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Sundance Channel's Big Ideas Episode #2: Build

Big Ideas Build

If you’re like me, you don’t have The Sundance Channel and you buy each episode of Big Ideas on iTunes for $1.99.  I downloaded the last episode called "BUILD" and liked it so much, I’m going to buy a copy of the video on iTunes for the first 5 people to comment in this post.  It’s really good.  In an information-packed 25 minutes and 38 seconds, the producers take us through Michelle Kaufmann’s prefab factory, the process of building a Glidehouse, Carlton Brown’s green multifamily housing in New York, the advantages of green building, the future of green building with technology, and Mitchell Joachim’s fab tree hab. 

Note – I’ll use the email that you comment with to gift the episode to you through iTunes.  This is not a Sundance promo, this is JG promoting modern, green building. 

Ray Kappe, FAIA: 10 Most Important Principles to Success

Photo_ray_kappe Lately, Ray Kappe has been getting a lot of attention for his residences designed for LivingHomes, the Steve Glenn prefab company.  Kappe’s first home has been featured all over the place for achieving the highest LEED certification possible, the Platinum rating.  I think his work is incredible, so I was studying his stuff when I came across this list of his, "the ten most important principles that helped make me a successful architect, planner, and educator."  In the interests of learning from those that are remarkable examples of continuing achievement, I thought I would be good to share his list with the JG readers.  Any thoughts?

  1. Think positively, not negatively.
  2. Accept structure but know that it is to be questioned and broken when necessary.
  3. Always be willing to explore, experiment and invent.  Do not accept the status quo.
  4. Know yourself and keep your work consistent with who you are and how you think.
  5. Maintain good moral and social values.
  6. Be humble, honest, compassionate, and egalitarian.
  7. Have conviction about your work.
  8. Be open and say yes to most ideas and requests. The good ones will be valuable, the bad ones will cease to exist.
  9. Allow employees and fellow workers freedom and the ability to work to their strengths. Avoid hierarchy.
  10. Money should be the residual of work, not the goal.  But do not compromise your worth.

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Has Anyone Seen "The Green House" Exhibit at D.C.'s National Building Museum?

Click to Purchase The Green House When I was in Washington, D.C., a couple weekends back, in addition to participating in GWU’s real estate competition and visiting AWEA, I took a tour of the National Building Museum’s exhibit called "The Green House: New Directions in Sustainable Architecture and Design."  If you’ve been there, by all means, leave a comment as to what you thought.  I thought it was a great exhibit.  I wanted to take pictures to show everyone, but no cameras were allowed inside.  Regardless, pictures wouldn’t do it justice, because the entire exhibit showcases some incredible green concepts and materials. 

Included in the tour is a real-life The Glidehouse, which is a prefab by Michelle Kaufmann.  It’s very cool.  Very modern.  The tour also has a Heliodon, or a sun machine, which allows you to see how the sun hits a home (see solar orientation).  The exhibit also explains the 5 Principles of Sustainable Homes:

  1. Optimizing Use of Sun
  2. Improving Indoor Air Quality
  3. Using the Land Responsibly
  4. Creating High-Performance and Moisture-Resistant Homes
  5. Wisely Using the Earth’s Natural Resources

Towards the end, there’s a green materials section that lets you see and feel different green floorings, ceilings, countertops, and paints.  I heard people looking at it saying stuff like, "Wow, that’s nice…," or "That doesn’t look green at all…"  It’s true.  The environmental movement of yesterday has an entirely new face for the future.  It looks good and comes at a competitive price.  If you can’t go to D.C. or you want some more information, you can buy the exhibit book here or at your local bookstore.  The Green House Exhibit will be on display until June 24, 2007.   

More Than Another Prefab: Muji Prefab

Muji_concept

My values and beliefs were partially created through my experience living in Japan.  I like minimalist.  I like clean, sharp lines.  I like modern.  I like small, but functional.  I appreciate that a grain of rice means something, especially when times are tough.  And this is why I’m excited to hear the news of Muji coming to America.  Technically Mujirushi Ryohin, roughly translated as no-name quality goods, is the full name.  Muji is coming to the US to influence consumers that dig the no-brand, minimalist style sans in-your-face product identifiers.  I wear shirts inside out just so the brand doesn’t show sometimes, so I’m looking forward to seeing what they have to offer.   

Muji has 387 outlets in 15 countries, including 34 stores in Europe.  America is next on their expansion plans with a store starting in Manhattan, and the possibility of stores to follow in Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco.  Muji sells all sorts of stuff, such as socks, a front-loading washer/dryer combo, cardboard speakers, aluminum business card holders, and even a line of prefab homes (starting at $115,000).  Not all their products are green, but they are of the modern aesthetic.  Choose wisely, I say.  Also, we’ll have to wait and see, but I’ve heard rumors that their stuff isn’t cheap.  Some people compare them to IKEA, but with a Japanese flavor.  Let’s see how the Manhattan opening goes.  See BusinessWeek + Muji (Japanese). 

Mujiinfill_houseToyohashi_house

Would You Buy a Home from IKEA? Payments Accepted at Front Register.

Boklok_uk_ceder__web Uk_terraced_house1_web

I’m asking because if you have an Ikea, you may be one of the next cities to have their prefab home product.  Maybe in 5, 10, 15 years, but it looks possible.  Over the past decade, Ikea has teamed up with Swedish construction company Skanska to build a home that was light, well-planned, functional, and furnished with natural materials.  That home, the BoKlok, which is Swedish for "smart living," has become Ikea’s big idea.  After building about 3,500 BoKlok homes across Scandinavia, Ikea has decided to expand and create a British BoKlok development with about 36 flats in St. James Village, Gateshead (UK).  After that, they’ll add another 60 homes. 

BoKlok Homes are timber-framed, almost entirely pre-fabricated, and brought onto the site in pre-assembled units on the back of a truck.  After transport, put on the roof + siding, install the plumbing + wiring, and that’s about it.  BoKloks usually come in a two-floor, L-shaped configuration with three apartments on each floor.  Early on, Ikea sold the BloKlok from the store, but they were so popular that people were camping out to get them.  Now, Ikea chooses residents using a random lottery.  Yes, I just wrote that.  Demand is so big, there’s a lottery to choose residents.  I can’t believe this, but it goes to show that there really is a problem with the lower portion of the economic pyramid being served with quality products.

Maybe I’ll get around to converting these figures, but for now, I’ll give you the original metrics so the data is accurate.  The houses planned for Gateshead cost about £120,000 – £150,000.  Ikea priced the units specifically to target households earning roughly £15,000 – £30,000 a year, and they’re excited to have a modern, environmentally-friendly, affordable living space.  One bedroom flats are about 46 square meters and two bedroom flats are 58 square meters.  Residents are expected to move in towards the end of 2007 or in early 2008.  I wonder when we’ll see these in the U.S.?  See also Guardian

Uk_terraced_house4_web Dk_int_kitchen_web

The Loftcube by Werner Aisslinger

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This is the Loftcube, which is designed and engineered in Germany.  Including the bathroom and kitchen, there are two models, one for $136,000 and the other for $180,000.  I love the look of it … if you had $180k and a vacant roof, would you put it up there?  Add some landscaping?

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