Tiny House that Overlooks a Volcano

How would you like to wake up with the view of an active volcano out your bedroom window? Residents of the so-called Phoenix House in Hawaii can. The home was designed by the firm ArtisTree and can operate off the grid. It’s also available for rent.

Phoenix House is located on a lava field Kalapana, which is near the base of the active Mauna Loa volcano. There are other homes in this area, so it is considered a safe place to live. But the tiny home is very close to red hot flowing lava, while there is also a 100 ft (30 m)-high lava waterfall which crashes directly into the sea nearby.

Phoenix House has a total floorspace of 450 sq ft (41 sq m) and is not towable, as most tiny homes we see are. The home is clad in wood, which was preserved using the traditional Japanese method called Sho Sugi Ban, and recycled corrugated iron. The home is raised off the ground by stilts and has ample glazing, which lets the residents enjoy the spectacular view.

The home’s layout makes the most of the available space inside, so the tiny house appears quite spacious and comfortable. There is a reasonably large living area, with a sofa and a small desk. Next to it is a kitchenette which features a propane-powered stove, fridge, a fairly large counter and a sink. Further down from the kitchenette is the bathroom, which is fitted with a sink, shower and what is most likely a composting toilet, since the home operates independently of the grid. The bedroom is located in a loft which is accessible via a wooden ladder. There is space enough for a queen sized bed, the amount of headroom is very generous.

Electricity for the home is provided via a roof-top mounted solar power array, while there is also a rainwater collection system. Hot water is provided via an on-demand propane water heater.

Phoenix House is available for rent via AirBnb.

China Soon to Get a Forest City

The mountainous Liuzhou region in Southern China will soon be home to a whole city of vertical forest towers, which were originally the brainchild of Italian architect Stefano Boeri. This so-called Forest City will no doubt offset some of the alarming air pollution the country is facing.

The city will create homes for 30,000 people and was commissioned by the Liuzhou Municipality Urban Planning department. Apart from apartments, it will also feature all the amenities normally found in cities, such as hotels, hospitals, schools, offices and so on. These towers and other structures that will make up this city will be powered by solar panels and geothermal energy.

The facades of the buildings will be covered in plants and trees, as will the parks and gardens between them. There will be a total of 40,000 trees and roughly a million plants, representing 100 different species. According to the designers, Forest City will absorb around 10,000 tons of C02 and 57 tons of pollutants, as well as produce 900 tons of oxygen every year.

Forest City will be located just to the north of the city of Liuzhou, which has about a million and a half inhabitants. A rail line of electric cars will connect these two cities. China is the third country to begin construction of such a vertical forest city, with similar projects already underway in Italy and Switzerland. More countries around the world should consider commissioning such greenery-clad cities, or at least building some vertical forest towers, in an effort to offset pollution and bring some nature back into cities.

Construction of the Chinese Forest City is already underway and will be completed by 2020.

Solar Carve Tower Gets Underway in NYC

A few new details have come to light regarding the skyscraper Solar Carve Tower designed by Studio Gang planned in New York City. Plans for the tower were first revealed back in 2012. This unique tower was designed in a way that doesn’t obstruct the view of the adjacent buildings, or cast shade on its surrounding area. Construction will begin soon.

The Solar Carve Tower will be a mixed-use building that will be 213 ft (65 m) high and have a total floorspace of 166,750 sq ft (15,491 sq m). The building will also have a huge rooftop garden, while most of the floors will also have private terraces. They are aiming to achieve the LEED Gold certification, though they have not announced how they plan to get it. It will most likely be though sustainable features such as water efficiency, solar power, use of recycled materials and others.

The building will be constructed in NYC’s meatpacking district directly over the High Line. To achieve the no-shade casting objective, as well as not to obstruct anyone’s view, the building looks like it had chunks of its façade carved out, though the end result is a very interesting addition to the NYC skyline. Airflow and ventilation were also a consideration in the design.

The fact that skyscrapers are casting too much shadow is a real concern in NYC and something that has led to residents protesting in the past. Many projects do not get the go-ahead precisely because of this. And it is certainly nice to see architects starting to work around this problem, as they did in the case of the Solar Carve Tower. Bringing sustainable tech and more greenery to the city is also a bonus.

They estimate that the Solar Carve tower will be completed and in use by early 2019.

A Super Green Building Planned for Brussels

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Architect Vincent Callebaut is well-known for his ambitious sustainable architecture project proposals, and this latest one that he’s proposing for the EU city of Brussels is no exception. His plans call for turning the city’s industrial area of Brussels into a sustainable community. They plan to renovate existing buildings, as well as build new high-rises, which would be equipped with a wide array of sustainable features.

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Callebaut’s plans call for the building of three high-rises, which would have a total floorspace of 915,000 sq ft (85,000 sq m). These buildings would feature a slide-like shape and rise to a max height of 328 ft (100 m). The roof would be clad in solar panels, while the balconies could be used to grow fruits and vegetables.

The plans also include the renovation of the old Marine Terminal, which measures 538,000 sq ft (50,000 sq m) to serve the communities needs. It would be divided up into different areas, and would feature several geodesic domes that would house restaurants, bars and other structures. There would also be raised pods made from CLTs that would serve as meeting spaces. Retail and office spaces would be housed in another set of CLT structures. It would also be possible to attach small greenhouses to the exterior of the buildings.

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Among the green tech planned for this project are the already mentioned large solar power arrays, wind turbines, airtight building envelopes, natural ventilation, and rainwater collection systems. They calculated that the complex would generate 186 percent of its annual electricity requirements, and this surplus would then me used to power the historic buildings in the area, as well as any planned future developments.

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We will, however have to wait and see whether this project gets picked up by the city’s planning commission.

Eco-Resorts Going up in the Azores

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The Azores, a group of gorgeous islands just off the coast of Portugal, has seen increased tourism in recent years. However fortunate that maybe, it also presents a problem for the environment, so in a bid to retain the unspoiled state of the landscape, the local Tourism and Agribusiness Development Company of the Azores (TADA) has come up with a way to preserve it. They will be developing eco-resorts across the islands, which will be sustainable and have a minimal footprint.

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The resorts will basically be made up of solar powered cabins, which they are calling the Eco Pods. They are currently planning to build six of these eco-resorts and the first is already under construction in the Vila Franca Do Campo Region of São Miguel Island. It’s set to open in the summer of 2017.

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The resort will feature an as yet undisclosed number of Eco Pods. The smallest of these will measure 161 sq ft (15 sq m) and will feature a sleeping area and a sitting area, along with a small food preparation space. The pod will be equipped with a fridge, a coffee machine and a TV. The bathroom will be located outside and will be heated by an external wood burner.

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There will also be a few 215 sq ft (20 sq m) Eco Pods. These will have all of the above, but the bathroom will be an inside one. The largest of the Eco-Pods making up the resort will measure 322 sq ft (30 sq m) and will feature all of the above as well as a small kitchenette.

All the EcoPods are prefabricated and raised off the ground on stilts that are made from recycled electricity poles. Among the other materials used for the construction are locally-sourced pumice stone, windows made from recycled plastic bottles, and timber that is grown locally. The cabins will be powered by a solar panel array. The Eco-Pods currently have normal toilets with septic tanks installed, though the plan was to equip them with composting toilets, which sadly fell through.

The Eco-Pods are built to withstand high-winds and earthquakes, while TADA also plans to put the designs to use for other purposes, such as disaster relief housing, or garden pavilions.

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