I watched this video of the Jellyfish House by architects Lisa Iwamoto and Craig Scott, and needless to say, I was kind of blown away. It’s quite compelling to watch, but at the same level, it’s complicated. I can’t say I understand everything that’s going on but I like it. Jellyfish are responsive to the environment around them, so like jellyfish, one concept with this house is that water is filtered and harvested through the actual structure of the home. The structure uses UV light filtration, which could come down in price in the future, and titanium dioxide, which is now used for self-cleaning glass in tall skyscrapers. This concept prototype for the future of sustainable living was designed (hypothetically) for Treasure Island, a decommissioned military base in San Francisco Bay with toxic top soil.
A home doesn’t need to be modern to be green, but I like the modern ones. I’d love to see entire neighborhoods of modern green homes. I like the idea of changing the way we perceive the single-family home, too. Denser neighborhoods? Sure. Residential wind turbines? Definitely. Solar on the roof? You bet. But right now, we’re still in the early stages of recognizing legitimate green homes.
Wired has an interesting story about a new 26-story tower soon to be built in Chicago’s Hyde Park called Windermere West. The building was designed by Jeanne Gang, with a little help from Arup. Here’s the idea: the hottest sun of the year is the highest in the sky and this is when electricity bills skyrocket. So, Gang designed this sawtooth facade effect for roughly 2/3 of the south-facing balconies. At a 71 degree tilt, the glass is angled enough to shade the interiors during that hot period of the day, but not so much that people feel like they will tip over into the streets. Pretty neat?! I wonder if this is actually going to get built. It’s interesting to see how architects come up with creative solutions to incorporating natural light in just the right way.
::"S2" is short for "Skyscraper Sunday," a weekly article on green skyscrapers posted every Sunday::
"It's like a loft you can take anywhere." Ideabox offers a pretty cool product in the modern, prefabricated housing industry. Ideabox emphasizes good design, not square footage, and they make it easy to do. With Ideabox, you're going to get the entire package right to your site. There's one day to install it, one day to build the deck, and that's about it. Depending on your site, all you really need to do is set up the water, power, septic, and sewer systems. You can even go wireless with the turnkey solar system package, too.
I’m excited about this post. When it comes to surface materials, there’s a lot out there, and I’ve blogged about a few companies that have good products. Concrete countertops appear on house flipping-type shows every now and then, so I thought it was time we all got to know VitraStone. VitraStone products are made from 70-85% recycled content (post consumer & post industrial) such as recycled glass and fly ash blended with a proprietary mix of ceramic cement. Products in the VitraStone line up include vessel sinks, sink tops, countertop systems, back splash, floor tiles, wall cladding, and furniture and accessories. VitraStone is strong, too. Scratch and chip resistant. Freeze/thaw cycle resistant. Mold resistant. VitraStone products come in a variety of colors (as you will see below) for interior and exterior applications. No off-gassing here.
Couple cool things about VitraStone: (1) you may get LEED credits for using these materials, and (2) VitraStone offers free design services to create 3-dimensional layouts for client approvals (or they’ll work directly with architectural specifications). Matter of fact, the green building store here in Salt Lake City carries VitraStone, so maybe I can push the old landlord into a green kitchen renovation? Any thoughts …
This green home was built in 2003, so it’s not anything new in particular, but I wanted to share some of the green concepts the homeowners worked through during process of building it. First, the owners, Brandy LeMae + Joseph Vigil, purchased an odd-shaped lot near a well-traveled road for $157k. It was rather cheap, with some lots in Boulder costing nearly $400k, so the design would have to solve the noise and space problem. Second, they wanted a green home on a budget. In the end, they were able to build the Hickory House for about $91 psf. There’s an excellent article from Dwell about their process, but I’m going to explain a little below.
The owners raved about structural insulated panels, or SIPs, which went up quickly, were cut to size, allowed for minimal waste, and helped to defray the costs of the project. They also used Forbo natural linoleum countertops, radiant heating in the concrete floors, and denim by-product cotton insulation. LeMae + Vigil tried to keep the design simple — the more complicated the design is, the less money there is to go towards green things (check out VaST’s 3 Design Strategies to Build Green + Save Money). Vigil also designed a foot-wide concrete-block wall stuffed with foam insulation for the west side of the house. By doing this, he was able to block out noise from the road and provide shading for the home. They finished up with some interior design straight from IKEA and were happy with the final product. Looks great from this angle. More images below.