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.
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.
Tiny homes are all about downsizing, and in the beginning of the movement that meant getting rid of everything but the bare essentials when it comes to clothes and other material possessions. But with some clever design techniques this is no longer the case. And the newly constructed Juniper house proves that even a very small house can pack a lot of storage.
Juniper house was built by Backcountry Tiny Homes, and they created this home for Alexis and Brian of Living the Tiny Dream. The home measures 290 sq ft (27 sq m) (which includes the lofts) and features an advanced form of framing known as ladder framing, which reduces material costs and weight, as well as limits thermal bridging. It also makes the process of insulating the home easier. Beetle-kill pine was used in the construction process.
The interior of the home features a large multi-purpose unit, so to speak, which was made for IKEA parts and contains a transforming seating area and foldaway table. The seating area also features a hidden coffee table and ottoman, which can be rolled under the sofa when not needed.
The bedroom is located in a loft, which is accessible via a set of stairs with integrated storage space. There is also an elevated platform here for storing shoes, while there is additional storage space hidden in the floor of the loft.
The kitchen is located under the sleeping loft and is fitted with a large sink and refrigerator, as well as an all-in-one washer, and plenty of pantry space. The bathroom features a shower and composting toilet, while the ladder leading up to the second, so-called “reading loft,” is incorporated into its door to save space.
In an effort to save money, Alexis and Brian assisted in the construction of their tiny home, which also meant that they learned a few things along the way. Because of this the total cost of the home was only $53,800, which includes all the furnishings and appliances.
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.
In many cities across the globe, the shortage of affordable apartments has led to more and more people living in micro, or shoe-box apartments. London is one of the cities facing the worst of this housing shortage crisis, and the local architecture studio CIAO recently redesigned a tiny apartment into a spacious home, which is now big enough to host guests.
The apartment in question measures just 376 sq ft (35 sq m) and is located in a Victorian-era house in the Islington area. The apartment has high ceilings which is a plus when it comes to micro apartments. They kept the layout of the home open and with the help of clever convertible furniture they were able to transform this place into a comfortable home. The workspace which the client uses during the day can be transformed into a sleeping area for guests when needed with the help of a pull-out trundle bed. The lounge is also in this area, and features a corner sofa.
A half-height bookcase separates the main living area from the bedroom. The bed is placed atop a custom-built platform which hides the roll-out trundle guest bed. The platform is accessible via a couple of stairs which contain storage drawers. Higher up, in the mezzanine area there is another, larger storage space. The home also features a small, but functional bathroom.
The apartment also features a kitchen, which is fitted with lots of metallic COR-TEN steel that gives it an interesting industrial look. This look is nicely balanced by the warmer, natural wood elements elsewhere in the apartment, such as the table and shelving, as well as the brick wall in the living area which was left in it’s original condition.
This is definitely another prime example of how even a micro apartment can be transformed into a comfortable home with a few clever space saving techniques, and some outside the box thinking.