Sydney Opera House

Secrets Of The Sydney Opera House

The Sydney Opera House has become a symbol for Australia. It is also a sustainable building designed before sustainability became popular. Here is the story of how and why it was built.

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Calatrava’s Sundial Bridge Was Spawned by Salmon

Spawned by the need to protect a seemingly insignificant patch of gravel, not many folks know that Redding’s iconic Sundial Bridge rose as a result of an eco-challenge surmountable only by architect Santiago Calatrava’s sensitive and innovative expertise. Abandoned since the long-gone days of mining in Redding, California, submerged quarry beds along the north shore of the Sacramento River have historically served as spawning grounds for Chinook salmon. Four endangered runs form a 300-mile upriver stretch ultimately guiding an annual…

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Urban SkyFarm Soaring With Sustainability

Revisiting an oldy-but-goody originally published on Inspired by the ecological system of giant trees, the Urban Skyfarm is a prototype vertical urban farm project. Designed to support local food production and distribution, it also improves environmental quality through water and air filtration and renewable energy production. Urban Skyfarm Places First in Concept Category First Place Winner in the 2013 Green Dot Awards Concept category, The Urban Skyfarm is a vertical farm design proposal for a site located in downtown…

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Visit A Small Writer’s Shed & Haven In London

A visit to Surman Weston reveals a delightful small writer’s shed situated in the heart of London. Surman Weston has indicated their firm was “…commissioned by an author and illustrator to design & build a ‘writer’s shed’ in the borough of Hackney. Capitalizing on their multi-disciplinary backgrounds the firm acted as designers, project managers, and lead contractors.” Simply take a step inside to get the feel of this tiny space. The result inspires one to hide inside, lock the door, and…

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Skinny Houses Adapt to Site Constraints

One of the most important decisions that gets made when designing a building, if not THE most important decision, is where to build it.  Site conditions can affect how big a house is, its shape, its orientation across cardinal directions, and- as such- how energy efficient the home has the potential to be. The skinny houses highlighted in the gallery, below were adapted to fit in some very tight spaces!   Skinny House in Long Beach Built on a Bet…

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The Evolution of Glass Houses

In 1949, when Phillip Johnson designed the world-famous glass house in New Canaan, Connecticut, it is doubtful he thought much about the adage, “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.” I doubt Mr. Johnson specified much in the way of thermal-pane glass, either. Nor had solar windows yet been invented. Using windows as part of a passive solar design may have been in practice, but it was not yet a common practice. Nonetheless, Johnson’s post WWII  creation is…

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amish barn raising

Have You Ever Seen an Amish Barn-Raising? (Video)

Ohio’s Amish population is known for shunning many modern conveniences, which may lead some people to think that they’re not very much in tune with “trends” like environmentalism — but they’d be wrong. The Amish are Faithful stewards of their land, and work together to make the most of their resources and their community, and nowhere is that more apparent than during a good, old-fashioned barn-raising! The red-painted Amish barn is an icon of American architecture, but very few Americans,…

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Fitting In, Architecturally Speaking

One of the fundamental qualities of good architecturally designed buildings is that they fit into their own unique site. Two examples that couldn’t be more different but that are both beautifully designed buildings for their spaces are the Transustainable House and the Sempachersee Golf Course Club House. The Transustainable House is a residential home designed by Sugawaradaisuke Architects that was built this year. It is in Tokyo, Japan and it embraces the four major components of urban living. Those components…

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Beautiful Concepts to Consider in Architecture

One of the greatest things in the architectural and design fields that has come from modern technology is the ability to share conceptual solutions with audiences before they become built spaces. These ideas may never actually be built but they allow people to experience a variety of options and to explore uncharted waters of design. Here are three projects that push the boundaries of fantasy and reality and open the eyes of viewers to dream. The first building was designed…

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Sustainable Offices: Reclaimed 1970s Industrial Building

I recently received word from Kristi McCain promoting a reclaimed 1970s industrial building, located in Sunnyvale, California. The photographs are well worth looking at, plus a case study on the project. This proves you don’t always need to raze the old and build new. The existing structure looks as if it worked quite well, aided by some fine design. Regarding this reclaimed structure, McCain wrote,  “I thought this eco retrofit might interest you: Stationed on Indio Way in Sunnyvale, CA,…

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Penda’s Unique Creations

In design, when concepts become creations that the world hasn’t seen before, then the job is well done. A young and upcoming firm is Penda and their goal is to create nothing that isn’t unique and thought out. Penda was started in 2012 by Chris Precht and Dayong Sun. Every project that they undertake becomes a work of art that is “custom-made” for that individual project. They specialize in architecture, interiors, industrial and installation. They have created residential spaces, commercial…

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Strength and Design in Concrete Forms

There is something amazingly raw and beautiful in cast concrete forms and buildings. These forms can become any shape imaginable and all that is required is the form to hold the concrete as it dries. Panels of remarkable sizes can be placed on site in construction zones, allowing buildings to rise in record breaking time spans. Concrete’s developments have continued throughout the years with improvements in its strength and constructability techniques. New developments include high-strength concrete that can be reinforced concrete…

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Biotic Tech Skyscraper by GPT Architecture

Biomimicry Inspires Squid-like Building

Biomimicry is the practice of using nature to inspire design.  It has become more popular as the green building movement has grown.  The Biotic-Tech Skyscraper City by GPT Architecture in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain, is inspired by squid, using the qualities of transparency, flexibility, movement and protective pigmentation.  The design was the Jury Winner in the Architizer A+ awards for 2014 in the Architecture and Technology category. The facade is covered in “micro-umbrellas” which can open or close to maximize surface coverage to block the…

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Divine Nectar retreat cabin

Earthbag Buildings – Functional to Beautiful

In homage to our previous post on all natural building products, here is a photo collection of earthbag buildings – built from bags of dirt or sand, stacked brick-like, and covered with mud mixed with straw. Divine Nectar retreat cabin – This stunning earthbag cabin was built as part of a retreat center in the desert of Arizona. This is an example of earth-sheltered earthbag building, which involves packing dirt around an earthbag structure and growing grass on top for a…

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Shigeru Ban is Awarded The 2014 Pritzker Architecture Prize

Everyone has their heroes, their role-models, their if-I-could-be-like-anyone-it-would-be persons and I am no different. I wrote about his past accomplishments, including his cardboard cathedral and paper tube relief houses on GBE a couple of years ago and now my career hero was given the ultimate award in architecture this past month. He is Shigeru Ban and the award is the Pritzker Architecture Prize. The award goes to a living architect whose work has contributed to humanity and the built environment.…

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Putting the Scrap Pile to Good Use

I hate to see a scrap pile go to waste when it can be put to good use somewhere else. Saving a pile of wood cutoffs about to be tossed in the trash can This red oak coffee table is an example of what can be done with scrap wood cutoffs from another project. Like many similar projects, the cutoffs were ready for the trash can, then the landfill. Instead, I kept laminating dozens of short pieces out of end…

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