A visit to Arcosanti

Paolo Soleri, architect and urban planning visionary, created Arcosanti as an “urban laboratory.” His vision included many factors society has had to rediscover over the past few decades, such as local food production, increased walkability in the built environment, and passive heating and cooling systems.

Soleri’s concept of arcology is a blend of architecture and ecology, an “urban system that can function as a hyper-organism.” The seven design principles behind the practice are meant to guide planners and designers in creating cities that are small, dense, complex, and self-sustaining, thus minimizing human effects on our environment.

While building Arcosanti with the help of thousands of volunteers, Soleri financed the project by making and selling wind bells and ceramic tiles.

More info at Paolo Soleri’s Vision of Sustainable Cities and Arcosanti.

A visit to Arcosanti

Arcosanti employs huge quantities of concrete, but also lots of hand work.

A visit to Arcosanti.

A model of Arcosanti. So far, only the dark gray structures are complete.

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The bell “factory” is located in one apse. The bells are silt formed here, then cast in the foundry.

A visit to Arcosanti

The apse is a common form in Soleri’s work.

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Arcosanti includes structures for all daily uses, including apartment-style housing.

Tiny homes in Portland

Tiny homes in Portland are attracting everyone from millennials to retirees. While at the Build Small, Live Large Summit, I toured a few tiny homes set up on the Portland State University campus. The two best designs were the Escape Traveler and the container from Modern Dwellings.

Tiny homes in Portland

A container project from Modern Dwellings, with excellent design and execution. The charred cedar siding is a traditional Japanese technique called “Shou Sugi Ban.”

Tiny homes in Portland

This container from Modern Dwellings has a great exterior stairway to the roof.

Tiny homes in Portland

The Escape Traveler is among the best designs I’ve seen.

Tiny homes in Portland

The Escape Traveler’s huge window brightens the entire place.

Tiny houses are prominent in Portland

I recently traveled to Portland, Oregon, to attend the Build Small, Live Large Summit, aka the Tiny House Summit. I stayed at Caravan, the Tiny House Hotel, and experienced a lot of the Portland magic. This city has a focus on boosting affordable housing, as evidenced by Portland Mayor Charlie Hales speaking to the crowd.

A neat little parklet in the Alberta Arts District.

A neat little parklet in the Alberta Arts District, near the Tiny House Hotel.

Caravan Tiny House Hotel

We stayed one night at Caravan, the Tiny House Hotel. The Skyline was quite pleasant.

Caravan gate

Funky gate at the Tiny House Hotel.

flower pot

Creative flower pot

tiny house courtyard

Courtyard at the Tiny House Hotel

Caravan Tiny House Hotel

Does Architecture Still Inspire?

 

Does Architecture Still Inspire?

Architecture is losing its ability to inspire people, according to architects Stewart Hicks and Allison Newmeyer.

In a recent article in Metropolis, they claimed that a focus on “the bottom line” is driven by the education system, with the result that, “Buildings are no longer the medium through which people imagine new worlds or cultural movements.”

Read more here.

Waste and Renewables Make for Better Bricks

image bricks; Waste and Renewables Make for Better Bricks

Waste and recycled materials can create high-performance bricks that don’t need energy-intensive kiln firing.

Waste and Renewables Make for Better Bricks

Brick is one of the most commonly used building materials worldwide.

Typically made of a clay mixture and then kiln fired, brick is usually made from local resources and requires straightforward building techniques which have, in most cases, gone unchanged for generations. Kiln firing of bricks greatly strengthens them, but uses vast quantities of wood, coal, natural gas, and other fuels. Brick-making also pumps an average of 1.4 pounds of carbon into the atmosphere per brick, and creates air pollution in developing countries such as India and China.

Alternative options for materials can address these issues, however, while also making use of waste materials.

Read more here.

The Farmhouse Media is all about living sustainably through

  • green building

  • green cities

  • permaculture

Green Building Proves its Worth to Australian Business

GRESB; Green Building Proves its Worth to Australian Business - See more at: http://sourceable.net/green-building-proves-worth-australian-business/#sthash.ncdv4pZW.dpuf

Australia is again at the top of the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB).

Green Building Proves its Worth to Australian Business

According to the latest Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB), Australia is the world leader in green building.

 “Green building is the world’s fastest growing industry, and Australia is leading the charge,” says Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) chief executive, Romilly Madew.

Since 2009, the annual GRESB report has surveyed investors and analysed the sustainability of public, private, and direct real estate portfolios worldwide. Institutional investors use the report to evaluate and improve their portfolios. The 2014 survey included 56,000 buildings held by 637 property companies, with an aggregate value totaling US$2.1 trillion.

Read more here.

The Farmhouse Media is all about living sustainably through

  • green building

  • green cities

  • permaculture

Manufacturing Building Materials from Plants and Waste

photo; Manufacturing Building Materials from Plants and Waste

Zeoform is a cellulose that can be sprayed, molded, or formed.

Manufacturing Building Materials from Plants and Waste

With a bit of processing, common materials can be made into high-performance building materials, such as pollution-eating roofing and concrete.

In some applications, fiberglass insulation, foam insulation, and wood can be replaced by manufactured alternatives that are made from waste materials and select raw materials.

Cellulose offers huge potential for building materials. When processed, cellulose can be made into materials that replace wood, plastic, and brick. It’s already used as insulation, sourced from recycled newspapers.

Cellulose is an organic polymer that gives green plants their structural integrity. Wood is 40 to 50 per cent cellulose, dried hemp is about 45 per cent cellulose, and cotton fiber contains about 90 per cent cellulose. As a waste material found in waste paper, cardboard, and textiles, cellulose is abundant and can be used to create a material to replace wood and plastic.

Read more here.

The Farmhouse Media is all about living sustainably through

  • green building

  • green cities

  • permaculture

Former Adversaries Agree to Collaborate on LEED

green building; Former Adversaries Agree to Collaborate on LEED

The U.S. Green Building Council and the American Chemical Council are collaborating to promote LEED.

Former Adversaries Agree to Collaborate on LEED

The United States Green Building Council (USGBC), which developed and administers the LEED green building rating system, has announced that it will collaborate with the American Chemical Council (ACC) to advance the LEED standard with help from “the materials science expertise of ACC and its members.”

According to USGBC president, CEO and founding chair Rick Fedrizzi, the collaboration will “ensure the use of sustainable and environmentally protective products in buildings by applying technical and science-based approaches to the LEED green building program.”

Though the ACC has attacked the LEED standard in the past, Fedrizzi said both groups are working to advance the sustainability of the built environment.

Read more here.

The Farmhouse Media is all about living sustainably through

  • green building

  • green cities

  • permaculture

Pervious Concrete Offers a Host of Benefits

photo pervious concrete; Pervious Concrete Offers a Host of Benefits

Impervious surfaces create a host of problems, such as an increasing the urban heat island effect, preventing the natural recharge of groundwater supplies, and polluting waterways.

Pervious Concrete Offers a Host of Benefits

“They paved paradise, and put up a parking lot.” Joni Mitchell

Joni Mitchell’s lyric lamenting that “they paved paradise and put up a parking lot” is ringing true as cities become even more urban, with more roads, sidewalks, and car parks. All those impervious surfaces create a host of problems, such as an increasing the urban heat island effect, preventing the natural recharge of groundwater supplies, and polluting waterways.

A different type of concrete, pervious concrete, can solve those problems at little to no additional cost, and with relatively little additional training and equipment changes.

Read more here.

The Farmhouse Media is all about living sustainably through

  • green building

  • green cities

  • permaculture

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