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Nestled Between A Cliff and A Stretch of Water: Cliff House

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Waterfront homes capture the idea of living by water, while the modern architecture featuring extensive use of glass will constantly remind you where you are. Architect Scott Allen designed the Cliff House as proof that living in harmony with the surroundings can also ensure you have a comfortable lifestyle. Located in Gig Harbor, Washington, the Cliff House stands with its back against a natural cliff and its front opened to the stretch of calming water. Replacing an old guest house and boathouse, the new contemporary residential construction had to be designed and built in response to the tough terrain.

As explained by Scott Allen Architecture, “the design solution makes the roof of the new structure an extension of the upland lawn, with a glass-enclosed elevator providing access to the two levels below. To the south, an outdoor living space is set between the house and a new boathouse. Stairs lead down to the water and are incorporated into a series of decks, terraces, and bridges that create spaces for living and entertaining. This area also features a wood-burning pizza oven and an outdoor fireplace.” Reminiscent of a boat’s cabin, the first floor of the house displays Douglas fir ceilings and walls with over-sized windows flooding the interiors with natural light. Four main building materials featured on the facade – copper, concrete, metal window cladding, and cedar – withstand the special conditions, while eco-friendly features like the green roof or sunscreens help cool down the interiors during summer.

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Energy during the construction process was saved by using FSC-certified glulam timber instead of steel to create the building’s distinctive wavy roof, while the store’s external walls use hemclad, a highly innovative insulator made from hemp, which, like all plants, absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere as it grows. An 80,000 litre water tank below ground provides water for the store’s toilets and waters the site’s green wall’, which provides natural insulation, acts as an all-natural pollution filter near the car park, and helps to encourage biodiversity. The result is a building that uses a fraction of the energy of structures of a similar size, and is still very popular with local shoppers.

Value for money is not, and never was, the same as being cheap. Value for money means making the most of whatever budget is available. A good example of this is Hayes Primary School in London, by Hayhurst and Co. Having to contend with a tightly controlled 3 million local authority budget, they worked with the existing structure of the primary school to give it a much needed update. A striking polished stainless steel brise-soleil facade installed at the school’s entrance, gives the school’s many different buildings a sense of identity, while new classrooms have been created in a range of shapes and sizes, and are often flooded with natural light

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