Saturday, April 12, 2008

House of the future

The more I write this blog, the more I stumble into questions of sustainable living. We live in a flat built in the late 1980s, when society only started to realise the uncomfortable consequenses of some building method, and the term "sick houses" was coined in Sweden. My home is hardly the model sustainable home, eventhough my indoor vegetable gardening are lessening our ecological footprint a bit.

There are houses built with the goal to have as small footprint as possible. The first ones I found were the swedish nature houses - perhaps it's no suprise that I fall for a solution which most visible feature is to build a giant greenhouse around the house. (The cleaning of the water is cool too, but not as easy to see.) Via YouTube I then found a mass of different sustainable houses - the creativity woken by our sick environment is fascinating. I've selected a few for you - there are a lot more.

The first vid is one where you can pick ideas if you, like me, live in a nonsustainable house. Since films like these have a tendency to step on your sore concience I'll add; you don't need to do everything she does. Using every idea takes up the time of a part time job (hanging laundry consumes a lot), and requires a big house. Use the ideas that fits into your life, especially those that makes it more comfortable.

There are a few prefab house makers selling "sustainable" or "ecological" houses (the definitions of these terms differs from maker to maker). Among others in the USA we have Deltec, building energy efficient round houses. (It's frustrating to write this post without being able to show what's happening in Sweden, but few swedish companies has put their vids on YouTube.)

There is a stroke of religiosity in the movement for sustainable living, something that's clearly visible to an old student of religions like me. By "stroke of religiosity" I don't mean that patterns of action are borrowed from earlier movement (which in many cases were religious) but that there is a spritiual side to it that separates it from other religions. Symbols and terms are often borrowed from buddhism, and mother Earth are in one way or another put in a sacred position, but there is also a high degree of heterogenity, which means you can't nail down 'compulsory' believes and be hundred percent sure. The backside of this is a tendency to crack down on other religions (mostly christianity since 'our' environmental movement is from western countries - and I have to admit being so soft I'm hurt every time*) but for the better part it's good - religion is mostly a positive force. In the the two following vids this religious stroke is visible, sometimes so much that I smile a bit.

Building houses with straw bales and cover the walls with clay is an old method which makes for energy efficient buildings with comfortable indoor climate. The method is used in Sweden as well as in the US. I'm partial to plastered houses, if I'm ever build a house of our own this method will be thoroughly researched.

When I studied sinology I was a tad jealous on bamboo, it's light, strong, grows fast and can be used for everything from knives to schoners. And houses, of course.

Lastly I can't resist posting a small film from the 1950s, called "House of the Future". The faces on the participants reveals that not only did they look at houses in a different way, but also on stuff like cocain.

Part 1

Part 2

*I'm christian.


Gina said...

i just watched a documentary on Sundance called "Garbage Warrior" about an architect who makes self sustainable houses out of tires and plastic bottles. It was very interesting and the houses were quite ugly but functional.

Rosengeranium said...

Interesting! I'll track him down and add him to my 'collection' :)

N. & J. said...

My fiance loves to do research on the new "eco" homes as well as old school homes like stone houses that were designed for simplicity and function but can also be termed "green." He has talked about a couple on our blog but most libraries have books on building new green houses as well as making your existing home green. We have two checked out now although we live in an apartment so we can't put much into practice right now.

Rosengeranium said...

We're in the same situatuion. For my part I dearly want to stay in the city, which complicates it further. The next big step towards a more sustainable home for our part is to change energy provider to one who only 'pours out' water and wind energy.