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Bicycle-friendly houses

Category: ⚐ EN+architecture+mobility+sustainability+urbanism

Cities, organizations increasingly vast and uncontrolled, crystallize today most social and environmental issues. Intensification is a hot topic as antidote to urban sprawl and overconsumption of the territory, but how to live in the dense city, make it livable and desirable? This paradox between individual aspirations and the need to contain the growth of cities is a challenge for the architecture, the opportunity to imagine new types of habitats, for the collective economy of the soil, but offer a sense of independence and freedom in the use of space, from within and without.

Let’s find a simple example: to reduce private car use, many  cities are trying to promote green transport methods, including cycling, which is highly valued by the local population that exhibits a strong “scientific, sporty and green” image. The cycle path network is growing, but the problem lies at the two ends: What do you do with your bike when you get to your destination?

The bicycle is the most efficient form of transportation ever devised, and it delivers a whole-body workout. Cycling consumes far fewer calories per mile travelled than cars, buses, or even walking. It is sometimes the fastest way to get around a city. Cyclists can zip around traffic jams and don’t have to fight for a parking spot because they can bring the vehicle home… maybe: Many homes aren’t bicycle-friendly, so bikes are either not used or not purchased.

The French architectural studio ‘HERAULT ARNOD architectes’ was faced with that problem in Grenoble, where they designed a sustainable residential house.

Image is made by Herault Arnod architectes | L’IMMEUBLE À VÉLOS |Grenoble 2006-2010

The project ‘Bike building’ has a system which makes possible to take one’s bike to the door of one’s apartment. The lifts are big enough to carry bikes; the corridors are wide and form a panoramic walkway with views over the mountains. People enter their homes as they would a house, from the outside. The architecture of the storage and distribution system is designed for a project situated at the end of the cycle path network. People will be able to reach their front doors on rollerblades, scooters, bicycles, etc., and then store their wheels in a safe place.

‘…This project was conducted as part of an order placed by the architects to 8 City of Architecture and Heritage, on the theme of a “Habitat densified environmentally responsible.” These projects were gathered in one part of the traveling exhibition “Living Green”, which was provided by the police Gauzin-Dominique Müller, and which was presented to the City of Architecture…’ say Chris Younes and Isabel Herault

Since the outskirts of Grenoble are layered with districts of detached houses which generate traffic flows that grow more intense and more extensive each day, it is time to think about urban housing that is more in tune with contemporary aspirations. What does a detached house have that an apartment does not? Amongst other characteristics, we identified the relationship with the exterior, which is more direct and special, the greater privacy, and storage capacity: according to a recent study, 40% of the surface area in detached houses is used to store various objects, food, clothes, tools, bicycles, windsurfers, skis, etc.

‘…>80% of the population would rather live in a detached house than in an apartment block in town. What does a detached house have that an apartment does not? Amongst other characteristics, we identified the relationship with the exterior, which is more direct and special, the greater privacy, and storage capacity: according to a recent study, 40% of the surface area in detached houses is used to store various objects, food, clothes, tools, bicycles, windsurfers, skis, etc….’  say Chris Younes and Isabel Herault

The façade on the street side is made up of several layers which reveal the building’s unusual design, and make a feature of it through the system of outdoor corridors and the individual storage “boxes” placed in front of each apartment: the image is created by usage. People enter their apartments via a private balcony. Located between the walkway and the building’s main structure are the storerooms and bathrooms, which alternate with empty spaces running the whole height of the building. The “storage units” are clad with different coloured corrugated steel sheet, which individualize the apartments and together create an expansive, dynamic and contrasted façade – an unpatented and lively composition.

This project is not the only one example of bike-friendly houses designed by Herault Arnod architectes.

’24 apartments house’ project is located on a new BIA to Green Island, an eclectic neighbourhood of Grenoble composed of villas, workshops and small buildings on the banks of the Isere. It meets the certification BBC with 40% renewable energy, according to the requirements of the specifications of the ZAC. The building was designed to allow residents to live in the city as a house, with a privileged relationship to the outside. The twenty four units are through and have a large terrace facing west continues. Ends of the apartments have a triple orientation. All are served by an outdoor walkway sheltered east side. The building is intended to facilitate the use of bicycles in everyday life: each unit has a storage room, protected by winks perforated (over 50% vacuum), in which residents can store several bikes. The elevator is generously proportioned to allow everyone to borrow his bike.

Image is made by Herault Arnod architectes | 24 APARTEMENTS |Grenoble 2011-2013

The building is very compact, its organization to optimize the stairwell and the elevator are grouped in a separate volume, which they are connected by a walkway. This volume is wrapped in open vegetation: a linear bins, equipped with an automatic watering, home to vines that invade gradually cables and nets stretched between floors.

The other example of bicycle friendly building is the EcoFlats mixed-use apartment building, along North Williams Avenue in Portland with its co-developer, Jean-Pierre Veillet of Siteworks Design Build.

Williams Avenue, once the heart of a thriving African American community, is today well known as a popular bike route as well as a burgeoning retail area of restaurants, cafes and shops.

Image is made by Jean-Pierre Veillet | the Eco-flats |

On the ground floor of the building, for example, is Hopworks Bike Bar.

“Some 3,000 riders a day pass by Mr. Ettinger’s new brewpub,” the New York Times’ Linda Baker writes of Hopworks in a recent feature about the neighborhood and catering to cyclists. “It has racks for 75 bicycles and free locks, to-go entries that fit in bicycle water-bottle cages, and dozens of handmade bicycle frames suspended over the bar areas.”

There are no automobile parking spaces for tenants, but the 18-unit building has storage for 30 bikes.

“Cyclists are a great potential market for businesses that want people traveling at human-scale speed and will stop and buy something,” Roger Geller, the city’s bicycle coordinator, also told Baker.

Eco Flats is one of 15 building projects aiming toward net-zero operations through a pilot program launched in 2009 by Energy Trust of Oregon. Co developed by Doug Shapiro, it was designed to use approximately 60 percent less energy than a building constructed to code stipulations. Veillet says actual savings have been higher, approaching 80 percent. In the ground-floor entry to the apartments via elevator, a flat-screen TV affixed to the upper wall conveys in real-time the amount of energy being used by each unit as well as how much energy is being generated by a rooftop array of solar panels.

If you decided to become bike user, but the house you live in is not bicycle friendly, try to make your home bicycle friendly by yourself. A bicycle doesn’t ask for much. It just needs a safe, dry spot away from thieves and vandals.

By the way, in a humorous note, there is also the opposite way: you can make your bike the main element and attach your house to it, as this man did for the Burning Man festival, or as seen in various creations involving a bike and a tiny home.

RV-Camper bike by Kevin Cyr

RV-Camper bike by Kevin Cyr

For further reading:

‘Bicycle friendly area’ – Design workshop at Auroville- PDF

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Design-Analyse-Build | A methodology put to practice

Category: ⚐ EN+architecture+creativity+sustainability

I would like to share with you my personal experience  in a ‘Design-Analyse-Build’ way of design.  Some of you might think, that it sounds not so innovative and most of the architects work in that way, that’s probably could be the truth, BUT there are some specific tips that make this experience unique.

In this post I will refer to the workshop that I shared in IED Torino Master SUS with the main coordinators  ARCò and MCArchitects studio, about designing an off-grid sustainable school for Palestine, Gaza_Rafah.

Firstly, I want to meet you with a work plan, that we were followed:

1. Climate analysis of an area
2. Analysis of the state conditions and local features of the area
3. Understanding the type of users and their needs
4. Environmental strategies selection
5. Concept creation
6. Design process
7. Shadow, daylight and glare analysis using Ecotect
8. Model 1:1 scale prototype

The first step was to analyse the climate of the area to understand the possible environmental strategies we can use and make a list of parameters that is better to avoid or conversely exploit during design process. The most tricky stuff was to find the weather data for Palestine, because nowadays all the information about it is classified, due to the war. Finally we had to use  weather data of  Beer Sheeva that located nearby in territory of Egypt.

 

The result of a Climate analysis using  

During most of the year temperature is above the comfort zone.. The winter is short, but is noticed with a humid winds. The summer period  lasts almost 7 months and accompanied with high temperature of the air and wind.The difference between the highest and lowest temperature during the day is about 10°.With this climate is important to orient building to protect it from the direct sun during summer and to capture it during winter. Also the building should be covered from strong winter wind,but use the summer ones.

The second step was to find out the location of  Rafah city and underline  the main function of that place.  One of the most important thing was to see the actual state of the construction site, that was almost impossible due to the hostilities.

Site location. Palestine. GazaStrip, Rafah

Rafah is situated in the southern part of the GazaStrip in Palestine, at the border with Egypt. According to the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel at Camp in 1982, Rafah was divided into two parts. One part was assigned to Egypt, the other part to the Gaza Strip. Nowadays Rafah is the only point of importance in the country.

The third step was to ‘meet’ the users. In this case we had to try being in their shoes, imagining lifestyle of a kid who was born and had been living all of his life in a war situation, always surrounded with fences and swaying wire in a lack of green safety spaces and entertainments.

The site is located in the central empty area of Rafah. It is surrounded with residential houses and a big warehouse.In the real-time the site is full of  excavated earth, because of the erasion of the previous construction, after the bombing.

From 1948 the population of Palestine live in the war situation.. So the country has problems in many different fields, one of it belongs to children and it is lack of schools and areas for children activities

The fourth step was to choose the environmental strategies to follow to reach the off-grid building. This phase is strongly related to the climate analysis. In this case, is very helpful to see the vernacular architecture of a place to choose the right strategies.

Image is made by Ekaterina Kozhevnikova and Sara Cicinelli|

workshop ‘Una scuola sostenibile’ in IED Torino

The fifth step is a sort of summary of all the strategies we chose for the building – concept creation. Concept is the phase right before the design process, so it was important to choose the right orientation, shape, functional zones etc. We were also advice to make a simple symbol or logo that would describe our project in few seconds, that finally could become sort of a brend.

 ‘The Earth is our school, so let’s make the school with earth!’

Image is made by Ekaterina Kozhevnikova and Sara Cicinelli | workshop ‘Una scuola sostenibile’ in IED Torino

One of the most important steps was analysis of the building with Ecotect, Autodesk 2011. For this project we had to make several calculations, such as: solar, shadow, daylight and glare analysis.

Usually  shadow analysis is calculated for the longest and shortest day in the year, such as 21st of December and 21st of June. In this case we also did computings for 21st of march to get proper results and see if the overhangs are useful during al the year.

Solar analysis shows us the amount of sun hours that building surfaces receive during the day. It gives us the idea of facade protection from the direct sun. It also could be very useful to see the best position for the PV panels to let them produce the maximum energy.

Daylight factor analysis is the ratio of internal light level to external light level.A low asks for classrooms a 5% daylight factor. For  art, craft, technological laboratories thatratio is even higher. Daylight can be used to offset the need for artificial lighting and hence reduce dependency and consumption on electricity and the greenhouse gas emitted. Effective daylight distribution must be achieved in a manner that brings visual satisfaction to the occupants.

Glare analysis is a calculation about number of direct sun or reflection coming from a very bright source outside the field of view. The reflection may cause discomfort as well as the additional annoyance of veiling or masking out the information which is being sought within that view.The result of  analysis using

The final step was a model in 1:1 scale that we built-in one of the parks in Turin city. It was a great chance to ‘feel’ the construction and understand the weak and strong points of it. In my personal opinion, it was one the best parts of design, when you make the proof to your ideas and drawings, so you can be sure that the techniques you had chosen is stable and can answer to your expectations.

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The Water Footprint: Every drop counts!

Category: ⚐ EN+city+research+sustainability

The water footprint of an individual, community or business is defined as the total volume of freshwater that is used to produce the goods and services consumed by the individual or community or produced by the business.

The water footprint consists of three components: the blue, green and grey water footprint. The blue water footprint is the volume of freshwater evaporated from the global blue water resources (surface water and ground water) to produce the goods and services consumed by the individual or community. The green water footprint is the volume of water evaporated from the global green water resources (rainwater stored in the soil as soil moisture). The grey water footprint is the volume of polluted water that associates with the production of all goods and services for the individual or community. The latter can be estimated as the volume of water that is required to dilute pollutants to such an extent that the quality of the water remains at or above agreed water quality standards.

The past century has brought a lot of changes, like the explosion of human population, the creation of an expansive global economy and the increasing technological development. All of them have put unprecedented pressures on water. More specifically, our growing appetite for water-intensive food and manufactured good, the construction of large dams for hydro-electricity and irrigation, and the massive discharge of industrial waste into limited freshwater sources, have made water an increasingly limited and expensive resource.

Despite this obvious fact, people use large amounts of water: drinking, cooking and washing, but even more for producing things such as food, paper, cotton clothes, and almost every other physical product. This water can be named as virtual water.

The virtual water content of a product (a commodity, good or service) is the volume of freshwater used to produce the product, measured at the place where the product was actually produced.

It refers to the sum of the water use in the various steps of the production chain. The virtual-water content of a product can also be defined as the volume of water that would have been required to produce the product at the place where the product is consumed (consumption-site definition).

 

Image made by Virtual water | facebook.com/virtualwater

Here are some examples of water footprints of daily products , calculated by Unesco-IHE Institute for water education, Netherland

Image made by Hoekstra and Chapagain 2008

These numbers are kind of shocking! Aren’t they?

So, let’s try to calculate our daily footprint and investigate the solutions to reduce the numbers as much as we can!

Image made by GOOD and Fogelson-Lubliner

Water footprints can be hard to calculate, depending on how far up the chain of production you go, since everything you eat and buy used some water to produce. With our latest Transparency, I give you some examples of how much water is used in some of your daily activities, so that you can begin calculate your footprint and try to reduce your gallons.

To help put things in perspective, think about this: your standard trash barrel holds 32 gallons and a mid-sized passenger car-if pumped full of water has room for a little more than 800 gallons. So, the difference in the amount of water it takes to produce a pound of chicken and a pound of beef is enough to fill almost two whole cars.

Which result have you got?

Let’s compare it with the water footprint calculation of one friend of mine, Croatian architect Ana Bilan that did some research in that field.

According to her calculations she was able to reduce her water footprint more than twice, which sounds really impressive!  So it was a matter of changing her habits, decreasing the direct water footprint and also the types of food she eats and products she uses to get a better result with indirect water Footprint.

Image made by Ana Bilan | research about MY WATER FOOTPRINT | for IED Torino Master SUS

 

If you become really interested in knowing how much water you personally use per day, you can follow this link and make a simple calculation:

Water footprint calculator (adults)

And you can also involve your kids into the idea of water preservation!

Water footprint calculator (kids)

Here are some facts to convince you to be a water guardian:

  • The average American lifestyle is kept afloat by nearly 2,000 gallons of H2O a day—twice the global average;
  • 46% of people on the earth do not have water piped to their homes;
  • Women in developing countries walk an average of 3.7 miles to get water;
  • In 15 years, 1.8 billion people will live in regions of sever water scarcity

A complete update of facts and stats about the water global crisis has been recently (2017) published by John Hawthorne, available at this link.

And remember – Every Drop Counts!