Contributing Monkie G Living Staff Monkies
Published on February 14, 2010
When I asked architect Matt Allert who the ideal inhabitant was for the Dwelling Dock, his super-green pre-fab home, he responded instantly — “Everyone!”
The Dwelling Dock is a green housing concept for which Allert was the recipient of the Cascadia Emerging Green Builders Award, a prize awarded to up-and-coming green architects. I caught up with Allert in his offices at Callison architectural firm to talk about the Dwelling Dock, green building and the climate crisis in general.
“I entered the competition and I was looking to do something that went way beyond what I considered ‘the green band aid’,” says Allert. “I was looking for something that was more fully integrated a way of living.” Not limiting himself to green buildings, Allert researched various kinds of infrastructure in order to come up with a basis for his concept.
Allert notes, “I saw other industries, and I noticed a hydrogen fueling station for the car and thought ‘Hey, wouldn’t that be cool if a house could do that.’ If you had infrastructure that was built — a dwelling — and you could store that power, water, heat all those things the framework or infrastructure naturally collected in the environment in your unit, which is pre-fabricated, and you just plug into that like a car in the fueling station.”
And from there, the Dwelling Dock was born. The Dock uses more traditional green building techniques to collect and store the energy and water: photovoltaic panels insulated by the green roof to collect energy and water collectors to grab the rainwater. The houses are made from recycled material but flexibly, so they can be changed to reflect the owner’s taste. “I guess that’s what I like about the Dwelling Dock,” Allert reflects, “it is a scalable thing that you can adopt. It’s modular, so you can make it longer, shorter, taller.”
The architect says it’s been a personal goal of his to study more green building and hopefully work full time on sustainable architecture in the future. His reason is simple: “It’s really common sense that if you have the ability to do things more efficiently that are cleaner, generate less waste, you should just do it. It’s almost too over simplistic, but why wouldn’t you want cleaner air? Use less energy? To be less wasteful? I don’t necessarily believe that the apocalypse is coming… but really how do you want your grandkids to be living?”
In Allert’s view, green building can make a serious difference in achieving these environmental goals. “Buildings consume 50% of the energy in this country, so that seems like a good place to start. I’d say buildings are a huge factor in the climate crisis, especially in the US, so everybody architects, engineers, developers the general public needs to be more aware of that and do a better job, starting to demand a higher quality, raise the standard.”
Even though the Dwelling Dock is currently in its concept phase, Allert hopes one day to make it a reality. And when he does, I’ll be first in line!