7 new micro-cabins in Colorado provide superior insulation in extreme weather

These seven rustic cabins designed and built by students at the University of Colorado Denver function as base camp for a non-profit focused on wilderness education. Clad in hot-rolled steel, the COBS Year-Round Micro Cabins blend with the surrounding pine forest and remain comfortable even in extremely cold weather.
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The structures were built by 28 students as part of a design-build program called the Colorado Building Workshop. Organized by the architecture school at the University of Colorado Denver, the workshop produced 14 similar structures in 2015.

Related: Modern low-maintenance cabin is a seamless extension of the Puget Sound landscape

The cabins, each offering around 200 square feet of interior space and 100 square feet of deck, are elevated and supported by metal columns with concrete footings. Sheets of hot-rolled steel, which form low-maintenance rainscreens, envelop structurally insulated panels (SIPs) used for the walls and flat roofs, providing a high degree of thermal insulation.

Birch plywood line the interior walls to create a warm, cozy atmosphere. All the electrical appliances, including lighting, heating and refrigerators within each structure are powered by a single electrical circuit.

+ Colorado Building Workshop

+ University of Colorado Denver

Via Dezeen

Photos by Jesse Kuroiwa

http://inhabitat.com

Researchers want new protections for cheetahs amid race to extinction

Cheetahs are racing towards extinction a lot faster than previously thought, according to the BBC. Because the magnificent cats are far-ranging, often straying outside protected areas, they face dramatic habitat loss and there are only around 7,100 left in the wild. Researchers are now arguing cheetahs should no longer be classified as vulnerable on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List, but as endangered.

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Around the world, diminishing cheetah populations are raising alarm among researchers. Cheetah populations plummeted from 1,200 to only 170 during 16 years in Zimbabwe. In Iran, it’s thought a group of less than 50 cheetahs survives. Asian cheetahs are nearly gone, according to the BBC.

Related: Illegal Wild Cheetah Trade for Luxury Pets is Pushing Species to Extinction, CITES Report

Sarah Durant of the Zoological Society of London, lead author on a study cited by BBC published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on the cheetah’s dilemma, said, "Given the secretive nature of this elusive cat, it has been difficult to gather hard information on the species, leading to its plight being overlooked. Our findings show that the large space requirements for the cheetah, coupled with the complex range of threats faced by the species in the wild, mean that it is likely to be much more vulnerable to extinction than was previously thought."

As 77 percent of the cheetah’s habitat is outside protected reserves and parks, they’ve suffered from habitat loss and prey loss. They clash with humans who are developing the land on which the animals used to live. Illegal cheetah cub trafficking isn’t helping either. The Cheetah Conservation Fund says 1,200 cheetah cubs have been trafficked during the last 10 years from Africa, but a heartbreaking 85 percent perished during the voyage.

The study authors called for the IUCN to categorize the cheetah as endangered, instead of vulnerable, and for a "paradigm shift in conservation". They argued for "incentive-based approaches" to encourage local people to protect cheetahs beyond setting aside protected areas.

Another study author, Kim Young-Overton of Panthera, said, "The take-away from this pinnacle study is that securing protected areas alone is not enough."

Via the BBC

Images via Wikimedia Commons and Tambako the Jaguar on Flickr

http://inhabitat.com

California bans Ubers self-driving cars, but Arizona welcomes them

Only a week after Uber launched its fleet of self-driving cars in San Francisco, the state of California has already shut the experiment down. Just hours after Uber launched the service, the state’s Department of Motor vehicles was threatening legal action for not properly licensing the cars as test vehicles. After Uber refused to apply for the permits necessary, the state simply revoked the registration of the cars.

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The major issue that caused talks to break down was, ironically, whether Uber’s cars are actually self-driving. While they’re marketed as autonomous, the company believes they shouldn’t be subject to the same regulations as other businesses for their test vehicles, claiming the cars must be monitored by a human driver at all times because they’re not as sophisticated as models from Tesla or Google. The state, however, disagreed.

Related: California hits the brakes on Uber’s self-driving cars after one runs a red light

Uber, for its part, remains defiant, reportedly seeking a new test market where it could redeploy the cars. The company may not have to look far: Arizona Governor Doug Ducey is already welcoming the vehicles in his state. While there’s no word on exactly when the self-driving cars would debut within the state, Uber has confirmed it has shipped cars to Arizona and will be expanding its self-driving pilot program in the near future.

While California is taking a cautious approach to self-driving technology, Ducey claims the special permits are a form of “over-regulation.” It’s unclear exactly what, if any, restrictions Arizona will place on the cars. While that may be a welcoming market for ridesharing services, other drivers may not be terribly happy with this relatively new technology side-by-side with their vehicles on the road.

Via Newsmax

Images via Mark Warner and Wikimedia Commons

http://inhabitat.com

Decrepit farm buildings reborn into modern energy-efficient home in Suffolk

David Nossiter Architects breathed new life into a collection of decrepit farm buildings that had been laid to waste after a ruinous fire in the 1950s. The skillful renovation transformed the barn buildings into a contemporary dwelling, one that preserves the existing rural forms but also retrofits them with high-performance systems for energy savings. The project, named the Church Hill Barn, is nestled between the English counties of Suffolk and Essex and makes use of local and salvaged materials.

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The focal point of the Church Hill Barn renovation project is the large barn with cathedral-like proportions that overlooks an outdoor courtyard. The architects refurbished the roof to improve thermal performance while keeping the timber trusses exposed. The external larch-clad walls were insulated with sheep’s wool. While not all of the farm buildings could be renovated—some were ruined beyond repair—the architects salvaged roofing slates and timber materials from the structures.

Related: 300 Year Old Barn Renovated Into a Modern Yet Rustic Residence

The renovated building’s original openings were preserved and set with glazing and, combined with roof lights and floor-to-ceiling glazing, bring in large amounts of natural light that fill the eight-meter-tall central spaces. The original brick wall and timber materials are complemented by polished concrete flooring used throughout the home. The various spaces are kept as open-plan as possible, with private areas separated by freestanding birch-faced plywood sheets. Underfloor heating powered by a biomass boiler, as well as a mechanical ventilation and heat recovery system, minimize energy use.

+ David Nossiter Architects

Via Dezeen

Images via David Nossiter Architects

http://inhabitat.com

Six factories will supply the UK with 25,000 prefab houses every year

Population growth and a housing undersupply have created a housing crisis in the United Kingdom, but a new joint venture will provide desperately needed homes. China National Building Material Company (CNBM) agreed to a $3.36 billion deal with UK-based Your Housing Group (YHG) and renewable energy company WElink Group to build six factories that will produce 25,000 prefabricated homes every single year.

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The new prefab homes will be built of modern composite materials and steel frames, according to WElink Group. These materials will allow for low-carbon construction and operation. Energy efficient design and solar panels will enable the houses to operate "at least 75 percent off-grid," according to WElink Group chairman Ajmal Rahman. Construction company Barcelona Housing Systems will also provide environmentally friendly technology and panels for homes.

Related: Ecocor starts production on groundbreaking new prefab passive homes

YHG CEO Brian Cronin said in a statement, "This is an opportunity for YHG to get back to building more social and affordable homes across a wider geography of the UK; it also ensures new types of employment, new building skills, and the nurturing of additional apprenticeship opportunities are available, which can only be good news for local people and businesses where we develop our housing and supply chains." The prefab home factories could provide employment for over one thousand people.

Even before the factories are complete, the joint venture hopes to build 2,000 homes in 2017 as part of five pilot projects. The company is awaiting planning permission to build its first pilot project in Liverpool this January, and the factories could potentially produce 25,000 homes a year by 2022.

Via World Architecture News

Images via Your Housing Group and Your Housing Group Facebook

http://inhabitat.com

Contemporary library melds into the landscape thanks to locally-sourced materials



There are few things as joyous as curling up with a good book while snow lightly falls outside the window. Local bibliophiles in Canada’s La Malbaie region can now get cozy and enjoy the city’s picturesque snowy landscape from the sophisticated Laure Conan Library and City Hall, built by Bisson Associés and ACDF Architecture using locally-sourced materials.

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Located on the banks of the St. Lawrence River, the La Malbaie region was one of Canada’s first resort towns. According to the architects, the contemporary design of the library pays homage to role the stunning landscape has played in the area’s history, "The project’s main narrative focuses on the value of the site’s historic landscape as it symbolizes the reconciliation between the present city, and the historical landscape closely linked to the St. Lawrence River." To further pay respects to the local community, the architects chose to implement a strong eco-conscious focus from the start, concentrating on creating a compact and energy efficient design as well as using locally-sourced materials and resources.

Related: Spectacular library in Chile built with locally-sourced wood from earthquake-stricken town

The library, which was built on the dramatic slope leading to the river, stands out visiually for its contrasting exterior of wood, stone and glass. Dark timber siding from Quebec was used to clad the exterior, including the cantilevered library space, which sits on top of a concrete volume housing the City Hall. The extended form provides a covered outdoor space underneath, which is used as event space as well as a rest area for cyclists and pedestrians exploring the river’s walking and biking trails.

+ Bisson Associés
+ ACDF Architecture

Via Architizer

http://inhabitat.com

Tesla’s next Supercharger could charge electric cars in mere seconds

When it comes to electric vehicles becoming the norm, many people scoff at the idea of having to plug in their cars and wait around for the batteries to recharge. But Tesla CEO Elon Musk may have a solution in the form of a next-gen Supercharger capable of recharging a Tesla vehicle battery in mere seconds. Over the weekend, Musk hinted (on Twitter, of course) that the Supercharger V3 would serve up at least 350 kW, which is more than twice the output of current Superchargers on the Tesla network.

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The teasing began when another Twitter user asked Tesla‘s head idea man when solar panels would be installed on the existing Supercharger stations, to which Musk said, “There are some installed already, but full rollout really needs Supercharger V3 and Powerpack V2, plus SolarCity. Pieces now in place.” When Electrek writer Fred Lambert wondered whether the V3 chargers would hit the 350 kW mark, Musk laughed it off, implying he may have something even more powerful in mind. “A mere 350 kW … what are you referring to, a children’s toy?” Musk tweeted in response.

Related: Tesla Model S drivers use self-driving features on record-breaking road trip

Tesla’s current Superchargers are already the fastest electric car battery-charging units on the planet, capable of recharging a car battery in minutes rather than hours, but there is always room for improvement. The current Superchargers top out at 150 kW, so if V3 can offer up 350 kW (or more, as Musk may have been suggesting), Tesla drivers won’t have to wait around while their car batteries get juiced up. Instead, the new Superchargers could potentially be capable of charging the batteries in just a few seconds, a practice recently named “flash charging.” If such charging speeds could be obtained without sacrificing performance, Tesla drivers will be able to recoup tons of time, especially on long-distance journeys.

And, if the Supercharger V3 is installed at stations across the US, a cross-country Tesla road trip will be even faster. Given how eager some Tesla drivers are to set records, we bet it will only take a few days after the install until someone beats the current coast-to-coast record.

Via Autoblog

Images via Tesla

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