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 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.
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.
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.
Below: Transparency plays a big role in making this kitchen cabinetry useful but still keeping a strong visual connection between rooms.
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.
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.
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
Photo: Pietro Savorelli
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
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!
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
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
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
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.