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Urban Rio, Panama's First Affordable Green Container Project

Urban Rio

UPDATE 3/16/09Urban Core International has gone dark.  The website was shut down.  If you have any concerns, feel free to contact us

Aaron Newman, founder and managing partner of Urban Core International, sent me the details of his latest project, Urban Rio.  Specifically, Urban Rio is a product of Urban Core's prefab and container division called Envision Prefab.  It's easy on the eyes, to say the least, and just so happens to be the first sustainable, affordable, container project in Panama. 

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Dwelling Dock, Integrating Sustainability and Living

Dwelling Dock

Matt Allert took second place in the Cascadia Region GBC‘s Emerging Green Builders Natural Talent Design Competition this year with his idea, the Dwelling Dock [pdf].  The Dwelling Dock is premised on the idea that sustainability should begin with the most basic building block of our communities: the dwelling.  It’s an attempt to fully integrate the infrastructure of the housing unit with the environment.  Although purely in concept stage, the Dwelling Dock would be prefabricated, and would include all the accoutrements we’ve come to expect in green homes:  pervious paving, recycled materials, living roof, water collection, and photovoltaic panels. 

Allert’s goals for the Dwelling Dock project include some of the following: (1) collect rainwater for re-use, (2) produce energy on-site, (3) minimize site disturbance and preserve existing site resources, (4) use local materials, and (5) integrate sustainable design with recycled, low-VOC materials.  And I’ve got to admit, I really like the design elements.  Butterfly living roof.  3-level living.  A healthy mixture of privacy and transparency.  Would you live in one?

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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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MOMO by Thomas Lind, Living Modular Getaway

MOMO Swedish Prefab

This is MOMO, a prefab concept designed by Thomas Lind.  The word MOMO comes from the truncation of Modernistiskt Modulhuskoncept, which is Swedish for modern modular house concept.  MOMO homes are put together using 107 sf modules that aren’t particularly made with any special green elements other than to be built with high quality, healthy materials.  That said, the concept also calls for a living roof with a blend of native water-storing succulents and grasses.  The large, wind-sail looking outdoor roof blurs the boundary between interior and exterior with shade and a congregational patio — and if you’re in the right climate, it’d be quite nice to chill in and out of the home.  Modules price in at roughly $25,000 each, and the first MOMO summer houses will be built in Sweden in mid-2008.  So, the final product won’t necessarily be huge, but it’s certain to be sufficient. 

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Sidwell Friends School, Anatomy of a Green School

Sidwell Friends School

The Sidwell Friends School is the first LEED Platinum-rated K-12 school in the world, but what’s incredible is the story behind it.  First, it’s a renovation of a fifty year old facility.  Second, the renovation involved the students, so everyone was able to participate and learn about the benefits of a green building.  Matter of fact, about sixteen 5th – 8th graders studied the building, wrote about its benefits, and recorded an audio feature explaining each green feature.  Feel free to take the green building tour to learn about low-VOC materials, CO2 monitoring, natural light, native plants, the green roof and biology pond, photovoltaic panels, a heat recovery wheel, vertical solar fins, and the settling tank, etc.  This is quite the impressive interactive visual/audio tour.  Seriously, great work. 

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