Eco dream houses

Thursday, February 22nd, 2007 by Nigel

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Most people here in the UK live in old housing stock. I live in a flat in a Victorian building. They weren’t too concerned with energy efficiency when they built my street.

At least new buildings have to conform to new regulations that make them more energy efficient, but anyone who’s ever tried to build a real eco house knows how hard it is to get it past planning authorities here because we’re weighed down with regulations about what houses should look like.

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Maybe it’s time to junk all our quaint British ideas of what houses should be. I just came across some designs by the American architect Michael Jantzen who creates interesting green structures like this footbridge/wind generator.

Nice, isn’t it? But can you imagine what a fuss there would be getting something like this past planning departments in the UK? Or this one, that looks like a little a mushroom designed by Le Corbusier?

Whole segments of Jantzen’s Wind Pavilion supposedly rotate slowly in the wind, generating electricity. Actually, I feel a little seasick just looking at it. But my point is, something’s going to have to give, in our straight-laced concepts of what buildings should be. They’ve been talking about building a Frank Gehry skyscraper on the seafront not far from where I live. It’s one of those ones that look like a crumpled baked bean can on acid. Maybe there are legitimate concerns about it, but from the way local conservationists have been talking, you’d have thought Gehry was out to kill their grannies and bury them in the foundations. A lot of people hate it simply because it doesn’t look like what a building ought to look like.

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On a more practical level, here in Brighton we’ve got the Brighton Earthship. The plumbing was done by the wonderful Annie Lowden, a woman who used to advertise in a local alternative magazine I set up and used to edit before I set up the Eco Store. She goes by the colourful name of Mama Plumber. The building is off the mains and exists entirely on recovered water…

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13 Responses to “Eco dream houses”

  1. Arthur P Says:

    I want one of those.

  2. Ali W Says:

    Michael Jantzen is a genius – he’s one of only 17 US architects profiled in Taschen’s new book Architecture in the United States – and challenging preconceptions of what a house should like – we are sooo conservative when it comes to our homes – is what he’s all about.

  3. Mike McPotSmoke Says:

    Thats really trippy MAANN!!!

    -M.McPotSmoke

  4. mik Widdup Says:

    as what’s-his-face said, “it [the National Trust] has a terribly retarding affect on the poular imagination…” or something like that. It was a while ago. Point being, people come to expect little more than they are shown… their imagination will not allow them to accept anything new, or; nothing new will not allow thier imagination to accept anything. Or something.

    Stephen Bayley I think.

    Got, architects have got it tough!

  5. mik Widdup Says:

    as what’s-his-face said, “it [the National Trust] has a terribly retarding affect on the poular imagination…” or something like that. It was a while ago. Point being, people come to expect little more than they are shown… their imagination will not allow them to accept anything new, or; nothing new will not allow thier imagination to accept anything. Or something.

    Stephen Bayley I think.

    God! Architects have got it tough!

  6. jaky Says:

    weird but cool

  7. jane Says:

    love it its weird but soooooooooo cool can i have one for free

  8. india Says:

    houses need to be designed in response to their proposed site…we’ve too many cream brick excrescences already! bring on the wind houses and earth houses and more fallingwaters

  9. morgan Says:

    really cool…hahahahaha

  10. Simon Hinton Says:

    I stumbled across these stylish eco homes and had to laugh. We build what we like to refer to as stylish eco homes in Hastings UK, http://www.phoenixtrinity.co.uk. Ours are based on the ark with cantilevered floors and porthole style windows. Perhaps surprisingly this sailed past the planners in a conservation area no less. For despite my description they aesthetically pleasing in even the traditional sense. Classic design can be a little avant garde if as I believe it is intrinsically beautiful and functional.

  11. Energy Aware Says:

    We have to find more solutions in order to help save our planet. Really like reading about this.

  12. simon hinton Says:

    simon say’s intresting to say the least, but what a waste of money!

  13. kimberley Says:

    i like these houses they are the best houses i have seen sooo far