Sunday, February 28, 2010

Rimrock Ranch Offers Shelter from the Storm

A home in the California desert sports a steel canopy that covers the entire home, offering tempering of the extremes --  days of 100-plus degree heat or flurries of snow. This thoroughly modern, light-filled house was a challenge for the architect to design a house that opened up to the desert yet functioned well in this variously hot and cold environment that can vary as much as 50 degrees in a one day. The roll-up door opens to a deep concrete porch that functions as a stage for bands who play at the ranch, and where audiences can pull up chairs or unfold rugs on the desert floor out front, lie back and hear the set unfold. Architect Lloyd Russell was inspired by a nearby adobe cabin that is kept cool by a shade structure above it, but he has applied a contemporary flair in this modern interpretation of an old idea.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Recycled Home in Portland

An architect in Oregon takes eight years to realize a passive home built of mostly scrap and waste products, where his designs were not preconceived but rather inspired through available materials. His Portland bungalow yielded studs that were originally cut around 1925, and once de-nailed, ripped, and planed, they revealed beautiful material, he says. The home won the "Greenest Home in America" in 2008.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Organic Design Blooms at Sea Ranch Chapel

After more than twenty years the Sea Ranch Chapel, on the coast of California north of San Francisco,  continues to draw visitors from around the world. Designed by architectural sculptor James Hubbell and built by master craftsman Tombe Kumaran, it is a gem of organic architecture that would perhaps have defied computer-aided-design.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Aqua Tower Ripples in Chicago

Aqua Tower in downtown Chicago uses a rectilinear plan in its reinforced concrete structure, with hotel, rental apartments and condominiums, as well as penthouses on the top two floors. The architect figured out the envelope's curvilinear architectonic forms while working with the building’s rectangular footprint. At the same time, she devised ways it could be energy efficient through sustainable strategies, using passive solar principles.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Latvian Eco-Development: No Fences Make Good Neighbors
Near each of the 300 unique homes in Sun City, Latvia, is a small lake and forest. Central sewer is laid under the roots of pine and fir trees, along with high-speed Internet, and electricity. The homes use geothermal heat pumps that convert the warmth of the earth into heat for the houses. All-natural materials are used such as wood, stone, log, brick and cane. No fences are allowed so that abundant wildlife can roam freely across the landscape.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Camping Supplies Are Solar Powered

Solar camping equipment complements the impact-free camping experience.When I was backpacking a couple of years ago in Colorado's Raggeds Wilderness area, friends brought a solar shower. They left it sitting on a rock while everyone was out exploring, and by the time of return, the water had heated to a toasty 125 degrees. The sun can also power lanterns and cell phones via backpacks and some new concept tents.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Largest US Solar Farm Soaks up Sun in Florida

And produces 25 megawatts of electricity! This $150 million plant came in $22.5 million under budget and took just 10 months to build - several months ahead of schedule. Its 92,000 solar panels can withstand 130-mph winds. The Desoto Solar Farm is built to last at least 30 years, and it will take from 25 to 30 years for Florida Power & Light, the owner, to recoup its investment. Construction of this facility also created 400 jobs!