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Neutra's Kaufmann House, On the Auction Block

Kaufmann House

Do you live in a house that has so much embedded history and character that it would be a major disaster if something ever happened to it?  There are homes like that.  A long time ago, a Pittsburgh department store businessman named Edgar J. Kaufmann, Sr., retained Frank Lloyd Wright to design a weekend home.  That home is the famous Fallingwater.  Kaufmann also commissioned Richard Neutra for home in Palm Springs.  That home is the 1946 Kaufmann House, a masterpiece of glass, steel, and stone.  But, as the story goes, it hasn’t always received masterpiece treatment. 

If the house could speak, I think, it would have an interesting story to tell.  Barry Manilow lived in The Kaufmann House for a bit.  It was neglected and abandoned for some duration of time, when Brent and Beth Harris stumbled upon it.  They bought it for a paltry $1.5 million and hired Leo Marmol and Ron Radziner to restore it.  I heard Marmol talk about its restoration about a year ago — they proceeded cautiously and deliberately to bring all the subtle details back.  The Harris couple acquired some surrounding plots of land and brought the glory of the original back to life. 

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ZeroHouse, an Off-Grid Modern Dream

zeroHouse

ZeroHouse generates its own electrical power, collects its own water, processes its own waste products, and is completely automatic.  Conceived by architect Scott Specht, AIA, zeroHouse has everything you could ever ask for in a modern, green home. 

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Squak Mountain Stone, A Natural Beauty

Squak Mountain Stone

Squak Mountain Stone is an environmentally friendly slab and tile product company based in Washington State.  Their slabs are a unique offering on the green market because of their natural appearance, somewhat similar to limestone or soapstone.  Squak is being used in a wide variety of applications including countertops, tabletops, tiling, hearths, signs, and stairways.  It is made of 49% post-industrial materials, which include crushed glass, type f coal-fly ash, and 2.5 % post-consumer mixed waste paper, in addition to low carbon cement and iron oxide pigments, making it a great option for LEED credits.

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Instant Housing + Designing for Disaster [Wired]

Clean Hub

WIRED has an excellent multimedia presentation on instant, transient, or disaster shelters.  Many of them are made of common or easily movable transportable objects: flat packs, containers, pallets, etc.  Above: Clean Hub by Shelter Architecture; Middle below: DH1 by Gregg Fleishman; Bottom: Pallet House by I-Beam Design.  Enjoy!

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Agro-Housing Becoming an Option for China

Agrohousing

In China, there’s a massive exodus from the rural to urban areas, but it’s controlled because the country doesn’t have enough housing for everyone that wants to live in a city.  At the same time, urbanization accentuates the air and soil pollution problems.  So, Knafo Klimor Architects proposed an agro-housing project that blends agriculture and high-rise housing in one structure.  This agro-housing project brings the food-supply directly to the building, and to the extent that residents can realize the benefits of urban farming, there is a decreased reliance on transportation for agricultural products (shopping and delivery to stores).  Plus, with the building’s integrated water capture systems, the project has the potential to reduce water consumption and runoff.  Residents could make money off the crops, too. 

This agro-housing project is going to be built in Wuhan, China.  As you can see from the renderings, the building has quite the elaborate labyrinth to control water, air, and heat.  Structurally, it will be made with SIPs and a majority of the materials will come from steel, aluminum, and terracotta — all materials that can be recycled at the end of the building’s life.  Via Dwell

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Sycamore House, LEED Platinum in Pacific Palisades

Sycamore House

Yesterday, Kovac Architects announced the groundbreaking of Sycamore House, a modern ridge top residence in the Pacific Palisades designed to achieve a Platinum level rating under the USGBC’s LEED for Homes Program.  The 3,400 sf home will serve as both a laboratory of learning in sustainable design and the home of Michael Kovac, principal with Kovac Architects.  With construction already in progress (you can view a webcam on their website), the home should be complete in the latter part of 2008. 

By all means, take some time to wander through the Sycamore House online web site, it’s quite informational.  This home will feature a 23-foot tall thermal wall to regulate air temperature and guide warm air to clerestory windows; a building integrated photovoltaic system and green roof to insulate the home and reduce the heat island effect; and a geothermal system for supplemental cooling.  On the inside, all the materials will be sustainably harvested, rapidly renewable, or previously recycled.  Plus, there will be the usual water-efficient fixtures, energy-saving LED lights and appliances, and low-VOC paints and varnishes.  Although still only in rendering stage, it will be exciting to see the Sycamore House become a reality.  Personally, I like the ability to congregate on the living roof and show off the solar panels.  That’s a nice touch. 

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