Category Archives: gardening

Futuristic Living and Organic Architecture Pt. 2

Dudes and dudettes, it’s been a while since the last instalment in the Futuristic Living and Organic Architecture series (you can find part 1 HERE). Futuristic Living Pt. 2 (here) doesn’t really count in, since there was no organic architecture part.
But today there is! We’ll have a look at some energy efficient, self-sustainable or carbon-neutral houses, so you can get an idea of where you wanna live in, say, 30 years from now? Or shall we make it 15? Whatever, the sooner the better, right?

via cubeproject.org.uk

First, I’d like to introduce you to the cube-project which “is an initiative of Dr Mike Page at the University of Hertfordshire who set out to build a compact home, no bigger than 3x3x3 metres on the inside, in which one person could live a comfortable, modern existence with a minimum impact on the environment.” To get a first impression you can watch a tour around and through the cube, which gives you a good idea of what it looks like and how it works.

“Within its 27 cubic metres it includes a lounge, with a table and two custom-made chairs, a small double bed (120cm wide), a full-size shower, a kitchen (with energy-efficient fridge, induction hob, re-circulating cooker hood, sink/drainer, combination microwave oven and storage cupboards), a washing machine, and a composting toilet. Lighting is achieved by ultra-efficient LED lights, and the Cube is heated using an Ecodan air-source heat pump, with heat being recovered from extracted air. It has cork flooring and there is two-metre head height throughout.” And of course, it is made from a variety of sustainable materials.

via cubeproject.org.uk

If you want to learn more about the cube, you can visit the homepage of the project by clicking HERE. There you’ll also find a lot of additional information, especially concerning the technologies used and the generating of energy.
But what if you think: “this is all nice and well, but way too clean and waaayyy to small for my liking?” Well, here is the answer: Simon Dale’s low impact woodland home!

Yep, it not only looks like a hobbit’s home, but it made of wood, straw and clay, making use of natural material found in the surroundings (and most importantly: harvesting them responsibly) with all additional materials gathered from the trash that people tend to throw away: windows, plumbing and wiring equipment, etc. Below you get an impression of the process it took to build this inspiring home.



Not only is it ridiculously beautiful and super-eco-friendly, but on his homepage Simon Dale gives valuable instructions if you wanna go for something similar yourself. And he claims that he doesn’t really know much about carpeting and the like, saying he’s just and able-bodied dude who gave it a try. And since he likes trying he decided to build another one to move into, which looks just as gorgeous (a good reason to visit South Wales, I guess…).


all of the above 7 pictures © Simon Dale at http://www.SimonDale.net, you can visit his webpage by clicking HERE.

If you’re more of an enthusiast for minimalism in architecture rather than going for the cluttered green natura-all-over-the-place look, the following home in Tübingen, Germany planned by the architects Martenson and Nagel-Theissen of studio AMUNT might just be the one for you.

It’s a so-called passive house (meaning that it doesn’t require traditional heating systems since its construction makes maximum use of “passive” sources of heat, like sun, heat radiating of human bodies or electrical appliances, thereby requiring a minimum of energy) and provides space for two adults and four kids according to their webpage, but I guess you can get more creative with the number of adults vs. children when it comes to deciding if you wanna live in something like that. Which seems to be fairly easy, since it is easily produced and delivered to the construction site, where they only have to piece together the 136 pieces that it consists of. Which is mostly wood, really, making for pretty interiors.
Oh, and yes, I was talking about minimalism. Why? Have a look yourself:





all images (c) AMUNT, via nageltheissen.de, visit their page HERE

Jealous already?
These are just three different options for organic and/or low-energy living in future days. Some people obviously already do so now, I don’t (yet!), but there is really no reason why we all shouldn’t. Since I like ending posts like this one with more food for thought I give you a TED talk by the bright Catherine Mohr on Building Green (duration 6:13).

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Futuristic Living and Organic Architecture Pt. 1

For my workouts I started to watch videos on ted.com. Coz I wanna gets smartz, y’all. That’s why. Some of the speeches are very good, and practically all of them are very informative, catering to whatever you just happen to like at that moment. I stumbled upon two videos in specific that caught my attention, both of them being about the future of architecture. They deal with questions of sustainability, eco-friendliness and the incorporation of nature and living matter into architectural processes. The first (and short, only 2:57 ) video features Mitchell Joachim, where he talks in “Don’t build your home, grow it!” about using plants and chemically engineered tissue for building homes. Enjoy below.

Some of the ideas he presents in his speech are already being used by other people over the world, who try to grow homes. Below you find structures grown of trees who were “woven” together, using the incredible feature of tree-trunks that, well, they grow together if you force them long enough at a tender age. The structures are “designed” by (1) Konstantin Kirsch and Richard Reames (via fennelandfern.co.uk), (2) Hermann Block (via konstantin-kirsch.de), (3+4) a bunch of people in northeastern India (sorry for not being able in this case to be more specific [and yes, I blame western arrogance], copyright held by Vanlal Tochhawng, via v1kram.posterous.com). 

 

But combining nature and architecture can go in a very different direction, too. There’s tons of examples where organic architecture focuses more on the aesthetiques of organisms and tries to incorporate buildings into landscapes, nevertheless trying to make living things integral parts of the construction. One example is the “Urban Forest” by Chinese architecture studio MAD Ltd. (they hold copyright to the pictures below, by clicking them you get to their website)

Of course these MAD Ltd. designs totally remind me (and probably you, too) of science-fiction paintings and renderings that make the future seem a pretty sweet place to live in (or time, that is). Take for example the picture “Futuristic City Complex” below by artist Staszek Marek (who holds copyright, via coolvibe.com):

Or to take it even further, the below image by Mark Goerner (holding copyright, via cgfriend.org) where the city structure is not built into the natural setting, but the nature is rather built into the city itself:

 

The Urban Free Habitat System by Danish studio N55 pursues another architectural approach and does not create a static space for human beings, but lets the human being decide where to create his_her resident space. By using a simple steel construction seemingly public and open spaces can be transformed into private settings and zones of personal comfort.

Copyright of the above pictures with N55. You can visit their website by clicking here or any of the photos above.
Obviously, questions about sustainability and nature conservation arise, but more pressing for most would probably be to hear about plans for bad weather, unwelcome observers and the like (to be fair: they do address these issues in the according manual on their site).

The following pictures by Ilkka Halso take a different approach to nature and its relation to architecture by visually wondering what happens when we build around nature. Or specifically for nature, since we might be in need of preserving the little residue that is still left to us. And thus, what we often take as a given, becomes a museum object: 

Copyright to all of these gorgeous pictures by Ilkka Halso. You can get to the website either by clicking here or one of the above pictures.

And I’ll just close this post (there’ll be more though, that’s why it is entitled Pt. 1) with the second ted-talk I watched on the issue: Rachel Armstrong talks in “Architecture that repairs itself?” about her research into metabolic materials for architecture, imagining a way to restore the foundation of Venice and more (video duration 7:32).

Guacamole forest

image taken from factoidz.com

Mmmhh, yummy, avocados!
I love to eat them. Spread out on a slice of brad, a little onion, some salt and pepper, topping it with slices of tomato and cucumber: delicious!
But I discovered that I also love to plant them. For two simple reasons: It’s easy, and the avocado trees are pretty. That is not to say I would never have tried it, if they were ugly and the process difficult, but I’d probably never have gotten to the point to write a blog post about them.

Here you get a glimpse on my little avocado-forest. Charlotte Roche’s audio novel “Feuchtgebiete” made me finally give planting avocado seeds a try. I had heard dozens of stories of how you have to build an elaborate construction of little wooden sticks, placed carefully in a jar of water, so that half of it is always in while the other half is always out, and wait till the damn thing grows.
I decided to not want to put myself through so much (yeah, sounds like the most terrible effort ever, right?), so I modern-timely as I am googled how other people do it. It’s fairly straightforward: Put the seed in some potting soil so that the pointy part of the seed still peaks out, keep it moist and put it where the sun shines. And then wait. Sometimes the seed cracks incredibly fast, sometimes it takes longer, but as soon as the little tiny trunk with the first leaves sneaks out it’s only a matter of weeks until your own little tree has grown to respectable heights.

Meet the family:

The first one is one of the younger trees and therefore growing and glowing. The second one is actually also my second ever planted one and recently, as you can see, grew a little tired. But that happened before, so let’s hope it’ll get back on track. The lush third one is nursed with lots of love and sunshine by my caring flatmate. Thanks!

Here we got three youngsters in very different stages of development, the one on the bottom obviously just makes its debut to The World. The second one is also a younger one that grew incredibly tall but somehow just keeps losing all it’s leaves. I admit, it might have to do with too much water… Isn’t the top one just darling? And notice how it boldly starts with multiple trunks. Adorable.

Ah, life and death, so close together! The only non-tree (or more of a not-yet-tree), a cute little seed that still waits for its necessary crack. And my first ever avocado-tree that unfortunately did not survive, since it drowned in my love too much water, and did not recover. RIP.
Not pictured is one little avocado tree that I gave to our neighbour, to care for and love it. So: Greetings from afar!

I’m kind of glad that I don’t give them names. Makes me feel sane.