Category Archives: Design

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China Embraces Growth with Vertical Cities

The United States has 9 cities with a population of 1,000,000 or more. China has 140- and that number is growing. China’s cities will not be like Los Angeles or Phoenix, however. Instead of sprawling expanses of suburbs and single family homes that stretch from horizon to horizon, China wants its cities to grow UPWARD…

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…

Halloween Special: a Prefab Zombie Fortress

Happy Halloween, kids! It’s the one time of year when being excited about seeing zombies waddling down your street on a dimly lit and blustery night seems passably normal. For those of you who view zombies with horror, however, it may be well past time to start thinking about your home defenses- luckily, Tiger Log…

Concept: Mine Transformed into Sustainable Underground City

A byproduct of fossil fuel addiction, massive pit-mines scar the landscape of several US states. The mines have destroyed families, ecosystems, towns, and- when they close- economies. Despite the harm that these mines have caused, however, they may yet play a part in a sustainable utopian future. Not as a mine, but as a vertical,…

Pre-Cut Steel Buildings Snap Together Like Legos

Architects admire steel framed house

The flexibility and simplicity of steel framing systems draws many clients because there are no interior load-bearing walls, so remodeling or reconfiguring rooms when needs change is a snap. “When children leave at 28, you can easily knock down walls.  And when they return at 32 you can erect them again,” BONE founder and president…

Which Is More Green – SFI or FSC Lumber?

The two main sustainable forestry certification programs (Sustainable Forestry Initiative, SFI, and Forest Stewardship Council, FSC) have been fighting for years to determine which is better.  SFI has struggled to gain a foothold in the industry, and has been working to be approved by the US Green Building Council’s LEED green building rating system.  In an…

Intus Windows Offers CE Credits For Architects

Intus Windows is one of Europe’s largest manufacturers of super efficient windows and doors. Its products meet the rigorous German Passive House standards for residential and commercial buildings. Intus is now expanding its marketing area to America and offering US architects the opportunity to earn valuable continuing education credits while attending its presentations and seminars around the…

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…

Bamboo, Plastic Bottles Make Eco-Friendly Greenhouse

Hanoi architecture firm 1+1>2, in collaboration with Action For The City, has designed an eco-friendly greenhouse that protects growing plants from the elements, provides a place for farmers to rest and a offers a creative play space for children to learn more about their environment. It also offers a break from the visual sameness of…

What Happens When Amateurs Design Cabins

Rendering of the Wedge cabin design

A team made up of non-architectural graduate students at Cal Poly Pomona University have redesigned what camping means in California.  The team was asked to develop a cabin design that would reenergize camping in the state, particularly among non-traditional campers, such as minorities and young adults. Two weeks of research, including a visit to a…

Low-Cost Building Skin Cools While Using No Energy

Building skin cools building

Imagine a building that self-regulates its temperature without electronics. A building that adapts, allowing outside air in as needed and eliminating the need for air conditioning, but that uses no energy in doing so.  A University of California-Berkley research team has developed a new type of “building skin” that can do just that, and they…

Italy Gets its First Passivhaus Certified School

The importance of energy efficiency has become gospel in many parts of the world- most notably in countries like Japan, which have committed to making all new public buildings passive and net zero energy structures from here on out. In the US, companies like Turner have said that the future of the commercial market is…

Shipping Container Home Can Triple In Size

G-pod Shipping Container Home

There have been a plethora of posts about shipping containers hitting the web recently – and why not? Shipping containers are cheap, durable, and available– and are as easy to ship as a traditional RV.  This particular shipping container home is a bit different, though: it can expand! Designed by G-pod, a Hong Kong and…

Japan Pushes for Net Zero Standard on New Buildings

Japan Net Zero Building

With the rapid pace of advancement from energy efficient smart homes, to passive homes, to energy plus homes, the architecture and construction industries are leading the way in terms of building a sustainable future. Japan, however, is hoping to ensure that sustainable design doesn’t become a passing fad by pushing for all public buildings to…

Passive House Recognizes Net Zero, Plus Homes

passive house - energy plus home

Passive House is an international building standard developed by the Passive House Institute (PHI), which is located in Darmstadt, Germany.  Building to the Passive House Standard recognizes buildings which have been optimized through passive measures and components such as insulation, air-tightness, heat recovery, solar heat gains, solar shading and incidental internal heat gains.  Buildings which…

Sustainable Forestry Initiative Recognized By BREEAM

Sustainable Forestry Initiative lumber

The Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) has been recognized by green building rating system BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) for its ability to allow the construction industry to responsibly source forest products. Their efforts to make one of the greenest building elements- wood!- even greener are definitely worth taking notice of! According to the…

Amazon Heats Building With Data Center Waste Heat

Old tech- in the form of hydronic heating– meets new in nearby data centers, creating ‘green heating’ in Amazon’s latest new buildings in Seattle, WA. The offices and work areas of the new Amazon buildings will be heated by utilizing the waste heat of a nearby data center, and Amazon’s not stopping there. Heat from the…

$4000 Prefab House Project From Vietnam

I recently discovered this very affordable prefab house on Gizmag from North Wales author, Adam Williams. I found the house to be attractive and livable, with a story very much worth sharing. Overview: a Vietnam-based firm Vo Trong Nghia Architects recently revealed an affordable prefabricated prototype house to potentially offer Vietnamese people on low incomes…