Studio Ma’s Phoenix office oasis is shrouded in a kebonized wood scrim

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Studio Ma’s Phoenix office oasis is shrouded in a kebonized wood scrim
Studio Ma’s Phoenix office oasis is shrouded in a kebonized wood scrim

True to their regenerative bioclimatic design ethos, Studio Ma has designed their own eco-conscious office in the desert to the same standards they maintain for their clients. The new 2,412 square meter office transformed an inconspicuous dental practice into a “net-zero-energy and water-free” room that invites you to go hiking and biking – an impressive achievement when you consider that the city of Phoenix has an average temperature of seven months a year above 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Significant shading strategies and the reuse of existing on-site materials ensure a well-thought-out double-walled shell that not only appeals to the street scene, but also creates valuable space in the cavities for the user with kebonized wood fabric With the award-winning company’s environmental designs, the resulting Xero Studio really pushes the boundaries of sustainable design in hopes of shifting the baseline. The adaptive reuse project retained all of the masonry and concrete from the existing structure, including ceilings, foundations, and exterior walls; Masonry that was removed for openings in the inner shell has been fully recycled. In order to break away from the complete dependence on air conditioning, the building was encased in a continuous insulation and newly clad. Windows were installed behind the rib walls on the east and west sides. In addition to reusing the core and shell, all existing windows and doors have been recycled and disposed of in front of the landfill. Homasote’s existing interior cladding, cabinets, and milling were also reused to embody a truly closed material cycle for ceilings up to 10 feet. The framework has an extended leg that uses the support provided by the 2.40 meter high masonry walls and eliminates the need for additional frames. Carefully arranged, the deep brown kebonized fins of the outer lattice layer reduce solar radiation by over 90 percent and serve to do this Redefine the exterior. Working with Kebony US, Studio Ma tweaked the design to work with the thermally modified Southern Yellow Pine and install the fins, which are up to 14 feet long. There are 285 fins with 52 flat boards. The facade also supports intermittent, thin lighting to subtly illuminate the studio from the street. The outside spaces between the screen and the existing facade of the building are more than just bicycle parking spaces; it’s a biome. This “Skunkworks” room, as Studio Ma calls it, functions as a deck, overhang for shade and home for plants that are native to the Sonoran Desert. “Some of today’s most pioneering architects remember looking behind them at some of the most fundamental principles and strategies for dealing with the climate,” said Christopher Alt, Director of Studio Ma. Regarding the material, Alt said, “It’s the opposite of an embodied carbon footprint, it literally binds carbon.” . The way [the kebonized wood] treated is incredible, ”added Christiana Moss, FAIA, Director of Studio Ma. “Ma” is the Japanese term for negative space, but it really does expand into a Confucian concept of “space in between” that represents the company’s design ethos. In an attempt to find longer-term resilience strategies, Studio Ma continues to design in the “in between” and find solutions to integrate a closed water supply and to bind more carbon with additional wood that can be used for an expansion. Xero Studio won the AIA Small Projects Award in 2021 and is currently working to complete the Living Building Challenge to become the first LBC certified project in Arizona.

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