World’s Tallest Timber Tower Might Get Built in NYC

The New York City-based architecture firm DFA Studio recently turned in a proposal for an observation tower made of wood.  If built, the structure would be the tallest timber tower in the world, and would offer great views of NYC from its location in Central Park. In addition to that, it would also be used to filter the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir in the park, turning it into a freshwater pond which everyone could use.

The Central Park Tower, as it is named, would be made using mainly Glulam (glue-laminated timber). Structurally, it would feature a steel core, a complex wooden helix that would be wrapped in timber lattice, and a transparent PVC skin. It would be anchored on a concrete base with stabilizing cables. The tower would be 712 ft (217 m) high and would house shops and restaurants. Atop it, there would be an observation deck that will offer 360-degree views of the cityscape.

The tower would also have an integrated filtration system that would clean the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir (also known as the Central Park Reservoir). Once the filtration process is complete, the reservoir would become a pond to be used for swimming, sailing and other water activities. Currently this reservoir sits stagnant and fenced off, and is considered a health threat to millions of New Yorkers, tourists and animals.

The filtration system would be housed in the steel core in the lower part of the tower. The needed power to run it would be great, but it would be all provided by a vertical axis wind turbine integrated into the tower. There are no figures to back up this claim as of yet.

The tower would be built using prefabricated construction methods, so DFA Studio believes that it could be completed in about six months. They also describe it as a “temporary” structure, so it would most likely have a limited lifespan.  We’ll have to wait and see if this proposal ever gets realized.

Fully Customizable Off-grid Tiny Home

Living Room

Since tiny homes are so small, the key to living in them comfortably is a clever interior layout. And this is best achieved when it is tailored to your specific needs.  Enter the so-called Kootenay tiny house built by the firm TruForm Tiny. Potential customers have a wide range of layouts, as well as size, materials, colors, and even furniture to choose from when ordering one.  The home is towable and can also be made to operate completely off-the-grid.

The Kootenay comes in three sizes, namely 20, 24, and 28 ft (6, 7.3, and 8.5 m) in length.  The model pictured in this post is the largest, 28 ft (8.5 m)-long one.  Its total floor space measures 379 sq ft (35.2 sq m) and it features a metal roof.  The exterior cladding comes in different colors and wood types, while the color of the roof, the style of the exterior and even the window frames can also be chosen by the customer.

Exterior Deck

Exterior Side

Sleeping Loft

The interior features a living area with a sofa, a kitchen with a well-sized breakfast bar, a small oven and plenty of cupboards and shelves.  There is also enough room for a washer/dryer, dishwasher, and full-size appliances, which can be purchased as optional extras.

The far end of the home is taken up by a relatively spacious bathroom, which features a full-size bathtub. The Kootenay has two lofts. The larger one is accessible via a set of stairs and is meant as the master bedroom, though the latter can also be installed on the ground level should the client wish so.  The second loft is accessible via a ladder, and can be used as a guest room, though it is perhaps more suitable as a storage area.   The home also features a drop down deck, which extends from the living area.

Kitchen

Breakfast Bar

Bathroom

The Kootenay can be connected to the grid via a standard RV-style hookup, but a custom off-grid package is also available. This includes a solar power array, a wood-burning stove, a composting toilet, and a propane-powered fridge.

The basic version of The Kootenay costs $57,900.

Paris is Getting a Vertical Forest Tower

Towers covered with greenery are not a new idea and the first ones are already getting built around the globe in an effort to fight the alarming pollution present in some cities. Now the Paris suburb of Villiers sur Marne is getting its own such tower. The so-called Forêt Blanche (which translates to White Forest) was designed by the famous architect Stefano Boeri, who is no stranger to proposing such vertical forest buildings. Towers based on his designs are already getting built in Switzerland and Milan, while a whole city of such towers is being planned in southern China.

Forêt Blanche will be made entirely of wood will stand 177 ft (54 m) tall. The exterior will be covered in 2,000 trees, shrubs and plants. It will feature apartment units at the top, while the lower floors will be taken up by offices and retail spaces.

The fours sides of the tower will be covered by a mix of balconies and terraces on which various plants and trees will be planted. According to the architects, this green covered area will be equivalent to one hectare of forest, which is 10 times larger than the actual footprint of the building itself. The project is still very much in the early stages, so a timeline for its construction and completion has not yet been decided upon.

However, it is a great idea, and one which more large cities should start entertaining. We must embrace nature and help it heal if we are to build a more sustainable future for our world. We will follow this project closely as new developments arise and keep you informed. Let’s hope it is just one of many such projects that we will get to report on in the next year.

Recycled Tile Used to Reduce Solar Heat Gain

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Poor insulation is one of the main problems when renovating old homes into modern residences. It results in excessive heat gain during the summer, and heat loss in the winter. Architect Drtan Lm from Malaysia recently completed a renovation of a home where they took an interesting approach to combating heat gain. The house they worked on was quite dilapidated, but it did contain a lot of intact terracotta tiles, which they decided to recycle into a sunshade for the home.

plans

The home got its name from this too and is called Clay Roof House. It is located in Petaling Jaya, Selango, Malaysia, and faces west, meaning that lots of sunlight enters it both in the mornings and afternoons. Since the terracotta tiles found in the home were of a very high-quality, the architects used them to create a terracotta brise soleil, as well as a second brick lattice brise soleil, which work to minimize the home’s solar heat gain, as well as reduce much of the glare.

side shading

They also made the terracotta tile shading mechanism fully operable, so it can be opened and closed in order to let it air and lights. The added bonus is that the tiles create a beautiful lighting effect inside the home. The terracotta also glows a warm orange in the sun.

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They also left exposed brick, concrete and wood in the interior of the home, which blends perfectly with the lovely terracotta brise soleil. The interior of the home features a large living area, several bedrooms, as well as a piano room, study, two kitchens, and a maid’s quarters. For a home this size, preventing heat gain was of the utmost importance, especially given Malaysia’s climate, and the architects did a great job of offsetting some of the cooling costs with this clay tile shading system.

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Tiny House Development in Detroit Aims to Offer Affordable Housing

The Detroit-based non-profit Cass Community Social Services (CCSS) recently unveiled the first six tiny homes already completed as part of their affordable housing solution in the area. The development is located between the Lodge and Woodrow Wilson Street, and will consist of 25 tiny homes once completed. This is a rent-to-own tiny house project with the final aim of making home ownership accessible to low-income individuals.

The homes will measure from 250 to 400 square feet, and will each have its own foundation. They will be built by local professional tradespeople and volunteers. Rental prices are set at $1 per square foot, so that a 300-square-foot house would cost $300 a month to rent. The homes will come fully furnished, and will have all the necessary appliances, though there will be no bedroom, meaning that they are not ideally suited for families. This tiny house development is located near the CCSS main campus, so that residents will have easy access to the social, educational, recreational and health services that the agency offers.

The tenants who apply to live in one of these houses will have to meet low-income eligibility requirements, as well as be interviewed and go through a selection process. The housing is intended for low-income seniors, students, and even homeless people. The rent they will pay will be a maximum of one third of their monthly wage, and after a maximum of seven years of paying rent they will become the owners of the house. The estimated utilities costs in this house are only $35 per month. The tenants will also have to attend financial coaching and home maintenance classes once a month.

This tiny house project is funded by private donations as well as by several foundations, namely the Ford Motor Fund, the RNR Foundation, and the McGregor Fund. Providing affordable housing is just one of CCSS’ long-term goals for the area. There are more than 300 vacant lots within a one-mile radius of this development, which they also plan to develop.

Overall, this is a very forward-thinking project, which has many benefits both for low-income individuals, as well as for the neighborhood as a whole. It’s also nice to see tiny homes gaining traction in mainstream housing planning.