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Urban Rio, Panama's First Affordable Green Container Project

Urban Rio

UPDATE 3/16/09Urban Core International has gone dark.  The website was shut down.  If you have any concerns, feel free to contact us

Aaron Newman, founder and managing partner of Urban Core International, sent me the details of his latest project, Urban Rio.  Specifically, Urban Rio is a product of Urban Core's prefab and container division called Envision Prefab.  It's easy on the eyes, to say the least, and just so happens to be the first sustainable, affordable, container project in Panama. 

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The Kalahari, Affordable Green Luxury Living

Kalahari

There’s an interesting article in the November issue of Inc. Magazine about Full Spectrum NY and their low-income, green development, The Kalahari.  Located at 116th Street in Harlem, Kalahari has an interesting design — it’s actually inspired by designs of the Ndebele tribes of southern Africa.  The building is currently under construction and is aiming for LEED Silver certification; some of the green technology used in this building include wind and solar power, low-flow water fixtures, energy-efficient appliances, vegetated green roofing, and bamboo floors.  About half of the 249 units are set aside for families earning in the $56,000 per year range.  The article goes on to explain how successful Full Spectrum NY has been developing in the low-income, green housing niche.  Very cool.

Dwelling Dock, Integrating Sustainability and Living

Dwelling Dock

Matt Allert took second place in the Cascadia Region GBC‘s Emerging Green Builders Natural Talent Design Competition this year with his idea, the Dwelling Dock [pdf].  The Dwelling Dock is premised on the idea that sustainability should begin with the most basic building block of our communities: the dwelling.  It’s an attempt to fully integrate the infrastructure of the housing unit with the environment.  Although purely in concept stage, the Dwelling Dock would be prefabricated, and would include all the accoutrements we’ve come to expect in green homes:  pervious paving, recycled materials, living roof, water collection, and photovoltaic panels. 

Allert’s goals for the Dwelling Dock project include some of the following: (1) collect rainwater for re-use, (2) produce energy on-site, (3) minimize site disturbance and preserve existing site resources, (4) use local materials, and (5) integrate sustainable design with recycled, low-VOC materials.  And I’ve got to admit, I really like the design elements.  Butterfly living roof.  3-level living.  A healthy mixture of privacy and transparency.  Would you live in one?

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Extreme Recycling in the Big Dig House

Bigdighouse

The Big Dig House by Single Speed Design is a testament to recycling.  More than 600,000 pounds of material were recovered from the massive Boston transit project known as the Big Dig and were reused to make this 3,400 square foot house.  Temporary road sections (formerly used as access ramps for a bridge), support beams that shored up a slurry wall, and other pieces were saved from being sent to a landfill and instead became the bones of this unique home.

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A Thermally Efficient Matrix of Buildings (S2)

Abu Dhabi Plaza A few days ago, Foster + Partners released design details of their newest mixed-use project in Astana, Kazakhstan — Abu Dhabi Plaza.  This clustered matrix of multi-level buildings will include retail, leisure, hotel, office, and residential uses.  David Nelson, Senior Executive and Head of Design at Foster + Partners said, "We are extremely excited to be working on this important project for Astana that will provide a new urban destination – visually and functionally. The design has resulted from a rigorous analysis of the city’s extreme climate, which has generated the unusual cluster diagram and has determined a façade that is both distinctive and highly efficient."  In this geography, the temperature can get as cold as -40 degrees Celsius, and Foster + Partners found that the compact situation of buildings helped to maximize thermal insulation during the harsh winter months.  The development also includes a series of temperate, year-round gardens with a network of sheltered pedestrian routes throughout the site.  Light shafts between the blocks will have laminated glass panels that shower colorful light, shadows, and patterns on the lower levels.

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Celadon Green Townhouses Are Popular

Look5

Update 4/23/09: Celadon Eco Townhomes Now Complete!

This is a development by Origin Development called Celadon.  Celadon has 24 units of minimalist, modern, eco-friendly townhouses, and the good people of Charlotte are dang close to snatching up the entire lot.  Only two left.  Celadon was designed by a LEED accredited architect, so it looks to be green with a luxury twist  (certification will be through the NC HealthyBuilt Homes Program).  Green features include bamboo floors, natural skylights, recycled glass tiles, low-emitting cabinetry, energy-efficient appliances, fly-ash mixed concrete, unit submetering, high-efficiency HVAC, and xeriscaping, etc.

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