Paper pendants resembling suspended crystals, KOGI Lamps by Joa Herrenknecht are in fact made from Tyvek, displaying a more defined sculptural geometry when unlit, transforming into softly glowing objects.
Breaking with the obvious by using less legs, 010 Outdoor Table+Bench by Guilielmus creates visual tension while providing a stable platform with extra legroom, using only three supports for the entire structure.
If you want to make your wedding day reflect your personal vision, it’s important to choose the right flowers. The flowers you use at your wedding, including those in your floral bouquet, are once in a lifetime accessories. These useful insights will help you choose the most suitable flowers and bouquet.
Types of Wedding Flowers
You and your fiancé will probably have some favourite flowers, so list these before you go shopping. Sometimes your favourite flowers may not be in season or be available where you live, so ask a florist for recommendations on alternatives to your favourites. The florist might provide you with flowers that are more suitable for your venue, wedding dress, theme or climate.
Here are some different types of flowers you could think about:
Traditional. Roses, orchids and lilies are some of the most widely used wedding flowers. They can give a soft, elegant and classic look to your wedding.
Unique and unusual. If you want something unusual, try incorporating tropical flowers, unusual colours, accessories like beading or pearls, or even silk flowers.
The Style of Your Bouquet
When you choose your flowers, you will want to consider the shape and style of your bouquets. Don’t forget that the bridesmaids need bouquets too! Think about how your flowers of choice will look in a bouquet design.
For example, delicate flowers such as orchids can look great in cascade or trailing bouquets, while roses can suit round bouquets or more structured bunches.
Colour and Theme
Choose your flowers with colour and theme in mind.
Colour. There is no limit to the colours you can incorporate into a bouquet or floral arrangement for your wedding. Anything from deep blues to rich reds and pinks have been used at weddings. Many couples choose to integrate lots of greenery and different coloured flowers into their floral arrangements and bouquets while others prefer mono-coloured arrangements. It is a good idea, however, to make sure that the bridal bouquet varies a little in colour from the wedding dress, as this makes it stand out and look better in photographs.
Theme. Is your wedding theme casual and vibrant, or is it elegant and composed? If you are after a more festive feeling, choose colourful flowers with lots of accessories such as ribbons, beading or even fruit. For a more muted and elegant feel, you could go with simple bouquets with less variation of colour.
Sources of Inspiration
Other than researching online and reading through bridal magazines for inspiration, you can also get ideas for wedding flowers and colours by paying attention to the elements in your life.
Décor. What are your favourite décor designs and themes? Write down your favourite colours and colour combinations. Keep an eye out for these when shopping for flowers.
Venues. What is your wedding venue? Take photos of the venue with you when you are choosing your wedding flowers so you can compare colours and see if they work together.
Wedding dress. Your florists will undoubtedly ask about your wedding dress and the bridesmaids’ dresses when designing your bouquet. For this reason it is ideal to choose your wedding dress before you settle on your flowers.
Season. Look to seasonal colours for inspiration. Seasonal factors can be important if you are budget conscious as seasonal flowers tend to be cheaper than non-seasonal varieties.
Memories. Finally, think about the sorts of flowers that were around when you first met your fiancé, what flowers he gave you or what flowers populate your favourite locations.
Hiring a babysitter or nanny can be likened to inviting a new family member into your home. Many parents give themselves lots of time to find a fabulous babysitter so that they are sure they have the right person they can trust to take care of their children.
If you are looking for a babysitter, you may want to begin by listing some desirable attributes or experience. You could also find it valuable to work with an agency to source potential candidates. Here are some tips to find the perfect babysitter for your family:
Work With an Agency
Working with an agency is one way to keep the process of finding the right babysitter straightforward. The agency can supply you with a list of prospective candidates, help you screen the candidates or match you with the right type of person. You may be able to access candidates with better qualifications or experience by working with an agency.
The agency may save you time by conducting referee and police checks on your behalf. They can conduct or assist you with the interview process. They could also assist you with an employment contract and with understanding your obligations and rights as an employer.
Should you have any issues further down the line, the agency may be able to help you resolve these more quickly. Agencies may charge registration and placement fees for their services but this can be more than worth the convenience.
List Desirable Attributes
Sometimes during the process, it can be helpful to list the attributes and qualifications you are seeking in a nanny or babysitter. If you are working with an agency, providing a list of ideal attributes to the agency clarifies what you are looking for. In addition, if you are hiring on your own and screening your own candidates, this makes it easier to write your advertisements and identify the right candidates. Consider the following attributes:
Experience. Does the candidate have previous experience with children?
Qualifications. Do they need to have any relevant formal qualifications in the field?
Motivation. Is motivation important for you as a parent when looking for the right nanny? For example, do you want candidates to be passionate about working with children and committed to it for the long term?
Your agency might provide you with a shortlist of candidates and then assist with the screening process. The screening process may include a review of qualifications and experience, formal interviews and checks. Consider these aspects:
Experience and qualifications. Compare the candidate’s experience and qualifications with your own list of desirable qualifications and experience. You may also like to compare them with that of the other candidates.
Interview. The agency might conduct this on your behalf or you might like to participate in the interview process with the assistance of the agency. Whether you are sourcing your own candidates or working with an agency, it is helpful to have a list of questions prepared. Spend some time thinking about what you would like to ask the prospective babysitter and write down your questions.
Checks. Before settling on a candidate, conduct referee checks and police checks. Another important check is the Working with Children Check or Blue Check, or the equivalent in your state or territory.
Probationary period. You could use a probationary period to confirm whether your nanny or babysitter is the right one for your family’s requirements.
Flowers are used as a near-universal gesture of goodwill and love. If you have received a gift of fresh flowers, you will want to keep these alive for as long as possible. While the amount of time a bouquet of cut flowers lasts for varies depending on the type, these tips could allow you to keep your cut flowers alive for longer.
Fresh flowers can wilt and dry out more quickly if they are kept in a hot room. Where possible, keep your cut flowers in the coolest part of the house.
Similarly, floral arrangements exposed to sunlight can wilt and die out more quickly than those that are not. Keep vases away from window areas, outdoor spaces and anywhere with direct sunlight.
Trim Stems at an Angle
It has been claimed that trimming flower stems at an angle improves the ability of the stem to take up water and thereby extends the life of the flower. So, when you are ready to place your flowers in the vase, cut the stems at a sharp angle in a bowl of water before transferring them to the vase.
Keep Stems Short
Keeping stems short is meant to keep flowers fresher for longer. The reasoning is that a shorter stem means water from the vase has to travel a shorter distance up the stem to the flower.
As a general rule, aim to replace the water in the vase every day or every second day to ensure that your flowers last as long as possible. Water that sits in the vase for more than a few days is more likely to develop bacteria, which can shorten the life span of the flowers.
You can use the flower preservative provided by the florist to extend the life of your flowers. Flower preservatives are designed to provide the flower with nutrients while disinfecting the water to reduce bacterial growth. If you do not have any preservative, you can make your own from common household products.
One recipe calls for 2 cups of lemon-flavoured carbonated beverage (such as lemonade), ½ teaspoon of chlorine bleach and 2 cups of warm water.
Another recipe involves mixing 2 tablespoons of white vinegar, 2 tablespoons of sugar, ½ teaspoon of chlorine bleach and 1 litre of warm water. You can experiment with different recipes to see which one obtains the best results.
Remove Any Foliage Below the Water Line
If there is any foliage sitting below the water line, it is usually a good idea to remove this because this foliage tends to rot and breed bacteria in the water. Also, as the stems become mouldy in the water it is best to trim them to keep them fresh and able to take up water more effectively.
Remove Dead Flowers
You should also aim to remove any dead flowers as soon as possible. Other than making your floral arrangement less appealing, dead flowers can again contribute to bacterial growth in the water.
Stick to these tips and you’ll be sure to have your flowers around for longer!
Giving flowers on a first date has proven to be a controversial issue. Once upon a time, giving flowers on a date used to be widespread. Today, however, the etiquette rules for flowers on the first date do not seem to be clear.
Nevertheless, there is nothing wrong with it if you do want to give flowers to your date on your first outing. So, what sort of flower arrangements are suitable for a first date?
We look some of the key issues to consider when it comes to giving flowers on a first date.
Flowers for the first date
As the first date is considered to be a test of interest or compatibility, many people would probably prefer not to come across as being too strong. Casual and small bouquets or floral arrangements could be best for the first date, as they can help you avoid coming across as being too serious about the relationship when it is only your first outing together.
Casual - A loose bunch of tulips, sunflowers, daisies, or other summery flowers can make your floral gift feel more casual rather than romantic or serious.
Small - The size of your flower offering can also communicate something to your date. A small arrangement such as a mixed bouquet or a single flower wrapped in a plastic sleeve could be effective and elegant choices.
Easy to carry – If you are meeting away from your date’s home, you will want to make sure that the arrangement is easy to carry, or that you have somewhere to store it during the date.
Colours – Reds and pinks tend to convey romantic interest, passion, or even intensity, so these might not be the best choices for a first date. Summery colours such as yellows, oranges, or purples could convey friendship and initial interest. If you know your date’s favourite colours, you could try and work these into your floral arrangement.
Alternatives to first-date flowers
If you would rather not give your date flowers on your first date, there are some alternative gestures to consider.
Next day - If the date goes well, you could send your date a bouquet of flowers the next day, with a personal note.
Gift – If you know quite a lot about your date and you are confident that you have a great gift idea, you could opt for a simple gift on the first date rather than flowers. These could be simple gifts such as a small pot plant, some candy, or a small bottle of wine. Your date could appreciate the gesture of goodwill.
Shout - Depending on the situation, paying for dinner could feel like a more suitable gesture for you than giving flowers to someone you may have just met.
Follow-up call - A follow-up call or message is definitely a good way to express your feelings after the first date.
Second-date flowers – If your first date goes well and there is a second date, you could bring flowers for your date on the second or third date. This might be more romantic than giving flowers on the first date.
Businesses commonly use pot plants and personal mementos to personalise a space and improve the atmosphere, but there is nothing like a bouquet of fresh flowers to create an appealing yet professional image.
Here are some reasons why offices love using flowers as a decorative accessory as well as ideas for floral arrangements for your office.
The appeal of flowers
Flowers are often said to have universal appeal, and they are versatile and easy to use in a professional or home setting.
Convenience – Flowers are convenient to use. You can use the internet to order a flower delivery and have it sent directly to your office premises, or you can pick an arrangement of flowers from the florist on your way to work. You could ask for specific colours, designs, and arrangements that can be used in different areas of your office.
Versatility and universal appeal - Flowers have close to universal appeal, and it is probably difficult to find a person who actually dislikes flowers. Additionally, with so many species and varieties, you can find a different type of flower to appeal to anyone.
Sophistication – You can use different types of flowers to create a specific type of ambiance. In the professional setting, you could use a floral arrangement to create an atmosphere of sophistication. If you are looking to enliven the space or to cheer up your colleagues and staff members, you can use brightly colour flowers to bring colour and joy.
Ideas for floral arrangements
You could use different types of floral arrangements to set off different areas of your office. For example, you could use a large, horizontal arrangement for a boardroom table to allow those meeting to see each other. Small shallow arrangements could suit personal work areas.
Triangular arrangements – Triangular or pyramid-shaped arrangements are often best as featured arrangements in areas such as reception tables, coffee tables, or function rooms. These give a formal look to the space, and so they are suitable for reception or function areas.
Asymmetrical arrangements - Asymmetrical arrangements can be in a variety of shapes such as crescent, s-shaped, or freestanding. These can be used as feature arrangements, but they are also great for more casual or everyday areas in the workplace.
Minimalist arrangements - Minimalist arrangements can make wonderful additions for formal places such as conference room areas, or they can be used in other places of the office for an elegant and sophisticated look.
Smaller floral arrangements – If you prefer smaller arrangements, you can use these on side tables, desks, hallway tables, and even bathroom areas in the office.
Vases - The type of vase can complement and set off your arrangement. If you are using large flowers with attractive stems, use a transparent glass vase to ensure the stems are visible. If your floral arrangement is a large, vertical arrangement, you could have the vase feature by using a decorative vase.
Colours - Use colours that complement and enhance your setting. More muted colours could be best for formal office settings, while bright colours can suit offices that have a casual etiquette policy or ambiance.
Conventions are vital for making a good impression for your business, but can be very expensive to run. However, there are ways that you can reduce the cost without having to reduce the quality. Here we consider some options for doing so.
While there are always unavoidable costs, many expenses can be limited or even cut without a loss of quality.
Hiring a Location
The location is often the most expensive aspect of running a convention. Still, hiring is definitely cheaper than owning such a large space. The many benefits to hiring include being able to pick a prime location and getting discounts on other aspects of the convention when booking together.
Booking a convention centre will give you a prime location with which to impress your partners and clients, as well as the chance to integrate refreshments and furniture in with the cost. You can also save money by finding a bundled package that combines the correct location and convention services.
Equipment is another significant cost for a convention because you will need speakers and a stage, as well as numerous tables, chairs and other furniture in order to successfully pull it off. Thankfully, whether you need marquee hire or furniture hire alone for your convention, it is possible to hire all of the equipment.
Hiring this equipment will be far cheaper than buying it for your business. There will be less hassle too, because the equipment will be delivered, set up and then collected again when the convention is over.
Saving on Storage
The other benefit of hiring equipment is that you do not have to worry about what to do with it afterwards. The equipment needed for a convention can be vast. Storing this equipment when it is not in use would certainly be a difficult task to achieve. Hiring all the equipment you need means this is no longer a consideration for you to worry about.
Adding catering to the event can further increase costs, but it will also make a better impression on customers. This service can be added from an external vendor, but you can also combine catering hire with your equipment hire. The location provider will usually have a service available to offer catering at a cost per head, but this price should be lowered by the fact that you are also booking a large amount of equipment.
Promotional materials are not something that you can hire for an event. Still, the entire layout of the convention does not all need to be purchased. Your promotional materials will need to be designed and produced in advance, but you can then hire the decorations for the event. Hiring however many tablecloths you need and the correct coloured ribbon for decorating in your company colours will be far easier than buying these items and having to keep them with you at your business location.
Whilst the promotional materials must be produced, you can hire the basic elements that reflect your brand image throughout the convention.
The Cloudy Bay Shack is an artfully built four-bedroom guesthouse overlooking the rural landscape of the Wairau river in Blenheim, New Zealand. Designed for the Cloudy Bay Winery by Tonkin Zulaikha Greer Architects with project architects Paul Rolfe Architects the structure was built using local builders, craftsmen, joiners and engineers. The restrained timber detailing and material expression throughout the interior is warm and inviting. The elongated dining and lounge leads guests of the Cloudy Bay Vineyards out to the sloping lawns and landscape beyond.
Parenting can be a rewarding yet challenging task and every parent should make regular time to relax and pursue their own interests. Taking time out for yourself could even be the best baby gift that your child will ever receive from you, as it could enable you to become a more patient parent to your child. These insights could show you how to take time off from parenting and recharge your batteries.
Obtaining Professional Help
There is good reason for you and your partner to step out to enjoy time alone every once in a while. However, you will want to leave your child in the hands of a capable professional like a baby sitter when you do. Many parents use the services of a nanny, baby sitter or obtain help from a family member. This way, you can enjoy time out as a couple fully confident that your child is being well taken care of.
Balancing Responsibility with Your Partner
Unless you are a single parent, you will be sharing responsibility with your partner. You can negotiate roles and make an effort to balance different tasks with your partner, so that not one partner is too busy or doing too much. You will probably weigh up your parenting responsibilities with how much work each partner is doing and consider whether one partner may need to do more to support the other.
Creating Time for Yourself
You can create alone time for yourself by pursuing hobbies, socialising with friends or just relaxing in a great location.
Hobbies. It’s normal if you find yourself having to cut back on the amount of time you have to pursue your hobbies but try to aim to participate in a hobby you love every week. Having hobbies allows you to relax, enjoy life and focus on something you want to do for a change. This can make you a better parent to your child as you will be living a more balanced life. From outdoor activities and sports to artistic pursuits such as cooking and painting, explore different types of hobbies and find out what you enjoy most.
Socialising. It is important to keep in touch with your friends and support network. Having a supportive group of friends can boost mental and emotional health, which can make you a more patient and understanding parent.
Relaxation. Use relaxation techniques to rejuvenate yourself. Learn proven techniques for relaxing such as meditation, yoga, stretching and deep breathing. Aim to take at least 20 or 30 minutes every day to just relax and calm your mind, clearing it from the stresses of the day.
Having Your Own Personal Space
It can be beneficial to cultivate your own personal space at home. This is a special room or space where you can enjoy your own company without disturbance from others. It could be a favourite chair in your study, a comfortable couch in a spare bedroom or a quiet outdoor spot.
Fill this space with your favourite items, such as books, art, scented candles, a TV set and music so that you can come to this space whenever you need time out and need to recharge yourself.
The new 3000m² Performing Arts Centre in Auckland, New Zealand designed by Architectus provides specialised teaching and rehearsal facilities for both music and drama education at St Cuthbert’s College. The facility is laid out as a series of elements around a central atrium space that present themselves at street level as an abstraction of the scale, form and rhythm of the adjacent residential context. The programme includes aside from specialised facilities for instrument teaching and rehearsal spaces for choirs, orchestras and drama performance, general teaching spaces for music and drama.
During the Victorian era, floriography was used to communicate coded messages and express feeling that could not otherwise be conveyed. Today, flowers do not have a fixed meaning, but the giver of a flower can still use his or her gift to express something special to the receiver. These are some of the most popular types of flowers and the traditional meaning ascribed to them.
Roses are known today as one of the most romantic types of flowers. Red roses communicate passion and romantic love. Pink roses suggest a gentler love or even friendship and platonic affection. Yellow roses are said to represent loyalty and friendship.
Sunflowers convey happiness, joy, warmth, energy and strength. In some cultures, they represent long life and luck, which makes them suitable for baby bouquets or a gift to cheer up or a friend or relative.
The hydrangea is the fourth wedding anniversary flower. This flower comes in white, pink, blue, purple and other colours. It is said to represent gratitude for the recipient’s understanding.
Not many people know that this flower was once used to convey the message, ‘take care of yourself’, in the context of a male giver asking his partner to take care of their beauty. Today this flower is often given without this message and the beauty and delicate-looking azalea can be given to convey romantic love.
The bright yellow buttercup is often used to convey joy, cheerfulness, affection and even humility. Buttercups, given their simple beauty, could be used to convey friendship and purity.
The pink carnation is associated with a mother’s love and hence it is a popular flower to give on Mother’s Day. Red carnations, like red roses, convey romantic love and passion. White carnations are associated with purity and innocence, and in some countries they are used as a funeral flower.
The daffodil has many traditional meanings. The daffodil can be used to represent forthrightness, truth and honesty. They are said to convey forgiveness or appreciation for honesty to the recipient.
The daisy represents innocence, faith, purity, simplicity and good cheer. This pretty flower can be used to cheer up a friend or to express friendship and affection.
Violets are a much-loved flower and they are said to symbolise modesty and innocence in Victorian times. Today, violets are used to express the possibility of marriage, commitment and faithfulness. As such, you could use the violet to express romantic love and you intended commitment in a relationship.
The meaning of the tulip can vary depending on its colour. Red tulips are said to convey undying love, with purple tulips expressing a similar message. White tulips communicate one-sided love and yellow tulips are said to express hopeless love. However, many people love to give gifts of tulips in any colour to express friendship, goodwill and love.
Red poppies are used as a symbol of remembrance in today’s culture, but traditionally the red poppy symbolises pleasure. White poppies are said to express peace and harmony, while yellow poppies symbolise wealth and success.
If part of your wedding is to take place in a church, you will undoubtedly want to make sure the décor in the church matches your wedding’s overarching theme and colours. While churches tend to be solemn and formal venues, you can still create a vibrant and elegant ambiance with items such as centrepieces, candles, flowers, candelabras and plants. Here are some of the ways you could decorate the church to make a beautiful setting for your big day.
Floral arrangements such as a bouquet or scattered flowers can be used in the pews, aisles, on seats and even in the chancel area. You can use floral arrangements by any church statues to soften the area and add some colour. Floral arrangements can be varied in shape and size to suit the particular area in the church but using harmonious or similar colours will keep the theme consistent.
You can use hanging or cascading bouquets for the pews. These create a soft look that can break up the traditional wood and stone of most churches. These can be used at the back of pews as well as for the sides of the pews, right next to the aisle.
If there are no fixed pews in the church and you are arranging your own wedding hire seats, you can still attach bouquets to the seating or even set floral arrangements in vases to be place on aisle markers.
Aisles can be decorated to provide maximum visual impact. You can choose your own aisle carpeting if carpeting is appropriate. Otherwise you can make the flooring, tiling or boards presentable by having them polished. Scattering flowers or flower petals along the aisle is a way to lend a soft, elegant touch to hard materials.
Candles are popular for their spiritual connotations and for the elegant, gentle lighting they bring to a space. They can be used as the centrepiece of any bouquet or major floral arrangement. If you are using candles, it is best to use glass tubes around the candles as churches and large halls can have drafts.
Other Lighting Options
You can supplement the church’s existing lighting options with decorative elements such as lanterns and lamps. For example, you can set decorative lanterns along the aisle, right next to the edge of the pews, on the ground. You can use similar lighting options in the chancel area to brighten up the focal point of the ceremony, which is where you will be exchanging vows.
The entrance point of the church sets the tone for the rest of the ceremony. Many people choose to decorate this area with pot plants, more floral bouquets, wreathes and floral arches. Some people drape the entryway with fabrics or colourful ribbons.
Church entryways are usually in relatively dark or earthy colours, so if there are steps leading into the entry point, you could use lanterns to light the way or candles with floral arrangements to light up the space.
If you are organising a baby shower, you will need to plan the venue and the guest list carefully. Only the day, you may also need to look after things such as baby gifts, the menu and drinks.
Here are some useful tips for planning your friend’s baby shower.
Time and venue
Baby showers are usually held in the last trimester of a woman’s pregnancy. Baby showers can be held anywhere, but they are usually not held in the home of the mother-to-be. This is because the main point is to help her avoid having to do any work, including clean-up work. You can hold it in a restaurant, a reception area, a bar, a hotel, a club, or any favourite haunts of the expectant mother.
Baby showers can be kept secret or they can involve the mother-to-be. If it is not a surprise baby shower, ask your friend whom they would like to have on the guest list. You could invite colleagues, friends, and family members. While baby showers used to be ‘girls only’, today the norm is for partners and male friends to be invited.
Some baby showers have themes; you could ask the expectant mother if she would like to have one. Colour themes are popular – these are where everything from decorations and the cake and gifts are in the colour of choice. Other novel ideas include a zodiac theme (based on the zodiac sign of the baby); nursery rhymes; or a teddy-bear party, where the venue is decorated with teddy bears.
One of the first things to take care of after finalising the guest list is to send out the invitations. If there is a theme to the baby shower, have the invitations made, designed, and printed to reflect the theme. You should aim to send out invitations at least one month before the actual day of the shower.
For planning purposes, remember to chase up any outstanding RSVPs a week before the actual day, as you will be surprised at the number of people who may turn up without responding to your RSVP. Also remember to include any preferences that the mother-to-be has in regards to baby gifts, such as clothes, toys etc.
There are no strict rules when it comes to baby shower menus. Some people opt to have it in a hotel that offers afternoon-tea, or some have a formal meal. If you are holding it in a place that does not serve food, you might want to arrange catering for the day. Finger foods are appealing and easy to serve, but you might prefer a sit-down gourmet meal depending on the amount of guests.
A baby shower cake is optional, but you may wish to arrange one for your friend. It’s recommended to order the cake at least a week in advance. If there is a theme, make sure the cake reflects the theme of the baby shower.
On the Day
There are a few things you will need to take care of on the day of your baby shower.
Photographer - Nominate someone to be the photographer for the day, so that every special moment can be captured for the expectant mother.
Helping hands -You can enlist a couple of friends and guests to help out with decorating the venue and keeping the guests entertained.
Baby gifts -You will need a dedicated area to keep the presents until the mother-to-be gets around to opening them. Make sure the space is large enough to accommodate large gift baskets and other baby presents.
Games and entertainment -You can play board games or other party games to keep guests entertained. Music and plenty of food and drink will also keep attendees happy.
Izmo has organized the fourth edition of the Izmo International Summer School in Turin, from 22nd July to 1st August 2013, which focuses on public art and the (semi)public space. The course is aimed at students, graduates, professionals and, in general, anyone who is interested in sustainable art and creative design. The lectures (in English) will be held by experts, professors and artists involved in the field of art work, urban design, cultural management, with the aim to provide broad and multidisciplinary insights into the topic. Furthermore, students will have the opportunity to gain firsthand experience of methods of sustainable and interactive design that will enable them to work creatively with different materials and to approach participatory design practices
Architect Alastair Parvin presents a simple but provocative idea: what if, instead of architects creating buildings for those who can afford to commission them, regular citizens could design and build their own houses?
The proposed site for the 1600 m2 Novo Mesto Central Market lies in a historical town near the Florjanov Square in Slovenia. Designed by ENOTA the multi-gabled roof references the immediate surroundings and the arched facade opens to the square. The play of elements and materials of monolithic polished and impregnated concrete creates an opportunity for an interplay of light and shadows on the interiors.
Designed by the late Argentine architect Clorindo Testa in the late 80s, La Tumbona is located on the beaches of Ostende, Argentina. The distinct cubic forms of the house appear as a tumble of red concrete boxes dancing over the dunes. The proximity to the sea allow in high tides the waves to wash underneath the home.
A proposal for the Madrid Pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai Expo designed by architects 3Gatti. The facade was inspired by an umbrella, the metal screens can open and close to adjust the amount of light in the building.
Built in an Afghan Refugee Camp in Kerman, Iran, the 100 meter square meter domed shelter is comprised of approximately 6,000 mud bricks.
Pouya Khazaeli, principal of Rai Studio and architecture professor at Azad University, Tehran and Ghazvin, notes: "Social sustainability in design is our main focus area here. It means to study how these refugees live, communicate, the meaning of privacy in their live, which materials they prefer and use for construction, which kind of construction techniques they use themselves, how much they spend normally to construct their own shelters...."
Architect Sean Connelly's installation A Small Area of Land (Kaka‘ako Earth Room), a "temporary earth sculpture" made from 32,000 pounds of volcanic soil and coral sand, can currently be seen at the ii gallery in Honolulu, Hawaii. The sculpture is a prismatic monolith with dimensions 7' tall, 9' long, and 4' wide, and it features a single sloping surface that aligns with the position of the sun and moon on a key date in the history of land in Hawaii.
Over the course of the exhibit, the sculpture slowly falls apart as Connelly wanted to see "what a version of this might look like in Hawaii, on Hawaii’s terms."
The third International Conference on kerpic’13 - New Generation Earthen Architecture: Learning from Heritage, to be held on 11-14 September 2013, in Istanbul, Turkey. The focus of the conference has evolved from new generation of earthen architecture, environment and health care, towards disaster prevention. We hope that it will bring together the related disciplines of architects and engineers, on material, construction, marketing and environmental science to create database, technology watch and strategy.
A workshop will be organized on site where all the participants can take part. Social and cultural program will offer an interesting historical tour and a distinguished dinner will welcome you. Post Congress program will be a tour to various sites of Turkey. Fore more information visit http://www.kerpic.org/2013/
Earth USA 2013 is the Seventh International Conference on Architecture and Construction with Earthen Materials initiated by Earth USA. The conference organizer is Adobe in Action.
The formal conference will take place on October 4 and 5, 2013 in Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA. October 6th will be dedicated to local earthbuilding tours and excursions. The conference is being held at the New Mexico Museum of Art in the St. Francis Auditorium (107 West Palace Avenue, Santa Fe, NM 87501). Earth USA 2013 indicates a wider field of interest than previous conferences and will include adobe, rammed earth, compressed earth block (CEB) and monolithic adobe (cob). Any material or method that uses clay as a binder is considered.
Earth USA 2013 is now accepting abstract submissions (due April 14, 2013) for conference presentations. For more information visit http://earthusa.org/
Located in Glendale, California, the 23,000 square-foot childcare facility, designed by Marmol Radziner, accommodates 236 children between infant and Pre-K ages. The complex is the first LEED Gold Certified building in Glendale, and is the largest rammed earth building in Southern California. The sustainable strategies incorporated into the building, including photovoltaic panel canopies and structural rammed earth walls, are key visual and tactile elements in the design, emphasizing the facility as both a learning environment and an educational tool.
The village of New Gourna was designed and built in the 1940s by the Egyptian Architect Hassan Fathy. He pioneered the use of sustainable materials and environmentally friendly design to build housing for low income families who were being relocated from their original village at Old Gourna.
60 years later, many of the now historic New Gourna buildings have fallen into disrepair and others have disappeared or been changed beyond recognition. A project is underway to safeguard the site, and World Monuments Fund (WMF) commissioned us to produce a film presenting the perspective of the residents…
These food storage jars were made of radioactive earth from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster area in Japan. They were designed by Royal College of Art graduate student Hilda Hellström who contacted the last person still living inside the evacuation zone, Naoto Matsumura, and collected soil from his rice fields that can’t be farmed due to contamination.
The Rammed Earthenware collection by the Japanese design collective, Bril, is made from a combination of soil in various colours, sand, lime and water. The mixture is poured into a mould and rammed with three wooden sticks, each with a different shaped tip, until it becomes hard.
There is nothing new under the sun is an installation comprised of rammed earth and created for the 2012 Venice Biennial. The installation was done within the collateral event, “Traces of Century and Future Steps”, organised and curated by artist Rene Rietmeyer (head of the Global Art Affairs Foundation) and hosted at the Palazzo Bembo just next to the Rialto bridge. The architects Estudio Altiplano, from Bogota, Colombia, were given a space at the fourth floor of a 15th century palace to install the work—a performance piece that consisted of hoisting 3.5 tons of earth into the small chamber then compacting it into a solid rammed earth object. The work engaged many participants, simultaneously a demonstration in the process of fabricating allowing a discussion to emerge about topics of tradition, contemporaneity, territory and the built environment.
The installation formally suggests to the observer how architecture depends on matter in the form of territory, energy and resources. Earth was used to demonstrate how earth is a basic building material used all over the world and that traditional building techinques necessarily depend on oral tradition or transformation of knowledge to evolve and survive. Additionally, the use of earth demonstrated the plastic notion that conjures the act of subtracting compacted earth from the ground to mold it into new shapes without interfering in its material capacities. A continued discussion surrounding the project continues at http://www.rammedweb.com/
The Lacey Residence, by Jones Studio, is a 4,000 sq ft private residence located in Paradise Valley, AZ.
The site slopes in three directions; it is a desert knoll. Linear forms, assuming they are long enough, will inherently emphasize the shape of the landscape by contrasting a level parapet with the sloping topography.
Fortunately the program included a lap pool. This linear permission slip completed the third topographic axis, and finds directional purpose in its alignment with the 6 million year old Papago Peak three miles away; and the centerline of the main entry door!
According to the architects, there is a beautiful honesty in relinquishing architecture to the uncompromising reality of nature. If the intentions are sincere the architecture will only get better.
Above is a near complete progress shot of the front of the house. Painting is complete and the external paving and retaining works are underway. Note the photovoltaic panels just poking above the higher roof.
The house has many sustainable features and the rear wall of the house is the 'engine room' for most of them. In the image above from left to right:
To the very left is the 23,000 litre rainwater storage tank. This tank provides all of the potable water needs for the house, ie; drinking, cooking and showering water.
The vertical white rectangular box is the gas heating unit for the underfloor hydronic heating system
Next is the white vertical 'tube' which is the first flush system for the rainwater tank. A first flush system diverts the first flush of each rainfall away from the rainwater storage tank preventing any dust, silt or contaminants from making it into the houses water supply
The next three matching 'boxes' are the greywater recycling system. This system takes greywater from showers, basins and the washing machine and cleans and recycles it for re-use within the house for flushing toilets and back to the washing machine. It is also used for watering gardens and lawns
The next two items are part of the solar hot water system. On the ground is the hot water storage tank and on the wall is the gas heating booster which is used when there is insufficient sun to provide the solar heating for the hot water.
And finally on the ground is the start of the installation of the pumping system for sending the rainwater through out the house.
The front entry of the house has been designed to act as a two storey breezeway, circulating air throughout the house. At the top of the image you can see the louvre windows that form the main functional component of the breezeway, providing very fine control over airflow and direction. By selecting the right louvres to open it is possible to facilitate direct cross ventilation, diverted cross ventilation to another part of the house, and on still draw by opening all of the louvres, stackeffect can be utilised by allowing hot air to rise and draw through cooler air from below.
Carpets can be a significant issue when it comes to green building. Many carpets and underlays have high VOCemissions, are made from non-renewables and are non-renewable at the end of their life, so it is important to select with care. The carpet we will be using is a low VOC 100% wool carpet which is laid on a underlay that is made from recycled clothing, shredded to from a soft underlay. Towards the back of the image, the recycled timber architraves and skirting boards can be seen.
Above is a progress photo of the front/North of the house with all of the external cladding completed.
Keeping the summer solar heat gain out of large north facing windows can be a problem. We love providing lots of natural light into houses but are very conscious of the heat gain issues large areas of glass create. Even with high performance Low E glass, solar heat gain in summer can be a problem.
To manage this, we install retractable external venetian louvre blinds to the windows. When retracted the blinds are hidden in a pelmet box over the windows as you can see in the image above.
The blinds operate through a range of positions from being totally closed and providing full sun shading, to open 90 degrees to allow for increased light but still providing partial shading, right through to totally open as per the image above.
The internal fixout and joinery is well underway, as you can see from the image above the kitchen has been installed.
Achieving an eco-friendly kitchen is about choices of materials, products and appliances.
For the cupboards we have used sustainably forested and harvested Hoop Pine plywood, and for the island bench breakfast bar we have used solid reclaimed Spotted Gum. Wherever possible we prefer to avoid the use of manufactured board products such as MDF or particleboard, many of these products are very high in formaldehyde emissions, as well as contributing to the wood chipping and pulping of native forests.
The dishwasher and kitchen mixer tap are 4 star water efficiency rated and the electrical appliances are all 4 star energy rated. In our opinion 4 star energy and water efficiency is the minimum that anyone should settle for. The cost premium for this level of appliance is so minor compared to the water an energy saving over, say a two star rated appliance.
Heat trapped at the top of a room between the head of the door and the ceiling is a major contributor rooms heating up in summer. Even with good cross ventilation, if there is no way for this trapped heat to escape, then it will stay in the room.
The way we deal with this is by installing a small bank if timber louvres over each door, which can be opened or closed depending on the requirement to heat or cool a room. In the image above, the louvres can be seen over the two bedroom doors. Once the louvres are open, the trapped heat is free to continue on its breeze path and maintain full cross ventilation.
The strange thing about this, is that this sort of installation is a not a new concept. Victorian houses has openable highlight windows over many of their internal doors. What we don't understand is at what point did such a great idea disappear from standard construction?
We have commenced internal painting and are using Natural Paint from Murobond. We feel the name says it all. The paint contains milk, egg white, vinegar and linseed oil to name but a few ingredients which are all natural, bio-degradable and from renewable resources. NO petrochemicals or heavy metals can be seen. Beats me why anyone would use anything else but natural bio paints.
Unfortunately when choosing to use a hardwood in their home, most people are not aware of the environmental issues associated with that choice. Although any tree that is cut down for timber can be replaced with another newly planted tree, most Australian hardwoods are slow growing and a lot of the timber that you may get from a timber yard could be from a tree 50 years old. There has been so much logging of old growth forests carried out in Australia over the years that we really are getting to the point where we should think about stopping.
Making the right sustainable choice for hardwood IS hard. As a minimum, if you are obtaining new timber, look for timber that has some from of chain of custody accreditation, such as FSC.
OR do what we do.
We only used reclaimed or recycled timbers.
The image above is of some Red Ironbark stair treads that were salvaged from a warehouse in Sydney.
Below are some recycled Bluegum posts and beams being used for some external pergolas and verandas.
Not only is reclaimed and recycled timber a very sustainable choice, it is also a much better timber. Newly logged timber is high in moisture and therefore very unstable. To reduce the moisture content in the timber, it is force dried in kilns to dry out and reduce the moisture content down to a stable level. The problem with such forced drying is that the timber is still prone to warping, cupping and twisting as it re-adjusts to it's new environment.
With recycled or reclaimed timber, because it is so old, it has dried out naturally and is a very stable timber.
Below is some more recycled Bluegum which has been used as feature wall cladding at the entry to the house. Below is another progress photo of the front, or North of the house.
Keeping cool in summer is critical to a well designed green building, particularly when looking to avoid air conditioning.
To achieve this, cross ventilation and ventilation control is the key.
We find that louvre windows such as the one above below are the best way to achieve fine control over the amount of ventilation required.
Louvre windows are the only windows that allow you to open a window a full 100% for maximum cross ventilation of to feather that back to a fine opening of only 2% to ensure fresh air supply.
They look good, provide uninterrupted vision because there are no framing members and are very secure.
The old loose and rattly louvres of the 50's are a thing of the past. The louvres currently available seal so well that they are cyclone rated.
As one can see from the image above, things are progressing along nicely. The external Fibre Cement cladding is nearing completion to the first floor, all windows are installed and some internal works have commenced. On the second floor roof a photo voltaic solar array is just visible above the roof sheeting.
The solar array, below, is a grid connected 3 kW system which we believe should look after all of the household power needs, making the house a genuine zero carbon or carbon neutral house. The panels have perfect due north exposure and are mounted on support frames to bring them up to the optimal solar angle for Sydney'slatitude, thus ensuring they generate the most energy possible.
An important but often overlooked aspect of good passive design is ensuring that a house is well insulated. Insulation products are available in various 'R' values. An R value represents the thermal resistance of the particularinsulation product. So in theory the higher the R value, the greater the insulating properties.
However achieving a well insulated building envelope is not just a case of using the highest R value you can find. It is possible to have too much insulation. Insulation works on trapping air between the fibres, so good loft is required for the insulation to work properly. If insulation is squashed into a wall of roof to make it fit, then the insulation will not loft and won't perform to its optimum. If you don't get the full insulating value from your insulation product then you are simply wasting money.
Also, when creating a well insulated building envelope it is critical to provide adequate ventilation to roof spaces and wall cavities. It you don't, then you will create a moist and damp environment which will become a breeding ground for unhealthy moulds.
Above and below are the insulation product and installation that we typically use. We always choose to use polyester insulation because it very safe to handle when installing (it is just like installing fluffy pillows), contains no formaldehyde unlike most glass fibre insulation and is made from recycled materials such as PET bottles.
Something that we are big on is trying to re-use heat and energy twice. In the case of the ducting and fan in the image below, this is not air conditioning. The simple fan and duct system transfers warmed or cooled air from one part of the house to another. So in the case of winter, a well heated living space will create and element of 'wasted' heat which we duct off and transfer to the second floor bedrooms. Those bedrooms are there fore heated virtually for free. The fan uses less energy than a single light globe and is linked to a thermostat which controls the temperature
Most people fail to realise how much heat loss or heat gain occurs through the glass in their windows. Most windows as standard have nothing more than 3mm thick glass which has no more insulating value than cling film!. In our opinion, upgrading the glass in windows is one of the most important aspects of green building.
The first step up from standard glass is to install what is called a 'Low E' coated glass. This has an efficiency improvement of around 40% over standard glass. The next step up would be to double glass your windows.
In the case of this house, we have used a Low E coated glass, below, because it provides a great combination of cost and performance for a temperate climate such as Sydney.
We simply love the look of this shot. The cladding, roof line, exposed roofing timbers and shadows.
Progress from our previous post is obvious, we now have the roof on. The roof sheeting material we have used is ColorbondCustomorb metal sheeting. We have a general preference to use this form of roof material because of it's low thermal mass as well as preferring the aesthetics afforded by the metal sheeting. The metal roof sheeting also has the added benefit of being lighter weight than lost other forms of roof covering, thus reducing the load on the roof framing and leading to a more economical structure.
Directly below the roof sheeting we have installed a 75mm foil faced insulation blanket which provides a R2.5 insulation value which well exceeds the minimum requirements.
For a roof/ceiling insulation system to work there must be two levels of insulation. One directly below the roof sheeting which works to prevent heat or cold from entering a house, and the other directly above the ceiling which works to prevent heat rising and being lost out of a house.
As part of creating a well insulated and sealed building, building wrap or sisalation is required behind any external cladding as we have used above. The building wrap serves two purposes:
it provides a vapor barrier to keep the wall cavity free of moisture
it is an integral part of any insulation strategy to achieve a high overall R value for a wall system
As part of a well designed wall system, building wrap can add up to R 0.5 to the overall wall insulation level.
Keeping a roof cavity well ventilated is key to reducing the heat gain in a house during the summer. Without the ability to escape, any heat that is built up in a roof space will transfer through the ceiling and into the house increasing the internal temperature. The system we use is a series of vents that are located on the low and high sides of the roof, see the black strips in the photo above, which extract heat from the roof via natural convection, ie heat rising. So as the heat within the roof increases it will naturally rise towards the higher vents whilst cooler replacement air is brought in via the lower vents.
The plumbing first fix out has commenced and in the image above the lilac recycled grey water pipework can be seen running to a new toilet cistern. The grey water treatment system being installed will treat grey water to a Class A standard which makes it acceptable to re-use for flushing toilets, in washing machines and for watering gardens.
We mentioned previously that the intention is for the house to be self sufficient for water. The tank above is where all the potable or drinkable water will come from for the house. Based on our calculations, the tank size of 24,000 litre should be adequate for our clients anticipated water usage. A grey water recycling system will provide the water for flushing of toilets, the washing of clothes and for garden watering. So the tank above will only supply water to bathroom and kitchen taps and showers.
The erection of the wall and roof framing is progressing well. The images above show the single level, north facing living areas virtually complete. Elements of structural steel were required to facilitate the large spans across some of the window openings.
Hyspan rafters have been used for the large span living area, as can be seen below. A hyspan rafter is essentially a plywood composite beam made using low grade plantation pine timber. The beams offer a very economical means with which to create large spans with timber. The adhesive used to bind the timber is rated as E0, which is the lowest VOCemission level available.
Having completed all of the ground floor framing, above you can see the first floor wall frames and some of the roof framing being erected.
Note in the for ground the timber waste stockpile. We are really anti the waste created during construction, and so are constantly looking for ways to try and reduce any material wastage. Any waste material created is being separated into like material groups ie, steel, timber, concrete etc so that recycling is as easy as possible. Irrespective of this, waste created during construction is a big environmental problem. It is estimated that demolition and construction creates around 25% of all waste created. So long before avenues for recyling are looked at, waste should simply be reduced. We feel that we are doing a really good job of this, but as you can see in the image, it still exists.
On top of the environmental concerns is the fact that waste such as the timber above has been paid for. One might as well simply throw money into the rubbish. So reducing waste also has a bottom line, it is good for your back pocket.
The most efficient way for timber wall frames to be manufactured is pre-fabricated in a factory. Waste is kept to a minimum, there are substantial time efficiencies due to no wet weather delays as well as cost efficiencies over frames fabricated on site. Pre-fab wall frames are made in full or part wall sections, bundled together and delivered to site as shown above. All that is left to do is erect them.
You will also note that the wall frames have a blu-ish colour. The colour indicates that the timber has been treated with Permethrin, which is an organic termiticide and provides 25 year protection against termite attack. Termites are are perpetual problem in Sydney and in our opinion you can not protect a timber structure enough from them. Generally we are not in favour of any form of chemical treatment of construction products. However, there is absolutely nothing sustainable about having a timber structure attacked by termites and a house requiring substantial repair before the end of its useful life. The permethrin does not leach from the timber and remains encapsulated in the structure of the wood, so in theory the environmental impact is minimal.
The key to using timber is for it to be either recycled or sustainably forested. In the case of the wall framing timber we are using, as you can see above, it is plantation pine which comes from Australian Forestry Standard (AFS) or FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified plantations.
The first wall frames go up. Standing and fixing the pre-fab Wallframes is a little bit like building a house of cards. Each frame is akin to one of the cards and as each additional frame is erected it adds to the overall structural integrity of the house.
In the background you can see the 24,000 litre rainwater storage tank for the house. The aim for the house is to be self sufficient for water, so potable water for bathing, cooking and drinking will come from this tank.
Having spent so much time and effort polishing the concrete it deserved to be protected. Being the great recyclers that we are we came across recycled carpet that had been put out for a Council kerbside clean up. Unfortunately carpet is one of those construction products that seems to always end up as landfill. It seems that no-one has found a way to recycled it. So if we can give it one more use before it ends up there, then all the better. So in the image above you can see part of the main living area floor protected with the carpet.
Now that the concrete has fully cured, we had to finish it to a standard that we are happy to leave exposed as the finished floor. The term polished concrete is actually a little deceiving. The concrete is not so much polished as 'ground' through various grades of 'polishing stones'. Starting with a diamond grinding stone and progressing through to fine grinding stones which are a bit like sanding concrete with sandpaper. The aim for us was to create a concrete surface with a uniform grey colour and some small aggregate exposed.
The shot above shows the grinding in process. Slow and laborious with many passes across the concrete as one moves through the 'polishing stones'. The grinding can be done dry or wet, we chose to grind it wet purely because the cement dust is a health hazard that we could do without.
The image below shows the concrete surface once we had finished 'polishing' the concrete. You can see the uniform colour as well as the exposure of some smaller aggregate...perfect.
From a negative perspective, concrete polishing has the effect of wearing the finished concrete surface, thus leaving the concrete exposed to staining from anything that might be dropped on it. So a sealer needs to be applied to provide a barrier that prevents the spilt red wine from leaving a stain!
Our choice of sealer is a water based sealing compound manufactured in Australia by a paint company called Murobond. We love both them and their stuff. They have a strong environmental bent both in the products they make and their company attitude. All of their paints and finishes are either low or zero VOC, perfect for anyone planning to building green.
After curing the sealer for a week, we will be straight onto the slab and erecting the timber wall frames. Watch for the next post.
Most people are not aware of the significant carbon impact that the production of cement has. Production of cement accounts for 5% of the worlds carbon. This is a significant figure for what seems to be an innocuous product.
Because cement plays such a significant part in the construction of any building , if one is to truly build green, then it is important to look at ways to reduce the amount of cement used.
And one of the biggest users of cement in construction is in the manufacture of concrete. Greener concrete suppliers have now started to deal with this issue but supplanting cement content with a product called fly ash. Fly ash is a by-product from the burning of coal and makes an excellentsubstitute for cement. By using fly ash in concrete, what has previously been seen as a waste product now has become a valuable asset.
For this project we have used concrete from a supplier who has replaced a portion of the cement content with fly ash, significantly reducing the carbon footprint of the concrete we have used.
Because we intend to leave the concrete slab as an exposed element, it is crucial that the concrete is finished and trowelled well. Our requirement was for the concrete to receive a near burnished finish. A burnished finish is when the concrete is mechanically trowelled with a trowelling machine, as seen above, until it has cured sufficiently that the blades of the trowel are almost burning the concrete surface due to the friction of the steel blades on the concrete.
We have used a burnished finish because it provides a durable and hard wearing surface to the concrete as well as a subtle surface lustre.
Lastly, and most importantly is the curing of concrete once it has poured. Curing of concrete is one part of the concreting process that is often neglected. However, without proper curing, all of the earlier effort will be wasted. Curing it the process of preventing concrete from prematurely drying out due to exposure to the sun or wind. If freshly poured concrete is allowed to prematurely dry out, it will fail to achieve its final strength and the quality of the surface finish will suffer.
There are many ways to cure concrete, but the main methods are either the application of a chemical compound to the surface, covering the surface with plastic sheeting or permanently keeping the surface wet. We avoid the use of the chemical compound for environmental reasons and the plastic sheeting because it can mark the finished surface of the concrete. So we use a method of keeping wet hessian rolled out across the concrete surface, as you can see in the image above. Typically concrete should be cured for a minimum of 7 days, with up to 30 days ideal. Given that the finished internal floor will be the exposed concrete, we have chosen to cure the concrete for 30 days to ensure that we have the best quality surface finish.
Like most concrete slabs, reinforcing bar is required to help give the slab it's strength. And like all material choices that can be made during the course of construction, one can choose to make a sustainable choice or not. In the case of the reinforcing bar we have chosen to use reinforcing bar from a supplier who uses 100% recycled steel. By using recycled steel, the environmental impact of the steel has been reduced. Recycling steel uses a lot less overall energy than mining ore, and precessing it in order to make new steel.
What is more, the strength and quality of the recycled material is the same as the new material. The photo above shows the steel reinforcing being placed inside the form work for the concrete slab.
Timber wall and roof framing is still the dominant material for house construction in Sydney. Unfortunately this is the favorite food of one of our native creatures, termites. So it is necessary to have some form of termite protection when you build in timber in order to prevent your house being eaten out around you!
Termite protection can take many forms and more often than not involves some from of pesticide. The key is, to avoid spraying termite barriers on the soil and ground around your house. Not only are they toxic for termites, but they aren't particularly good for humans and the ground ecology.
Several new products on the market seek to address this issue by safely encapsulating a termiticide within a 'blanket' a bit like thick plastic, which can not leach the termiticide. These blankets are used to protect around pipes such as the one above, which prevent termites from entering your house by forming a physical barrier that the termites can not penetrate.
To heat the house in winter we have installed a 5 star gas in slab hydronic heating system. For those who don't know what I am talking about, a hydronic heating system is essentially heated water running through pipes, the pink ones in the photo above, which delivers heat to a location, in our case, the concrete slab.
Hydronic heating is very efficient because is works on the principle of radiant heat, which warms objects rather than convective heat which just warms the air. What is more, in slab hydronic heating is doubly efficient because the heat starts at the bottom most point in a room and rises to the top, heating everything along the way. Rather than air conditioning which generally tries to heat the air in a room from the grilles in the ceiling, down. One way is working with nature, heat rises, and the other is trying to fight it.
For in slab hydronic heating to work at its best, the floor should not have an insulating covering such as carpet or timber. So tiles or exposed concrete in our case, tend to be the best.
Above is the manifold which looks after the balancing of the hydronic heating pipework. Put simply, the two white pipes on the left are the flow and return from the gas boiler and the red is the heated water going out to the slab and the blue is the heated water returning back.
The heating system is designed as a closed loop, so the same water stays in the pipework getting heated at the boiler, then going through the red manifold and out to the slab, then back to the blue manifold and then on to the boiler to get heated and start again. Pretty simple really.
One of the key requirements for the project was to provide universal access for the clients. This is basically ensuring that as they grow older, they can still get about easily in their house. Keeping the main floor of the house at the one level is key to achieving this. So as you can see above, there has been some minor excavation and filling on site to create a level platform which will become the ground floor and main living area of the house.
The ground floor of the house will be a concrete slab on ground. The main reason behind this was that a concrete floor has excellent thermal mass. To explain thermal mass in simple terms, the concrete slab will be left exposed so that in winter it can absorb the suns heat and become a source of 'free' heating. In summer the reverse occurs, by keeping the slab shaded from the sun, it will become a source of 'free' cooling.
One of the key features of the house is the water saving and re-using strategies. As well as being self reliant for all potable water, the house also incorporates a grey water recycling and re-use system. Grey water is collected from all hand basins, showers, floor wastes and the washing machine and recycled through an OASIS grey water recycling system. The recycled water is then re-used for flushing toilets, in the washing machine and for watering the garden. In the case of the washing machine, the same volume of water will be in a perpetual cycle of use and re-use.
For a grey water recycling system to work however, the grey water needs to be separate from the black water. Put simply, black water is water from your toilet and kitchen sink and grey water comes from all of the other sources. So to keep these separate, two separate drainage systems needs to be installed, one to direct the black water to the sewer and the other to direct the grey water for recycling.
In the image above of the en suite, in the foreground is the waste pipework for the toilet which is being directed to the right to the sewer. In the back ground is the grey water pipework which is picking up the floor waste and hand basin in the middle of the image and the shower at the top of the image. The pipework then continues off to the left at the top of the image to the grey water recycling system. Simple really!
Demolition, or should I say 'de-construction', of the existing house was completed recently. All materials salvaged from the building were segregated into like materials for easy recycling, or for un-recyclable materials, sent to landfill.
I believe that we managed to recycle around 60-70% of the materials from the old house. Not a bad effort considering that most house demolitions consist of 0% recycled!
The first image below shows in the foreground un-recyclable materials such as PVC, other plastics and some damaged timber which unfortunately had to go to landfill. In mid image is concrete and brickwork stockpiled for crushing and recycling, and in the background is a stockpile of green vegetation that will be sent for mulching and re-use in gardens.
A huge recycled success was the quantity of timber that we managed to reclaim from the old house. Below is just part of the timber that was salvaged. All this timber was sent to a recycling yard where it will be de-nailed and on sold.
I think that we have demonstrated how easily simple structures can be treated in a sustainable way through recycling. With the quantity of materials recycled, the cost to remove the house was no more than if it was all sent to landfill. The only trade off was the increased duration required to 'de-construct' the house rather than demolish. I would put this at around another two weeks.
Having just been through the process of 'de-constructing' a house it does raise the problem that when we build houses, we aren't building them to be easily pulled apart at the end of their life. This is definitely something that the Construction Industry has to change in order to become more sustainable, I know that we will start giving it greater consideration when we build. Green building isn't just about the building of things, it also needs to take into consideration the 'taking apart of them' as well.
The next couple of weeks will have some excavation and ground works and then the in-ground plumbing and drainage will be laid.
As you can see from the photos above and below, demolition work has commenced. Progress is slower than would normally occur for a typical house demolition due to the time and care being taken to 'pull the house apart' piece by piece.
House demolition contractors typically take no more than a week to bring in a large machine, flatten the house and then ship everything out to landfill. Every time I see it happen it makes me fume. What a total loss and waste of tonnes of good construction materials and what environmental negligence, sending a house to landfill purely because people can't look past the way they have always done it. This sort of wastefulness wouldn't happen in a developing country.
As we explained earlier, green building isn't just about the building, it is about the entire process of creating a new house. When we started demolition, the key was to reduce the amount of materials that would go to landfill. Generally, I am happy with what materials we look like being able to recycle.
The images above and below show the inside of the house with the walls and ceiling partly stripped of the plaster lining. All of the wall, floor and roof framing timbers are in very good condition and will definitely be able to be recycled, great news.
With no recycling facility available for used plaster lining it looks like it will unfortunately be sent to landfill.
All of the windows and doors will be salvaged and sent for recycling along with several bathroom and kitchen fixtures and fittings.
Over the next week or so the brickwork should start to come down and be sent for recycling along with the concrete footings.
Since we blogged a little while ago about our new sustainable house project in Collaroy Sydney, we have had a number of people ask us for more information about what sort of green initiatives we will use and how are we going to go about it.
So we had a bit of a think about the best way to help give people information and came to the conclusion that we would use the house as a live sustainable building case study to demonstrate to people how to go about building an eco-friendly, sustainable house.
So where do we begin?.....we have given you a bit of an outline about the project in an earlier blog post and more details and information will come out as the build progresses.
The new house is being built on a site currently occupied by an existing house, see below. The house was unusable due to it's location on the site and overall condition, so it had to go. So how does one get rid of an old, unwanted house in the most eco-friendly way?
YOU RECYCLE IT!!!!So that is what we intend to do. Having made a thorough assessment of what materials can be salvaged from the existing house we have come to the following conclusions:
The bricks and concrete can be sent to a crushing plant to be recycled as road base for road and pavement construction
The timber wall, roof and floor framing can be sent to a second hand building materials yard for future re-sale
The windows can be sent to a second hand building materials yard for future re-sale
The bathroom and kitchen fixtures and fittings can be sent to a second hand building materials yard for future re-sale
It looks like the only materials that we will need to send to landfill will be those that have to be by law, such as the asbestos roof sheeting, and those for which there is no industry re-sale or recycling system in place, such as used plasterboard wall and ceiling lining.
Recycling the house will definitely be a labour intensive exercise. This is probably the reason why the majority of houses that are demolished are knocked flat by a large excavator and sent straight to landfill, it is quick and easy.
So taking the most sustainable approach to the demolition of the existing house will have an effect on the timeline for the project, but in our opinion if we can actually manage to recycle the materials mentioned above , then it will have been worth it. The less building waste that goes to landfill, the better.
Demolition starts in a few days, sign up for regular updates and to follow how things progress...
Here is an image of our new sustainable house project in Collaroy, Sydney which we will commence building in early 2009. Green building is what we are about and this house typifies everything about our approach to sustainable houses. The house will be very eco-friendly both in its design and construction. Water and energy consumption for the house will be very low due to the house:
being totally self sufficient for potable water. All water for drinking, cooking and showering will be collected on site and stored in rainwater tanks for re-use in the house
all grey water from showers, hand basins and the washing machine will be recycled through a grey water treatment system and re-used for flushing toilets and washing clothes in the washing machine.
not having any air conditioning because of the excellent breeze ways that provide for summer cooling
having high thermal mass in both the walls and exposed concrete slab for winter warming and summer cooling
using an in slab gas hydronic heating system for winter heating
using low-e thermal glass in all of the windows to reduce heat loss in winter and prevent heat gain in summer
having good eaves and sun shading to keep it cool in summer
being designed with good orientation and zoning of rooms
But we haven't only considered water and energy efficiency. Occupant comfort and materials sustainability are also high priority:
all internal paints and cabinetry will use low VOC products.
recycled Australian Hardwood will be used for the stair construction and for the skirting board and architraves around windows and doors
any waste created during construction will be separated into differing materials and recycled
This is a very exciting project for both us and our clients and we will post progress photos and updates as we move through construction.
The pope is on a drive to make the Vatican Europe's most energy efficient state.
Around 2,000 square metres of the Paul VI hall are being covered with photovoltaic panels, while the another 3000 square metres will be used as a screen to increase the amount of captured energy.
According to Mauro Villarini, an engineer who works for Vatican State's technical services, " The objective of our project is, in sum, to create an energy process from which, with the production of clean energy and its intelligent management, it is possible to supply in the first place these properties and, in the future, also the means of transport, making mobility sustainable from the environmental point of view". " The challenge for Vatican City State to be the first in Europe to comply with European objectives, which foresee for 2020, obtaining at least 20% of consumed energy from renewable sources."
Villarini expects the solar panels to be functioning by the end of this year.
There is a growing attitude in the water challenged times that we live in, that to waste any water is unacceptable. Out of this, simple grey water diversion systems such as the one above are becoming more prevalent and are being readily accepted by mainstream Australia.
But when looking to install some form or grey water diversion system, serious consideration has to be given to the effect that the nutrient rich water will have on the ecology of the soil that you are diverting the water to. Last thing anyone looking to reduce their environmental impact wants to do is, by do good on one hand (reducing water usage) they find themselves doing bad (damaging soil ecology) as a result of it.
RMIT Honours Student FarzarhdNamdarian recently completed a thesis in conjunction with the Alternative Technology Association titled 'The impact of grey water irrigation systems on domestic soil environments'.
Generally it is a fairly dry subject, but it does make for interesting reading. By researching and recoding data from 7 real life case studies in Melbourne, Farzarhd has been able to gather some useful information that should help anyone thinking about installing a grey water diversion system from causing any damage to their soil ecology.
Up until now, anyone wanting to recycle grey water has generally been forced to redirect the water underground in irrigation systems because of archaic local health regulations. This forces us to continually water gardens when we have a shower, whether we want to or not.
Although technically the water is being recycled, sending it underground without another option is hardly a good use for Australia's most precious resource. What everyone recycling grey water has wanted is to be able to re-use the water again, above the ground.
Enter the people at Nubian Water Systems and their OASIS GT600 (sounds like a sports car). The OASIS is a fairly compact piece of equipment that stores the incoming grey water, filters and treats it and then stores the treated water again for later re-use. The real beauty of the product is that it treats the water to a standard that is acceptable for most Australian States to allow it's use above ground ie, it can be re-directed to toilet flushing or other non potable water uses.
The OASIS uses a three stage process to ensure that the water is treated to the required standard. The first stage is a filter screen that removes lint and other course materials, the second is a filter media that utilises physical removal, adsorption and microbial induced aerobic degradation to remove contaminants and the final stage is UV disinfection.
The unit is smaller enough to mount beside your house, requires very little maintenance and very little power to run.
This is a piece of equipment well worth checking out.