If you've ever been to Taiwan, you'll probably agree that this design for Chinatrust Bank's headquarters is spot on for the region. Taiwan is so lush and green — the extensive allowance for green roofs, vertical courtyards, and open space in the central plaza likely blends right in to the terrain. Designed by the LA office of NBBJ, with the assistance of local firm Fei & Cheng Associates, the development includes a 30-story headquarters building, 21-story commercial office building, 10-story hotel, and four-level retail center. The development just broke ground earlier this month and will end up with 2.5 million square feet by about 2012.
This exciting new line of prefab houses comes to us from Bensonwood Homes, based out of Walpole, New Hampshire. Their Unity House, a Unity2 model built for the president of Unity College, has achieved a LEED platinum rating, making it one of a select group of homes around the country to reach such a lofty goal. And the small design-build company debuts not one, two, or even three, but four stunning models to the sustainable housing market. Reasonably priced and quickly assembled, all homes in the series are designed to be net-zero energy. The design aesthetic seems to lean towards the classic single family American home, while the high tech materials and features thrust towards the future of home building. The list of sustainable features is long to be sure, but here are a few key elements.
It looks like the 100k House idea has migrated overseas because a similar prototype just popped up in Italy last year. Mario Cucinella Architects has conceived Casa 100k, which is a prototype home for Є100,000 that prioritizes three main elements: style, sustainability, and affordability. It's billed as a low-cost, dream home with zero bills and zero emissions. And as you can see from available renderings, the method of accomplishing such goals is primarily through prefabrication and passive and active design strategies.
A lot of people in Pennsylvania have been talking about green building, but according to my quick research, no one in the state has received the USGBC's highest certification under the LEED for Homes program yet. But that could change if the stars align for Thin Flats — the developer is seeking LEED-H Platinum for all residences and waiting on Energy Star certification. Thin Flats includes eight, market-rate, up-down units split between four rows. The newly completed project recently received case study treatment by GreenSource Magazine, and from what I've read, observers either love or hate the exterior facade. Personally, I like it, but what do you think?
Just recently, we mentioned Copeland Casati in regards to the launch of Green Cabin Kits, but I thought it was high time to take a look at her SIPs home under construction near Appomattox in Central Virginia. The home is actually a prototype of the Casa Ti house kit designed by architect David Day. Designed to be off-grid, net-zero energy, and modern, the home has 1200 square feet of space with three bedrooms.
The small house movement is going buck wild. Some say it's because of a concern for the environment. Others say it's because of the economy. We could all say it's a confluence of both the economy and the environment, but what's important is that people actually rethink what a home can be — including how big it needs to be. Just the other day, The Economist, published a story about two of the main players in the super small home genre, Tiny Texas Houses and Tumbleweed Tiny House Company. We've mentioned Tumbleweed previously, but I learned something new about Tiny Texas Houses.