In our buzzword world we hear a lot about things like green living, but the architectural firm Rios Clementi Hale Studios wants to really bring the hype home. Spurred by a challenge from The Wall Street Journal to build the "Green House of the Future," RCHS started designing the Incredible Edible House. They were so inspired by the idea that they continued working on the project, trying to bring the concept to reality.
In their press release, the company claims that "all technologies required to build the house currently exist," and they are searching for a partner to build a full scale prototype and commercialize the pre-fabbed green house design.
The most obvious "green" quality of the house design is the greenery lining the outside of the house. The siding grows a variety of edible greenery, just waiting to be picked, explains the WSJ article:
This somewhat fantastical design seems to be as much about the future of food production as architecture. The façade of the three-story abode is slathered in a vertical garden that includes chickpeas, tomatoes, arugula and green tea. Step outside in the morning and harvest your meals.
But the Year of Plenty blog directed some skepticism towards the writer of that enthusiastic WSJ article:
I'll hold off on advocating replacing the walls of our homes with sheets of hydroponically grown green tea until I give that a shot myself.
I'm a little worried that anything that grows on the roof would be very hard to reach--I can see the injuries and lawsuits now. You can try you hand at vertical farming yourself with some vertical planter boxes.
The house has a rainwater collection on the roof; the water is used to irrigate the plants and also feeds into the household plumbing. The rooftop reservoir helps to keep the house (which seems to be designed for a California winter) cool.
The house is also made of three floors, which means it takes up less space as populations continue to explode in the coming decades, as the press release explains:
The Incredible Edible House’s compact 30’x45’ footprint (requiring a five-foot setback) is ideal for dense urban landscapes, and its vertical format amplifies its already inherent energy-saving tendencies.
In this format, the house reaches about 1,400 square feet of living space. It's neatly portioned into sleeping, working, and socializing floors, and is designed to fit about four people (so long as those people like each other and don't require much privacy). The walls are all adjustable, so the space can be fitted to meet the needs of the inhabitants. It also contains a shared bathroom and closet.
The roof of the house also contains some green energy elements: vertical wind turbines to generate electricity from air currents, and photovoltaic awning to soak up sun energy and provides shade. The middle sections of the house are built with adjustable doors, to open and allow a cross breeze on warm days.
The house is specially designed to be easily transported. In this design each part is prefabricated and shipped together--even the vegetable-growing roof tiles.
The parts can be moved to the building site on one tanker truck, cutting down on costs (both environmental and monetary), says the original WSJ article about green housing ideas:
This method exists today, but it's not used very much, since homeowners associate prefabrication with lower-end homes. But the benefits for lowering energy use are substantial. The standardized construction in prefabricated homes reduces defects that can hamper energy conservation. And it's easier to ship prefabricated parts, which means reduced fuel use for deliveries.
Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!