Interesting development closer to home: Sander Architects, the architecture firm we co-live (share office space) with and whose beautiful Canal House we use as our Studio for G Living Live, has taken their G building ideas and entered into the Leed Residential program. One of the firm’s residences, The Fin House, yet another Venice Canal house, was accepted into the pilot LEED program for residential architecture. This is the program by which LEED will develop their list of criteria for residential projects.
Greg Reitz, Green Building Advisor to the City of Santa Monica, is the consultant on the project.
If living in an apartment is your excuse for not having a garden, you can always move to China and take up residence in Knafo Klimer’s Agro-Housing. It’s about as sustainable as a building concept can be, from the construction materials to the design. Plus each unit has its own greenhouse.
Your own personal greenhouse. In an apartment.
Designed to make multi-complex living more enjoyable and self-reliant, even in crowded cities, Agro-Housing was among the winners of the 2nd International Architecture Competition for Sustainable Housing. It’s basically a high-rise apartment building with plenty of personal space for the growing of food — which is good news for the Chinese, since a UN report estimates that 50 percent of their population will be fighting for city space by 2010.
“If people are going to change their lifestyles to be more green, I think the alternatives have to be exciting and fun,” says artist and designer Michael Jantzen when asked about the frequent use of wind in his work. It’s a comment that immediately jumps out, and then later strikes me as an apt thesis of sorts for his vast body of intriguing work, whether wind-utilizing or not.
Jantzen’s designs have gained national attention for their exploration of alternative energy as a standard architectural feature; his projects have graced the pages of Newsweek, Wired, Architectural Digest, House Beautiful and other publications. While all environmentally beneficial, forward-thinking concepts merit mass public attention in my mind, something about Jantzen’s projects always manage to stand out.
Well, I’ve never been to Spain, but I kinda like the… green design that seems to abound there. The latest in Spain’s seemingly endless parade of green architecture is definitely a place I would like to call home. It’s called the Casa OS (don’t ask me what OS stands for) and it was designed by Madrid-based Nolaster Architects.
The design is totally green – the basics of which include reduced energy and smart water use. To reduce energy, the home is built over a dug-out cavern, taking advantage of thermal massing and reducing the wind profile. It also has a sod roof, perhaps the coolest (literally and figuratively) of all green home features. The construction materials are green, too, using modular zinc panels which last longer in the salty air and can be easily disassembled, reused, or replaced. Finally, the home has in-floor radiant heating that can be controlled room by room, making it über-efficient.
The Environmental House Plan is the brainchild of Lars Hundley of Clean Air Gardening and Bryan Welty of Virtual Architect. Like other modular homes, the plan is adaptable to many different combinations, and the architect is available to modify the plan to personal desire. The blueprints for this house alone are sold on their website, a set of 5 running $1,895.00.
It’s a good-looking idea at an even better looking price.
What gives Environmental House Plan its greenness factor over some other modular homes is site orientation. These guys offer free siting to maximize the efficiency of the sun’s angle. The overhangs and wood louvers block steep summer sun angles, but allow low angled winter sun into the house. The house has a heavy mass to the north or northwest side, which acts as a buffer to the cold side of the house. The raised pier foundation allows airflow around the house, and should cause little disturbance to the natural drainage of the building site.
And then there’s the rest of the plan. The plan suggests the owner choose eco-friendly options in building the rest of the house. Their website has a great list of online resources for building ecologically, but it’s DIY. You buy the best materials locally, like the engineered lumber. You pick out the energy efficient windows, doors and best available insulation. You do it up green. That’s why it’s called the Environmental House Plan.
Envision rusting metal mesh, glass boxes, steel frames and wide open blue skies, and you may just start to see The Xeros house in your mind. This building design fully embraces the idea of recycled materials. And while I love recycled materials, I’m completely giddy about the idea of recycling a neighborhood — which was one of the major objectives in choosing the Sunnyslope area of Phoenix, Arizona as the home’s location. “We feel the most important thing we did was to go into a place like Sunnyslope that had not only economic depression but also some social questionability. It needed a second life. A residence like Xeros can turn that around,” says architect Matthew Trzebiatowski in a Dwell magazine interview.
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. Continue Reading / See Additional Photos
Blue is my favorite color and I’ve often been criticized for the lack of diversity in my wardrobe, so when I saw this building I was immediately intrigued. The Blue Tower by Bernard Tschumi opened in New York City late last year, housing 32 apartments and a 3rd floor commercial space. If you’re an architectural traditionalist, don’t read any further.
It sticks out like a sore thumb in the neighborhood of old, brick buildings and it rises high above the current landscape. I’m not convinced that the shape is really what people want either; it looks like an unfinished headquarters for Planet Hollywood.
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.
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.
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.”
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.