Archive for September, 2010

September 29, 2010

The oldest treehouse in the world is in danger


The oldest treehouse in the world is about 300 years old

The oldest treehouse in the world

If you need proof that a treehouse can last a lifetime here’s the proof. Pitchford tree house is certainly one of the oldest, if not the oldest tree house in the world.
It was built by Shrewsbury wool merchants, the Ottley family, who bought Pitchford Hall in 1473. The Lime Tree it’s built in is estimated to be 800-900 years old.

It is not known exactly when the tree house was constructed, but, according to John Yates from English Heritage, it is at least 300 years old.
Its most famous visitor is said to have been Queen Victoria, who visited Pitchford as a 13-year-old princess. According to John Yates from English Heritage the future monarch described Pitchford Hall itself as, “a very big cottage”. Today the building is considered to be one of the finest timber-framed buildings in the country.

From the outside, the tree house looks like a miniature replica of Pitchford Hall. But John Yates said it had not always been like that.
“It started out with render all over it, to look like a stone building perched in the tree, so it would have been even stranger then,” he said.

The tree house has been renovated at various times throughout its history, but in July 2010 English Heritage placed the building on its At Risk Register. John Yates said it was because the steps to the tree house were in a state of disrepair. What English Heritage hadn’t realized was that joint-owner Michael Ashmore had deliberately taken the steps out to prevent people trespassing on his land and possibly getting hurt.Mr Yates said: “The steps, which are vital to maintaining it, are in an incomplete and terrible state. That’s one of the reasons why we regard it as at risk.” Mr Ashmore, who maintains the tree house himself, does not regard the steps as part of it. Even so, he has agreed to put them back. In reply, John Yates said English Heritage would consider removing the tree house from its At Risk Register, once it had been checked. The incredible part of this bureaucratic nonsense is to even consider destroying this landmark. It’s the height of modern arrogance.

The gates to pitchford are closed to the public

The Gates to Pitchford

It may turn out however, that a bigger risk to the tree house could be the tree in which it sits. Owner Michael Ashmore recently had it carbon-dated by an expert from Kew Gardens, who thought it could be up to 900 years old. Lime trees normally only live for about 400 years. Perhaps the tree has a will to live which should be respected.
The tree house is now almost entirely supported by metal struts and Mr Ashmore has secured the tree branches with wires to prevent as much movement as possible. Bravo and kudos to Mr. Ashmore.

September 28, 2010

The Only One of Its Kind


A new destination lodge in Japan offers communing with nature Eastern Style

Gankoyama Treehouse

I applaud Yoshinori Hiraga and his efforts to educate, inform and engage his people about communing with nature and learning more about Japan’s forest resources. One by one is the way to get people involved in a global effort to perserve this wonderful world we live in.

Chiba tree house village latest in eco-tourism
By Taro Fujimoto (reposted)

CHIBA —
Forget about 5-star hotels. Try spending the night in a tree house. Not only is it fun but it offers a realistic way to practice “eco tourism” and “co-existence with nature” – phrases which are often bandied about in our daily conversation. Since 1998, Gankoyama Tree House Village has been providing people with the opportunity to think of nature and our modern life in terms of effective use of forest resources.

Gankoyama is located in the middle of the Boso Peninsula in Chiba, about two hours by car from central Tokyo. About 2,500 people a year visit the 12,000 square meters of the lower mountainous camping area to learn outdoor skills. Among the outdoor programs, the Tree House Master program, in which participants learn how to build tree houses in two days, has been the most popular, attracting lots of media attention. Every program requires reservations in advance. The tree house-building tour is the only one of its kind in the world. All of Gankoyama’s energy needs are provided by solar panels and a wind generator; no electricity is used.
In March, Gankoyama started to actively accept foreign visitors, launching its English-language website. Participants can enjoy the outdoor workshop skills for 8,000 yen and tree house building for 28,000 yen per person. Fees for families and groups are cheaper.

participants walking in the forest

The Walking Forest


“The primary purpose at Gankoyama is to provide people with an opportunity to think about the most effective use of forest resources in Japan,” says owner Yoshinori Hiraga, 49.

Hiraga, who was born in Tokyo and currently runs an air conditioning company in Yokohama, says he found the majority of mountains in Japan, which have been forested since the pre-modern era, neglected as a result of depopulation and an increase in imported cheaper wooden materials from abroad. “Since I used to play in the mountains when I was small, I wanted to revive forest resources. I just love mountains,” says Hiraga.

Learning how to co-exist with nature

Through the Tree House Master program, he wants participants to understand the fact that Japanese for a long time incorporated nature into their daily lives, including effective use of forests with regular maintenance, but they don’t do it so much anymore. Hiraga is hopeful that more Japanese will pay attention to their traditional concept of how to co-exist with nature. “Foreigners, especially those from Europe and the United States, are much more aware of effective use of forest resources and natural energy generation than Japanese.”
After operating Gankoyama for 10 years, Hiraga says he has learned that Japanese adults need someone’s help to enjoy themselves in nature. “Westerners enjoy themselves here as if they were kids. I just tell them the basic rules here in English and some gestures. They are usually happy on their own without us. If you need a tour guide, then you won’t enjoy yourself here.”
As an external member of a local city council for the environment and a guest invited by a non-governmental organization (NGO), he has visited the U.S. to research environmental policies around the world.

man climbing into a treehouse

climbing into a treehouse


“I think in Western countries, people have tried to artificially control nature. They tend to ‘do something in nature,’ which is how they enjoy themselves here,” said Hiraga. “In Japan, nature has always been a part of our life. Unfortunately, one of the reasons why Japanese are indifferent to nature now is that they take it for granted.”

He says the key phrase “sustainable life” is more familiar to Westerners than Japanese. “The majority of Japanese have no idea what that concept means.”

As a business, Gankoyama has been successful since its launch. The Japanese government approved Gankoyama as a good plan for effective use of forest resources. On weekends, people from all over the country visit and stay there. During the summer holiday season, Gankoyama is always full of visitors.

However, Hiraga recalls how he erred in his prediction for environment-related trends in Japan when he was launching Gankoyama in 1998: “I thought the so-called environment market would be much bigger in Japan. But in fact, the government and society shifted its focus to more monetary things, such as increase in exports and deregulation of financial markets. Everybody wanted to know how to make money. Now we see in many developed countries that environmental polices are becoming the top priority.”

‘Experience market’ for children

What helped Gankoyama’s success was the growing demand in the ‘experience market’ for children, Hiraga says. “Even if mothers don’t know the concept of ‘sustainable life,’ they know instinctively that children need experience in nature.” After children, foreigners in Japan are the second largest potential market.

“‘Eco’ is something existing in our daily life. Some philosophical trends like LOHAS (Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability) and Slow Life have already come and gone and nobody talks about them anymore. Eco should mean ‘sustainable.’” Hiraga says he just wants more people to enjoy nature in the way that children used to play in the mountains in the past.

Hiraga is often asked to hold seminars nationwide. Sharp Corp, for example, donated its solar panels for solar power generation to Gankoyama and holds CSR (corporate social responsibility) seminars in Gankoyama. Hiraga says Gankoyama has proved it is a profitable business model to revive forests in Japan, and he hopes young people will launch similar businesses.

Spending almost all of his time in Gankoyama, Hiraga is dedicated to providing people with opportunities to think of how they can live with the nature. Those who know Hiraga say he is almost a kid when building the tree house.

September 28, 2010

The Best Alternative Roofing Materials


It’s possible to be stylish with a roof even while paying attention to the environment

Using “green” materials for a treehouse roof is not a fad. It’s a way of both making a statement and contributing to the overall health of the environment. Using eco-friendly roofing materials may seem like a small gesture, but if every builder made environmentally friendly choices, the benefits in aggregate would be enormous.

Living roof made of plantlife

Roof in bloom

The building industry is taking big steps to help provide builders and designers with more environmentally friendly building options. Hazardous asphalt shingles, for instance, are already a thing of the past. They were a petroleum-derived product that was (and still is) a significant contributor to our landfills. Recycled plastics, fiberglass, and wood are quickly becoming standard in roofing.

Recycled tire roofing made to look like shingles

Recycled Tire Roofing


One of the more exciting developments in green building is the movement to recycle old tires. Tires can be used in its native form or it’s cut into little squares and then coated with granular-sized sand pebbles. The end product is then stacked like any other tile.
Solar powered shingles are also readily available. A great way to help generate power in a treetop dwelling, they usually need a bank of batteries installed to store the power they generate.

As the list of new innovations grow, every builder needs to incorporate them into their constructions. The environment will not be saved by any one large gesture but by a number of very small ones.

A typical shingle roof is a good low-cost option, but there are many alternative roofing materials that literally last forever and have lifetime warranties. Many of these have a raised profile that allows air to circulate beneath them. This helps reduce your air conditioning bills during the summer.

Fire resistance of some alternative roofing materials (tile, concrete, slate, fiber-cement, recycled synthetics) is a plus and required in some areas. This also may reduce your homeowner’s insurance premiums. A burning ember escaping your own chimney can start your or a neighbor’s house on fire.

Fiber-cement is an excellent roofing material. It has a Class A (best) fire rating and has a transferable limited lifetime warranty. It can be formed into almost any shape and colored to simulate other roofing materials.

Fiber cement roofing

Fiber Cement roofing

Fiber-cement roofing is lighter weight than slate, concrete or tile, so you should not have to reinforce the roof structure. An extra lightweight concrete roofing material is also available, but it is not recommended for severely cold climates. Your local roofing contractor can advise you.

A combination of recycled plastics and wood fiber (from scrap pallets) is used to produce simulated cedar shakes and slate. This material has a Class A fire rating, withstands 150-mph wind, and has a 50-year warranty. Other larger recycled plastic roofing panels, which simulate shakes, install quickly.

Concrete is an excellent roofing material and the raw materials are in abundant supply. Similar to fiber-cement, concrete can be molded to simulate other materials. Pigments made from oxides of natural metals are used to color the concrete when it is molded to produce a large array of colors.

September 23, 2010

Treehouses: Book Review by Deek Diedrickson


Hold on, the man with the ugly hat is Deek Diedrickson and despite what he looks like he’s quite an innovative builder in his own right. If you want to go to his review of my book it starts at 5:46 of this video. However I recommend the whole clip.

September 21, 2010

Straw Homes: Some More Information


Builders put together an eco-friendly straw home

Building the Straw Home

If you find the concept of building a straw home as fascinating as I do read on. There are obvious pitfalls but careful planning can protect you from potential disasters. If you’re dreaming about building an affordable and environmentally friendly home,straw may be the way to go. Straw bales, to be exact.

Contrary to what the Three Little Pigs would have you believe, a home built with straw can indeed withstand lots of huffing and puffing. In fact, once the house is completely built no one will even know the inside of the walls are full of straw. Of course, some homeowners who want to prove this and show off how clever they are will leave little peep holes, a cupboard or some such that opens to reveal the straw inside the walls.

Construction of the main structure of the straw home

Constructing the straw walls

Thanks to the increasing popularity of building with straw, there are more and more books and resources available for people seriously interested in constructing this kind of home.
In Building a Straw Bale House:, the Red Feather Development Group offers a thorough guide to creating a home with straw. When the group was founded in 1994, their mission was to build affordable and eco-friendly houses for American Indians, but widespread interest in building with environmentally friendly materials has spawned a whole industry of people who want to live in green homes. Thus this book was born as a handbook and guide for anyone interested in building this way.

A finished straw home

Completed Straw Home

On the East Coast of America, Green Bees an acronym for Green Building for Economic and Environmental Sustainability, is the brainchild of Bob Hanson and Randy Williams. The house pictured is not their first straw bale insulated house, but it is none the less a fascinating case study in sustainable green building. Distance traveled to the site, types of materials, and the energy used in creating the materials are just a few of the variables considered in this project.
The expectation is that, in the end, the house will use around $20 of electric power per month. The basic structure is a timber frame with straw bale in-fill. This is enclosed in an exterior coat of lime plaster. The roof is designed for rain water harvesting, which is only the beginning of the water conservation features. Radiant floor heating, solar hot water, composting toilets and a Nutrient Recycle System (developed by Bob and John Hanson during an earlier project and sold commercially for the past 20 years) guarantee that this house uses an absolute minimum of water.

Another view of the eco-friendly Straw House

Another view of the straw home


The design and construction take several things into consideration. All the appliances will be AT LEAST Energy-Star compliant, and in some cases even more efficient. Deciduous trees will be planted in strategic locations to provide shade in the summer and shielding from cold winds during the winter.
The story of “The Three Little Pigs” may have unfairly colored our perceptions of houses made of straw. When asked whether it’s really possible to live in a straw house GreenBEES has only one thing to say, “…they are very comfortable. I should know; I live in one!”
Check out the GreenBEES on the web at http://www.GreenBEES.net.

If you think this may be a way for you to go I would learn all you can about straw homes and contact a builder who is familiar with this type of building. There are very specific issues of safety that must be dealt with when constructing a house of straw. It is important to know them all before embarking on an endeavor like this.

September 14, 2010

Just When You Think You’ve Seen It all: Part 1


Fuselage of a plane used as a home on a river

The Jet Home

If you think humans cannot adopt to the changing environment and the financial downturn, check this out. A mind-blowing jet plane home overlooking a lake with a cost of about $30,000!

A trend possibly? Creative individuals around the country have taken to converting used airplanes into living spaces. Some relish the novelty and connection to aviation, while others trumpet the toughness of the frames. Provided another plane doesn’t crash into it I think it’s a very safe way to go.

In 1994, a hairstylist in Benoit, Miss., named JoAnn Ussery lost her 1,400-square-foot house to an ice storm. Ussery had a relative who worked in aviation, and the two came up with the idea to salvage a Continental Airlines 727. It cost her $2,000 to buy the plane, $4,000 to move it to her lakeside lot, and about $24,000 to outfit it comfortably. Ussery did much of the renovation herself, and took advantage of the ample windows and storage bins, as well as the lavatory. Ussery told reporters that she was mainly attracted to the idea because of the plane’s low cost and durability.

Mercedes-Benz dealer Francie Rehwald of Malibu, Calif., has been working on a unique home built from a recycled Boeing 747, at an estimated cost of $2 million. Rehwald told reporters that she is interested in green building and that her project involves turning the wings into a roof, the nose into a meditation temple and the trademark “bulge” into a loft. This I gotta see!

Two boat homes peer out over a residential street

The Boat Homes

Lots of resourceful people have converted boats into living quarters on dry land. One example that stands out can be found on South Bass Island in Lake Erie at Put-in-Bay, Ohio. After 50 years of service on the Great Lakes, the Henry Ford-built Benson Ford was sectioned by an enterprising Ohio couple, who turned the elegant cabins into a private residence.

Thanks to Brian Clark Howard for this article which appeared in the Daily Green. Jet photos © JoAnn Ussery/Airport Journals/Boat Homes © Stan Fader/Flickr

September 13, 2010

When People Get Creative They Build Wonderful Things


cool interior of shipping container home

Shipping Container Interior

Although having its origins in the late 1780s or earlier, the global standardization of containers and container handling equipment was one of the important innovations in 20th century. In 1955, businessman (and former trucking company owner) Malcolm McLean worked with engineer Keith Tantlinger to develop the modern intermodal container. The challenge was to design a shipping container and devise a method of loading and locking them onto ships. The result was a 8 feet (2.4 m) tall by 8 ft (2.4 m) wide box in 10 ft (3.0 m) long units constructed from 25 mm (0.98 in) thick corrugated steel. The design incorporated a twist-lock mechanism atop each of the four corners, allowing the container to be easily secured and lifted using cranes. Helping McLean make the successful design, Tantlinger convinced McLean to give the patented designs to the industry; this began international standardization of shipping containers. In the containers go toys from China, textiles from India, grain from America,cars from Germany and much more. And now the “Great Recession” has inspired some people turn to container-living as a home to shelter them.

A woman relaxes in her shipping container home

A simple shipping container home

While a number of resourceful people have converted shipping containers into make-shift shelters at the margin of society for years, architects and green designers are also increasingly turning to the strong, cheap boxes as source building blocks.

A converted shipping container modular building

Converted Container Building

Shipping containers can be readily modified with a range of creature comforts and can be connected and stacked to create modular, efficient spaces for a fraction of the cost, labor, and resources of more conventional materials. Here are some of the exciting possibilities of shipping container architecture, from disaster relief shelters to luxury condos, vacation homes, and off-the-grid adventurers.

beautiful modular home made from shipping containers

Beach Home in Redondo

De Maria Design Redondo Beach House

With its modern lines and appealing spaces, the award-winning Redondo Beach House by De Maria Design turns heads. The luxury beach-side showpiece was built from eight prefabricated, recycled steel shipping containers, along with some traditional building materials. According to the architects, the modified containers are “nearly indestructible,” as well as resistant to mold, fire, and termites. Seventy percent of the building was efficiently assembled in a shop, saving time, money, and resources. One of the containers can even sport a pool! The lessons learned from Redondo Beach House are being incorporated into a line of more affordable, accessible designs, soon available as Logical Homes.

a small city made from shipping containers

Container City


Container City II

Container City I was a success, and in2002, Urban Space Management added an addition, dubbed Container City II. Reaching five stories high, Container City II is connected to its earlier iteration via walkways. It also boasts an elevator and full disabled access, as well as 22 studios.

Container Cabin overlooking meadow

Container Cabin

All Terrain Cabin

Canada’s Bark Design Collective built the All Terrain Cabin (ATC) as a showcase for sustainable (and Canadian!) ingenuity. The small home is based on a standard shipping container, and is said to be suitable for a family of four, plus a pet, to live off the grid in comfort and style. The cabin folds up to look like any old shipping container, and can be sent via rail, truck, ship, airplane, or even helicopter. When you’re ready to rest your bones, the cabin quickly unfolds to 480 square feet of living space, with a range of creature comforts

cozy eco-pad provides shelter and living comfort

Eco-pad

The Ecopod

Another container home designed for on- or off-grid living is the Ecopod. Made from a shipping container, an electric winch is used to raise and lower the heavy deck door (power is supplied by a solar panel). The floor is made from recycled car tires, and the walls have birch paneling (over closed-cell soya foam insulation). The glass is double paned to slow heat transfer.
The Ecopod can be used as a stand alone unit or with other structures. It is designed to minimize environmental impact.

Pre-Fab container home built to order

Pre-Fab Container Home

Adam Kalkin Quik House

If you’re considering a container home then look no further than the “Quik House” There’s a six-month waiting list for this container home by architect Adam Kalkin, who is based in New Jersey. The distinctive Quik House comes in a prefabricated kit, based on recycled shipping containers (in fact a completed house is about 75% recycled materials by weight).
The standard Quik House offers 2,000 square feet, three bedrooms and two and one-half baths, though larger options are also available. The shell assembles within just one day, and all the interior details can be finished within about three months. The Quik House comes in two colors (orange or natural rust bloom), and the estimated total cost, including shipping and assembly, is $184,000. You can add even greener options such as solar panels, wind turbines, a green roof, and additional insulation (to R-50).

Student Housing Project Keetwonen, Amsterdam

Student Housing made from shipping containers

Student Housing made from containers


Billed as the largest container city in the world, Amsterdam’s massive Keetwonen complex houses 1,000 students, many of whom are happy to secure housing in the city’s tight real estate market. Designed by Tempo Housing in 2006, Keetwonen is said to be a roaring success, with units that are well insulated, surprisingly quiet and comfortable.Each resident enjoys a balcony, bathroom, kitchen, separate sleeping and studying rooms, and large windows. The complex has central heating and high speed Internet, as well as dedicated bike parking.
Keetwonen has proved so popular that its lease has been extended until at least 2016.

The continued exploration of eco-friendly housing and innovative building will spawn even more unlikely ways to fight the escalating costs of building traditionally and the pollution of our world. Out of difficult circumstances like the “Great Recession come brilliant ideas of how to cope, how to change and how to live. In that spirit it is up to all of us to do what we can to preserve our world for future generations.

Adapted from an original post in 2009 By Brian Clark Howard in The Daily Green

http://www.thedailygreen.com

September 12, 2010

The Cedar Creek Treetop Observatory


The Cedar Creek Observatory

The Rainbow Bridge Leading to The Observatory

The truly great treehouse builder finds a way to add something new to every aspect of his or her construction. An unusual or particularly apt access point is an element unavailable to most other types of building. It can add ambiance, expand on a theme, and make each trip to the treetop dwelling a new chapter in a person’s memory. Take Cedar Creek Treehouse Observatory, for example. It doesn’t get more adventurous than a circular stairway eighty feet in the air. This “Stairway to Heaven” rises eight feet per revolution from the forest floor to the treetop canopy. After climbing the spiral staircase around a a 200-year-old western red cedar tree, guests can walk across the “Rainbow Bridge” to the treehouse observatory forty-three feet away.

Stairway leading to the Cedar Creek observatory

The stairway to the top

The “Stairway to Heaven” shows what can be done when planning and vision meet hard work Each step was knee-braced. Vertical poles connected the steps and enclosed the climber.
Hoisting the five hundred pound bridge required a double-pulley rigging. Once the bridge was positioned, the treehouse observatory and the eighty foot staircase were connected with cables and a chain link fence.

The Rainbow Bridge leading to the observatory

The Rainbow Bridge

Property owner Bill Compton has built a guesthouse and observatory at the top of his cedar trees. The earth-friendly mountain retreat is 16 kilometres from the Nisqually River entrance to the Mount Rainier national park. Guests are treated to a treehouse bed and breakfast cottage 15 metres up in huge red cedar. The observatory and Stairway to Heaven gives spectacular mountain views 30 metres high in a fir tree.

September 11, 2010

When people get creative they build wonderful things


The interior of a shipping container home

Interior of shipping container home

Although having its origins in the late 1780s or earlier, the global standardization of containers and container handling equipment was one of the important innovations in 20th century. In 1955, businessman (and former trucking company owner) Malcolm McLean worked with engineer Keith Tantlinger to develop the modern intermodal container. The challenge was to design a shipping container and devise a method of loading and locking them onto ships. The result was a 8 feet (2.4 m) tall by 8 ft (2.4 m) wide box in 10 ft (3.0 m) long units constructed from 25 mm (0.98 in) thick corrugated steel. The design incorporated a twist-lock mechanism atop each of the four corners, allowing the container to be easily secured and lifted using cranes. Helping McLean make the successful design, Tantlinger convinced McLean to give the patented designs to the industry; this began international standardization of shipping containers. In the containers go toys from China, textiles from India, grain from America,cars from Germany and much more. And now the “Great Recession” has inspired some people turn to container-living as a home to shelter them.

A woman relaxes in her shipping container home

A simple shipping container home

While a number of resourceful people have converted shipping containers into make-shift shelters at the margin of society for years, architects and green designers are also increasingly turning to the strong, cheap boxes as source building blocks.

A converted shipping container modular building

Converted Container Building

Shipping containers can be readily modified with a range of creature comforts and can be connected and stacked to create modular, efficient spaces for a fraction of the cost, labor, and resources of more conventional materials. Here are some of the exciting possibilities of shipping container architecture, from disaster relief shelters to luxury condos, vacation homes, and off-the-grid adventurers.

beautiful modular home made from shipping containers

Beach Home in Redondo

De Maria Design Redondo Beach House

With its modern lines and appealing spaces, the award-winning Redondo Beach House by De Maria Design turns heads. The luxury beach-side showpiece was built from eight prefabricated, recycled steel shipping containers, along with some traditional building materials. According to the architects, the modified containers are “nearly indestructible,” as well as resistant to mold, fire, and termites. Seventy percent of the building was efficiently assembled in a shop, saving time, money, and resources. One of the containers can even sport a pool! The lessons learned from Redondo Beach House are being incorporated into a line of more affordable, accessible designs, soon available as Logical Homes.

a small city made from shipping containers

Container City


Container City II

Container City I was a success, and in2002, Urban Space Management added an addition, dubbed Container City II. Reaching five stories high, Container City II is connected to its earlier iteration via walkways. It also boasts an elevator and full disabled access, as well as 22 studios.

Container Cabin overlooking meadow

Container Cabin

All Terrain Cabin

Canada’s Bark Design Collective built the All Terrain Cabin (ATC) as a showcase for sustainable (and Canadian!) ingenuity. The small home is based on a standard shipping container, and is said to be suitable for a family of four, plus a pet, to live off the grid in comfort and style. The cabin folds up to look like any old shipping container, and can be sent via rail, truck, ship, airplane, or even helicopter. When you’re ready to rest your bones, the cabin quickly unfolds to 480 square feet of living space, with a range of creature comforts

cozy eco-pad provides shelter and living comfort

Eco-pad

The Ecopod

Another container home designed for on- or off-grid living is the Ecopod. Made from a shipping container, an electric winch is used to raise and lower the heavy deck door (power is supplied by a solar panel). The floor is made from recycled car tires, and the walls have birch paneling (over closed-cell soya foam insulation). The glass is double paned to slow heat transfer.
The Ecopod can be used as a stand alone unit or with other structures. It is designed to minimize environmental impact.

Pre-Fab container home built to order

Pre-Fab Container Home

Adam Kalkin Quik House

If you’re considering a container home then look no further than the “Quik House” There’s a six-month waiting list for this container home by architect Adam Kalkin, who is based in New Jersey. The distinctive Quik House comes in a prefabricated kit, based on recycled shipping containers (in fact a completed house is about 75% recycled materials by weight).
The standard Quik House offers 2,000 square feet, three bedrooms and two and one-half baths, though larger options are also available. The shell assembles within just one day, and all the interior details can be finished within about three months. The Quik House comes in two colors (orange or natural rust bloom), and the estimated total cost, including shipping and assembly, is $184,000. You can add even greener options such as solar panels, wind turbines, a green roof, and additional insulation (to R-50).

Student Housing Project Keetwonen, Amsterdam

Student Housing made from shipping containers

Student Housing made from containers


Billed as the largest container city in the world, Amsterdam’s massive Keetwonen complex houses 1,000 students, many of whom are happy to secure housing in the city’s tight real estate market. Designed by Tempo Housing in 2006, Keetwonen is said to be a roaring success, with units that are well insulated, surprisingly quiet and comfortable.Each resident enjoys a balcony, bathroom, kitchen, separate sleeping and studying rooms, and large windows. The complex has central heating and high speed Internet, as well as dedicated bike parking.
Keetwonen has proved so popular that its lease has been extended until at least 2016.

The continued exploration of eco-friendly housing and innovative building will spawn even more unlikely ways to fight the escalating costs of building traditionally and the pollution of our world. Out of difficult circumstances like the “Great Recession come brilliant ideas of how to cope, how to change and how to live. In that spirit it is up to all of us to do what we can to preserve our world for future generations.

Adapted from an original post in 2009 By Brian Clark Howard in The Daily Green

http://www.thedailygreen.com

September 10, 2010

Your Home Is Built Out Of What??


Three friends stand proudly in front of their bottle house creation

In these times where money is short and your stress level is high you may want to look to the past for innovative answers to your present housing problems. Have you ever thought of recycling as a creative act? To recycle something doesn’t necessarily mean just hauling used bottles, cans and cardboard to the curbside for pickup. Some creative people, either out of need or personal interest have taken the notion of recycling to the next level, using products that would be melted or shredded as whole objects in the construction of creative new buildings.

A modern day house built out of cement and bottles

The Bottle House


Bottle walls sounds like something a quirky eccentric would construct just for fun. In point of fact, the oldest surviving bottle house was constructed out of over 50,000 beer bottles in 1907, due to the lack of lumber available in the deeserts of Nevada. Though many bottle buildings are decades old, recent structures around the world have been built out of necessity in places where both building supplies are scarce and other recycling methods are unavailable.
An example of mortar and bottles used to make an interior wall

The bottle wall

A cardboard house may seem even more implausible than one constructed of beer cans. With the right water-proofing, however, just such a house would be not only sustainable but also exceedingly affordable. This so-called house of the future is designed with exterior waterproofing and water storage under the floor to protect it from the water and from blowing over in the wind. Of course, cardboard is also a highly collapsible building material, making the shipment of the house also more environmentally friendly, efficient and inexpensive.

A futuristic cardboard home

The cardboard home


Tire houses are arguably more practical and ultimately realistic than cardboard buildings. Used tires are abundant in our oil-driven world where vehicles are common and changing tires is a fact of life. The thermal mass of a tire wall works well in summer or winter, mitigating the exterior and interior temperatures so the house is never too cold or too hot inside. Construction can also be accomplished by the home owner with relative ease.

A house made from bales of hay

The Straw House


Unlike the third little pig’s straw house modern homes built of bales of hay and straw can be sturdy. Straw bale houses also make use of a common and regularly sized material that is relatively available and inexpensive. This regularity makes working with the building blocks relatively easy. Many such houses, once they are completed and covered outside and in, do not even look to be made of straw.

These alternatives to regular home building may seem quirky or strange but they are real alternatives which a few creative and brave souls are testing out. Don’t scoff at these offbeat building methods, in the future humans may need to realistically look at these alternatives and incorporate them into the building practices we have today to keep costs affordable.

Most of this article and photographs appeared in the Web Urbanist in 2007. It is more relevant today than it was then.