G Living started its life at a small desk tucked into the back corner of Sander Architects Venice California office. Starting our life inside the belly of an emerging green architecture firm, was very fulfilling and inspiring. I personally was able to see first hand, what a challenge it is to bring a building to life. Building anything in L.A. is difficult, now toss in innovative modern design ideas and green building materials and now you have something that will challenge even the best Architects.
So, when a special building like the Habitat 825 comes along it’s worth looking at in detail. This green leaning West L.A. Condo building was designed by LOHA Architects based in Culver City, just down the street from our current studio .
Habitat 825 draws inspiration from Schindler in developing new forms of contemporary lifestyle through the use of light, materials, color and common open space. This project provided an opportunity to address the critical issues of density, site and the cultural and social impacts that arise from building adjacent to a historical landmark. Attempting to “kick down the bamboo wall”, Habitat 825 and its expansive use of common open space creates an urban space without borders or property lines.
Even us gardeners with Black Thumbs, understands why plants love to live in green houses. They are basically no different than your average vacationer, they want to sunbath all day and be wrapped in a warm blanket of air? Wouldn’t it be nice if we humans could live in our own version of a green house. Something bathing in natural light, which always stays nice and toasty, even in the coldest of climates. Turns out we can do just that, even in a frigid place like Belgian, green houses are the perfect people growers. The home pictured above is a greenhouse in every sense of the word. As in a typical gardening greenhouse, this one is constructed from a prefabricated steel frame, alternating series of super-insulating transparent glass and translucent polycarbonate plates and extra insulation in the back of the house. The insulation in the back also serves the purpose of obscuring the views into the house.
Through the clever use of the insulating glass, the same heating effect that is found in a real greenhouse is successfully mimicked. This occurs when heat from the sun’s rays passes through the glass walls and warms up the interior whilst the insulation in the glass prevents the heat from escaping.
Pre-fab homes have been around for a while now, but here’s one worth watching on video. This design is called Mini Home, and as you can see, it’s well named. The design is basically a well-insulated trailer, with some smart design choices and green building materials. This trailer isn’t too different from a regular trailer you might find on a Texas lot, except for the materials and tasteful design. The one big difference is the cost. This trailer is coming in at $400 plus a square foot, which is amazingly high, even for a specialty trailer.
Here in L.A. the average house is coming in at $200 to $250 per square foot on the West Side, and the luxury ones are coming in at $350 to $500, depending on land cost and finishes. So, $400 for a small box is a lot. But with the economics aside, the idea is great and the intention is amazing. So, we hope the price can drop and the design expanded. We would love to see more sections working together to make up a whole house. Maybe two or three modules.
A cryptic club music pumping army of artist use shipping containers as a part of their building code DNA. I know, what? That is what I was thinking as I cruised the blog.platoon.org site. What I can gather from all the cryptic blog post and videos, is that this organization (Platoon), loves Shipping Containers, Military Clothing, Art and yes, having parties. To expand their parting capabilities they hooked up with Graft Lab Architects to design and build a new four story disco / art gallery out of their beloved shipping containers, in Seoul, Korea. The video above shows the building coming together and after the jump, a video of their original 3 container building. I love these guys. I think I may even start my own Platoon of G Container Heads.
In the world of Architecture, choosing to build your career and business on the leading fringe edge is a dangerous choice. Leaving the safety of the pack, just like in nature, might just prove to be unwise. So, when an Architect hangs out his shingle and declares, I will build my homes on a factory floor, he or she might just be committing business suicide. A few architecture firms over the last five years have done exactly that. They defined their business around a new way to be smarter, modern luxury custom homes, sustainably and most of all green. Predictably most of these companies have either failed already or are on the ropes. Higher start up cost, and the small pool of buyers is mostly to blame. This is why, when a company emerges successfully out of the start up phase and into full production, they definitely deserve a closer look.
One such company which has emerged out of the woods and seems to be on the road to success is Flatpak House, founded by Charles Lazor. Charles entered into the prefab housing market with a little more knowledge than most, since he is also a co-founder of Blu Dot, a flatpack modern furniture business. His approach to green prefab building is a little different than most of the other Architects as well. Instead of building the entire house in a factory, such as LivingHomes, and Office of Mobile Design, has done, he decided to build only the key components of the building. Using these components, the new home buyer could pick and choose which ones to use, like a giant lego set, to make their home. This flexibility is why Lazor calls his house “manufactured architecture” rather than prefab. (Also, like any good designer, he knows that naming, packaging, and marketing are essential to the success of a product.) “This way of designing is all about finding an answer to a problem,” he says, “rather than expressing the will of an architect. It’s the opposite of the individual genius model.”
Here is a very interesting interview we did with John Picard, one of the Advisors for the BP Oil company. His job was to help them go green. See how he explains their thinking at the time and how they changed the companies name for British Petroleum to Beyond Petroleum. A name they thought would announce their new direction as world leaders in the new clean renewable energy market. Clean and green, is what BP wants to present, but reality is a whole other thing. Just ask the people living in the Gulf Coast.
John Picard is a name that you may not be familiar with… yet. This pioneer in sustainability has been quietly revolutionizing homes and businesses across the country. Here’s a brief history of his achievements:
– He started out as a builder and entrepreneur and is now a renowned building efficiency and sustainability expert.
– He was a core member of President Clinton’s “Greening of the White House” team.
– He’s president and founder of E2 Environmental Enterprises, whose clients include Microsoft, BP, eBay, Sony, Ford, The Gap, MGM, CAA and Live Earth, to name a few.
What is Habode? It can be a vacation home. It can be a cluster of homes in a retirement community. It can be office space. It can be a three-bedroom family house.
A better question is, What do you want it to be?
Habode homes are environmentally responsible pre-fab buildings that are tailored to your specifications. All of the houses are the same size (80 square meters), but the floor plan, window placement and doors are all up to you. Rod Gibson, the creator, based Habode on happy childhood memories of clear waters and green grass. He wanted to create re-locatable, recreational homes that can be placed in areas where building by conventional methods is difficult.
I have been following this architecture firm since they designed a house out of containers, something I would like to do. So, I check out their site pretty often, and today they have rewarded me with a new design fit for the Monkies. Yes, a ultra modern floating eco city they are calling Gyre Seascraper. Since I was a kid, I thought it would be ultra cool to be able to live below the surface of the ocean. It would be like living in the International Space Station. A completely foreign world.
Gyre creates a new class of Eco-tourism by bringing scientists and vacationers together to understand what is the least known environment on our planet, the ocean. As much as a skyscraper is an economical method of reducing humankind’s footprint on land, Gyre goes a step further by juxtaposing that footprint to the ocean, and is perhaps its greenest feature. Its unique design permits the simultaneous application of wind, solar, and tidal energy generation technologies thereby making it truly ‘off-grid’. Peaking at a depth of 400m, its ample space provides for a comfortable living and working environment, including space for shops, restaurants, gardens, and recreation.
The center piece of the design features a double-hulled vortex with both hulls being clad in reinforced glass, where each of the floor levels are essentially a layering of concentric rings ranging in size from 30,000 sq.m. down to 600 sq.m. Inclinators riding along the inner structural ribs provide for vertical/diagonal transportation between floors. Total floor area of the entire structure (levels, radial arms, barriers) is approximately 212,000 sq.m. (or roughly 40 football fields). The Gyre’s radial arms feature a pedestrian upper level and a transit system on the lower level to access to the outer protective barriers. The barriers create an inner harbor and port of approximately 1.25 km in diameter, accommodating the needs of even the world’s largest ships.
Rob Paulus is an architect who concentrates on projects with a green emphasis. His concepts focus on the way infill, renovations and adaptive reuse can be complimented by being approached with a green perspective.
To that end, enter the 007 House, designed by Paulus and set in the Arizona desert. All rainwater is captured on the roof via a steel pipe gutter and spills into a 1000-gallon storage tank. This water is then used for courtyard planting.
(via CubeMe.com) “This home went vertical and down below grade to maximize the use of the site. Two insulated masonry walls define the enclosure east and west with floor to ceiling glass at the north and south facing rooms. A large canopy cantilevers out to the south to shade the interior from the harsh desert sun, while establishing an edge for the southern courtyard.”
A modern green gem rising up out of the Sonoran desert. That might be the best way to describe the Miraval. A resort spa designed by the architecture firm Miraval. Mithun’s design of 16 new single family villas at Miraval’s Tucson, Arizona resort combine the desert’s rich human history with environmentally intelligent practices and brings Miraval’s physical environment in line with its award-winning spa experience, so their site says.
The interesting part of the villa’s design for me are the Rammed Earth walls. Using the dirt from the property to create the walls, the architects, where able to give the villa’s a timeless feeling. Rammed Earth is one of the oldest building techniques known to man. But unfortunately isn’t used very often in modern buildings, because of strict city building codes.
Details about the resort:
Nestled at the base of the stunning Catalina Mountains, Miraval Arizona’s 400 acres of lush Sonoran Desert creates an inspiring backdrop that is warm and welcoming any time of the year. The luxurious accommodations and world renowned spa, have lead the readers of Travel & Leisure, SpaFinder and Conde Nast to vote Miraval the #1 spa in the world, year after year. The award winning cuisine is created with our fundamental belief that healthy ingredients can also mean exquisite flavor. A complete selection of daily programs, both indoor and outdoor, in areas such as fitness, meditation, nutrition, relationships and more, help individuals learn new ways to live and feel better. For time to relax or explore, to spend time with loved ones or with yourself, Miraval provides hundreds of experiences that make every individual’s time at Miraval unique and unforgettable.
Monkies are not big fans of snow, but we would make an exception to hang out in this cool eco-mountain modern hut. The hut is situated in a small Alpine village, part of Triglav national park in Slovenia, with very strict rules of construction and architectural design. The client bought the site together with existing construction permit for the generic project. Demand was not to change construction permit but change the elements of the house to suit his family, sustainable factor and open the windows toward the views.
What is green about this building? Large corner window was positioned toward the sun therefore in winter-sunny days no heating is needed. Extra thermal isolation is put between the wooden cladding – both in exterior and interior, black foil that is put behind the wood absorbs the heat of the sun and transforms it onto the walls. Upper floor is pushed over the ground floor and acts as sun protector in summer when sun is higher. Rain water is collected from the roof and transported through vertical pipes that are covered with wooden masks
Architect Michelle Kaufmann today is making custom table placemats using reeds or twigs. This is a pretty simple DIY project using some string and yard clippings. This is part of Michelle’s Green It Yourself Projects. Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos