Notes from Designing Living Roofs – Part III...

The roof garden from above with terrace.

In previous posts, we have looked at the addition of a green roof over a garage at a residence located on a steep slope which provided the clients with a planted space in the front of the house.  In a second post, we looked at the implementation of a green roof as a key design component which allows the new residence to blend into a lush landscape.

In this section, we will take a look at the design of a new residence which provides a garden hideaway for the clients.  For the 2 Bar Project in Menlo Park, California, the clients came to the project looking for cost effective, energy efficient solutions for their home. They are also avid gardeners and offering the clients additional square footage to plant, as opposed to a traditional roof, was appealing to the clients.

The 500sf roof garden is hidden from view until climbing the main stairway and catching a glimpse of the garden from the second floor bridge.  Accessible from the master bedroom,

View to the garden from the master bedroom.

the green roof includes a recessed roof deck which comfortably seats the family of four. In terms of sustainability, the green roof over the living/dining/kitchen area serves to insulate the house in cool weather, controls solar heat gain and reduces water run-off.

Typical, intensive green roof assembly would have required up-sizing of the roof framing, including additional steel, rendering it cost prohibitive. Instead, an exceptionally lightweight engineering with a shallow 2-6” soil depth for the 2 Bar green roof assembly with sedum plants and river rock edging overcomes this challenge. The garden, designed and planted by Lauren Schneider of Wonderland Garden, has been blooming for two years.  Sedum, succulents, aloe, vivums, and ice plants make up the garden which flowers in swaths of white and purple – an unexpected, secret garden in a suburban neighborhood.

2 BAR TECHNICAL INFO

View of house and green roof.

The green roof here includes a layer of plastic coating, a roofing barrier, a drainage mat to facilitate drainage, a capillary mat that holds water and encourages plants to take root, a subterranean drip system, a filter fabric to prevent the soil from clogging, a lightweight planting material (15 pounds per square foot) and the seedlings.

Jonathan Feldman is Editorial Director of Green Architecture Notes and Principal of Feldman Architecture.

Summer 2011 Newsletter...

 

 

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Feldman Architecture

2011 AIA San Francisco Design Awards

The Caterpillar House Wins Citation Award in Energy + Sustainability

Caterpillar House Image
From the AIA San Francisco Website:
The design for the Caterpillar House, sited on the softly rolling hills of the Santa Lucia Preserve, sought to accentuate a connection to the land. Having lived in a Cliff May home, the client came to the project with a love of modern ranch houses and looking for an environmentally-conscious response to a beautiful site. The Caterpillar House implements sustainable elements while exploring a contemporary version of the ranch ideals: massing that is low and horizontal, an open plan with a strong connection between indoor/outdoor spaces, and living areas which center informally on the kitchen. The jury commented: “This is a project that gets the priorities straight. Design for energy efficiency first, then add renewable energy sources.”

Or click here to learn more and view the 2011 winners!

Launching Our New Graphic Identity

Feldman Architecture has a new look courtesy of Anjel Van Slyke of A Dangerous Business.  To see our revised website click here.

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What’s Behind the Door?...

When choosing doors to improve indoor-outdoor connections, we always consider a number of competing objectives and challenges. Among the important considerations are how large do we want individual panels to be, how large of a clear opening are we trying to create, the style of the house, the weather exposure, and the need for insect protection. – Jonathan

House Ocho: 4-panel sliders
Here we used two operable and two fixed doors to get a wide opening to the patio. We extended the score lines of the concrete floor inside the house to the outside creating planting strips to emphasize the indoor-outdoor connection.
Ocho-Doors

Henry House: 4-Panel Sliders 
This attic conversion in San Francisco used similar sliding doors to connect to a new roof deck.Henry-Doors

Buena Vista: Custom Pivot Doors
Custom pivot doors create a nice modern punch in this San Francisco Victorian. We like the way that, when open, the doors provide a directionality that draws one out to the spectacular view beyond.
Buena-Vista-Doors

Old Bernal: Two Large Lift and Slide Doors
This oversized lift and slide door is made of two operable panels that provide large openings and flexibility.Old-Bernal-Doors

Open Box 2: Slide-Fold Doors
These multi-panel doors have a limitation in terms of how wide each door panel can be, but they make up for it in providing a clear, unobstructed opening when the doors are pushed to the side.

Open_Box_2_Doors

Sustainable Sidebar: Surfaces “What Can’t You Recycle or Reuse?”...

In this Sustainable Sidebar product post, we’ve decided to highlight a few sustainable surface materials durable enough to handle the daily wear-and-tear on your dwelling, but won’t harm your conscience. Made with recycled content, rapidly-renewable resources, natural composite materials, or all of the above, these products are healthy for you, your home, and the environment… Did I mention some of them are also playful and fun?!

ShektaStone – Counterfeit Line: Recycled Paper – Currency removed from Circulation

ShetkaStone is made from 100% recycled paper, plant, or cloth fibers. For the counterfeit line they use shredded currency, removed from circulation. Plaster, plastic polyester, and paper glue are used as supplemental binding agents, and then sealed with a zero VOC finish. When you’re finished with your ShektaStone, it can be recycled and used in the manufacturing of new products.

Teragren – Moso Bamboo: Strand Face in Wheat

Bamboo is an amazing material. Used for everything from serving utensils to structural building materials, this resource covers the gamut and it’s rapidly renewable. Teragren uses a specific species of bamboo for their surfaces. Optimum 5.5 Moso Bamboo from the Zhejiang province in China, is among the hardest species, with extremely dense fibers. Bamboo reaches maturity every 5-1/2 to 6 years, when it is then harvested for use.

ConcreteWorks – Color Husk: Concrete surface with Rice Hull Fillers

ConcreteWorks has developed a sustainable concrete without compromising its wonderful character. They have replaced raw aggregates with post-consumer recycled material and industrial by-products, diverting upwards of 80% of the total product weight in material from landfill. In the Husk color, one of those recycled fillers is rice hulls. This protective covering for a grain of rice, is a natural substitute for raw aggregates and creates beautiful visual texture.

Trinity Glass – Absolutely: Recycled Glass and Low-Carbon Cement

Trinity Glass is a composite surface made from a patent-pending formulation of recycled glass and low-carbon cement. The surfaces are used for countertops, tabletops, wall cladding, and exterior surfaces. The beautiful color palette is suitable for any design, commercial or residential.

OKITE – Prisma Giallo: Quartz

OKITE is composed of natural quartz crystals. This surfacing material is highly stain and scratch resistant, making it a great option for kitchen and bath applications. The manufacturing process creates a product that is harder, non-porous and easier to maintain than natural stone.

Squak Mountain Stone – Recycled Paper and Glass / Low-Carbon Cement / Fly Ash – Natural

Squak Mountain Stone is a fibrous-cement material comprised of recycled paper, recycled glass, coal fly-ash and cement. The material is hand-cast into “slabs” as an alternative to natural or quarried stone. This product is finished beautifully with a similar resemblance to soapstone or limestones.

The Karoo Wilderness Center...

Karoo Wilderness Center 1

The design of the Karoo Wilderness Center, located in South Africa, has recently won the Progressive Architecture Award for its sensitivity to its site, self-reliance, and stunning design. Jess Field of Field Architecture describes, “The site demanded a solution that focused on water… and a form that speaks to it.” The design first focused on providing water, power, and waste systems that work together and support a building that lacks access to municipal utilities. The solution was also shaped by the desire to create an experience that affects the consciousness of visitors.

Aloe Ferox in Bloom

An Aloe Ferox Plant in Bloom

Field Architecture consists of Jess and his father Stan; each has strong connections to the area and hope the project will set an example of building in way that ensures the beauty of the land will last. The Karoo desert supports the greatest botanical diversity of any arid region. The Karoo Wilderness Center provides a library, dining facility and residences for leaders and visitors concerned with the conservation of natural resources. While visitors will feel the weight of the roof and its important function above them, their view will be pushed outward towards the landscape.

Section of an Aloe Plant

Many of the thriving plants in the Karoo are in the succulent family, well-known for aloe vera, which store water in swollen appearing leaves, stems or roots. The aloe ferox, similar to aloe vera and also harvested for its aloe and sap, was Field Architecture’s inspiration for the swollen roofs which gather and store rainwater. The roofs also provide temperature control for the building. During the hot day, the ceiling forms encourage air flow through each of the three pavilions while stored water provides evaporative cooling. In the evenings when heating is required, water warmed by the sun provides radiant heat. In addition, photovoltaic panels provide power and the facility processes its own waste.

The project is currently following a construction schedule that respects the fragile state of the land. Before infrastructure could be installed, aloe ferox plants were carefully relocated. The threat of unnatural erosion resulting from construction and transportation is minimized by observing the natural rain cycles.

Field Architecture was formed in 2006 and maintains an international practice out of their Palo Alto office. To learn more about their practice, visit http://fieldarchitecture.com/

Camille Cladouhos works at Feldman Architecture and is a frequent contributor to Green Architecture Notes.

What’s In a Cabinet?...

Walls don’t have to be the only physical separation between rooms or spaces.  At Feldman Architecture, we often use cabinetry to define boundaries.  Cabinetry adds variation to a room’s palette through the use of different materials, like wood and glass.  It also has the benefit of transparency, which isn’t as easily achieved with framed walls.  Open shelving and transparent or translucent materials keep a visual connection between rooms, but still help define space.  Plus, cabinetry is very useful for storage!  Here are a few examples of how we’ve used cabinetry. – Lindsey

Below: A combination of etched glass panels and stained wood cabinetry act as a buffet for the Dining Room on one side and a media center for the Family Room on the other side.
Cabinets-01

Below: Transparency plays a big role in making this kitchen cabinetry useful but still keeping a strong visual connection between rooms.
Cabinets-02

Below Left: The mixture of materials in this work station keeps the palette interesting.  The combination of open shelves and translucent panels provides natural light and give a sense of openness, while still providing necessary storage.
Below Right: The use of kitchen cabinetry provides useful function, while maintaining a strong visual connection to the Dining Room.
Cabinets-03


Left: A continuous low cabinet runs the length of the house and even outside, tying the rooms together.  Inside it is Kitchen cabinetry, a Dining Room buffet, and Family Room storage.  Outside, it becomes the BBQ and food prep station.

WFP, Water Filtration Plant...

Photo: Pietro Savorelli

On this Earth Day, I’d like to recognize a project that focuses our attention on critical issues and is also paired with the grace of elegant design.

Photo: Pietro Savorelli

Water is one of the planet’s most vital and possibly one of the most endangered resources that life depends on.  Filtration plants come in all sizes and shapes and have various processes from heavy chemical treatment that is dumped into the oceans to biofiltration systems that can bring grey and black water up to drinking standards.  Most plants are somewhere in the middle, doing their best to eliminate the use of chemicals and to retain and reuse water locally.  One of these plants is the WFP of Sant’Erasmo Island in Venice, Italy by C+S Associati.

As part of a larger urban infrastructure and environmental upgrade plan, the WFP is located on the southeastern edge of Sant’Erasmo Island on public land.  The large programmatic elements required by the water filtration system were going to take up most of the public land on the island.  C+S decided instead to place most of that space under ground and to only house the areas that need to be accessible for

maintenance to be above ground.  The area above the buried elements could then be dedicated to the public where paths intertwine with the landscape plantings.

Photo: Pietro Savorelli

C+S’s design of the now much reduced building above ground reflects this relationship by having linear concrete walls of dyed concrete to reflect the color of the ground that seem to rise up out of its roots that are buried deep within the earth.  This is reminiscent of the Austrian batteries that inspired the architects with their utilitarian beauty.  The parallel arrangement of these heavy, linear walls speak to the cultivation of the landscape nearby where artichokes are grown.  The building, which can only be experienced from the exterior by the public, interplays with the landscape and directs views to the horizon where land meets sky.

 

 

 

Photo: Pietro Savorelli

Site Plan

Photo: Pietro Savorelli

Park Plan

Canstruction: the Spirit of San Francisco...

Canstruction brings together architects, engineers and contractors to design and build massive, sculptural structures from various canned goods.  After the event, the cans are donated to local food banks for distribution to those in need.  Leading to the donation of over 15 million pounds of food, the event has been held in many cities throughout the country, from Boston to Los Angeles and from Chicago to Austin.  This June 22-26th, the Metreon will host the first annual event in San Francisco.

Feldman Architecture is excited to be paired with Fulcrum Structural Engineering for this year’s event.  The request of the San Francisco Food Bank is to provide canned goods high in protein, while organizers have asked teams to dream big about the Spirit of San Francisco.  Our team has been working for the past 4 weeks, drawing up a 3d Model, working on a method of canstruction, and looking for donations.  We’ll post more soon, but in the meantime, if you’d like to help us in gathering cans, please email one of us directly or visit here for further information about donations.  – Hannah and the Canstruction team

Sustainable Sidebar: World Water Day Fixtures...

Happy World Water Day!   In honor of the day, we thought it might be nice to be inspired by some pretty bathroom fixtures that help us save water and keep our baths stylish!

Deck Mounted Faucets

Stylish deck mounted faucets that save water too!

01_Deck Mounted Faucets (from left to right)

Toto Soiree 1.5 gpm, HansGrohe PuraVida 1.5 gpm, Fluid Jovian 1.75 gpm, Kraus Decus 2.5 gpm

Wall Mount Faucet

Want a wall mount faucet instead? Try these!

02_Wall Mounted Faucets (from left to right)

Fluid Jovian 1.75 gpm, Kohler Oblo PuraVida 1.75 gpm, Blu Bath Works Pure 2.1 gpm

Showerheads

Let showers rain down without sacrificing the experience!

03_Showerheads (from left to right)

Toto 10″ Square Rainshower 1.75 gpm, Blu Bathworks Round Rainshower 2.0 gpm, Caroma Flow 1.5 gpm

Toilets

And for flushing down the ones and twos....

04_Toilets/Urinals (from left to right)

Caroma Cube Invisi 1.2/0.8 gpf, Blu BathWorks Halo 1.75 gpm,Caroma Cube Urinal 0.13gpf gpm, Caroma H2Zero Waterless Urinal 0 gpm

And if you want to save water with an existing faucet, or have your heart set on a really beautiful, high water usage fixture, the Water Miser is a great attachment that can help limit water use.Water Miser Install ImageWater Miser

[newsletter]

Heron’s Head EcoCenter...

Entrance to Heron's Head Eco-Center

Perched on a knoll at the edge of the bay, the Heron’s Head EcoCenter is a welcome beacon in the gritty, industrial landscape of Bayview/Hunters Point.  The green roof, reclaimed wood exterior siding, and restored wetlands offer clues to the native ecology of the place, and hint at innovative systems that make the project self-sufficient.  In an area where resources have been ravaged and pilfered in the last few decades, the EcoCenter has established itself as a local icon to empower the community to change its situation.

Aerial photo of Heron's Head

Heron’s Head is a small sliver of land along the edge of the bay that resembles an upside down heron’s head.  Two hundredyears ago, the area was a rich wetland estuary, the confluence of freshwater Islais and Yosemite creeks, and the salty San Francisco Bay.  Many aquatic creatures, ground rodents, mammals, insects, and birds, including blue herons called it home.

The contemporary history of the area begins with Naval shipyards, constructed in the late 19th century.  During World War II, many African Americans arrived and settled in the neighborhood to work in the shipyards.  When the shipyards ceased production, the community gradually yielded to a series of other forces.  PG&E constructed a large natural gas power plant, which prior to its closure in 2006, was the highest polluting substation in the state.  In 1952, San Francisco’s Public Utilities Commission built the Southeast Wastewater treatment station; today it processes 67 million gallons of wastewater per year in open-air

Tiles made by local youth depicting neighborhood toxins/pollution sources

aerators. EcoCenter’s site is a former landfill, and to the north is the City’s major recycling center, which brings a heavy flow of diesel trucks.  For decades, the effects of these physical structures produced an environment with high levels of airborne particulates, ground contamination, and led to abnormally high concentrations of asthma, cancer and even infant mortality in the local population.

Solar PV panels catch rays near the bay

Given the location’s history and four major surrounding forces, the EcoCenter was intended as a response to educate the localcommunity about the environmental and social effects it has left on the landscape and the neighborhood, and to demonstrate alternative solutions.

Solar PV system & onsite storage – In a response to the massive PG&E substation, the EcoCenter captures and stores electrical energy on site. Bayview is ideal for solargain, with a yearly average of 335 days of sunshine.  Onsite there is a 3.6kwh PV array and lead acid battery bank which stores 3 days of energy. All the electrical wiring inside is exposed to inform visitors of the electrical sources and pathways through the building.

Rainwater cisterns displayed prominently at the entry

View of the planted roof

Rainwater collection & storage – The roof consists of three planes, one for the solar array and two green roofs that harvest rainwater into onsite cisterns.  The rainwater is designed to flush the toilets, but the city has not yet permitted the use.  There is a ½” water line to provide potable water and supply the fire suppression system.

Stormwater treatment – Because the building does not have a direct storm sewer connection, much of the runoff collected from building and site is absorbed onsite and designed to infiltrate to the ground through low-impact development strategies such as green roofs and constructed wetlands.

The living system breaks down wastewater

Wastewater processing – Because the wastewater plant is located within smelling distance, EcoCenter wanted to demonstrate a self-sufficient strategy for processing wastewater.  The two bathroom sinks, two toilets, and a future kitchen sink do not connect to the city’s sewer system, but to a blackwater treatment loop called the Living Machine which then leaches into a constructed wetland outside. Currently, the system is designed to handle 1500 gallons of sewage/day.

Reclaimed wood siding

Recycled building materials – as a response to the local recycling center and the fact the site has been reclaimed fromlandfill, parts of the building were clad in reclaimed wood pieces to transform waste into ”new” building materials.

Literacy for Environmental Justice conceived the project 10 years ago, as a community classroom to educate neighbors about the local environmental injustices.  Around 2003, Laurie Schoeman heard about it, and felt it was an ideal demonstration project for its promise to bring environmental justice to the community and potential for non-profit organizations to take an active role in the built environment. Schoeman joined LEJ as part time staff to work on the EcoCenter, and eventually became a full time employee and primary resource for shepherding the project through the complex community, financing, regulatory and construction implementation hurdles.

Interior of classroom

Funding Because LEJ did not have an independent source of funding for the EcoCenter, a network of grants, donations and services helped realize the building.  Rights to the land were negotiated with the Bay Conservation Development Group (BCDG).  Funding was a mix of public and private resources – 10-12 private foundations grants, city funds from the San Francisco Department of the Environment, state grants by the Coastal Conservancy.  Federal money from the American Reconstruction and Recovery Act (ARRA), enabled completion of the green roof.  There were also significant material gifts and in-kind donations, including BP solar PV panels, landscaping materials, Rebuilding Together labor, and pro-bono legal assistance.

Partners The project would not have been possible without the continued support of quite a number of designers, engineers and contractors.  The list is numerous, but some of the key players included:

Toby Long, Toby Long Design, Architect

Control panel for photovoltaics

Alex Rood, Fulcrum Structural, Structural Engineering

Jeff Ludlow, Tredwell & Rollo, Geotechnical

Noadiah Eckman, Eckman Environmental, Wastewater treatment

Habitat Gardens, rainwater catchment & living systems for stormwater treatment

Greg Kennedy, Occidental Power, solar PV & battery array

Regulatory Hurdles: Many of the EcoCenter’s systems are not conventional and required significant effort to convince public officials of their efficacy and safety.  Building officials wanted to ensure safety of the SIPs and foundation system on this landfill site.  The Fire Department would not approve the project unless a dedicated municipal water source supplied the fire sprinkler systems. Environmental Health and Public Health were extremely concerned about the Living Machine systems, and the greywater usage, especially where children were concerned.

View from the Southeast

The Eco Center is now open to the public, welcoming neighbors, school groups throughout the Bay Area, and even local professionals.  When asked who she would most want to visit the EcoCenter, Laurie Schoeman expressed a desire for President Obama and Lisa Jackson, head of the EPA to see the center.  To Laurie, the center is a model for everything President Obama has stood for with respect to community building, capacity building, jobs training, reclamation of underutilized land, social and environmental justice, independent energy sources and off grid technologies.

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