Contributing Monkie Whitney Sander
Published on October 15, 2008
New York Times
By MICHAEL WEBB
THOMAS SMALL is an accomplished cook, so it’s important for him to try new and exotic ingredients every now and then. When it came to the construction of his eco-friendly house, that’s exactly what his architects gave him. After all, crushed sunflower husks and shredded blue jeans don’t sound like typical building blocks.
But in the world of green design, such ingredients are not rare. So now, Mr. Small and his wife, Joanna Brody, along with their two very young children and a pair of large French Briard dogs, share a prefabricated urban building that has become an example for others looking for creative ways to go green.
The project began with a challenge from one friend to another. “We want the greenest house you’ve ever designed, but we have almost no money,” Mr. Small recalled telling Whitney Sander, who, with his wife, Catherine Holliss, runs Sander Architects, of Venice, Calif. Another goal was that it be a quiet retreat and acoustically resonant to accommodate a passion of his, chamber music recitals.
Inspired by the house that Charles and Ray Eames created in 1949 from a prefabricated steel frame and doors, windows and the like ordered from a catalog, the architects took the project on the condition that they could pursue a novel strategy. Besides using acrylic, Panelite, recycled steel and Styrofoam, they would try unusual ingredients like sunflower husks for wall panels and bookshelves, and blue jeans (for insulation).
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