Thursday, May 31, 2012

Week 71: Planning for Green Gold

We recently crossed another project milestone by completing the first design stage documentation towards the Green Homes certification awarded by the Indian Green Building Council. We are targeting the gold level certification and will be among the first green certified homes in Goa.

Some of Nivim's main green features are listed below. We will try to do detailed write-ups on some of these in future posts.

Trees and preserving site’s unique features – Our project site had 14 existing trees before construction and we preserved these trees and incorporated them in our design. The design also retains nearly 35-40% of the site as natural landscape. New landscape is planted with majority local species to have minimal need for irrigation water use.

Building orientation and design – The main house building is oriented with the longer façade facing North-South to minimize direct sun exposure on east and west where the sun is lower increasing heat absorption. Ample shading devices have been planned to further reduce sun exposure and heat intake.

Daylighting and cross ventilation – 100% of living spaces are designed to be adequately day lit with ample shading and openings for cross ventilation. This eliminates the need for any artificial lighting or mechanical cooling during the day saving energy use and providing healthy indoor air quality.

Energy – 100% use of solar power for water heating. Use of 3-star energy efficient refrigerator (40%less energy use) and 5-star rated air-conditioners (25% less energy use). Use of solar control glass on east and west façade to reduce heat absorption to indoors.

Cool Roof – 75% of roof is finished with highly reflected material to reflect sun’s heat thus help in maintaining lower temperature in living areas below.

Two openable walls per room provides 100% daylighting and cross ventilation

Water – We are collecting 50% of rainwater runoff from the roof and storing it for future use for landscaping and for swimming pool use. Prioritized use of low-flow fixtures in the bathrooms saving 30% of water without having any impact on perceived flow of water anduse. We are treating 100% of our grey water* on-site to be used for landscaping thus further reducing pressure on municipal water resources.

* Grey water is all water from bathrooms and kitchen drainage except water from the toilets. Grey water is filtered on-site through a root zone water treatment system.

Permeable paving – 75% of site’s paved surfaces are built using permeable paving to allow maximum percolation of rain water back into the ground.

Construction Materials – Use of over 50% building material from within 500kms of thesite to reduce embodied energy spent in transporting materials over long distances. Encouraged reuse of salvaged building material as well as building material with high recycled content such as fly-ash bricks, fly-ash cement, recycled tetrapak boards, aluminum and reclaimed wood. Reducing the use of cement** in construction by building load bearing walls and filler slabs. 

**Cement production is known toproduce large quantities of greenhouse gases, for every ton of cement producedone ton of GHGs are released in the atmosphere. GHGs are known to be theleading cause for climate change. Read more here

Low VOC paints –Use of low VOC external and internal paint to reduce exposure to hazardouschemicals to humans.

List of green certified buildings in India,

Read more about us and our team.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Malibu home of Courtney Cox

I am not the type to be much into celebrity homes... but this one caught my eye primarily because its theme is so similar to our own at NIVIM Goa. The house is designed to connect the indoors with the outdoors and provide a peaceful space to escape, inspire and celebrate with family and friends.

Courtney Cox's home was the cover feature in Elle Decor, US Edition, July/ August 2011. All photo are courtesy of Elle Decor Online. See link.

The house is located in Malibu. One of the architects for the house says that 'Malibu is all about being outdoors'. Exactly the same in Goa...

The article talks about how the house looks out over the deck and pool and beyond. The architects designed the spaces with a sense of openness with glass walls that flood the rooms with light. The glass doors, once opened, makes one feel like they are completely outside. 

The result is a space that is chic and unquestionably luxurious, yet earthy, cozy and unpretentious... Its interiors were kept neutral and bare that keeps the focus on the outdoors. 

Sounds familiar doesn't it !! Read about our efforts to design NIVIM to seamlessly connect the indoors with outdoors. See link

It is not a surprise that the concepts in the house above and our efforts are so similar. In my mind, there is a distinct vocabulary for building in the country. It stems from the underlying reason for people to choose to live in the country, clearly to 'reconnect with nature'. And with that concept in mind, the architecture has to be as much about the outdoors as indoor, if not more. We are loving our journey to give NIVIM its special character built around its site and surroundings. The house as a result is shaping up to be quite fabulous and heart warming. I promise updated pictures soon.

Living area adjacent to the kitchen
Sit-out with large glass walls
Master bedroom that becomes a part of its deck and views beyond
Outdoor bar and galley kitchen

Earthy bathrooms
The entrance alcove dictates the the earthy and natural style of the house
The pool and deck looking over to the sea

Outdoor dining
Undeniably the most precious space in the house, a pavilion set into the scenery with seating around a fireplace. As per the article, Courtney Cox has her coffee here everyday...I can see why !

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Part II: Architecture Inspiration from Past NY Trip

After food, fashion and art, finally I move on to architecture, clearly my favorite indulgence...During my short last visit to New York, I had the opportunity to hear two great architects talk about their work in the recent years, Enrique Norten from Ten Arquitectos and Charles Renfro from Diller Scofidio + Renfro.

Images of One York Street in New York designed by Enrique Norten

Enrique Norten is a Mexican architect with several design awards under his belt. I have always admired his building - One York Street in TriBeCa in New York (We have at one point seriously considered living in it too !!). The building incorporates and rises out of two 19th Century industrial loft buildings. I love the way the new building has a distinct identity but did not demolish the old buildings or start from scratch to achieve that distinction. The building while preserving the old, still manages to look extremely contemporary and modern. One York is located at a busy street intersection and in between 3-4 neighborhoods. The building does a great job of providing a fitting landmark at this junction without being gimmicky. It is just a piece of very good and slick architecture.

We have spoken about Diller Scofidio + Renfro on this blog before as they are the visionary designers of the magnificent High Line. As a side note, Diane von Furstenburg who we spoke of earlier (Part I of this series of posts) is one of the largest benefactors of the High Line project and occupies a sexy building right next to the rail line. (Read about it here ). It is an old warehouse with a contemporary steel and glass addition on the top. This rooftop addition houses DVF's bedroom. The funky building has a quirky mural on a 3-storey high side wall (a clever piece of branding, I say) and is also lit up in multicolors after-dark.

DVF's live-work loft with the rooftop glass addition along the High Line in NY (Photo Credit)
Rooftop addition at DVF's live-work warehouse along the High Line in NY 
Charles Renfro spoke about the firm's constant effort to integrate public space into their buildings. Examples include the new Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, where they integrated the public harborwalk into the building by carving out a public amphitheater space at the ground level of the building; the Image and Audio Museum in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil where they have designed the front elevation as a public ramp-way that takes people up to the building allowing a user to look into the building, its exhibits and activities; and the addition to the Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center in New York, where they sliced the building to create a public amphitheater seating while exposing the studio spaces providing a barrier free view from the street, once again making the public a part of the building and its activities and vic-a-versa.

Very inspirational out-of-the-box thinking... I love them for slicing and dicing the buildings while dissecting the conventional concept and perception of particular building. Admire them for their ability to step back from the obvious and give each building a new identity. Applaud them blurring the lines between private and public; and making buildings open up to the city.

The Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston by Diller Scofidio + Renfro (Photo Credit)

The proposed Image and Audio Museum at Rio de Janiero, Brazil (Photo Credit)
The proposed Image and Audio Museum at Rio de Janiero, Brazil (Photo Credit)
Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center in New York (Photo Credit)


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