What I dig most about the influx of prefab housing on the market are the leaps and bounds they’re making in terms of design and building efficiency. Not only are they popping up (literally, in some cases) everywhere, but the structures themselves are getting more daring and architecturally stimulating.
A fine example is the Ehrlich House near Chapel Hill, NC. This 3,200 square foot custom prefab was the brainchild of architect Dustin Ehrlich. Highly modern in function and form, this house was designed to reflect its surrounding rural landscape.
A stunning exterior of rusted corrugated metal mixed with wood, stone and stainless steel bring a rustic quality to the simple, hard-cornered design, giving it the feel of a modern log cabin in some sections and a futuristic shed in others. (I mean this in a good way.) Simple but very groovy is the best way I can describe it.
Is it possible for a gas station to be green? Can a place designed solely for the dispensation of the stuff we don’t want to breathe actually be good for the environment? That’s like asking if a crack dealer can have a good heart.
But here in L.A., BP’s Helios House professes to be just that. Not great for the environment, mind you — it is, after all, still a gas station — just “a little better”, as one of the two billboards looming above proclaims. It’s a hard pellet to swallow in a city that abuses gas more than any other, but BP’s big green experimental petrol station has endeavored to be as green as possible in terms of its design, building materials and use of resources. Their press release states that “Helios House is testament to BP’s commitment to balancing society’s need for energy with a responsible approach to the environment and is focused on two principles: sustainability and environmental education.”
G Living gets the heart of the container/home story buzzing all over the web. When we posted the story Genius Design: The House That Moves With You about a Dutch architecture firm building University dorms out of shipping containers, we got pounded. The flood of people reading that story was one of our biggest ever and it hasn’t really let up. As a result, we wanted to know more about why people are so fascinated by the idea of living inside the same containers that all of our other stuff arrives in. So, we went to one of the leading architects building his career around this new type of architecture, Peter De Maria.
Peter was kind enough to come into the studios and sit down for a special ROOM101 about the future of living in containers. Enjoy.
As an emerging green fashionista will tell you, it’s exciting to discover and fall in love with a new designer — and then later unearth the fact that they are green. It’s like eating an entire tub of ice cream and learning afterwards that it was National No Calorie Day. Or to find out that cigarettes were good for you after all. (I’m so kidding about this inflammatory last remark — no pun intended).
If you’re in the market for a cleaner, greener office space or work studio, you have to check out ecospace. In collaboration with London-based architectural practice Idris-Perrineau Town, ecospace has designed a small, green-roofed studio that is built completely from sustainable materials…
Or so they say.
You don’t need to look far to start questioning the green-ness of these tiny abodes; the whole exterior is clad in “sustainable red cedar.” (Perhaps it’s not so rare in England as it is in the U.S.) The inside walls are made of birch, another not-so-replaceable species — and with other more sustainable wall coverings available, I’m not sure why ecospace is using trees. Finally, the floor inside is made of rubber, which will last a long time, but relies on petroleum at some point during its creation.
One of the problems in making cities more responsive to 21st century demands is that most areas are built out already – and usually with old, inefficient buildings. The spaces that are left can be undesirable due to location and zoning demands, turning away would-be developers.
That’s where the High Line 23 building in New York’s West Chelsea arts neighborhood is making its mark. Designers had to overcome numerous problems like a small footprint and encroachment from the High Line, New York’s decrepit rail system turned park space.
When Brad Pitt engaged 14 of the world’s leading architects to submit designs for his Make It Right project to rebuild New Orleans, he requested a strict standard of sustainability and practicality.
Mixing local designers from New Orleans with various national and international firms, Pitt aimed to create smart urban planning that incorporated a modern feel while maintaining the spirit of the city’s culturally rich Lower 9th Ward.
From the Make It Right site: “MIR’s goal is to join the history of this tradition with creative new architectural solutions mindful of environmental and personal safety concerns in order to encourage both the evolution of aesthetic distinctiveness and the conscientious awareness of natural surroundings.”
Like any happy homeowner, I’m always on the lookout for fresh ways to green the house. Turning the place into a showroom for enviro-style is good because it (hopefully) inspires others to do the same, and it’s a constant excuse to buy new things. But I’m on the picky side, so not every new design product feels like a giant leap for greenkind. I was, however, excited to discover that two of the industry’s leading manufacturers of window treatments are adding eco-responsible goods to their classic, well trusted line of shades and screens.
Window treatments help us control the amount of solar heat, block visible and UV light, lessen glare and provide adjustable comfort. They also contribute to a design aesthetic which can either tie a room together or provide a funky focal point. And now that MechoShade and Hunter Douglas have come up with products that are fashionable in both design and sustainability, I can be environmentally friendly without compromising my aesthetic statement.
Six years in the making, MechoShade’s EcoVeil™ is a PVC-free solar shade cloth that, according to the company, meets the Cradle To Cradle initiative with its ability to be fully recyclable while maintaining or improving its quality and functionality. MechoShade’s president, Jan Berman, said on their website that the goal was to create a fantastic looking shade cloth that was “safe for people, safe for the environment,” and would “never end up in a landfill.”
The aim of brio54 is to offer functional, inspiring and affordable modern design to the masses, and from what I can tell, they’ve succeeded (at least at the concept stage). With a focus on conserving resources and promoting non-toxic living, the emerging development firm has created three designs for your viewing pleasure: the H1 suburban, the H2 urban infill and the H3 high ranch rehab.
And oh, what a pleasure they are to view.
While the company’s website is chock full of information, I found myself way too busy admiring the images and imagining myself there to read any of the text. The H1 is an imposing structure with a great looking deck that most homeowners can only dream about. The sleek and modern house seems ideal for entertaining (which is always my first criteria, whether I actually utilize it or not) and there’s even a basement, something most of us Angelenos never get to experience. And the natural lighting, provided a full side of windows on the main floor and strategically placed 2nd level ones? Out of this world.
While two-time solar champs, the University of Colorado, didn’t win last year’s Solar Decathlon held in Washington, D.C. with their CORE house, they did place 7th. Is that good enough for these decathletes? Maybe not, but their house is definitely worth talking about. And here’s to hoping they come back in 2009 to kick some more solar ass.
Like many of the designs at the SD, the spine of CORE is made up of shipping containers for ease in transportation and size requirements of the competition — which is about 800 square feet, much smaller than a typical home.
If you’re a regular follower of the Design section here on G Living, you’re probably aware of my shipping container obsession. These 32,000 pound containers, which decades ago shipped everything from furniture to clothes overseas, are now all sitting around taking up space.
Except, of course, for those that are being used to build disaster relief shelters or affordable housing, like this 1,920 square foot three-container structure in Atlanta. What this place shows is one of the many outside-the-box design possibilities for these recycled containers Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos
Since Chicago has taken great strides toward becoming a greener city, it seems a good place to find architects to design headquarters for the world’s greenest city.
I’m referring to Masdar, the $22 billion development in Abu Dhabi, which is the world’s first ever zero-carbon, zero-waste and zero car city. The Chicago architecture firm of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill has been chosen to design “the world’s first positive energy, mixed-use building”, which promises to be “the first building in history to generate power for its own assembly, through development of its solar roof pier before the underlying complex.” Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos