Lanefab Design/Build recently completed this energy-efficient laneway house with Mid-Century Modern styling. “Laneway house” is the term used in Vancouver, British Columbia for a second small house built in the backyard of an existing house, what would be called an accessory dwelling unit in many cities. Vancouver allows laneway houses to be built on residential lots at least 10 m wide where the back of the lot is serviced by an alley. Most residential lots in Vancouver meet those criteria.
Treehotel is a hotel of five tree houses in the boreal forests of northern Sweden. Each tree house is unique, offering guests an original tree-top environment in which to relax in harmony with nature. They all offer closeup views of the forest and more distant views of the nearby Lule River. We’ll have a look at several of the Treehotel tree houses over the coming weeks.
The Bird’s Nest tree house is designed to blend into the forest. Its camouflage covering allows discrete views of the surrounding nature from its hidden windows. Entry to the Bird’s Nest is via a retractable staircase which is activated by a button on a tree.
This small forest home in Norway was designed by Huus og Heim Arkitektur. The client asked that the house be designed to preserve and respect the natural character of the site. It mixes the clean lines of modern design with a traditional timber frame and extensive use of wood as requested by the client.
Romania’s entry into Solar Decathlon Europe 2012 is called PRISPA (“porch”). The PRISPA team took a keep-it-simple approach to the design of the house, forgoing a lot of the cutting-edge technology favored by the other teams. Instead they adapted tried-and-true materials and systems, using them in innovative ways. As a result, PRISPA was the least-expensive house to build at SDE 2012, and is probably one of the most viable for production. Nevertheless, it still meets the goal of producing more energy than it consumes.
Taking a break from the cutting edge Solar Decathlon homes, today we have a small house from the past. The Chalford Roundhouse is one of five similar houses along the Thames and Severn Canal in Gloucestershire, England. They were built in the 1790′s to house the families of canal workers.
Solar Decathlon Europe 2012
Solar Decathlon Europe 2012 is now in full swing in Madrid, Spain. Solar Decathlon Europe is an offshoot of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon held every second year in Washington, D.C. Interest in the U.S. competition had grown to the point that a European version was started in 2010. The U.S. competition invites international entrants but the cost of travel and shipping a house overseas was prohibitive for many potential teams. A European version allows participation by many more teams.
In the Solar Decathlons, university teams compete in the design, construction and operation of small energy-efficient houses powered by the sun’s energy. The Solar Decathlon Europe’s teams are judged in these ten contests: architecture, engineering and construction, energy efficiency, electrical energy balance, comfort, function, communication / raising social awareness, industrialization / market viability, innovation, and sustainability.
We will be having a look at several of this year’s Solar Decathlon Europe entries. First up is the Odoo House by team Odooproject from the Budapest University of Technology and Economics in Hungary.
The Stripe House is a new home in the Netherlands designed by GAAGA Studio Architecture. It is built in a new neighborhood of rowhouses where the parcels were sold as bare land and each owner had their house individually designed. Unlike most of the neighboring houses, the Stripe House is set back from the front property line. Because the house fronts on a narrow pedestrian street, the architects increased the separation from the houses opposite by creating a small entry court that takes up a quarter of the lot. They compensated for the lost building area by going up with a three story structure. The name Stripe House refers to the horizontal grooves troweled into the exterior stucco finish, adding texture and refinement to facades that would otherwise have appeared somewhat monotonous. The other obvious feature of the exterior is the enormous, storefront-sized windows. Note though that some of the windows are flanked by white panels that make them appear larger than they really are.
The Eel’s Nest is a small modern house in Los Angeles, California built on a steep and tiny lot of 15′ by 52′ (about 4.6 m by 15.8 m). It’s not uncommon to find rowhouses built on similarly-sized lots in some North American cities, but lots that small are extremely rare in Los Angeles. The name “Eel’s Nest” comes from the term used in Japan to describe very narrow building lots.
As the property is located in a neighborhood that is starting to densify with townhouses and small apartment buildings, architect Simon Storey of Anonymous Architects applied to the city for planning permission to build an extra story in height. With permission granted, the architect designed a house that stretches vertically and from lot line to lot line, achieving the maximum possible floor area. It has 960 ft2 (89.2 m2) of space divided over two floors, plus a garage tucked below. The lack of side setbacks did necessitate the use of a fire-rated exterior finish, for which Storey chose cement plaster.