Saturday, January 15, 2011

Apartments Above, Parking Below Yield Grand Views

One might argue that by providing 480 parking spaces for automobiles, a project is not that sustainable. The Mountain, a housing and parking development in Copenhagen began as two separate projects that would have situated a huge parking structure next to a multifamily residential project - creating a potential eyesore and blocking the sun. Architects Bjarke Ingels Group of Denmark saw it as an opportunity for residents to be elevated above the city with magnificent views, solar access and rooftop gardens, with parking tucked under. The resulting structure is adjacent to bike and walking trails, lightrail, and a canal. It has been a somewhat controversial building, rising out of the flatlands near Copenhagen and swathed in a gargantuan metal mural of Mount Everest. From the south side, the building presents a series of gardens and terraces that slope away from the street - with an organic feel of vegetation and wood trellises. The other elevations, though, provide stark materials that loom high above the human scale.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Off-Grid House in Costa Rica Is Zero Energy

The Casa ISEAMI is located  in the rainforest of Costa Rica, where its humid environment encourages mold and fungi growth on buildings. The architects for ISEAMI - Robles Arquitectos - therefore designed this house using an all-white structure that allows mold and other pests to be revealed immediately. Casa ISEAMI is totally off-grid using an on-site hydropower system plus photovoltaics on the roof - two micro hydro turbines generate 800 kWh per year and a rooftop solar system generates 10,800 kWh annually. The casa utilizes passive solar design with large overhangs for shade and rainwater collection, and its orientation maximizes natural ventilation. Large skylights provide daylighting and an almost direct connection for inhabitants to the sky. A solar thermal system provides hot water. The Casa provides headquarters for Costa Rica-based ISEAMI (Institute for Sustainability, Ecology, Art, Mind and Investigation). The house is situated on a hill above the ocean on the biologically diverse Peninsula de Osa, 30km from the nearest town. The area contains five percent of the world`s biodiversity so it was imperative for the Institute to create a building that has virtually no negative impact on the surrounding environment. Building materials are recyclable at the end of their useful lives.  The casa is the first phase of building houses a multifunctional space for ISEAMI (Institute of Sustainability, Ecology, Art,Mind and Investigation) on the ground level, with the second level providing a residence for the Institute`s director.