Many of you have probably seen this house by Stuart Tanner Architects, it was the Architectural Record House of the Month in July 2006. But I just noticed it and want to post a few images. It’s a small house of 1,184 sf located near Eaglehawk Neck on Tasmania’s Tasman Peninsula. As you can see, it juts out into the air, blending the boundary between the wildlife and sea. I’m sure the owners have witnessed the grandeur of nature at its best, being enveloped by the eucalypt forest and the sea. Due to the location, the architect had the home partially prefabricated — framing was complete in two days. The home also has many of the green features most homes should have, such as energy-saving lights, heating, and appliances. It’s well-insulated throughout and designed to maximize cross ventilation. And there’s an on-site waste management system, greywater recycling, and fresh water catchment and storage, too.
Over the weekend, I noticed another good article in the NY Times by Amy Gunderson, with the above illustration by Nancy Doninger. The article makes some salient points about prefab, things that must be considered before getting into it. For instance, one customer said "there is no substitute for seeing a house in person," because what you see online or in a rendering, may not be what you actually get. The same customer opted for Rocio Romero, and the home took 10 months to build at a cost of $300 psf (including installation and finishes). That price ends up being pretty decent, when compared to the cost of going after a custom-design modernist home.
The Tread Lightly House was designed by Garrison Architects for a site where the building footprint had to be minimal because of nearby wetlands. This modular house prototype touches lightly on the earth, demonstrating a different way to reduce the home’s ecological footprint and help minimize the impact of the built environment on nature. Prefabricated construction of the home draws upon an ecologically friendly modular design which is fast and easy to build (not to mention, offers the potential for saved energy, time, money, and natural resources). You can read more about this + other green projects at the Garrison Architects blog.
Recently, I wrote an article about the energy efficiency of the PowerPod, and now, CNET’s Martin LaMonica has a video of the first PowerPod demo resting in a defunct coal power plant in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Clicking the picture above will take you directly to the video. I really like the PowerPod. It’s modular, green, and very simple in design. The PowerPod could be used as a home for a bachelor or intimate duo, but it’s more likely going to be used as an office, vacation abode, lake cabin, or something like that. And as far as cost is concerned, with your basic residential green finish out, you’re talking about $100k for 500 sf. You can also view more info and photos at CNET.
It’s not an airport, it’s a spaceport–a commercial station for the burgeoning business of space travel. As you can see from the renderings, this structure is the New Mexico Spaceport Authority Building, aka Spaceport America, which was designed by Foster + Partners (and SMCP Architects). As the first private spaceport in America, Spaceport America will be built to LEED Platinum standards. Perhaps more importantly, the building should have minimal impact on the surrounding environment: "the low-lying form is dug into the landscape to exploit the thermal mass, which buffers the building from the extremes of the New Mexico climate as well as catching the westerly winds for ventilation. Natural light enters via skylights, with a glazed façade reserved for the terminal building, establishing a platform for the coveted views onto the runway." The project is expected to cost about $31 million and Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic will be the main tenant.
I like the idea of using things that we already have to create things that we need — which is probably why the concept of container housing is so intriguing. In Las Vegas, Arnie Stalk, in conjunction with METRO Development Group and SHARE, has created an actual prototype of the Instant Built House. IBH is a rapid deployment shelter made from standardized, recycled ISO modules — containers that can be transported via ocean cargo ships, railroad "piggy-back" trains, semi-trucks, helicopter airlift operations, and civilian and military jumbo air cargo transports. In other words, an IBH can be shipped practically anywhere in the world in a moment’s notice.
IBH Shelters are built with the following: fully insulated walls, photovoltaic solar array for power, wind-ventilated scoops and skylights, roof-mounted HVAC units, satellite cable and internet, and internal waste collector and water recycling systems. IBH models are secured on concrete caisson footings, foundations, and slabs. I’m surprised they used Longhorn colors to paint it, but we’ll let that slide.