BIG SIMPLICITY The Division Knoll Residence by Sagan Piechota Architecture

Sagan Piechota Architecture have designed the Division Knoll Residence in Big Sur, California.

Elemental in nature – walls of glass, floors of stone, supports of concrete, a roof of copper – “it’s not really about the architecture itself, but more about the architecture as a vessel for looking at the view,” says Daniel Piechota. Because of the simplicity of materials, it’s almost an invisible structure. There are certain angles where you’re pretty much looking through the house like you almost don’t see it.

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21st Century Energy Challenges With Bill Gates

Bill Gates joins Energy Secretary Steven Chu to discuss how America can meet and prosper from 21st century global energy challenges. Moderated by John Podesta. Recorded at the ARPA-E 2012 summit
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Ferraris May Be Red, But Their Factory Is Green and Gorgeous

Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

I was saddened by the news of the latest earthquake near Modena, Italy yesterday; I was in Modena two weeks ago, visiting the University of Modena e Reggio Emilia and the Ferrari Museum next to the Ferrari factory complex in nearby Maranello. According to Reuters, it's closed now, for safety reasons.

I am not particularly interested in fast expensive cars, and don't usually have the time of day for companies making such things calling themselves "green" when their products are not, it is a contradiction in terms. But there was a lot to be impressed by at the Ferrari plant that went way beyond a few solar panels on the roof. It starts with this statement, transcribed below because of my lousy photography:

Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

The quality of our cars cannot be separated from the lives of the people working at the Ferrari plant. What keeps together the workers manual skill, their humanity, the work of those who carry out the processes and those who supervise them and the care they produce is the special care we take over the environment.

Light, air, vegetation, relaxation areas, cleanliness, functionality and regulated temperatures contribute not only to the qulaity of work and life, but also to creativity and the excellence of the product. The architectural project is also accompanied by investments and programs aimed at improving safety at the workplace and environmental sustainability.

And indeed, they have made some significant investments in green tech.

Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

Ferrari has installed a cogeneration power station that burns natural gas to produce electricity, hot water from the exhaust and cold water from a heat driven chiller, all with 79% efficiency. Along with a massive solar array that generates 213,895 kWh per year, Ferrari is almost completely self-sufficient in energy production. The little it needs from outside sources, it buys from renewable sources. This has led to a reduction in CO2 emissions of 40%, totalling 40,000 tonnes.

Employee restaurant by Marco Visconti/ Ferrari/CC BY 2.0

But what really impressed was the way they take working conditions so seriously. Ferarri doesn't skimp when it comes to design of their buildings, with Renzo Piano designing the wind tunnel, Jean Nouvel doing an assembly hall, Massimiliano Fuksas doing the office building and Marco Visconti doing a restaurant.

Wind Tunnel by Renzo Piano/ Ferrari/Promo image

John Tagliabue wrote in the New York Times a few years ago about the design program at Ferrari:

But the architecture is not just about style and aesthetics. In the machining center, where engine blocks fresh from the foundry are finished before assembly, Mr. Visconti, the architect, “sought to fit the demands of modern architecture with our needs,” said Luigi Bonezzi, who is responsible for running the building. The new buildings, he said, conserve energy by using solar cells and trigeneration systems, which produce electricity, heat and cooling simultaneously from a single energy source, like a gas burner. They also feature the widespread use of indoor gardens to increase productivity, where workers can meet for conferences or simply to rest between shifts.

Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

This was evident throughout, even down to the Ferrari red bikes available for employees to get around on.

A few years ago I wrote The Dumbest Green Buildings in TreeHugger, complaining about LEED certified airports and bottled water plants, green monster houses and even a Space Port, calling them all contradictions in terms. I probably would have included the Ferrari factory had I known of it at the time. I would have been wrong.

This factory visit was a bit of an epiphany for me; They are doing all of those things that I care about, fabulous design, serious consideration for health and wellbeing, with serious carbon reduction and solar panels on top.

Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

And even if I turn up my nose at gas guzzlers for the 1%, I have to admit that they are seriously beautiful. A few un-TreeHugger photos follow this video bySylvie Barak of EE|Times, who was on the tour with me and talks more about the cars and the engineering.

Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

I really prefer the vintage models

Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

But this rocket looked pretty cool.

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Warburg is Simple, Modern, and Efficient

There’s something about the traditional yet contemporary “house-shaped” form of this design that just resonates with me. The home was designed by an Alberta-based studio called Bioi pursuant to the owner’s request for something simple, contemporary, and energy efficient with a build cost of less than $100,000. It turns out, Warburg House received the highest EnerGuide rating available without generating its own energy, according to featured project information at Architizer.

That is to say, when there’s a budget, energy-generating technology (i.e., small wind, solar, geothermal, etc) is secondary to the primary goal of minimizing energy consumption with a thoughtful whole-house design. In this case, the steel structure wasn’t given an opportunity to break the envelope.

The 750-square-foot modern home, located on a wooded farmstead in Warburg, has a structural steel frame that’s covered in a thick R40 skin with an outer layer of black corrugated steel. The end walls and deck are finished with cedar, while the interior floor is polished concrete with embedded radiant heat.

Inside, the simple layout fits with an industrial design of the remaining fixtures and furnishings. An object in the middle, covered in birch, houses the bathroom, kitchen, laundry, mechanical equipment, and storage. Finally, windows punched into the envelope provide a path for natural light.

[+] More about Warburg House from architects Bioi.

MoCo Loco.

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Light 12-Glazed Window on the Horizon

In the USA, most windows are probably single- or double-glazed and some builders will use triple-glazed windows for Passive House and other high-performance homes. But in Hanover, Germany, a 12-glazed window prototype by Mariusz Paszkowski and Antoni Kostka was the star of the recent International Passive House Conference, according toDer Standard. Check out these windows with aerogel!

The two scientists, in conjunction with SUPERWINDOWS, showcased INVIS160stack and INVIS160tweed, and both of the prototypes are about 160 mm thick, though they weigh no more than a double- or triple-glazed window unit.

INVIS160stack (above) is an insulated glass unit with two external glass panes that sandwich 10 layers of specially coated film without materially compromising visibility. The inventive window makes it possible to achieve European U-values of 0.15 W/m2K, or the U.S. equivalent of R38 (R = 1/(.15/5.678)).

INVIS160tweed (below) is similar to INVIS160stack except that what’s sandwiched between two glass panes is several layers or sheets inclined at a 45-degree angle (as opposed to parallel to the external panes). This approach makes it possible to achieve European U-values of 0.05 W/m2K, or the U.S. equivalent of R113 (R = 1/(.05/5.678)).

Of course, there’s a lot of work and investment to be done before these are suitable for commercial production, so there’s no pricing or availability yet. But watch this space for window innovation.

[+] More about SUPERWINDOWS in development in Cracow, Poland.
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Fire Magreid / Bergmeister Wolf Architekten

Architects: Bergmeister Wolf Architekten
Location: Johann Steck Strasse 34, 39040 
Contractor: Gemeinde Margreid an der Weinstraße
Completion: 2010
Gross Floor Space: 690 sqm
Photographs: Günter Richard Wett, Jürgen Eheim, Ullrich Egger

In the Rock
Fire Brigade Margreid
A rock face is the location of the new volunteer fire brigade of margreid on the wine street. Three big caverns are drilled into the rock and interlinked with a cross cut. A black pigmented concrete wall stands in front of the rock, with the same inclination as the mountain. The three caverns dock on to this concrete wall.

The wall is the main architectural element of the fire brigade and at the same time a protection against down falling stones. Therefore resulted a sensitive handling with the topography and the requirements of use. we chose concrete as the material for the wall: durable, strong and powerful; the dark colour is achieved by the application of beech coal dust and should bear resemblance to burned wood.

Three corpuses penetrate this wall. two garages break through forming portals which are covered with black coated steel. These garages are closed with glass folding gates which allows the red fire engines to be seen from the outside. In the area of the office and administration wing the wall is breaked through by a cantilevered pending glass cube which gives free sight in all directions and brings light into the inside.

The interior of the caverns is characterized by simple materials: wood, glass and steel are used subtly and contrast the cavern with its harsh plastered surface. In terms of sustainability the fire brigade differentiates itself in two points from other projects: the positioning of the building and the overall energy concept. The building could have been placed on a normal lot as most of the houses, but because of the rare grounds in the alpine context the community decided to build the fire station into the rock. Therefore valuable ground has been saved and can be used for agriculture.

This means an active contribution to save resources. in order to reduce running costs and contribute to environment protection the community of margreid wanted to build an energy efficient building. This also encouraged to the decision to place the building into the rock where only the glass entrances face the outside (-10°c in winter). The rest of the building lays inside the rock (+12°c in winter).

As a result heating costs were reduced and therefore energy is saved. In addition, a dynamic simulation of the heat flow allowed to select the parts of rock which had to be insulated. Consequently only the administration of the station had to be covered with thermal insulation while the garages could be heated with the natural temperature of the surrounding rock. The remaining glass surfaces are carried out in triple heat absorbing glass. The residual energy for heating and hot water is covered with an ecological pellets heater system.

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Photographer: Emre Guven with Simone W. for Marie Claire 05/12

Photographer: Emre Guven
Stylist: Lauri Eisenberg
Hair: John Ruidant
Makeup: Fabiola
Model: Simone W.

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