Woman architect travels Europe in her self-built van conversion (Video)

We see and hear a lot about van conversions out here in North America, but over the ocean in Europe, there are apparently a good number of adventurous souls striking out in tricked-out vehicles too.

One of them is Viki, a recovering architect from Germany, who is travelling around Europe with her dog Cleo and her self-built van conversion that she’s named Illa (the pun of “van-illa” is intended). Viki says that she had previously been living a normal life, working long hours in her architecture job, sharing an apartment with friends, and had initially intended to buy a car in order to drive to Norway to find another job. But seeing that a van was about the same price, Viki ended up building out a van home instead, and has since been journeying around for the last six months, visiting fresh new destinations around Europe. We get a look inside via The Indie Projects:

The Indie ProjectsThe Indie Projects/Video screen capture

Van-Illa is a Volkswagen T5 with a long wheel base. Viki has remade the interior to resemble a comfy, feminine bedroom that has all her possessions within reach (including quirky favourites like her collection of Disney movies). One of the interesting design elements here is how she has created a kind of L-shaped counter with shelving up front. The little bright red refrigerator sits here, keeping things cool when needed, though Viki says that over the last few months she has almost been eating only plant-based foods, so she hasn’t been using it much.

The Indie ProjectsThe Indie Projects/Video screen capture

The Indie ProjectsThe Indie Projects/Video screen capture

The Indie ProjectsThe Indie Projects/Video screen capture

The interior is insulated with 4-centimetre-thick cork board. Viki has used salvaged materials wherever possible: cabinet doors her neighbour almost threw out, and linoleum for her counter. Yet another awesome feature is her adjustable bed. With a lift up on folding supports, it becomes a reclining lounge seat-and-bed that looks out through the the rear van doors.

The Indie ProjectsThe Indie Projects/Video screen capture

The Indie ProjectsThe Indie Projects/Video screen capture

The Indie ProjectsThe Indie Projects/Video screen capture

The Indie ProjectsThe Indie Projects/Video screen capture

At the back of the van when the doors are open, Viki can slide out this giant pull-out drawer that functions as her kitchen prep counter and storage. In addition to the small water tank inside, there is another small water tank here.

The Indie ProjectsThe Indie Projects/Video screen capture

The Indie ProjectsThe Indie Projects/Video screen capture

Viki’s van conversion is simple design that features some very intriguing ideas for storage and layout. For now, Viki plans to carry on with her travels, while she can:

I really like my job still and I want to go back to working as an architect, but I felt I was missing out on travel. I’ve never travelled for longer than a month… so I wanted to change something. I will never be that young again, or that independent. I just couldn’t answer the question: ‘why not now’? So I left.

Indeed, for many of us, that’s a question that needs asking at some point in our lives: if not now, then when? To keep updated on Viki’s journey, visit her website.

Source Article from https://www.treehugger.com/tiny-houses/architects-van-conversion-viki-van-illa-ice-cream.html

US main architect of Saudi military aggression on Yemen

The leader of Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement has strongly condemned the ongoing Saudi Arabia’s devastating aerial bombardment campaign against his country, blaming the United States as the main architect of the atrocious military aggression.

Addressing his supporters via a televised speech broadcast live from the Yemeni capital city of Sana’a on Tuesday evening, Abdul Malik Badreddin al-Houthi stated that the Riyadh regime has made use of all available means in its attacks against the Yemeni nation.

“Civilian and religious sites have been targeted in Yemen within the three years of Saudi war. The Saudi regime does not shy from pounding anything which has to do with Yemen,” he said.

The Ansarullah leader added that the Saudi aerial assaults against funeral processions in Yemen conclusively prove the inhumane nature of the Saudi aggression against Yemen.

“Aggressors have, nevertheless, failed to force Yemenis into submission,” he underlined.

The Ansarullah leader also decried the deafening silence of the United Nations and the international community vis-à-vis the Saudi crimes and atrocities in Yemen.

“Saudi crimes against Yemen are a test for the entire world to see whether they speak the truth or not,” Houthi pointed out.

He stressed that Saudi Arabia and its regional allies are serving the interests of the Zionist regime of Israel in their military campaign against Yemen.

Houthi said the developments in the wake of US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s capital well showed that the incumbent regime in Saudi Arabia is merely a puppet in the hands of the US administration.

“The Saudi regime is an outsider and a traitor to all Muslim nations. Yemeni people are standing together in the face of the Saudi aggression no matter how different their stances might be,” the Ansarullah leader said.

He also slammed the media cover-up by Western media outlets over the Saudi war on Yemen.

Houthi further noted that the most savage and reactionary regimes in the Middle East region are involved in the Saudi-led aggression on Yemen.

“Yemenis will never surrender to the murderers of women and children. Enemies will not be able to take away our freedom, and weaken our willpower,” he commented.

The Ansarullah chief said the 1,000 days of resistance and steadfastness by the Yemeni people against Saudi Arabia and its allies attest to the fact that Yemenis’ faith cannot be undermined in any away.

He lauded the sacrifices made by the Yemeni people, stressing that “We will not allow our enemies to colonize Yemen.”

“Aggressors thought they could occupy the entire Yemen within a matter of days. Thousands of our children have been mercilessly killed in the Saudi-led airstrikes. This is while Yemenis are still resilient and steadfast despite the all-out war and various shortcomings they are wrestling with,” Houthi said.

He lashed out at the Saudi regime over turning Yemen into the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, emphasizing that Yemeni forces would not hesitate to launch barrages of domestic missiles at Riyadh and the Emirati capital city of Abu Dhabi if the airstrikes continue.

Houthi also called upon all Yemeni factions, institutions and all walks of the society to join forces against the current challenges.

Saudi Arabia has been incessantly pounding Yemen since March 2015 in an attempt to crush the popular Houthi Ansarullah movement and reinstate the former Yemeni president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a staunch ally of the Riyadh regime.

More than 12,000 people have been killed since the onset of the campaign more than two and a half years ago. Much of the Arabian Peninsula country’s infrastructure, including hospitals, schools and factories, has been reduced to rubble due to the war.

The Saudi-led war has also triggered a deadly cholera epidemic across Yemen.

According to the World Health Organization’s latest count, the cholera outbreak has killed 2,167 people since the end of April and is suspected to have infected 841,906.

On November 26, the United Nations children’s agency (UNICEF) said that more than 11 million children in Yemen were in acute need of aid, stressing that it was estimated that every 10 minutes a child died of a preventable disease there.

Additionally, the UN has described the current level of hunger in Yemen as “unprecedented,” emphasizing that 17 million people are now food insecure in the country.


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Source Article from http://govtslaves.info/2017/12/us-main-architect-of-saudi-military-aggression-on-yemen/

The Axiom House is a flatpack prefab net-zero "game-changing concept home"

Being an architect can be so frustrating; the established ways are so entrenched, residential building technology is so primitive, it’s all done by hand in the field where the biggest innovation in thirty years was the nail gun replacing the hammer. Meanwhile in the architects offices there are tools that we never dreamed of thirty years ago- computers instead of drafting boards, 3D renderings that spring our of our drawings like magic, and perhaps most importantly of all, the Internet that changes how architects can market what they do.

That’s why the Axiom House, being developed in Kansas City by Acre Designs, is so interesting. Jennifer Dickson is an architect; Andrew Dickson is an industrial designer; together they are trying to turn a house into an industrial product that can be delivered anywhere in a shipping container, for a price that is competitive with conventional construction. They are not thinking like designers, but like a tech startup:

Acre is the very definition of a technology company. We apply scientific knowledge from the fields of architecture, engineering, environmental design, and material and construction science in the most practical way imaginable. We’ve used these practices to create homes that take half the time to build, use a fraction of the resources, and have as little as half the lifetime cost of traditional homes.

The house itself is a flexible 1800 square feet, designed to adapt to its occupants’ life cycles. It’s described as Net Zero energy, producing as much energy as it consumes; it achieves this by being built to near passive house standards so that very little energy is required to operate it in the first place. As they note,

Our homes are 90% more efficient than standard construction to begin with, and we make up the difference with a small solar panel (PV) array. We start with an efficient floor plan and a tight building envelope to prevent air from getting in or out. We use high-efficiency doors, windows, and appliances, take advantage of natural (passive) heating from the sun, and utilize unique heating and cooling solutions.

PGX ground loop© Acre

The heating and cooling system is indeed unique; I had to ask for an explanation. In the early days of Passive Houses, many had what are called Earth Tubes, or big pipes buried in the ground that were used as ducts to pre-cool or pre-warm air to the ground temperature, which is about 55°F in Kansas City. But earth tubes proved hugely problematic, delivering condensation, mold, radon and other wonderful things as well as air. Instead, the Axiom house has what they call Passive Geothermal, (PGX) a riff on what others have called brine loops or glycol ground loops. There is a grid of pipes buried in the ground which deliver water at near 55°F to a heat exchanger built into the Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV) that is required in a house that is so tight. So one gets all the benefits of an earth tube, preheating or precooling the air, without the problems and at a lot lower cost than a fancy ground source heat pump. They appear to work well; in an article by Martin Holladay in Green Building Advisor, a passive house builder called them “amazingly effective.” However Martin, always the skeptic, writes:

Of course, just because a ground loop works, doesn’t mean the system is cost-effective. Many energy experts have speculated that the pump needed to circulate the glycol solution uses almost as much energy as the system collects. The results of one monitoring study indicate that these experts may be right; data gathered in Vermont suggest that the simple payback period for this type of system may be as much as 4,400 years.

They are also delivering the tempered water to the radiant floor, and and addition to this system, the house also has a mini-split air source heat pump. Given the near- passive house amount of insulation, tight construction and careful siting, I suspect it won’t get a lot of use.

interior axiom© Acre

The structure is a flatpack of SIPs, or structural insulated panels. These are a sandwich panel of plywood or OSB board and expanded polystyrene insulation, 10″ thick for the roof and 8″ for the walls. They claim that that it can be built at prices competitive with other houses in Kansas City, running now at $110 to $135 per square foot. How do they do it?

It’s not any one thing, but a combination of strategies, that allows us to achieve this. A few examples:

By offering fixed plans, we can build hours of engineering and design into the base cost of the home. Just like with your car or phone, focused product development helps us deliver a refined, high-performance home that can be repeated again and again. Starting with a right-sized, efficient floor plan has a domino effect: reducing up-front costs, energy demands and system sizes throughout the house. With a lighter load, we can eliminate ductwork, wiring, plumbing runs, and the expensive labor associated with these. With streamlined, repeatable construction, we shave months of labor costs out of each job.

Axion Interior 2© Acre

Jennifer Dickson tells Metropolis:

We see no reason why architect-designed, highly efficient housing should not be attainable at a reasonable price point. To do that, we are treating this more like a car than a house. With cars, the design effort goes in at the front end, and at the purchase end, the customers do not get a custom product, but they get access to high-end finishes and their choice of features. We think we can leverage buying power by providing a set of well-designed packages.

Having used these same arguments for a decade when I was working in prefab, I am a bit skeptical that they can do that. I found again and again that designs are rarely repeatable, everyone wants to customize, and that customers don’t care about right-sizing, they care about price per square foot. And it’s just so hard to compete with conventional construction, the guy in a pickup with a magnetic sign and a nail gun.

Axiom closeup© Acre

But it is so exciting to see architects and designers trying to innovate in the design of homes and the way that their services and the product are delivered. I am really rooting for them and hope it works. Read more on the website and like any startup looking for money, attention and validation, they are crowdsourcing on Indiegogo.

Source Article from http://www.treehugger.com/corporate-responsibility/axiom-house-flatpack-prefab-net-zero-game-changing-concept-home.html