There comes a time in most of our lives when you need to switch gears, or maybe even swap your entire car; change your job, your relationship, or your outlook. That’s what Elora Hardy did when she left her established career in the NY fashion scene to build bamboo houses in Indonesia.
Elora is a resident of Bali and spent the past five years working with bamboo construction, a sustainable resource that she believes could be used more readily. And when you see what she built, you might agree. Inspired by her father, who used bamboo in the campus buildings he helped create, she has long known the benefits of this highly available resource.
Bamboo doesn’t just look good. It grows incredibly fast, and has a strength-to-weight ratio that rivals steel. Like many woods, it does have one weakness, which comes in the form of damage from insects and moisture. Otherwise, when treated, it can serve as an integral component of building that last’s a lifetime. To learn more about these magnificent homes and Elora’s vision, check out her TED talk video, below.
A fully recyclable home that has the potential for self-sufficiency, environmental and functional adaptability, and out of this world curb appeal was the dream that eventually gave way to the Waternest 100. Designed by London-based EcoFloLife in collaboration with Giancarlo Zema Design Group, this dome-shaped structure can be configured as an office, home, restaurant or exhibition space and is entirely powered by solar panels that are smartly integrated into the convex roof.
The generous 1,000 square foot allow for a multitude of interior uses while never feeling cramped or starved for space. This particular model of a housing application has a kitchen, living and dining areas, two bedrooms and a full bath. A simplified version of the design could even be mass-produced and deployed as relief shelters. When the life-span of the home comes to an end, the materials used for construction are 98% recyclable, making the home as fundamentally eco-friendly as it looks.
When you think of living off the grid, various images come to mind, and no doubt some of you envision grizzled people huddled together for warmth, living in some remote forest.
A Little Caesars commercial recently illustrated this in a funny way:
However, that’s not the most accurate portrayal of life off the grid. As Jean-Baptiste Barache demonstrated, building an offgrid house for cheap doesn’t mean you need to compromise living conditions. His A-frame barn, stationed in the middle of a field in Normandy, France, is a perfect example.
He paid a local barn builder to construct the rough frame, and then collected various salvaged materials from all over the place – lumber from theater sets, veneer and particleboard, and red cedar shingles for the exterior cladding. All said and done after 18 months of working on the build, he estimates it cost around $105k.
Going without electricity doesn’t mean forgoing power, but it does cast daily life in a much simpler mold. A gas canister fuels the simple stovetop in the kitchen; a homemade wood-burning stove diffuses heat through the house in a slow, steady burn.
The front of the barn looks decidedly antique…
While inside, the rough, unfinished walls and ceiling keep costs down. Upstairs you’ll find three “pods” for sleeping.
At night he and his wife light candles and oil lamps, and Jean-Baptiste refers to Junichiro Tanizaki’s “In Praise of Shadows” as a source of inspiration for living comfortably without electricity, noting the appreciation he has for the shadows cast by the flickering flames.
Images: Céline Clanet
If you happened upon this little cabin while trekking through the woods, at first you might think it was some sort of portal to another dimension. Located in Bergen, Norway, this interesting abode is the result of a design-build workshop at the School of Architecture. Their aim was to build a unique all-wood cabin using a mixture of techniques borrowed from places like Japan and Norway. While the front door looks like it might be moving at warp speed, the interior shows off a relaxing atmosphere of pure Nordic inspired simplicity.
That thick green film that collects on rocks at the floor of a body of water may just be the solution to the excess CO2 in our atmosphere. In the past two decades researchers have been searching for ways to apply the positive atmospheric attributes of algae to design technology. EcoLogic Studio has done just that with the Urban Algae Canopy.
The structure is currently in the prototype stage of development and will be the first of its kind on display at the Expo Milano 2015. The canopies are completely reactive, and can produce and move energy and oxygen based on a number of inputs, including weather patterns and user movement. EcoLogic Studio claims that the canopies have the capability of producing the oxygen equivalent of four hectares of woodland area.
The ambitious project presents an innovative intersection between technology and biology, and fits in with the ever-growing movement of integrating natural processes into man-made structures.
The team at Dwell Development has been working on a pretty incredible project in Seattle, building a 2000+ square foot home using mostly recycled and reclaimed material. Focusing on sustainability first and foremost, the team aims to garner a Built Green Emerald Star certification, which would be the first such certification awarded in the whole city.
The roof boasts a large 6.6 kW solar setup, which powers the entire home. Windows were placed to maximize natural light benefits, and nearly every design aspect was built with both aesthetics and energy in mind. Other features they added include the heat recovery ventilation system and a water heating system that uses 78 percent less energy than a normal system.
The exterior and framing of the home includes FSC-certified timber, with paneling from reclaimed Douglas fir. The room was made from reclaimed steel sourced from a cannery in Willamette Valley, and most of the interior finishes like the cabinets, countertops, and tile were made by local craftsmen.
A collection of crafty and clever students at Japan’s Waseda University have developed a way to utilize the natural fermentation process of straw to heat and cool your home. On the interior, pre-fabricated acrylic boxes are stuffed full of common straw. The straw is left to ferment and compost, naturally giving off a staggering amount of heat – up to 86 degrees Fahrenheit!
The design of the home is fairly simple – meant to be more of a shell for experimentation than a display of architectural ingenuity. It serves its purpose well enough to showcase this nontraditional building technology, and the exterior is also clad in straw, showcasing its use as an effective weather barrier.
The fermentation is a result of a low-odor composting technique called “bokashi” (meaning “fermented organic matter”). The process happens over a four week period, so the real downside to this type of system would be the maintenance. If anything, the project is an example of what is possible using natural processes in building tech. The acrylic boxes are placed strategically throughout the interior so as to provide each space with the appropriate amount of heat. In the summer, the dormant straw that has already been composed acts as a natural insulator – keeping the home passively cool. They will even release moisture, which acts as a natural cooling mechanism. This floor plan shows where the boxes are hung on the interior walls.
Designed by Masaki Ogasawara, Keisuke Tsukada and Erika Mikami, the students hope the prototype ushers in new and interesting investigations into natural building technologies. Their “Recipe to Live” house is certainly an example of the possibilities as we move towards a move eco-conscious society.
Images by Waseda University.
Brazilian architecture firm Triptyque have designed an office building in Sao Paolo that not only collects rain water, but utilizes a sophisticated filtration and delivery system to irrigate naturally insulating green walls. A maze-like network of water pipes snake up and down the building’s facades, fitted with misters that provide the living walls with freshly recycled rain water.
The project is an ecological experiment aimed at challenging how society deals with water – how it can be collected, recycled, and redistributed with little need for waste or run-off. In addition to the green wall system, a series of planted roofs further mitigate the structures environmental footprint. When the misting nozzles are on full tilt, the building is enveloped in what appears to be a stationary cloud, reinforcing the issue of water conservation in both function and aesthetic.
In 2010, the unique green features won this office building the ‘Built Environment’ award from the Zumtobel Group.
The American Institute of Architects has announced its 10 Best Green Buildings of 2015. The following structures make a point to champion sustainability and energy conservation without sacrificing cutting-edge design or functionality.
1. The Bullitt Center. Seattle, Washington
This office building, opened on earth day in 2013, is the largest certified Living Building in the United States. Designed by The Miller Hull Partnership, the Bullitt Center features 100% renewable energy, water, and waste-management. The entire shed roof canopy is composed of one large solar panel array.
2. The CANMET Materials Technology Laboratory. Hamilton, Ontario
This LEED Platinum certified laboratory contains 174,300 square feet of research, office and lab space focusing on innovations in material technology. Green features include sun shading on the south facade, green roofs, and renewable energy systems integrated into the building’s exterior shell.
3. Collaborative Life Sciences Building. Portland, Oregon.
ERA Architects and CO Architects collaborated on this LEED Platinum office and research building. The stark grey exterior gives the building a feeling of cleanliness and sterility, something that the integrated building systems exhibit themselves. Stormwater management, green roofs, atrium heat recovery, and low ventilation fume hoods are features that scream sustainability.
photo courtesy Jeremy Bitterman
4. E+ Townhouses. Boston, Massachusetts
The E+ Townhouses were built as prototypes for energy efficient living in affordable housing. The replicable model homes were the brain child of a collaboration between Interface Studio Architects (ISA) and Urbanica Design, and were built under Boston’s Energy Plus (E+) Green Building Program. In the prototype, versatility is shown in how the structures march down the slope of the natural terrain.
photo courtesy Sam Oberter
5. Hughes Warehouse Adaptive Reuse. San Antonio, Texas
Adaptive reuse projects have a prominent role in transitioning into the green era. Overland Partners face-lifted this early 1900’s warehouse was into contemporary studios with state of the art sustainability features. The project features flexible interior spaces and a public courtyard to promote user health and public engagement.
Photo courtesy Dror Baldinger
6. San Antonio Military Medical Center. San Antonio, Texas
“Doing it Bigger” in Texas appears to apply to sustainability as well! RTKL designed this massive complex that focuses on medical research and care for our nation’s military. A enveloping screen traces around the southern facade, protecting the interiors from heat gain while providing ample natural light.
photo Charles Davis Smith
7.New Orleans BioInnovation Center. New Orleans, Louisiana
This 65,000 square foot biotech lab achieved a LEED Gold certification, making it the first of it’s kind in New Orleans. The building features a 3,000 square foot central courtyard is prominently visible from famed Canal Street through the building’s transparent, yet UV protected facade. Designed by Eskew+Dumez+Ripple.
photo courtesy Will Crocker
8. Homes For Adults With Autism. Sonoma, California
LEDDY MAYTUM STACY Architects built four homes in a complex that champions sustainability and energy conservation. Each of the homes is fit with a powerful rooftop solar array, making good use of the persistent California sun. In addition to the homes, the complex boasts a community center, therapy pools, and even an urban garden.
photo courtesy Tim Griffith
9. Sustainable Housing Development. Oakland, California
Why build one sustainable building when you can construct an entire neighborhood? That’s exactly what David Baker Architects had in mind when they designed this complex that contains 60 affordable apartments, 77 attached townhouses and 20 additional apartments. The homes are well insulated and promote passive cooling techniques such as natural ventilation.
photo courtesy Brian Rose
10. University Center – The New School. New York, New York
Famous architecture firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM) designed this university that was conceptualized on the platform of combined heat and power systems that were specifically designed for water management. It was enough to afford the building a LEED Gold certification. The facade seen here seamlessly shades glazed openings, providing UV protection and reducing energy consumption.