An easy way to save energy this summer is by foregoing your dryer and using a clothesline to air dry laundry. In the heat of summer, I can’t bear to use my dryer, so I picked up a simple, retractable clothesline from my local hardware store. I am surprised how much I enjoy using my clothesline! There is something romantic about seeing a line of clothes fluttering in the wind. And sun-dried sheets on a freshly made bed is heaven! Of course, being a designer, I couldn’t help search for more design-y clothes-drying products. - Lindsey
Here are my favorites:
Above Left: The Alberto clothesline from Fabrica. Each “tree” is about 6’ tall. Center: Vintage clothespins are so cool looking. They are easy to find online too, this image is from a shop on Etsy. Above Right: For those who don’t have the luxury of outdoor space for air-drying, uncommongoods offers an easy mount indoor clothesline. Below Left: There are even cute ways to store clothespins. You easily could make your own, but this one is from uncommongoods.com. Below Right: I love this idea. Start them young!
Greenways: Feldman and Clients Get Around Town
Most of Feldman Architecture’s clients appreciate the importance of sustainably built homes and ask us to help them make choices that use materials wisely and reduce energy use. We know that buildings consume almost half of all fossil fuels burned in the United States, but not surprisingly, transportation consumes the next largest percentage of fossil fuels.
The team here at Feldman Architecture does its part to reduce carbon emissions by making smart choices in the buildings we design and how we commute to work. With few exceptions we all regularly bike, walk, take public transportation, or ride a scooter to our offices in SOMA. One of us even recently started taking a ferry that runs on bio-diesel. Since 50% of our office does not own a car, we visit job sites using City Car Share or Zip Car whenever possible.
We bring this same awareness of alternative transportation issues to our projects. Four projects under construction will offer dedicated 240 volt outlets with upgraded electrical panels for owners’ future electric cars. Several of our completed projects generate sufficient electricity through photo-voltaic panels to charge these vehicles. A project site in Santa Cruz was specifically chosen for its proximity to the beach, schools, transit and shopping. Though this particular client currently lives in Ohio, he has already bought a bike to avoid renting a car on his frequent site visits. For another project under construction, the owners will enter their home - frequently sweaty and muddy - directly through a large bike storage room. These clients have gotten creative with their bikes – see the photos below!
All of these efforts use energy wisely and conserve resources, but they’re also a great way to travel around the City and appreciate the sights. - Brett
Object Lessons: Design across Disciplines
Recently, we undertook a re-branding of our graphic identity at Feldman Architecture, a process led by graphic designer Anjel Van Slyke. Sitting in the seat of client and being guided through the design process by Anjel gave us a chance to reflect on our own process. Like a short architectural project, the trajectory of the graphic design followed a familiar path, including outlining a scope, budget and schedule; gathering research, precedents, and materials; brainstorming; refining the details; and production/construction.
Recently while watching the documentary, Objectified, which chronicles several Industrial Designers and major corporations known for design, I was struck by a section of the film in which Dieter Rams, Former Design Director of Braun, brings to light his philosophy on good design. Herr Rams eschews the idea that a designer is an artist, noting that industrial designers spend much of their time working with business people, engineers and clients. Herr Rams goes on to elaborate on the values of good design:
Good design should be innovative. Good design should make a product useful. Good design is aesthetic design. Good design will make a product understandable. Good design is honest. Good design is unobtrusive. Good design is long-lived. Good design is consistent in every detail. Good design is environmentally friendly. Last but not least, good design is as little design as possible.
Undergoing the re-brand process had our team elucidating the principles we stand for and thinking inspirationally about the image we wish to publicly project. Dieter Rams ‘manifesto’ is a great reminder of some of the goals we tend towards for our architectural projects. But one could argue, contrary to his statement that designers are not artists, that there is actually an art to the decisions which are made and lead to what appears to be as little design as possible. Simply put – this is hard to do simply.
We were immediately drawn to the logo you see now on our website, but we were even more fascinated as Angel described where she had chosen to tip the edges of the letters and why certain sketches were not eliminated. She led us through her sketchbook of cast-aways and final cuts. In the end, we feel we have an amazing fit to our firm’s work with a simple elegance that does not appear fussy or labored over, but expresses lots of ideas and complexity with minimal moves. - Hannah
Canstruction: Fear the Beard
This spring, Feldman Architecture teamed up with Fulcrum Engineering to create a structure for this week’s Canstruction benefit for the San Francisco Food Bank. The theme of the event was Spirit of San Francisco, which we took as an opportunity to celebrate the Giants’ victory in the 2010 World Series.
Throughout the Series, Giants’ fans adopted the slogan “Fear the Beard” in support of the famed pitcher, Brian Wilson, who helped bring the team to victory for the first time since 1954. Wilson’s thick, dyed black facial hair became an icon for the team’s tenacity and was the subject of one of the favorite chants among crowds leading up to the series win. The Beard continues to grace t-shirts, hats, and headlines as the Giants continue the 2011 season with high hopes.
Our representation of The Beard, which won an honorable mention at Wednesday’s award ceremony, evokes this spirit which we all experienced in the final days of last year’s World Series. We chose dark colored labels to represent the dyed black beard and shaped the sculpture to best represent the recognizable icon with the full beard, mustache, and tall side burns. Most of the cans are beans, which also answers the Food Bank’s request for high protein canned goods.
Visitors are welcome to check out the amazing Canstructions created by several local architect and engineer firms at the Metreon on the 4th floor through Sunday, June 26th. Further information and details on donations can be found at the Canstruction website.
What's behind the Door?
When choosing doors to improve indoor-outdoor connections, we always consider a number of competing objectives and challenges. Among the important considerations are how large do we want individual panels to be, how large of a clear opening are we trying to create, the style of the house, the weather exposure, and the need for insect protection. - Jonathan
House Ocho: 4-panel sliders Here we used two operable and two fixed doors to get a wide opening to the patio. We extended the score lines of the concrete floor inside the house to the outside creating planting strips to emphasize the indoor-outdoor connection.
Henry House: 4-Panel Sliders This attic conversion in San Francisco used similar sliding doors to connect to a new roof deck.
Buena Vista: Custom Pivot Doors Custom pivot doors create a nice modern punch in this San Francisco Victorian. We like the way that, when open, the doors provide a directionality that draws one out to the spectacular view beyond.
Old Bernal: Two Large Lift and Slide Doors This oversized lift and slide door is made of two operable panels that provide large openings and flexibility.
Open Box 2: Slide-Fold Doors
These multi-panel doors have a limitation in terms of how wide each door panel can be, but they make up for it in providing a clear, unobstructed opening when the doors are pushed to the side.
What's in a Cabinet?
Walls don’t have to be the only physical separation between rooms or spaces. At Feldman Architecture, we often use cabinetry to define boundaries. Cabinetry adds variation to a room’s palette through the use of different materials, like wood and glass. It also has the benefit of transparency, which isn’t as easily achieved with framed walls. Open shelving and transparent or translucent materials keep a visual connection between rooms, but still help define space. Plus, cabinetry is very useful for storage! Here are a few examples of how we’ve used cabinetry. - Lindsey
A combination of etched glass panels and stained wood cabinetry act as a buffet for the Dining Room on one side and a media center for the Family Room on the other side.
Transparency plays a big role in making this kitchen cabinetry useful but still keeping a strong visual connection between rooms.
Left: The mixture of materials in this work station keeps the palette interesting. The combination of open shelves and translucent panels provides natural light and give a sense of openness, while still providing necessary storage.
Right: The use of kitchen cabinetry provides useful function, while maintaining a strong visual connection to the Dining Room.
A continuous low cabinet runs the length of the house and even outside, tying the rooms together. Inside it is Kitchen cabinetry, a Dining Room buffet, and Family Room storage. Outside, it becomes the BBQ and food prep station.
Canstruction: The Spirit of San Francisco
Canstruction brings together architects, engineers and contractors to design and build massive, sculptural structures from various canned goods. After the event, the cans are donated to local food banks for distribution to those in need. Leading to the donation of over 15 million pounds of food, the event has been held in many cities throughout the country, from Boston to Los Angeles and from Chicago to Austin. This June 22-26th, the Metreon will host the first annual event in San Francisco.
Feldman Architecture is excited to be paired with Fulcrum Structural Engineering for this year’s event. The request of the San Francisco Food Bank is to provide canned goods high in protein, while organizers have asked teams to dream big about the Spirit of San Francisco. Our team has been working for the past 4 weeks, drawing up a 3d Model, working on a method of canstruction, and looking for donations. We’ll post more soon, but in the meantime, if you’d like to help us in gathering cans, please email one of us directly or visit here for further information about donations. - Hannah and the Canstruction team
When I decided to reuse my Kombucha Tea bottle as vase to bring a little color to my kitchen window sill, I thought it’d be great to ask the rest of the FA staff what objects they’ve reused; below is a showcase of either quirky personal or architectural examples of reused objects that give new life to old materials. They begin to speak about how being green can happen at many different scales and be as simple to achieve as drinking your tea. - Matt
1. Piece of weathered plywood becomes an art object 2. Salvaged teak as bath trim 3. Crushed windshield glass as roof surface 4. Wine boxes as storage bins 5. An ashtray becomes a dish sponge holder
The Cost of Going Green
Initial discussions with current and potential clients about sustainability may begin in various ways. From the first phone call, many clients begin to express that their “wish list” includes making the project as green as possible. Others are more hesitant. But both turn to us with all the best intentions but with questions of how much being green will cost, particularly in the current economic climate. Most tend to believe that green = more expensive, which it can, but there are many, many ways to approach environmental responsibility and many are cost-saving.
There are several moves in the early phases of the design process which can be considered low hanging fruit and best practice. This includes a thorough understanding of the site and climate and choosing an orientation for the home that takes advantage of both the sun and wind as free and clean resources for energy and thermal comfort. The placement of the building and its thermal mass in order to capture heat from the sun’s warming rays, or away from the sun’s ray in more tropical climates, doesn’t typically add to the cost of construction for a new building. A clear understand of how the wind moves across the site and orienting the openings to take advantage of natural ventilation and air flow changes is also cost neutral.
Another discussion that often happens early in the project revolves around the size of the building. A typical 10,000sf structure uses far more resources to build, and later to heat or cool, than planning and programming for a smaller building. Moving towards smaller buildings is both cost-saving and generally more environmentally-responsible, as long as other sustainable materials and methods are implemented in the smaller building. The pre-design phase often allows us to better understand the client’s program and to offer suggestions on multi-purpose rooms that can cut down the size of the program. A clear understanding of the client’s program also leads to a better understanding of which rooms should allow for natural light and shading. An office which is only used throughout the day might get all of its needs for light from the sun.
On the other hand, other sustainable products which can be implemented have a higher cost and a lower rate of return. For instance, water storage tanks are currently an expensive accessory to a building in large part due to the fact that water is so heavily subsidized. In one of our Northern California homes, three large storage tanks were implemented to capture water for landscape irrigation, largely due to the fact that the client felt strongly that it is the right thing to do. If water continues to be relatively cheap, the tanks will pay for themselves in about 30 years. However, it may be forward-thinking to implement such a system, since many experts claim that water will not continue to be so heavily subsidized.
Finally, there are many systems which, of course, add to the cost to construction but have a high and quick rate of return. These include integrated solar panels in projects that get a lot of sunlight, insulation with higher R values that help reduce heating and cooling costs, LED lights, and the specification of energy efficient appliances. Wood flooring or framing timbers which are FSC-certified tend to cost more to the client, since there is a certain amount of stewardship that the client is paying for, but we are encouraged by the trend of clients who see that the cost to the planet of specifying non-FSC certified woods is simply not sustainable.
As with any part of a design and construction project, sustainable materials and technologies represent a blend of client’s desires and needs in balance with a budget. A most encouraging piece of sustainable building in the current economic times is that cost-benefit analysis and consumer demand are bringing sustainable materials more and more into the realm of the affordable. Also, education of the clients about the hidden costs of certain practices and materials is pushing all of us in the building trades to think creatively about sustainability and to cause a more thorough analysis of the cost of being green. - Hannah
Colorful New Flatware from Sabre
Discovered this past weekend, an amazingly, colorful flatware from Sabre available at Maison d'Etre in Berkeley, California. Using an "Old Fashioned" silverware profile from which the line draws its name, Sabre has reinvented the traditional in plastics that are fun, dishwasher safe and available in 20+ colors. The "Old Fashioned" theme is also taken to the extreme, offering sugar cube tongs and a tart slicer. - Hannah