,” he recalls. “I worked on it here and there during weekends.” He savored the leisurely pace and modest scale—a welcome change from the vast structures he’s handled as a partner in SOM’s San Francisco office, where he designed, notably, California’s Oakland Cathedral and the U.S. Courthouse in L.A.. “With this house, my wife indulged me,” he says. “Though she’d built her entire practice on smaller-scale work and interiors, she generously let me design it.” (A young associate, Anesta Iwan, is collaborating on the compound, while O’Brien, as project architect, is overseeing it all.)

Nestled within a hillside oak grove, the net zero carbon cottage is composed of a “day” and “night” pavilion, joined by a canopy. Each of these volumes, totaling 840 square feet, is a rectangular tube, structured with renewable, heavy timbers and partially cantilevered to reduce the footprint. The exterior recycled-steel cladding is dark-colored to recede visually. The day pavilion contains a double-height living/dining/kitchen area, while its nighttime counterpart houses the master bedroom and art studio/guest room.

As in the future main house, the fenestration is oriented for passive cooling, privacy, and long, sweeping landscape views, as well as contemplative near ones. Heat-venting skylights with subtly colored baffles and LED components temper the interior illumination, in tandem with the changing qualities of daylight. A ground-mounted PV array, elsewhere on-site, covers the property’s energy needs while feeding excess power back into the grid.

The owners hope to make their cabin available for visiting artists, once the main house is built. When will that happen? “We were going to begin construction this spring,” says Hartman, “but now we’re putting it off another year.” Stay tuned.
Anand Jaju, Jino and Midhu via Wallmakers
When Ramanujan Basha decided to build a modern, eco-friendly home in Kerala, he turned to Wallmakers, a local design practice with a decade’s worth of experience designing sustainable architecture. Unlike its more conventional neighbors, the house, dubbed Chirath, is built primarily of mud, recycled elements and natural materials. Passive solar principles were also applied to the design to let in light and much-needed natural ventilation for relief from Kerala’s tropical climate.

In addition to wanting a sustainable home, the client told the architects that he wanted to steer clear of the traditional Kerala home system. To combat the heat and the monsoon rain, most conventional homes feature sloped roofs with thick overhangs that protect against the elements but also lead to an undesirably dark interior. Moreover, the client felt that the traditional architectural systems’ delineation of space promoted gender inequality.

“Thus during the early days of the project, the client had made a point that the house should be a symbol of a new light, or a new outlook to our age-old systems and beliefs,” the architects said. “‘Chirath,’ which denotes a traditional lamp in Malayalam, is the name given by Mr. Ramanujan Basha for his house at Pala, Kerala. The client thus asked for a solution by throwing away the bad and utilizing the good. We decided to break the roof, split it open and let the light flow in, all while using waste and mud to build the house. This is the concept of Chirath.”

Clad in locally sourced earth, Chirath’s structural walls were constructed with a mix of cement, soil and recycled coarse aggregate for strength, while ferrocement was used for the roof and partition walls. Other recycled materials include waste wood repurposed to make furnishings, such as the beds and kitchen cabinets, as well as unwanted steel given new life as beautiful window grills and ventilators. Locally sourced tiles were assembled into the terracotta tile jali that lets in cooling breezes and light. For added passive cooling, the architects installed a pool in the living area that connects to a rainwater harvesting tank, which collects runoff for reuse in the home.

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Virginia students have won the 2019 Solar Decathlon Design Challenge with their treeHAUS highly sustainable solar+storage+trees+food waste+sound and so much more design, focused on expanding their local campus’ student housing resources.

If we’re going to build for the future, it is the students learning today that will build it, and this year students decided to design their own future homes. Most interestingly, we get to see a vision from all groups that showed solar power is only a small part of the much broader design considerations that must be made.

The 2019 Solar Decathlon announced its ten Design Challenge winners, and the overall winner – Virginia Polytechnic Institution and State University (VT and VPI) – had only a few slides out (below) of 100 in its presentation (.pdf) focused on solar power.

The treeHAUS is a pre-fabricated home built to help the VT and VPI campus grow, while also integrating itself into – and minimizing its effect on – the local environment. The 12 unit / 30 bedroom site includes a 50 kWdc solar power system on the roofs, with which the group projects it will generate 60 MWh/yr of electricity – a 16.4% capacity factor.

Approximately 15% of the energy needs are projected to come from the solar power installation. The site also projects electricity and heat from collected food waste (below). The structure is outfitted with heat pumps and hardware that can run on either electricity or gas directly.

The site is dependent on getting roughly 2/3 of food waste from the main campus nearby.

The systems is designed to focus on making student life more efficient. For instance, there was significant acoustic analysis done. Those of us who lived in dorms can all attest to the various sounds – music, arguments, and so much more – that come from our nearby mates. The system also integrates block chain and machine learning to track individual energy usage, and fine tune the living system to the user’s actions.
The factory, which currently makes battery packs and electric motors for the Model 3, will eventually be the biggest building in the world–with the world’s largest rooftop solar array.

When it’s fully complete, Tesla’s Gigafactory in Sparks, Nevada, will be the largest building in the world, sprawling over 15 million square feet on a plot of land more than three times larger than Central Park. The building, which Elon Musk has called “the machine that builds the machine,” will eventually also be the first large-scale battery factory to run on 100% renewable energy. The factory currently makes battery packs and electric motors for the Model 3 car, along with the company’s Powerwall and Powerpack battery storage.

Designing the factory from scratch “provided some great opportunities to rethink manufacturing,” says Rodney Westmoreland, director of construction management for Tesla. “We look at challenges from first principles–breaking things down to the very basics of physics and what’s possible–since we’re doing something that has never been done before. As a result, our teams of mechanical, electrical, and manufacturing engineers have spent the last few years creatively building a sustainably powered facility with no onsite combustion of fossil fuels. This was critical to our mission of moving the world to a sustainable energy future.” A new environmental impact report released on April 15 includes a case study on the factory’s sustainable design.

On the roof–designed to accommodate solar power–a solar installation that is currently underway will eventually include around 200,000 solar panels that can provide most of the building’s energy when paired with Tesla’s batteries. When it’s finished, it will be the largest rooftop solar array in the world.

Inside the factory, high-energy manufacturing processes that would normally be powered by natural gas have been redesigned to avoid fossil fuels by maximizing energy efficiency. Waste heat from equipment like compressors or high-temperature ovens can be used both to run the equipment efficiently and to help keep the factory warm in the winter. LED lights and a lighting system designed to reduce power use means that lighting the building can save 144 megawatt-hours of energy in a month versus traditional lighting setups (the equivalent, the company says, of the energy needed to drive a Model S 480,000 miles).

The company has been working with vendors to find new techniques to make it possible to meet its goals. The process “pushes the general contractors and design-build firms to change the way that they think, hire, and construct,” says Westmoreland. “For example, Tesla engineers partnered with our equipment vendors to look at ways we could reverse-engineer air compressors to handle incredibly [hot] waste heat, which makes our factory and equipment more efficient. These have become solutions that vendors can use throughout the industry.”

Because manufacturing batteries is so energy intensive, the equipment in the factory generates so much heat that it’s necessary to pump chilled water through the building to cool it down–something that normally also takes a huge amount of energy. To solve the problem, Tesla designed a unique chilled water plant that makes use of the desert climate: When the air is cool at night, the plant generates more chilled water than needed, and that extra water can be used during the day. The system, which uses one of the largest thermal storage tanks in the world, will cut electricity used in the process by up to 40%, and cut water consumption up to 60%. “Up front, it seems quite monumental to design, construct, and estimate, but ultimately it eliminates the need for numerous chillers and the amount of energy required to run them,” Westmoreland says.

In parts of the manufacturing process that require dry air, the factory can pull in desert air to reduce the use of dehumidifiers. A heat pump helps power another process that coats part of the battery cell with a solvent. (Liquid waste from the process is also refined and recycled onsite, rather than shipping it to a separate processing center, eliminating the need for 30 tanker trucks a week.)
Vincent Callebaut Architectures
The defunct National Baths of Aix-les-Bains will receive a vibrant and sustainably minded revival in the hands of the Paris-based practice Vincent Callebaut Architectures. Selected as the winner of a competition following the popular vote, the firm’s proposal — dubbed “The Foam of Waves” — will not only restore the ancient thermal baths, but also introduce a sustainable, energy-producing paradigm that follows the carbon-neutral guidelines as recommended by COP 21. The project will adopt a mixed-use program that incorporates residential, commercial, tourist, educational and urban agriculture spaces.

The Foam of Waves focuses on the renovation of the Pellegrini, Revel and Princes buildings while staying respectful of the existing Roman remains. To inject new energy into the space, the architects have created a mixed-use program designed to attract locals, tourists and business investment. The scope includes a tourist office, a Center of Interpretation of Architecture and Heritage, a wellness center, a teaching space for the Peyrefitte School, a wellness-focused shopping center with restaurants, coworking spaces, 185 “green apartments” and parking. An urban educational farm integrating permaculture and aquaponics will be located on the green roof.

“The whole architectural project is the carrier of the new paradigms of our society,” the architects said. “It offers future residents and visitors the opportunity to adopt new lifestyles that respect the environment, health and urban well-being in order to simply live better. It is a resilient architecture, innervated by nature. It is an ode to biodiversity, renewable energies and the circular economy that advocates the construction of post-carbon, post-fossil, post-nuclear and even post-insecticidal cities.”

In addition to an expansive green roof, the buildings will feature updated wave-like facades with balconies large enough to accommodate trees and private garden spaces for residents. The building envelopes will be also be optimized for airtightness, insulation and passive solar conditions. The project aims to produce more energy than it consumes and will include a solar photovoltaic and thermal roof, a mini-biomass plant on-site and a co-generation system with rapeseed oil. Rainwater harvesting systems and gray water recycling will also be implemented.

Rubén BCN in CAT, taken from commons.wikimedia.org
The popularity of organized sports continues to increase, and digital media have dramatically boosted the immense innate appeal of athletic games. The money involved is huge. It may well exceed € 1 trillion, over half of which is linked to association soccer and American football. At the emotional heart of every match, and at the economic center of the entire sporting industry, is the physical space where the games are played. And because sports stadiums are such a huge investment, cities and owners have been dramatically rethinking their use and design.

What is a stadium?
A stadium is a partially enclosed place in which outdoor sports are played. Arenas, on the other hand, are normally places in which traditionally indoor sports are played. Domed stadiums blur that line, as these may be fully covered like an arena but still have as their main purpose the playing of traditionally outdoor sports. Some domed stadiums now feature a retractable roof, like the impressive Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Apart from that, the question of what a stadium is lies at the heart of both new stadium construction and the refurbishing of older structures.

Emphasizing the customer experience
At the core of the new thinking is the customer experience. For instance, better seating for match spectators and massive video screens make the action on the field accessible to every corner of the stadium. Meanwhile, clever apps let visitors download tickets and find their seat or the nearest restroom. New stadiums are huge and good navigation is important.

But fans these days are not only there to watch. They also want to participate in the experience. In the digital age, people do that with handheld devices, supported by things like new high-speed Wi-Fi for improved internet access. And new high-speed, in-seat wireless charging keeps everyone powered up throughout the match.

Increasingly, robust cellular connectivity for the high-density user environment is provided by 4G LTE. 5G is the next step and has been tested at major stadium events. Barcelona’s Camp Nou Stadium plans to become the first European football stadium with a permanent, dedicated 5G network.

Going beyond the game
Beyond the digital upgrades, stadiums are increasingly offering a stream of services and amenities that encourage visitors to come often, come early, and stay late, with pleasant all-day opportunities for recreation and pleasure.

A greater variety of ‘wining and dining’ possibilities are part of that. That might mean upscale gourmet dining, or simply an improvement on an old favorite. The new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London can dispense 10,000 pints of beer per minute, using a special method that fills cups from the bottom up!

Additional attractions are also being built into stadium structures. For instance, the Allianz Arena in Munich houses a popular family museum dedicated to the legacy of the local team. The goal is to make stadiums an attractive destination not only on game day but all week long. In Munich, quality of life has always been important!

Using the best of architectural design
With the visitor in mind, stadium architects are also emphasizing interior design. One objective is better spectator viewing – interior obstructions have virtually disappeared just as big multi-screens have proliferated. The AT&T Stadium near Dallas boasts the world’s largest column-free room.

With 50,000-100,000 people inside, safety and security are also getting better by design. This is particularly important at major global sporting events, such as the international soccer championship at Lusail Iconic Stadium in Doha or the rugby games at Twickenham Stadium in London.

Sustainability is becoming more important, as well. Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta is North America’s first LEED-Platinum-certified sports stadium, incorporating a rainwater collection system, solar panels, green spaces, and good links to public transportation.

Integrating the stadium into urban planning
Stadium construction and renovation are also becoming better integrated into the bigger picture of urban development. Architects are using the outward appearance of stadiums to blend in, enhance, and connect with the surrounding neighborhood and the rest of the city.

Architects and urban planners are also specifically designing
Douglas Mark Black via Archterra Architects
While it may not exactly be the Little House on the Prairie, Osmington-based Archterra Architects certainly made the most of a beautiful plot of grassland in Western Australia. The architects have unveiled the gorgeous 2,000-square-foot Paddock House that uses solar power, natural materials and several passive features to blend the home into its natural landscape while reducing the residents’ water and energy use.

Located on an expansive field of rye grass in Margaret River, Western Australia, the home was strategically designed to have a strong connection to its natural surroundings. Oriented to the north to take advantage of sunlight, the main rectangular volume features a series of all-glass facades and openings that provide stunning views as well as access to outdoor spaces to take in the fresh air.

In addition to making the most out of its idyllic location, the design was also focused on using natural materials and passive design features to reduce the home’s ecological footprint. Starting with the materials, the exterior is clad in a skin of pre-sealed raw cement, which not only provides the home with a strong insulative envelope, but one that is also low maintenance.

To contrast the bright exterior, the external areas that wrap around the home were lined in a warm toned plywood, which was also used throughout the interior living spaces as a lighter tone. In fact, plywood and concrete feature prominently throughout the home, with sleek concrete blocks used to create walls and plywood used for the ceilings and additional furnishings. The light concrete blended with the warm wood gives the home a contemporary-yet-cozy, cabin-like atmosphere.

Along with an abundance of natural materials, the home was equipped with several passive measures, such as its northern orientation, which brings in optimal natural light and creates a system of efficient cross ventilation during the hot summer months. Additionally cooling the interior is the overhanging eaves that jut out over the sides of the house, providing shading to the interior and exterior areas.

As many coastal cities struggle to come up with resiliency plans in the face of rising sea levels, Dutch architect Koen Olthuis with Waterstudio is creating sustainable, solar-powered floating residences that could offer the perfect solution. Already well-known for its high-end floating homes, Waterstudio and Miami-based Arkup are now teaming up with Artefacto, an environmentally friendly Brazilian furnishing brand, to create stylish floating houses that are not only resilient to storms and sea levels, but also represent the luxury style for which Miami is known.

Waterstudio has long been recognized for creating sustainable and attractive floating homes that can provide discerning homeowners with an “avant-garde life on water.” The residences are modern, cube-like structures that are completely self-sufficient, operating 100 percent off-grid thanks to solar power generation, eco-friendly waste management features, rainwater harvesting and water purification systems. Additionally, the homes are equipped with unique self-elevating systems that help the structures withstand high winds, floods and hurricanes.

In addition to the ultra sustainable and resilient features, the two-story floating homes boast interiors with a 775-square-foot living room, bedroom, kitchen and dining space, as well as an open-air rooftop lounge. Sliding glass doors, which almost make up the entirety of the front facade, lead out to a beautiful terrace.

Although the company has been working on its floating homes for some time, it recently announced a new partnership with Artefacto, a Brazilian furnishing company with a strong commitment to sustainability that is known for combining luxurious furniture made of raw materials with cutting-edge smart automation technologies. The floating residences will now be outfitted with eco-friendly furnishings, including high-end pieces made out of timber approved for use by the Brazilian Environment Department.

Noah Surf House
The surf is always up at this gorgeous eco hotel along Portugal’s Silver Coast. Just steps away from the beach, Noah Surf House has everything you need for a rad surf getaway. The boutique hotel, which is partially made out of reclaimed materials, was designed on some serious sustainable principles, boasting solar panels, energy-efficient systems and appliances, a rainwater harvesting system and even an organic garden that provides delicious meals to guests.

Located in the area of Santa Cruz in northwest Portugal, the eco hotel is tucked into a rising hill just a short stroll from the beach. The project is made up of various buildings, but the most popular part of the complex is a restaurant that overlooks the ocean. Guests can enjoy a wonderful meal of organic fruits and veggies grown in the hotel’s garden, which operates on a “closed feeding cycle” with a little help from the hotel’s 12 chickens.

The guests rooms are comprised of various boho-style bungalows, most offering stunning ocean views through private decks. The rooms range in size, offering everything from dorm-style with bunk beds to private luxury bungalows that boast fireplaces and private terraces with outdoor showers.

Although the setting itself is quite impressive, guests can rest assured that they are also staying in a very eco-conscious retreat. The hotel’s construction used quite a bit of reclaimed materials, such as old bricks recovered from industrial coal furnaces to clad the walls. Additionally, the buildings are filled with discarded items that have been given new life as decoration for the hotel. Plumbing pipes are incorporated into lamps, lockers from an old summer camp are available for storage and an old water deposit is now a fireplace in the reception area. The construction of the hotel implemented various sustainable materials as well, such as cork as thermic insulation. The bungalows are also topped with native plants.

For energy, solar panels generate almost enough energy for the all of the hotel’s hot water needs. When there is an abundance of energy, it is used to heat the pool as well as the radiant flooring in the guest rooms in winter. LED lighting throughout the hotel and energy-efficient appliances help reduce the building’s energy use. Noah Surf House also has a rain water collection system that redirects water to a well to be used in toilet flushing, garden watering and linen laundering.

Amit Dadlaney
Completed on a bare-bones budget of under $20,000, this tiny house led to financial freedom for a family of four (and two dogs).

Downsizing to 200 square feet is no easy feat, but for Jilan Wise and her husband Josh Farley, it was a decision grounded in financial necessity. The couple had been renting a 2,500-square-foot house in Kansas City, Missouri, with two kids and two dogs—but they were overwhelmed with increasing living expenses, maxed-out credit cards, and student loans.

Tiny house living, the duo surmised, would be their escape plan from debt. The couple spent over a year designing and scraping together a bare-bones budget of $18,000—including opening a line of credit—to fund the construction of their tiny house.

"We spent so much time researching this project," Jilan says. "The learning curve was massive, and the inspiration was our budget. We wanted to create a beautiful space with new material for not a lot of money."

The couple temporarily moved their family into Josh’s parents's home and built the tiny house with help from Josh’s father, a certified electrician. In just over two months, Jilan and Josh completed their tiny house and set off on a move to Las Vegas, Nevada.

Without money to buy property, and obstructed by Las Vegas’ stringent rules for tiny houses, the couple first moved into a "questionable" trailer park—a last resort, since many RV parks and other mobile home communities Jilan called had refused to accept their tiny house.

The old trailer park, described by Jilan as seedy and uncomfortable due to an antagonistic neighbor and petty thefts, was less than ideal, but living there gave the family the means to climb quickly out of debt and adopt the minimalist lifestyle they craved.

With their newfound financial independence in hand, the family seized the chance to move onto private property after nearly two years of living in the tiny house. "Moving away from that trailer park brought such an overwhelming sense of peace to our family, it was unbelievable," says Jilan.