Monday, November 17, 2008

Home Innovation

With so many resources available today, as well as a struggling economy, it is no wonder that unconventional, sustainable and less expensive housing options are beginning to make a grand appearance. People are shifting their way of thinking from living in oversized, wooden frame boxes with vinyl siding, a picket fence and four car driveway to things such as old industrial loft buildings, trailers and even shipping containers. It is all in the perception of a person’s imagination to redesign these unconventional spaces into sustainable, green homes.

Right here in the Boston area there is a community called Forbes Park that takes sustainable living to the ultimate level of luxury. Built inside an abandoned printing facility from the 1800’s, Forbes Park dubs their homes as Hybrid lofts because they garner over fifty percent of their energy from renewable resources. Most notably is their use of wind power from the turbine located right on the premises and passive solar through the two walls of windows located at the end of each loft space. In addition the structure features a rain water collection system for use in toilets, radiant floor heat, thermal-mass passive heating and cooling, low flow toilets, energy efficient appliances and the use of durable, natural materials to reduce needs for replacement.

Sometimes there is a negative stigma attached to certain forms of housing, for example a trailer, but Charmaine Manley has taken this view and buried it so deeply beneath bamboo flooring and Paperstone countertops that her home in Oregon has been photographed as a show home. The double wide trailer started out as many do with chintzy carpet, paneled walls, aluminum windows and no character but through sound design principles Charmaine has created a comfortable and livable home for her husband and herself. In addition to bamboo flooring and paper countertops the home boasts low to no VOC paint, repurposed antique furniture (as a bathroom vanity and closet solution), lighting acquired from second hand stores, green kitchen cabinets, energy efficient window and so many other repurposed or sustainable options a list would be virtually never ending. As a final nod to the planet all materials that were removed were either recycled or donated to various organizations. To view all of the before and after photos of this amazing transformation please visit her blog posting at High Desert Diva.

Many people would not look at a shipping container as a viable option for a housing solution but through a little innovation and conceptualization these small metal boxes can be transformed into some very modern housing on a tighter budget than one might think. With a large surplus of such material simply taking up space at ship yards across the country it is possible to snag one of these containers for as little as $900. In 2006 Peter DeMaria of DeMaria Design Associates took the concept to a second level and constructed a two story home in Redondo Beach, California out of multiple containers with great success. The home is inherently resistant to bugs, mold and fire and in a location such as this where construction to withstand earthquakes is a priority, it is comforting to note that a pre-fabricated metal box is virtually indestructible.

The opportunities are endless for creating functional, comfortable and gorgeous, unconventional housing options, as evidenced in this small sampling of homes. Due to their creative innovation and attention to environmental awareness I am giving each of these designs (including the small woodland house featured in the first photo, click to read more about it) Four Green Leaves!

Keep up the great work bucking the norm and proving to all of us that irregular is just another word for exceptional!


High Desert Diva said...

Forbes Park is new to me, but Simon Dale's home, and the shipping container home are favorites.

Thanks for including my remodel in your article. Much appreciated!

MichellesCharmWorld said...

HOly cow! Those shipping containers are so cool!!

Bridgete said...

Omg, I thought the first photo was just a screen shot of a hobbit house from LOTR, it's so great that it's a real house! =)

Love the other homes too. I think I've seen an ad on the T for Forbes Park. Unless there's some other uber-green luxury condo place in or around Boston...

kim* said...

i like the 1st one

Hyla Waldron said...

I LOVE that first home. Ive seen it before and read everything on that website! It is very cool!


engineered hardwood floors said...

The first one looks like the seven little dwarfs home but I like it! Everybody is falling for it.