Balance, Design, Technology
July 6, 2011
On TreeHugger we’ve already seen minimalist hotels made out of giant sections of concrete tubing. But who would have known concrete tubing could be actually made to look inviting, much less for travellers looking to stay in one of Mexico’s more popular destinations? Located less than an hour away from Mexico City, Tepoztlan’s Tubohotel is an affordable hotel that uses recycled concrete tubing for its rooms, a strategy employed by designers T3arc to build a hotel quickly and cheaply, without sacrificing the area’s spectacular views.
According to ArchDaily, this hotel was inspired in part by architect Andreas Strauss’ 2005 Das ParkHotel. However, Tubohotel’s concrete modules add a touch of glass and comfort to allow guests a better panoramic view of the local mountain range, Sierra del Tepozteco. Legend has it that Tepoztlan is the birthplace of Quetzalcoatl, Mexico’s ancient feathered serpent god.
Of course, producing concrete creates a colossal ecological footprint, but recycling concrete makes it much more eco-friendly as a building material.
The modules are mostly arranged in stacked pyramids of three tubes to free up the wooded site, the top room of each pyramid is accessible via a set of stairs. Inside, it’s a queen size bed, with curtains providing some privacy.
Construction took only 3 months, with the hotel operating as of 2010. Targeting budget travellers, accommodations are affordable (500 pesos or $43 USD per night) and according to Tubohotel’s website, there are two bathroom houses, private showers and toilets on-site and local cuisine with a celebrity chef nearby as well.
By Kimberley Mok
This story appears in partnership with treehugger, a one-stop shop for green news, solutions, and product information
May 26, 2011
Architect John Bertram moved to Los Angeles in 1997 and worked with Marmol Radziner on the restoration and remodeling of Neutra’s Brown House. He founded his own studio in 1999 and Eliot Mitchell joined in 2004. Together they put their particularly warm stamp on modern architecture. Here we take a look at a writer’s studio they designed in the hills behind Los Angeles’ Griffith Park.
JOHN BERTRAM: Among our projects, one of my favorites is the tiny writer’s studio that Eliot Mitchell and I designed in 2008 and completed last year. Perched on a steep hillside abutting a remote area of Griffith Park in Los Angeles, this rather austere, self-contained structure intended for meditation and quiet inspiration can be quite neatly described by the Russian word пустынь or poustinia (the word literally means desert): a small simply furnished and preferably remote cabin to which a monk would retreat to fast and pray in solitude and silence.
The writer’s studio is in the rear portion of a large property and access is from the backyard of the main house from which a nearly invisible bluestone stairway winds up a hillside heavily planted with agave, yucca, cactus and other drought-resistant plants. Half of the building is set into the hillside and the other half cantilevers out over it. Rattlesnakes, lizards, coyotes and ravens, are frequent visitors, and most days red-tailed hawks can be sighted circling overhead. One can also scramble farther up the hill and take a hike in the park. It’s a perfect place to spend an hour, an afternoon, or a weekend.
The teak desk, bed, cabinet and shelves (all of these are built-ins carefully designed by us to integrate into the structure with maximum efficiency), as well a separate toilet and sink area, fit neatly into a space barely totaling 200 square feet. Oversized sliding windows pocket completely into the structure, with no corner post to obstruct the views of adjacent hills and, on a clear day, the Pacific Ocean.
The small deck at the entrance is just large enough for a few chairs and in the rear corner we’ve designed an outdoor shower. The exterior siding and decking of ipe is designed to gray out gracefully and nicely complements the teak built-ins and rustic teak flooring inside the studio.
There is something wonderful about designing a project of this scale. We find we can practice the craft of architecture in a way that would be nearly impossible with a much larger project. The writer’s studio is really a piece of exquisitely built furniture and we are able to be attentive to every single detail, define exactly how one material should intersect another, and make sure that it is built accordingly. This is how we prefer to work and, happily, I think that the result of all of this care and devotion can be experienced quite holistically in the certain difficult-to-define contemplative quality of the completed space.
September 16, 2010
Here’s a new take on the backyard home office. It’s called the Sustainsia Cocoon and is 8′ by 12′ modular prefab with a lovely curvey interior.
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
March 2, 2010
Caroline De Vita is a talented graphic designer, illustrator, painter and mother of two. She doesn’t have a lot of spare time. She does have an enviable home office custom built by her husband. We caught her during a rare break to talk about all the ins and outs of working from home.
How long have you worked from home…and where is ‘home’? I’ve worked from home for about 12 years. My home now is in a little house in Los Angeles’ Westside city of Mar Vista, and I’m working out of a 200 square foot office my husband built for me in our backyard when I was pregnant with our first child.
What does an average work day involve? After walking home from dropping off my son at preschool, I make coffee while my computer starts up, check emails, make phone calls and start whatever jobs I’m currently working on. I am usually starving my 12:00, so I take a quick lunch and get back to work until 4:30, when I pick the kids up. If I have a deadline, I work remotely from a computer in the house while fixing dinner and watching the kids, 3 and 5. I pop back into the office after the kids are in bed if I still have work to finish.
Is there any form of technology that really inspires you and helps you in your work? I love my Wacom writing tablet. I illustrate as well as design, so it’s very useful for line drawings. It has a pressure sensitive pad, so I can manipulate the line weights to look like I’m using a japanese brush. My scanner is useful and inspiring because I scan just about anything I find, paper, leaves–anything, manipulate it and use it as a texture in my illustrations or as a graphic in my design work, and sometimes I just prefer to write or draw with a japanese pen or calligraphy pen on paper so I need to scan those into Photoshop.
As a graphic designer you’ve got multiple clients – large and small. How do you organize your space? I’m thinking here of your physical space but also your virtual space? This is probably not the best solution, but for virtual organization, I use Entourage Calendar to remind myself through pop up ‘reminders’ of due dates, etc. For physical organizing, I have a small rolling file next to my desk with files for each client. Anything that has to do with a particular job I’m working on goes into that client’s folder, no matter what it is. Every month I go through the rolling file and take out whatever jobs are finished and put into my ‘deep file’ cabinet on the other side of the office, to make room for upcoming jobs.
What item from your desktop can you not do without? Besides my computer, I can’t do without my drawing pad, brush pens and Uniball micro roller pen. Drawing and doodling helps free my mind of clutter and can sometimes inspire me.
What piece of office furniture do you love? Which would you like to replace? I love my old metal office desk and my Aeron Chair. The desk is the right size for me and I like how solid it is, the little bit of history behind it, and that I got my hands dirty taking care of refinishing it myself. I like the way my chair looks and how incredibly comfortable it is.
I don’t think there’s anything I’d like to replace, but I’d like to put up shelves on the wall to my right so I can easily see items that inspire me. Right now I have to turn around to look at my books and things I bought while traveling. I like warm things, like wood and clay.
What inspires you? Old, worn books, looking out my office window at our tall Australian paper bark trees, books I’m reading ….It really depends on where my head is at the time. Right now, I’m inspired by Shakespeare, Johnny Cash, Van Gogh, watching my 5-year old daughter draw her detailed, imaginative scenes, the intensity of playing in my Sunday soccer games!
February 22, 2010
Here’s another great little backyard studio. This time we’ve got a suburban tipi designed by John Paananen who came up with the structure while he was a student at Cranbrook Academy of Arts in Michigan. It doesn’t look like it went into production but you can reach John through his website. Via Materialicious.
February 1, 2010
Maybe Monday should also be weird home office day. Last Monday we had that timber-shingled office in a pod and today the Blob lands in my inbox. It’s called Blob VB3 and is actually a polyester-clad office on wheels designed by dmvA for Xfactoragencies. The nose opens to form a covered outdoor area. I’m not sure how practical it is but it looks lovely! Via ShelterPop.