The Wall Street Journal asked four architects to draw up plans for the most energy-efficient, environmentally sustainable house they could imagine.  Moreover, the Journal asked them to do it without thinking about cost, technology, aesthetics, or the way people habitually live.   The plans were published yesterday.  What do you think about these green houses?

1.  Branching Out – William McDonough + Partners
Of course, Bill McDonough’s house is built from the ground up with materials that could break down harmlessly or can be reused elsewhere.  The design mimics a tree.  The curvy surface, like a leaf, contains a photosynthetic layer embedded in the fabric of the home to capture sunlight.  The eaves shade the occupants, and the facade, or bark, self cleans and heals itself. 


2.  On the House – Rios Clementi Hale Studios
The Rios Clementi Hale Studios Home is an edible house, combining architecture and food production with ease.  A rooftop reservoir collects water, while helical turbines and solar panels generate on-site energy.  The solar panels and living facade provide shade and insulation for the interior, and owners literally harvest foods from their walls for consumption.  The home is built of prefabricated containers, which can be moved at any time.


3.  Old and New – Mouzon Design
The Mouzon Home features a number of pragmatic elements, including roof-integrated photovoltaics, an architectural cistern for water collection, a breeze chimney for natural ventilation, and space sufficient to grow and harvest food.  The owners pluck fish from their very own tilapia pool and melons and other vegetables from the living walls.


4.  Under My Skin – Cook + Fox
Cook + Fox’s house is unquestionably modern but not out of context in a traditional neighborhood.  The interior walls are all moveable, configurable, and dynamic – capable of hosting any need, including work from home activities.  The exterior captures rain and moisture for home water use, and changes colors to match the weather.


Rendering credits: William McDonough + Partner, Rios Clementi Hale Studios, Mouzon Design, Cook + Fox (top to bottom) … read more about these designs in The Wall Street Journal.