I hope this idea gets adopted on a more widespread basis. Reducing storm water runnoff and reducing heat in the city are nice. But I really think it just provides a wonderful living space which is even more important.
The Ekinoid Project, based near St. Austell, Cornwall, UK, envisions homes designed to ideally be fabricated using no expert knowledge or skills. The homes will suit a family of three or four, and will take under one week to build. Ideally, the main structure should last over 100 years and then be recycled.
Structurally light yet exceptionally strong, the Ekinoid home will very significantly reduce raw material requirements, and will free up the land underneath; it will allow occupants to fulfil their own power needs (and meet their requirements for potable water and in-house sewage treatment; and some of their food needs).
The plan is to build homes, having a spherical frame (steel or possibly Glulam), will be extremely strong, robust and light.
The Ekinoid Project is seeking active, ongoing collaborations with one or more universities. We want to forge partnerships (in industry and) with universities regarding architectural, structural engineering and materials solutions, and we want to involve product designers, graphic designers, 3D-graphics artists, town planners etc.
The project seems a bit ambitious to me. I doubt full towns will be built. But ambition is good. Maybe I am wrong. Even if the project doesn’t achieve that goal, innovative attempts to provide housing solutions are worthy of time and effort.
This site includes details on the process of building a wonderfully distinct woodland house in Wales, that is environmentally friendly.
It was built by myself and my father in law with help from passers by and visiting friends. 4 months after starting we were moved in and cosy. I estimate 1000-1500 man hours and £3000 put in to this point.
Some key points of the design and construction:
- Dug into hillside for low visual impact and shelter
- Stone and mud from diggings used for retaining walls, foundations etc.
- Frame of oak thinnings (spare wood) from surrounding woodland
- Reciprocal roof rafters are structurally and aesthaetically fantastic and very easy to do
- Straw bales in floor, walls and roof for super-insulation and easy building
- Skylight in roof lets in natural feeling light
- Solar panels for lighting, music and computing
- Water by gravity from nearby spring
The top 2010 Livable Buildings Award from the University of California, Berkeley’s Center for the Built Environment was awarded to the transformation (entryway shown in the photo above) of the shell of a former manufacturing plant near UC San Francisco’s new Mission Bay research campus into environmentally and user friendly offices.
The renovation, which included a full seismic upgrade, incorporated high-performance glazing with operable windows, sustainable finish materials, water conserving strategies, and efficient mechanical and lighting systems. The open perimeter is dedicated to open workspaces to maximize views, daylight, and natural ventilation. Private offices and core zones are grouped to create a central “boulevard” open to reception and conference areas.
One of the review jury comments: “Reusing a building with a large floorplate is a challenge; this project uses transparency, color, and materials to make a place where people want to work, and works well in terms of both aesthetics and sustainability.”
Gary Chan, a Hong Kong Architect, has created an very cool modular apartment (32 square meters) that can transform into 24 different rooms using sliding walls.
His latest effort, which took a year and cost just over $218,000, he calls the “Domestic Transformer.” The allusion to toy robots seems apt, given the science-fiction quality of the color scheme – mostly black and silver, washed in eerie yellow light.
Acoustic privacy is limited. When Mr. Chang is entertaining, anyone who wants to use the phone must do so in the shower (also known as “the phone booth”). Still, Mr. Chang is determined to see his ideas put to use in new multi-unit buildings. He has invited a number of developers to visit, and has meticulously documented his apartment’s history in a book, “My 32m2 Apartment: A 30-Year Transformation”. Buying a new apartment might have been a less expensive solution to his storage problem, he admitted. “But why do that?” he asked as he stood in the kitchen making noodle soup. “I see my place as an ongoing experiment.”
Related: Great Furniture for Small Spaces