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Moss drapes from trees in ethereal photographs

Moss drapes from trees in ethereal photographs of England’s forests by Neil Burnell

 

 

England has long been a haven for rich woodlands of oak, birch, hazel, and pine, chronicled in famous stories like Robin Hood’s Sherwood Forest or the real-life 11th century king William the Conqueror, who established a “Forest Law” that claimed woodlands as hunting grounds for kings.

 

In the 19th and 20th centuries, native forests were increasingly transformed into pasture for grazing livestock, replaced with modern developments, or re-planted with commercial timber. The remarkable atmosphere of Dartmoor’s forests are captured by Devon-based photographer Neil Burnell, who focuses on the mystical, otherworldly environments through all four seasons.

 

Burnell was inspired as a child by a visit to Wistman’s Wood, a remote, upland area of old, gnarled oak. “Little was I to know the lasting impression this would leave me with as a young lad, as I find myself re-imagining how I felt, and how I could spread this awe and wonder through my passion for photography,” he explains. Although Dartmoor National Park currently advises that visitors avoid walking through Wistman’s Wood to allow it to heal from damage caused during lockdowns, Burnell’s images offer a glimpse of moss-coated limbs and fern-covered forest floors that seem to freeze time. He also visits dense stands of conifers, with canopies that create dreamlike effects as they block the sunlight from reaching the ground below.

 

Burnell often teaches workshops around Southwest England that focus on nature and landscape photography, which you can learn more about on his website.

 

 

 

Kate Mothes, ThisisColossal. November 2022.

All images © Neil Burnell.

 

Naturvillan, a self-sufficient, off-grid A-frame greenhouse home

Naturvillan is a self-sufficient, off-grid A-frame greenhouse home in Sweden

 

 

Naturvillan- Minimal environmental footprint, reliable energy sufficient solutions

 

Sweden-based company Naturvillan creates homes that aim for minimal environmental footprint, fitted with reliable energy efficient solutions, ecological materials, protective climate shells, automatic irrigation and ecocycle-systems giving back nutrients from wastewater to the in-house garden plants. Offering four different types, the company is currently selling Atri, a unique building, steady on the ground and stretching towards the sky.

 

Atri is a climate-smart A-frame greenhouse villa with its own system for heating, electricity, water, and nutrient recovery completely off-grid.

 

 

The A-frame design references the surrounding mountains

 

Naturvillan includes highly engineered systems and components, which have been developed by years of working and living in nature houses. Located on the shores of Lake Vänern, the house features mile-wide lake views and a natural plot with beautiful rock slabs.

 

The design language of the natural villa was based on following the tapered, pointed triangular-like peaks of the conifers. The shape gives, up close, a very strong visual architecture with a very stable base directly on the mountain. The house then decreases with the height where the house blends in among the treetops and harmonizes with the landscape, which from a distance gives a naturally conceivable humble impression.

 

 

Built to operate completely off-grid

 

The house has a continuous axis where you can see through the whole house and its view already in the entrance. Air and light enter from several directions. Inside the house, the architecture is well-thought-out for close interaction between houses, greenhouses, nature, views, togetherness, and private rooms.

 

Atri has been built to be operated completely off-grid. During summer, the solar cells provide electricity to the battery that drives the house and heats hot water. In winter, a wood-fired kitchen pan provides heat and hot water, with a hob and oven for cooking. It is required that the homeowner keeps track of how much energy is in batteries in relation to the owner’s lifestyle. If necessary, the power plant needs to be run to top up the battery.

 

In the darkest winter, depending on lifestyle and the house’s current battery pack, it is estimated that there will be a need to run the power plant for a couple of hours every other day. In the event of prolonged absence in cold winter, there are various options to prevent the temperature in the house from falling below freezing.

 

Drinking water is available from the property’s own drilled well. The principle is that nutrients and water in the wastewater are recycled and purified in the greenhouse’s plant beds, where macro and microbiota interact with the plants’ root systems. The industry is converted into fruit and vegetables, whereby the cycle ends with the return of food to the homeowner.

 

 

Designboom, by Juliana Neira, July 2022

Photography: Marcus Eliasson, ERA Hus & Hem

Lapland Hotel treehouse wrapped up in 350 birdhouses

BIG wraps Lapland Hotel treehouse in 350 birdhouses

 

 

Danish architecture studio BIG has revealed its Biosphere treehouse at the Treehotel in Swedish Lapland, which is surrounded by birdhouses.

 

Created in collaboration with Swedish ornithologist Ulf Öhman, the hotel room was designed to immerse guests within the forest site, which is near the village of Harads.

 

“I got to spend a few days and nights in some of the Treehotel rooms right before the pandemic and left with a sense of rejuvenation from complete immersion into nature,” said BIG founder Bjarke Ingels.

 

“I couldn’t help wondering if there was a way to take the immersion one step further – and almost instantly the idea of inviting not only the human visitors but also the resident bird and bat population to cohabit a spherical swarm of nests came to life.”

 

The hotel room, which is suspended between two trees, is contained within a largely glazed cube. This cube is surrounded by a metal grid that supports 350 birdhouses of different sizes to create a spherical form.

 

“After our first conversations with Ulf Öhman from Norrbotten Ornithological Association we were relieved to learn that birds don’t drop where they nest – so there is hope for the glass to remain clear within this cloud of aviary architecture.”

 

The 34-square-metre Biosphere treehouse at the Treehotel is accessed across a suspended bridge that gently slopes upward towards the room.

 

It contains a double height living space that has large windows for observing the birds and the surrounding forest, alongside a toilet and shower room.

 

A double bed is raised above the toilet and accessed via a stepladder from the living space.

 

The interior is coloured almost entirely black and several lights in the shape of the treehouse hang from the ceiling.

 

The hotel was covered in different-sized birdhouses to encourage a wide variety of birds to nest.

 

Along with creating an interesting experience for guests, the room is hoped to help increase local bird populations, according to ornithologist and Norrbotten Ornithological Association chairman Öhman.

 

“Forestry has led to a reduced number of natural holes in trees where breeding birds’ nest. The installation of bird nests is therefore an important measure to take.”

 

Öhman also hopes that visitors to the hotel will be encouraged by the experience to install birdhouses when they return from holiday.

 

“Demonstrating the use of bird nests and feeding, not just at the Treehotel but for people to install near their own homes, is valuable,” he said.

 

 

 

Tom Ravenscroft, on Dezeen, June 2022

 

The “world’s most environmentally-friendly furniture factory”

The “world’s most environmentally-friendly furniture factory”

 

 

Architecture firm BIG has constructed a mass-timber Passivhaus factory in a Norwegian forest for outdoor furniture maker Vestre, which features a green roof and solar panels as well as an exterior slide.

 

Instead of being hidden away on an industrial estate, The Plus factory development is nestled in 300 acres of woodland near the village of Magnor on the Swedish border.

 

The cross-shaped building consists of four double-height wings, each housing a different stage of Vestre’s production process and radiating out from a central office area with an internal courtyard at its heart.

 

Constructed in just 18 months, the 7,000-square-metre factory is made mostly from wood and stores 1,400 tons of carbon dioxide in its structure made of PEFC-certified cross-laminated timber and glued-laminated timber Vestre said.

 

The building combines energy-efficient Passivhaus strategies with a streamlined, robot-assisted production line, which according to Vestre reduces its energy consumption by 90 per cent compared to a conventional factory.

 

Its energy and heating demands will be partly met with the help of 900 rooftop solar panels, 17 geothermal wells and heat pumps hidden behind the walls to capture excess heat from the production process.

 

Taken together, Vestre says this makes The Plus the “world’s most environmentally-friendly furniture factory“, generating 55 per cent lower emissions from energy and materials than a comparable building.

 

The company claims this also makes the project “Paris-proof”, bringing it in line with global targets set out in the Paris Agreement to halve emissions by 2030.

 

However, this assessment does not account for emissions generated during the building’s whole lifecycle including those related to Vestre’s production process.

 

Overall, The Plus falls short of achieving net-zero emissions, which every building both old and new would have to reach by 2050 to help limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius in accordance with the Paris Agreement.

 

Instead, the project is reportedly on track to become the first industrial building in the Nordic countries to reach the highest rating in the BREEAM environmental certification scheme, which is only awarded to the top one per cent of projects.

 

 

By Jennifer Hahn, on Dezen, May 2022. 

The photography is by Einar Aslaksen