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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. 

Near North Apartments by Helmut Jahn: Affordable, Mecha Small, Green + Modern

Night Near North Apartments

Not only is this place sustainable, but rooms are small, too.  With 96 units at an average size of 300 sf, Near North Apartments (NNA) is a pretty incredible habitat for people that deserve to live in a well-designed space.  NNA is the creation of renowned architect Helmut Jahn, who designed the single-occupant spaces for limited income, homeless, and disabled persons.  You’ll notice from the images that the building generates some power through roof-mounted wind turbines, or aeroturbines.  to be precise, the building shape was conceived to maximize wind to the aeroturbines.  They were invented at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and are now being marketed through Aerotecture International

The building also uses solar thermal collectors and a rainwater reclamation system.  The water system recycles shower water to flush toilets, apparently making it one of the few graywater systems in Chicago.  NNA is located at 1244 North Clybourn Avenue in Chicago and is owned by Mercy Housing Lakefront group.  The reason I’m blogging about this structure, in addition to being an example of small, sustainable living, is because it was listed on Metropolitan Home’s 2007 Design 100 list.  Congrats. 

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Interface Studio: Sustainable, Economic Sheridan Street Housing

Sheridan Street Housing Sheridan Street Housing

The Philadelphia Sustainability Awards Finalists have been chosen and one of the projects that was overlooked is the following 13-unit, affordable, environmentally-friendly housing project designed by Interface Studio, LLC.  One of the goals of this project was to design affordable homes with extremely low utility costs.  When money is tight, being hit by the utility man is tough on morale, that’s for sure.  The architect relied on modular design to lower costs of construction and challenge the bland look of typical affordable housing.  Engineers estimate that units will be 30-40% more efficient than your standard Energy Star building upon completion.  Pretty incredible, actually. 

Although Sheridan Street Housing was not selected for the Philadelphia Sustainability Awards, it has received an AIA Philadelphia Silver Medal 2006 + residential architect Design Award 2007.  Sheridan Street was designed with unique materials such as slate-like fiber cement cladding panel and textured exterior grade plywood cladding panel.  Also, as you can tell from the images above, the design incorporates an airy third-floor terrace.  I’d pay big money for that.  I think another innovative aspect of the project is how the designer squeezed 13-units into an oddly shaped 40′ x 450′ piece of land.  Each building dances with another in interlocking L-shaped footprints to maximize the available land. 

Here are links to some of the other green projects considered for the Philadelphia Sustainability Awards: Bernice Elza Homes, Brewerytown Square, Jackie O’Neil Zero-Energy Prototype Homes (finalist), One Crescent Drive, Pembroke North Condominium, and The Reserve at Packer Park

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

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