Category Archives: Design

Don’t like the weather? Change it…

From now forward, the food that you’ll eat and the clothes you’ll wear aren’t the only things you can get to decide on at the start of your day – you can now also choose your weather! Well, inside at least 🙂


What looks and acts like a skylight, but isn’t a skylight?

From now forward, the food that you’ll eat and the clothes you’ll wear aren’t the only things you can get to decide on at the start of your day – you can now also choose your weather! Well, inside at least 🙂


Almost as good as an outdoor bathroom!

Of course, you’re not really changing the weather, but you are changing the light that weather produces. Most people respond positively to sunshine. It elevates their mood. Conversely, long periods of rain tend to depress most people. Artificial lighting has always been able to brighten a room. But that part of the light spectrum used doesn’t fool our brain. It’s artificial… period!

That has just changed! Scientists from the University of Insubria, Italy, have reinvented interior lighting by using white LED’s and a clear polymer screen. Without getting too technical, the design achieves an effect called Rayleigh scattering – the reason we see our sky as blue. This is done by coating the polymer panel with two sizes of titanium dioxide nanoparticles. This results in blue being the dominant wavelength. The mechanics of this panel are that the LEDs serve us the sun while the polymer screen acts as the atmosphere. Voila – sunshine anytime and anywhere you want it!


Choose your light level…

Branded CoeLux, the lighting system comes in three kinds, each imitating sunlight at different angles. The first is the CoeLux 60 which emits bright, tropical light and the maximum luminance contrast of light and shadow.


The Coelux 60 – bright, tropical sunshine

The CoeLux 45 is for those with a love of the Mediterranean climate. It offers a balance of light and shade.


The Coelux 45 – a compromise between brightness and warmth

And then there’s the CoeLux 30 which is installed on walls so that it imitates the sun low on the horizon. Effectively, it mimics summer light in the high latitudes, casting soft light and long shadows.


The Coelux 30 imitates the sun and sky at higher latitudes…

One of the many possible uses of these lights would be in hospitals and hospices, where attitude can be directly linked to wellness. Another use would be in offices, where many well documented studies show a strong correlation between natural light and productivity. In fact the studies show that ‘natural light’ workers are happier, have less absenteeism and fewer illnesses than comparable groups working under conventional artificial lighting. These ‘skylights’ can bring the sun into the centre of any office area, regardless of how far it may be from the perimeter walls.

The panels were first exhibited in March this year, in Frankfurt, Germany. Commerial production has now begun and the system will soon be available globally.  CoeLux is not just a fixture to help you see things more clearly. It doesn’t just light up the room. It lights up your mood!  Soon homes will be cosier and work is going to feel less like work.

Can you see this being installed in your home? Share your comments and ideas in the section below!

From Prototype to Reality – Meet Your 3D Printed Home!

You could be forgiven for thinking that 3D printing is a new phenomenon. After all, it has only really been newsworthy for the past two or three years. However, Winsun China, have had big plans for 3D printing since 2005 when they invented a 3D print nozzle capable of extruding concrete. In 2008, they put the technology into practice by printing an actual wall.

3D Printed Homes

This 1100m2 (11,900sf) villa has been 3D printed at a cost of $USD160,000!

In March, 2014, Winsun announced that they had built 10 3D houses in a 24-hour period. No, not dolls’ houses, but full size residences! Each 200m2 home was produced at a cost of around $4800 without fixtures or fittings. The process used recycled building waste including concrete, glass, fibreglass and steel. At the time, inventor and Winsun owner, Ma Yi He said that the process was still under development.

3D Printed Homes

This five story apartment building is a demonstration vehicle for the 3D printing process.

The ‘ink’ is the result of 12 years research and allows for print tolerances as small as 1 mm. The finished product is about half the weight of a conventional concrete and brick alternative yet offers greater earthquake resilience and is capable of withstanding higher wind speeds.

3D Printed Homes

The assembly process is factory based but plans are afoot to build 3D villages using an onsite printer.

3D Printed Homes

The 3D printing process effectively means that any customization is possible.

You can expect to see 3D printed houses in your neighborhood ‘real soon now’! Winsun have signed joint-venture agreements to build printers globally. Over the next three years, they will set up factories in more than 25 countries including Korea, Russia, Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E, Qatar, Morocco, Tunisia and the United States!

They are also sitting on orders for 200 homes for the Egyptian government following the delivery of a prototype, together with orders for a further 10 luxury villas from the same developer who orders the 1100m2 villa featured above. Repeat orders like that don’t happen unless there is very high customer satisfaction!.

From our perspective, we’re witnessing the greatest innovation in housing in centuries. Speed, zero waste, minimal noise , structural integrity and affordability add up to a real winner. And, for the owner-builder, what could be better? Get your shell up quickly and cost-efficiently and then get on with the DIY fitout!

What do you think? Can you see a 3D printed home in your future?


Breakthrough creates a metal roof cooler than the surrounding air!

One of the really big myths is that metal roofs make a house hotter than other roof types. Anyone who has spent time on a tile roof knows that every roof – with the exception of thatched and green roofs, gets hellishly hot. And that heat radiates straight into your roof space and then continues into your home. There are many products now available to reduce that heat transfer including roof paints. However none are perfect and certainly none can actually reduce the temperature… until now!

Metal Roof

A roofing material that REDUCES temperatures!

Researchers from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS Science) have just released news of a material that stays cooler than the ambient air temperature! The invention has the capacity to significantly reduce cooling costs and the environmental impact of air-conditioning!

Made by stacking polymers on to a thin silver film, the new material absorbs just 3 percent of sunlight. If that doesn’t impress you, how about the fact that it also radiates heat out at infrared wavelengths that are not absorbed by the atmosphere. That means that the reflected heat is dissipated directly into space rather than warming our atmosphere. But wait, there’s more…

According to Geoff Smith, one of the lead researchers, the team demonstrated…

“for the first time how to make a roof colder than the air temperature around it, even under the most intense summer conditions. Roofs heat up by absorbing sunlight, so darker roofs can get very hot. Even white roofs still absorb enough sunlight to warm up by 9 to 12 degrees Celsius.

Cool roofing reduces the severity of the urban heat island problem in towns and cities and helps eliminate peak power demand problems from the operation of many air conditioners. The added feedback benefits from cool roofs are not yet widely appreciated, but recent reports have shown they are substantial. Examples include ventilation with cooler air and higher performance of rooftop air-conditioning installations.”

During the tests, the new roofing material stayed a minimum 11 degrees Celsius cooler than a nearby, state-of-the-art, white roof! Image - UTS

During the tests, the new roofing material stayed a minimum 11 degrees Celsius cooler than a nearby, state-of-the-art, white roof! Image – UTS

It’s easy to think of inventions like this as being theoretical and unlikely to impact your home building choices but, in this case, you’d be wrong! The materials used to create this  test roof are already commercially available. That means they can be easily and cost effectively adopted by the construction industry.

We think the future is an exciting place. What are your thoughts? Share them with us by using the comments box below.

Leaf House – Indigenous ingenuity

Angra dos Reis, Rio de Janeiro – Mareines + Patalano

Bamboo, local timbers, copper, massive beams spanning 20 metres and one of the world’s greatest harbours, help to make this a truly unique home. The design drew inspiration from indigenous Brazilian architecture to use natural ventilation to manage the hot and humid climate.

Leaf House – using indigenous design and materials to stay green

Leaf House – using indigenous design and materials to stay green

Notes from the architects:

“The roof acts as a big leaf that protects from the sun every room in the house as well as the free spaces between them. These free spaces represent the essence of the project, and how could it be otherwise, are the most interesting spaces and more used by people attending the house. Have in most cases a very high ceiling and allows the dominant southeast wind come frontally towards the sea and through the house, providing to all areas of the house, open or closed, ventilation and passive cooling. Eco-efficiency low-tech, where it has the greatest power to act in a building, the concept of architectural design.

We understand the beach house as a means to improve and make more pleasant the interaction of man with nature. Never separate them completely. There corridors. There is a lot of transparency and integration between inside and outside, almost a fusion between them. Here it is interesting to note the passage of the landscaping floor of the house, either by using vegetation as the pool which crossing the house turns into water mirror on the back porch. This balcony is called by office staff as “Brazilian lounge” by the adoption of networks for the rest area sauna, buried on land that begins to rise from this balcony.

The entire roof structure was made of laminated wood of eucalyptus, which due to its manufacturing process can simultaneously overcome large spans (20 meters is the largest of the house) with ease and aesthetic refinement. The roof, due to its complex geometry is made in small pieces of wood (pine). Eucalyptus, and Pinus species are planted for reforestation and used as feedstock considered renewable by the speed that reach the ideal time to be harvested. All surfaces finishing the house, except to glass and patinated copper are natural: Slate rust strips, natural wood, wood spider pole in the ground floor, and bamboo frames.

The use of natural materials, glass and patinated copper, which acquires a greenish tint and has very long shelf life, and rich organic aesthetic in detail how different rhythms and textures, provoked an interesting fact: The feeling that the house , brand new, there always seem to be in great harmony with the exuberant nature of Angra. The feeling of belonging to the place.”

Click on any image to start the lightbox display. Use your Esc key to close the lightbox. You can also view the images as a slideshow if you prefer.

Building an Indoor to Outdoor Space

When it comes to creating a home, one of the most loved trends of the moment is to bring the outdoors in. This sounds simple enough, but in order to really effectively achieve this you have to make sure both your indoor and outdoor spaces are cohesive and blend into one, so much so that the line between the outdoor and indoor space is blurred. There are several ways you can achieve this with these few tips.

A great example of how a deck can make a steep block more livable. (image source: redagainPatti, Flickr)

A great example of how a deck can make a steep block more livable. (image source: redagainPatti, Flickr)

It all starts with the floor. Flooring is obviously part of every single room in a house and can easily go unnoticed, but when it’s wrong can ruin a whole aesthetic. When bringing the outdoors in, it is most important to have cohesive flooring in the outdoor deck as to the room it connects with, usually a living or dining room. One of the best materials for this is Timber Flooring. Timber decking easily compliments wooden floorboards of the interior and give the home a natural and relaxed feel. Floorboards and decking are great materials to work with when designing a home as they provide a neutral palette and are always a classic design choice to suit any home style.

Colour Palette –

The colour palette you use for your indoors spaces should be the same as the one used for your outdoor space, at least in the connected rooms. This connects feature elements of the rooms like light fittings and cushions, which makes both spaces seem like one.

An instant vertical garden for your courtyard or deck area (image source: normanack, Flickr)

An instant vertical garden for your courtyard or deck area (image source: normanack, Flickr)

Potted Plants –

Creating an outdoor room isn’t just about bringing the indoors out, its also about bringing the outdoors in. Using potted plants to bring greenery indoors is a great way to increase the consistency of your crossover area. Plants work best in corners or those nooks which are hard to fill or either side of entrance ways for a grand effect. When it comes to indoor plants, bigger is better. The height of a plant will accentuate the room and draw the eye up, making the ceiling height seem higher and creating a feeling of space. Using plants is a great way to bring colour into your home, so the bigger the leaf the better to get maximum green impact.

A year-round addition to a home's functionality. I cold climates, Clear cafe blinds will trap the warmth of that fireplace.

A year-round addition to a home’s functionality. I cold climates, Clear cafe blinds will trap the warmth of that fireplace. (image source:Wicker Paridise, Flickr)

Soft Furnishings –

By using soft furnishings, like cushions or even outdoor rugs to protect your floorboards, outdoors automatically creates a relaxed feel and entices you to be comfortable in your outdoor space. This really creates an ‘outdoor room’ feel and you should ensure that your cushions or rugs are cohesive with the style used inside the house, either through a similar colour palette or texture, but don’t be afraid to play around with sizing variations.

Use Natural Materials –

Using natural materials brings the outdoor element inside your home and connects your indoor spaces to your outdoors. Natural materials such as timber floorboards, stone accents like marble tabletops, animal hides and leather both as floor rugs for indoors and cushions for outdoors and woolen throws over seating areas help to create a cohesive and homely feel both indoors and out.