A Former Factory Worker’s Cottage Converted into a Home

Renovating an existing building can sometimes be the greenest choice, and this revamping of a traditional worker’s cottage into a modern family home is certainly a prime example of this. The renovation was carried out by the Australian firm A For Architecture and the home is located in Melbourne, Australia. The house was once the home of a local factory worker and was built in the middle of the nineteenth century, along with hundreds of others just like it.

The original layout of the house featured many small rooms, and consequently a lot of walls. They started the renovation by first taking down a number of these dividing walls, to make the spaces more open. They kept the two bedrooms, which are located at the front of the house, but they moved the bathroom from the rear to the middle of the home, where it is now located next to the laundry room and a storage space. It was completely redone and is quite large, featuring a sink, shower and toilet. A third bedroom is located just above it.

The living area is at the rear of the home and opens onto the back garden. They also installed several skylights into the roof here to let in even more natural daylight. Apart from having a good connection to the garden, the clients also wished for a layout that would allow for both privacy, as well as spaces where the family could spend time together.

For this reason the architects kept the original layout of the bedrooms in the front, while the rest of the home is now basically one large space. Glazing was installed along the entire back wall of the home, which together with the many skylights makes the interior appear spacious, aids ventilation and lets in lots of light. They kept the existing brick walls, but added timber and concrete during the renovation to make it more robust and give the home that modern, industrial aesthetic.

All in all, this is a great renovation of an old building, and they managed to keep heaps of material out of the landfill while transforming it into a lovely family home.

The World’s Largest Vertical Garden Rises in Colombia

Green facades, or just adding some greenery to city buildings, help purify the air and make the cityscape that much more beautiful. Adding living greenery to our urban buildings in the form of vertical gardens not only helps to make cities more beautiful, but also serves the practical purpose of producing extra oxygen and cleaning the air. One great example of such a vertical forest is the Santalaia building in Bogotá, Colombia, which is also the world’s tallest vertical garden.

The Santalaia is a residential building which rises 9 stories high (with 2 stories below ground) and covers 33,550 square feet (3,117 square meters). It is the brainchild of biologist and botanist Ignacio Solano of Paisajismo Urbano, who worked with green roof design firm Groncol to create this gem. The garden consists of more than 115,000 plants, which are of 10 different species, including Hebe Mini, rosemary, asparagus fern, vincas and spathiphyllum that come from Colombia’s western coast. These plants cover practically the entire exterior of the building.

The plants are irrigated with the help of the so-called “F+P” hydroponic system, which is patented by Paisajismo Urbano. It is made up of pillars, that each supports a segment of greenery. These are irrigated by 42 irrigation stations to keep the plants growing. The water used comes from the residents’ bathrooms. The irrigation system is also fitted with humidity and radiation sensors that help in optimizing water consumption.

They estimate that the vertical forest produces oxygen for 3000 people, while helping to offset the carbon footprint of about 700 people. It also helps to filter out the emissions of 745 cars. Because of this, they are calling the tower a “living building” and it is quite fitting. It also brings some much needed nature into the densely populated city, and more cities around the globe should consider the addition of such vertical gardens to their skyline.

Capsule Hotel Makes Layovers More Comfortable at an Italian Airport

Flying is anything but great for the environment, but it has become pretty much unavoidable. It has also become a lot less comfortable than it used to be just 20 years ago. Prices have gone up, seats have gotten smaller, and layovers can sometimes last a day if we wish to book the cheapest possible flight. During these layovers, a lot of people opt to sleep somewhere in the airport instead of booking a hotel, which together with transportation to and from the airport can get pricy. These kinds of sleeping arrangements are usually not very comfortable. Not so at the Naples International Airport though.

The local design firm Carlotta Tartarone and Studiotre has created and installed the so-called Bed and Boarding (or BenBo) capsule hotel in the Naples airport. The idea came from the Japanese capsule hotels located at Tokyo airport that offer cheap, basic accommodation to travelers. The BenBo is located right at the airport, and never closes. The pods it’s made up of can be rented out to get some sleep in between legs of travel, or for just an hour to shower and change before continuing on with the journey.

Each capsule measures 43 sq ft (4 sq m) and is equipped with an automated door and soundproof walls. The furnishings in each capsule are basic and include a bed, storage cabinets, a mirror, a workstation, and free Wi-Fi. Two of the capsules are also wheelchair-accessible. Each guest has access to a private bathroom with shower, which is not attached to the capsule they are renting. Part of the hotel is also a well-lit common space, which effectively ties the capsules together and provides a space where guests can socialize or work.

As for the prices, you can rent a BenBo capsule for $9 for the first hour, $8 for the second hour, while a 9-hour stay will set you back $28. Future plans include building similar hostels at the airports in Rome, Bergamo and Palermo. They are also planning to enlarge the current BenBo hostel in Naples to include 30 two-room capsules.

Construction of the World’s Tallest Hybrid Timber Tower Will Soon be Underway

Japanese architect Shigeru Ban has unveiled plans for what he is calling the world’s tallest hybrid timber tower. The mixed-use building is called Terrace House and will be built in Vancouver, BC. To construct it, they will use timber, glass, steel and concrete.

The Terrace House will contain 20 homes, with additional retail space on the ground floor, as well as a three floor underground garage. Local developer PortLiving will be in charge of the construction. The designers also made sure that the complex will blend in well with the surrounding structures, especially the adjacent Evergreen Building. In an effort to achieve this, the terraces of the new building will align perfectly with those of the Evergreen Building.

Terrace house will, as the name implies, feature many greenery-covered terraces. The first 12 floors of the building will feature a concrete and steel frame, and the remaining 7 will have a timber exterior, as well as timber floor plates, with a steel and concrete core to meet the local earthquake safety codes. All the timber will be sourced locally in British Columbia.

Judging by the renders, the homes will feature lots of glazing, which means ample amounts of light, but also raises some privacy concerns. Especially since the building is close to, and so well aligned with the adjacent one.

They have not yet announced when construction will begin, but PortLiving will be releasing further details on the project in the next few months. It’s definitely nice to see designers, and city planning commissions, start to incorporate more sustainable materials into the projects that get the green light. Hopefully, this complex will also have other sustainable features, apart from the green façade and the use of wood in construction.

A Century Old Windmill Transformed Into a Cozy Guesthouse

Giving old buildings new life is one of the pillars of sustainable living, so it’s always great to see such renovations take place. A great example is this recently renovated windmill in Suffolk, United Kingdom. The windmill is about 125 years old and was just a ruin for a long time, before the local firm Beech Architects turned it into a cozy guesthouse.

The windmill was unused for several decades, during which time it fell to ruin, yet still retained it’s status as being an important landmark in the area, which is why it was not torn down. The renovation took some out-of-the-box thinking and resulted in a guesthouse with a spacious living/dining area, two bedrooms, and a bathroom, some of which are inside the modern, zinc-clad structure at the top of the windmill.

They first had to make the structure habitable, and they started the process by adding insulation panels to the exterior in an effort to keep the interior walls in the original condition, as well as to protect the building from further decay and take advantage of the thermal mass of the structure.

The newly added pod on top of the structure features a machine-cut Kerto timber rib system that is intended to strengthen it against the wind. The Kerto system, made by MetsaWood of Sweden, is constructed out of laminated veneer lumber (LVL). More precisely, it is made from 3mm thick rotary-peeled softwood veneers which are glued together in order to create a continuous sheet. The end result is a very strong and dimensionally stable material. This framework was covered by more than 200 panels of zinc to create the pod. Due to the round walls of the structure all the interior furniture had to be custom made.

The owners live next door to the structure and have plans to rent it out. While it is fantastic that an old structure was given new life here, I have to agree with some of the critics who are saying that it now looks too “alien”. The resulting structure looks nothing like the windmill it used to be, and all the black and metal cladding make it look like something out of a futuristic movie. But that’s a matter of personal preference and aesthetics, and the renovation is an awesome example of adaptive reuse done right.