We would like to introduce Architect Michelle Kaufmann and her green Architecture firm, MK Designs. Michelle, has established her self as something of a spokes person for green living as well as a full time Architect designing and building some interesting green prefabs. Over the next few weeks, we will post some of Michelle video tips, how to live a little green. But right now, why don’t we let Michelle tell us a little about herself.
Growing up in Iowa, I have always had a deep understanding of the relationship between humankind and the environment. I strive to ingrain this awareness into everything I do. I believe that how we develop our landscape is such an integral part of our culture and that what we build, and how we build, should improve the environment rather than harm it.
After receiving my undergraduate degree from Iowa State University and my Masters from Princeton University, I was fortunate enough to work for both Frank Gehry as well as for Michael Graves. Both of these brilliant architects have engaged in product design as a means for bringing good design to the masses, Graves with his product work with Target and Gehry with his work for Tiffany & Co., Swatch and others.
When I relocated to Northern California, I found a lack of affordable, sustainable, well-designed homes. I soon realized I could make a difference through my architecture. In 2002, I founded Michelle Kaufmann Designs and began my effort to make thoughtful, sustainable design accessible to all.
Since then, I’ve been lucky enough to become a leader in the green design community. My commitment to sustainable living and design remains constant throughout all of my work, of which I’m very proud, including my sustainable home designs as well as through designing custom homes and holistic, green communities.
Could you ever imagine being envious of people who live in Shipping Containers? Well, now you can, because the Cove Park project is just that good. A dreamy water side home complete with a grass roof.
Cove Park is a centre for established artists situated on the west coast of Scotland in 50 acres of spectacular countryside.
In 2002, Container City created three en-suite accommodation units (known as ‘cubes’) to act as artist retreats. In order to blend into the rural surroundings sliding glass doors were installed that lead out onto the decked balcony that extends over a lake with beautiful views of Loch Long.
Due to the success of the first three units, three more have been commissioned and are due for completion in June 2006.
Cove Park is situated on a 50-acre site overlooking Loch Long on the Rosneath peninsula. Located on the fringes of the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, the peninsula is an area of outstanding natural beauty.
The Yellow Treehouse Treehugging Restaurant, was built for a reality tv show. The concept behind the show was that everything used to build this Treehouse Restaurant had be acquired by using the Yellow Page Listings.
The concept is driven by the ‘enchanted’ site which is raised above an open meadow and meandering stream on the edge of the woods.
The tree-house concept is reminiscent of childhood dreams and playtime, fairy stories of enchantment and imagination . It’s inspired through many forms found in nature -the chrysalis/cocoon protecting the emerging butterfly/moth, perhaps an onion/garlic clove form hung out to dry. It is also seen as a lantern, a beacon at night that simply glows yet during the day it might be a semi camouflaged growth, or a tree fort that provides an outlook and that offers refuge.The plan form also has loose similarities to a sea shell with the open ends spiralling to the centre .
It’s the treehouse we all dreamed of as children but could only do as an adult fantasy.
Access is via a 60m tree-top ‘accessible’ walkway –an adventure in itself.
The selected site and tree had to meet a myriad of functional requirements -18 seated people and waiting staff in relative comfort complete with a bar; gaining correct camera angles with associated light qualities for filming the adverts, web cam and stills, have unobstructed views into the valley and entrance to the site and structural soundness . The final selected tree is one of the larger trees on the site and sits above a steep part of the site which accentuates the tree’s height. Kitchen/catering facilities and toilets are at ground level.
The Architectural component embodies a simple oval form wrapped ‘organically’ around the trunk and structurally tied at top and bottom, with a circular plan that is split apart on the axis with the rear floor portion raised. This allows the approach from the rear via a playful tree-top walkway experience, slipping inside the exposed face of the pod and being enchanted by the juxtaposition of being in an enclosed space that is also quite ‘open’ and permeable to the treetop views. There is also a ‘Juliet’ deck opposite the entrance that looks down the valley.
The scale and form of the tree-house creates a memorable statement without dominating its setting. While its natural ‘organic’ form sits comfortably, the rhythm of the various materials retains its strong architectural statement. The verticality of the fins mimics the verticality of the redwoods and enable the building to naturally ‘blend’ into its setting, as though it were a natural growth.
Everyone knows composites materials are the are the lightest strongest high tech material on the planet, right? Well, maybe not always. Arndt Menke thinks nature is pretty good at making super light super strong materials as well, which we call wood. In fact nature produces of 60,000 different woody plants and a vast majority of them could be used. This diploma thesis for Menke’s master’s degree demonstrates how careful attention to wood’s natural retention, expansion and anisotropic properties can be advantageous in design. The end result is an incredibly light weight bike, strong and pretty darn good looking too. I really want one.
The bike Holzweg bike’s frame is completely made of wood and only weighs in at 5 pounds.
The Neal Creek residence treads lightly upon its surroundings, maximizing valley and water views with minimal impact to the natural environment. The owners – windsurfing and snowboarding enthusiasts – were interested in a modest weekend retreat that would be highly efficient and ecologically minded. Their wooded two-acre parcel of land presented many unique challenges including wetlands, creek protection setbacks, and floodplain restrictions.
The design solution for the two-bedroom house addresses these issues by elevating the habitable space one full floor above grade. Views to the creek are enhanced from this position and the living spaces float within the tree tops. Lifting the main space protects the house from potential flooding and brush fire damage while making way for a covered outdoor patio and much needed gear storage below. At the uppermost level, the roof has been sized and detailed to allow for a future planted roof that will replace the landscape lost to the building footprint and reduce heat gain to the interior spaces.
We are always on the look out for good container home designs and this isn’t one of them. Okay it is a student project, but come on, this is pretty getto compared to what other architects and designers have done with shipping containers. We are only posting it to contrast the good from the bad.
The project is by Chrissie Beavis, a student at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, California. Looks like she created the design way back in 2004, so maybe she has fine tuned her container designs by now. We couldn’t find any updates or new design by Chrissie, so maybe this was a one off for her.
Chrissie says: “The final product will be a home that is approx 250 sq.ft. It will be just as mobile as the standard shipping container (truck, train, ship). Any standard container can be turned into a home with this design. Thus it has the potential to possibly provide disaster relief housing while putting to use the surplus of containers in the world. It also has the potential to be used in many applications from an upscale guest house to migrant worker housing. The home can be extruded from the container in less than five minutes by one person, and has the option of being fully furnished (major appliances included).”
Another Architect tries out using shipping containers as building blocks for new home construction. This one is in Victoria BC and the home uses both containers and traditional building technics in the construction. The cost of the home with upgraded appliances is coming in under $180 per sq ft, which the Architect says is good for that part of Canada and he expects the next few buildings he designs will come down in cost. Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos
The Maurer Residence by Allen+Maurer Architects. No tree was cut, no rock was blasted, no contours remodelled. 4 small buildings surrounded by existing trees form a private, tranquill garden. The simple shed roofs flow with the land toward a splendid view of Okanagan Lake.
“Form-Follows-Physics” guided the design: simple roofs, no roof intersections, large overhangs, good ventilation, finishes that are durable and appropriate to the climate: tile flooring, metal cladding and -roofing, state-of-the-art Low-E glazing.
Placement of buildings, roof overhangs, existing mature trees, performance of glazing product, thermal mass of concrete slab and tile flooring, all reduce heat gain in summer and made air conditioning unnecessary.
Another Shipping Container Concept Home. This one is by Zigloo a firm out of Canada. We have covered some of their designs in the past, including a really cool Floating Ocean City. This concept design is made from three shipping containers, to create a 800 sq. ft. home in the country side or an urban infill. The architect says he would like to deliver these home at around $150 per sq ft.
(via zigloo.ca) The WelcomeHome totals 800 square feet on a small footprint. Perfect for a get-away cottage, a quick guest home, an environmental infill solution. The design lends itself perfectly to an off-the-grid solution utilizing wind power, solar power, solar hot water, passive air circulation organic spray-foam insulation and a green roof.
In a super-sized obsessed age, we’ve now fallen into the gap where we believe our home should also reflect a shift toward the grandiose. Yet this obsession with gigantism has completely dwarfed our sense of self. Whereas even meals used to be an art form, the rising trend on bigger (and ultimately considerably ridiculous creations) is aimed at promoting a consumer culture that ironically strips us of culture.
Some would even argue that in addition to relinquishing culture, we rescinded our identity as we grow increasingly lost amidst a rising expanse of materialism. With consumer culture, it’s no longer about what we have, but about how much we can stuff into ourselves, pile on ourselves, and collect around ourselves. An inflationary ideology that compromises quality for quantity, the idea that more is better and less is miserly can be traced back to Hollywood and celebrity, two groups that promote a culture of excess that majority of star gazers flock to emulate.
Yet an undercurrent movement referred to as “small living” is creating waves as a chic counter culture against wasteful consumption. An increasing number of global citizens are realizing that bigger is not better, that more is not necessarily feasible, and that a continued practice of parasitism is not in our mutual interest.
Want to see what a Prefab Weehouse actually looks like when its completed on site. Here is one by Alchemy Architect in Honesdale, Pennsylvania. Weehouse are purchased by picking out a few modules and fitting them together like giant legos.
This 2,200SF 3BR retreat home consists of a larger main unit accommodating most daily activities and a smaller sleeping tower. Both units are connected by an elevated patio bridge component. The main unit’s upper level is designed to allow for numerous vista points and provides an almost complete immersion into the spectacular setting of the heavily wooded site.
Imagine this, owning a micro-sized house that needs no furniture and no extra rooms. A future-forward home that gave you the feeling of living in your own sci-fi film, set on a distant planet. If this image appeals to you, welcome to your dream home: The m-ch (micro-compact home). A team of researchers and designers based in London and at the Technical University in Munich developed the m-ch as an answer to an increasing demand for short stay living for students, business people, sports and leisure use and for weekenders.
The m-ch, now in use and available throughout Europe, combines techniques for high-quality compact “living” spaces deployed in aircraft, yachts, cars and micro apartments. Its design has been informed by the classic scale and order of a Japanese tea house, combined with advanced concepts and technologies. Living in an m-ch means focusing on essentials — less is more. The use of progressive materials complements the sleek design. Quality of design, touch and use were the key objectives for the micro-compact home team, for “short-stay smart living.”
The micro-compact low e-home is all-electric and powered by photovoltaic solar panels of 8sqm with a small diameter vertical axis wind generator.