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.
Let’s talk about zero energy architecture and the Truro Residence. It’s an amazing residence, currently under construction on one of Cape Cod’s beaches in Massachusetts. Designed by Independence Energy Homes (IEH) and being constructed by Silvia and Silvia, the Truro Residence is meant to accommodate a large family and friends and still remain environmentally responsible. When complete, it will have a tight building envelope, a geothermal heating system, solar photovoltaic system, tank-less water heaters, compact fluorescent lighting, and Energy Star appliances. The home also will feature popular green materials such as bamboo flooring, blue-jean insulation, and natural stone.
What do you get with prefab? (1) modular economies of scale and supposedly less construction waste, (2) labor efficient construction process, (3) ease of variability or parts interchangeability, and (4) the possibility of green, energy efficient homes, if you make that happen. Jot Homes is backed by Yeh + Jarrard, who built the prototype JoT House in Joshua Tree (get it? JOshua Tree?) for a jaw-dropping $48 psf way back in 2004. It seems that one of the ways they kept the costs down was by using a "central utility core" for the bathroom, kitchen, and laundry supplies. Simple plumbing is cheaper, right?! In addition, they use SIPs and sustainable harvested birch plywood (as opposed to fir plywood that comes from old growth), Forbo Marmoleum and cork tiles for the flooring, double-glazed low-E glass for the windows, and LED lighting technology. Kitchen and cabinetry fixtures were all sourced from IKEA, too.
Currently, JoT House is planning some new stuff for release in early 2008 or so. They will have the JoT Original, JoT ‘L’, and the JoT Two-story ‘Urban JoT’, with standard model prices at $210k, $260k, and $300k, respectively. That works out to roughly $180 psf. If you’re going after the mini-JoT, that starts at about $45k+. And multiple mini-JoTs can be put together, too. Let’s keep an eye out for new developments in 2008, and check the detail in some of the images below.
And that’s pretty incredible. It can be used for personal, business, or industrial applications. The Power Pod arrives on a single flatbed truck and sets up in a day. But what’s so special about it? Well, it can outfitted with rooftop solar, the butterfly roof collects water for use in radiant floor heating, and the highly insulated walls (SIP R-28) keep the temperature just right. Plus, there’s also the typical energy-efficient lighting, low-flow plumbing fixtures, and building performance monitoring system. Keeping track of things helps to optimize efficiency. And with the sculptural steel pier foundation, setup should be pretty quick, too.
Can you feel the modern, green prefab-type options increasing? Almost out of control? Well, competition is good and this company is based in Lawrence, Massachusetts. It’s not really practical to be shipping homes all the way across the country, so there’s going to be lots of options in places that demand this type of construction. The working prototype, as you will see below, looks pretty good, too. Via Treehugger.