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Posts Tagged ‘design’

Nice entryway on traditional home

Nice entryway on traditional home


Universal design home entry

Universal design home entry


Timber frame entry

Timber frame entry


Nice entry to custom straw bale home

Nice entry to custom straw bale home


Your home’s entry and entryway are the first things people see when they enter your home, and so it’s important for these areas to be inviting and attractive. To help design this area, imagine yourself visiting your home. What is your first impression? Is it one of warm, welcoming colors? Is there a place to hang your coat and put your umbrella and bag? What about a mirror, artwork, lighting and place to sit down and take off your shoes? Is the flooring durable enough to withstand wear and tear? Is the space large enough for a group of people to enter and close the door behind them? Is there a protected entry and adequately sized coat closet nearby? Careful thought on these and other considerations will improve the design and livability of your home.

Image source: Nush Designs Blogspot
Image source: Gant Construction
Image source: Hybrid Timber Frame
Image source: The Watch (interesting story about the house)
Related:
8,250 Entry Design Photos
Airlock Entryways (good for cold climates)

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The Barefoot Architect - Johan van Lengen

The Barefoot Architect - Johan van Lengen


“The Barefoot Architect, in its evolution, came out a stunner. Not only in looks, but also in both usefulness and practicality in today’s world. We didn’t anticipate the timing, but the green movement matured as this book was being produced and it’s a perfect intersection. At a glance, the book may appear to be about building a house out of adobe and bamboo or other natural materials. Which it is. But it’s also about design, planning, integration with the natural environment, using the wind, sun, and water to ventilate and produce energy, and a host of other subjects for people interested in providing their own shelter, or setting up a small community.

In the ’60s, I started remodeling my house, and then adding on to it (with some ambitious first-time architect plans), so I had to learn to build as I went along. In those days I had a bunch of books on carpentry and building, but my favorite was Ken Kern’s The Owner-Built Home, which became the underground building bible. Not “architecture,” but building, and doing it yourself. Simple pen and ink drawings, easy to follow.

Johan van Lengen’s book is for builders today what The Owner-Built Home was for builders of the ’60s. 1000 wonderful simple drawings, easy to follow. A different way of looking at shelter. Earth conscious. Local climate. Local materials. Bio-architecture. (And using intuition and the right brain.) Interestingly, Johan has found a keen interest in his methods recently by people who are bailing out of high-stress jobs and seeking simpler lives, creating eco-villages.”

Source: Lloyd’s Blog
Lloyd Kahn is the owner of Shelter Publications and author of such classics as Shelter I and II, Homework: Handbuilt Shelter, Builders of the Pacific Coast and Tiny Homes: Simple Shelter.

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Rainwater Towers Apartments 2 (click to enlarge)

Rainwater Towers Apartments 2 (click to enlarge)


Specifications: Four 16′ interior diameter roundhouses and one 12’ interior bath, total 842 sq. ft. interior, two bedrooms, one bath, Footprint: 50′ x 50′

Description: This three-story, triple roundhouse tower apartment complex is designed to provide affordable housing in urban areas. The towers are primarily earthen construction. Made with earthbag tubes filled with earth and tamped solid, very few manufactured/processed materials are required. This greatly reduces construction costs. The apartment name comes from the fact rainwater is captured on the roof and stored in cisterns, which reduces demand on city water supplies. Each apartment is accessible by a spiral staircase in the front tower. Features include two spacious 201 sq. ft. bedrooms with large closets, modern kitchen and bath, pantry and comfortable living room. All rooms are round to create an embracing, inviting ambience. The round towers are naturally stable and form a visually striking exterior.

Rainwater Towers Apartments 2 floorplan (click to enlarge)

Rainwater Towers Apartments 2 floorplan (click to enlarge)

Over 130 designs at Earthbag House Plans
Rainwater Towers Apartments 1

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Design details have a big impact on the final appearance.

Design details have a big impact on the final appearance.


It is easy to find appealing aesthetic details by browsing web galleries of natural homes.

It is easy to find appealing aesthetic details by browsing web galleries of natural homes.


The importance of making your home beautiful goes without saying. Have fun figuring out the aesthetics as you design your home. Train yourself to search out the details that might otherwise be missed by casual surfing. There are lots of good online sources for inspiration. Here are a few sites with very nice galleries of natural homes.

Images source: Eco Friendly Shelter
Natural Building Photo Galleries
More Beautiful Houses

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Natural home slideshow from NaturalHomes.org (click to enlarge)

Natural home slideshow from NaturalHomes.org (click to enlarge)


From NaturalHomes.org:
This is pattern No.74, ‘Animals’. Create a piece of protected common land where animals are free to graze with grass and trees and water. There is balance to this pattern worth considering for both the individual and the community. These are Danish geese at ‘Land of Legends’, a partly inhabited model Iron Age village built in 1964, where they do research in to things such as open fire air quality, plant ecology and traditional crafts.

‘A Pattern Language’, by Christopher Alexander, is my all time favourite book on architecture. It’s difficult to explain what it’s about so I’m going to do it with pictures. A pattern language is a collection of 253 things that make your living environment a pleasure. It’s going to take time but I hope you will enjoy the journey with me. I will keep the pictures from different natural homes around the world in pattern numerical order. You can put the collection in your blog if you like. It’s available here: http://naturalhomes.org/show/pattern/getslide.htm

Source: A Pattern Language of Natural Homes
NaturalHomes.org home page

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Gamble House by Greene and Greene

Gamble House by Greene and Greene


Here’s a short list of designers who have inspired my thinking.

Christopher Alexander – architect and author of some of the most significant books on architecture: The Timeless Way of Building and A Pattern Language
Laurie Baker – British architect who worked in India on affordable, sustainable housing
Hassan Fathy – Egyptian architect and author of Architecture for the Poor who worked to re-establish adobe building
Gernot Minke – German engineering professor and author specializing in earth construction
Greene and Green – architectural firm of the Green brothers who were chief proponents of the American Arts and Crafts movement
William Morris – English designer who was prominent in the English Arts and Crafts movement
Richard Hansen – Sculpture professor and professional artist in Colorado

Image source: Gamble House

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Bottle wall photo at Christina Atkins’ Pinterest site

Bottle wall photo at Christina Atkins’ Pinterest site


I really love the Internet. I just learned of another cool way to share ideas called Pinterest. It’s an “online pinboard” to “collect the things you love.” I stumbled onto Christina Atkins’ site and was happily surprised to see not only some of my projects, but also other interesting pics. I loved the whole collection. Let’s call it instant bonding of like minds.

Hmm. Maybe I should get a Pinterest site to organize my favorite pics? Maybe pics like these:
Beautiful Houses
Earthbag Roundhouse
Slide Show of Earthbag Buildings
Cool Ecovillage Pics
Adding Character and Style to Your Home
Photo Post #1
Natural Building Photo Galleries

Source: Christina Atkins Pinterest

Update: Luke’s comment below prompted me to explore Pinterest some more. I just found their Home category that has tons of awesome photos. This is a must see collection of interesting home design pics.

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Roundhouse/Dome Cluster (click to enlarge)

Roundhouse/Dome Cluster (click to enlarge)


Most of you know about my Earthbag House Plans site, now with over 120 designs, but most readers are not aware which plans are most popular. Here’s the list… [drum roll…]

1. Roundhouse/Dome Cluster
2. Earthbag Survival Shelter
3. 33’ (10m) Roundhouse: 2 bedroom
4. Pod Houses
5. Enviro Dome
6. Enviro Dome 2
7. Roundhouse Cluster
8. Spiral Dome Magic 1&2
9. Hobbit House
10. Peace Dome

All orders from DreamGreenHomes.com include a free copy of my Earthbag Building Guide.

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Solar Pit House Section View (click to enlarge)

Solar Pit House Section View (click to enlarge)


Specifications: 1,127 sq. ft. interior living space, 441 sq. ft. interior greenhouse, total = 1,568 sq. ft. interior, Footprint: 36’x53’

As explained in the previous blog post, this modern solar pit house is based on the traditional pit house. The construction is much the same. Additional ‘modules’ have been added to create an elongated rectangular design for added living space and windows added on the south for solar gain. Each module is based on wood posts set in geopolymer or concrete footings. Wood beams approximately 10”-12” diameter are joined at the posts with half lap joints and pinned in place with rebar or logging spikes. Smaller poles around the perimeter lean against the beams. 24” wide earthbag walls with a reinforced geopolymer or concrete bond beam rest on rubble trench foundations.

The entire structure is surrounded by insulation and moisture barriers, both of which can be obtained as recycled materials. The Solar Canadian [their blog is currently unavailable for some reason] reported that farmers use large plastic bags for storing grain for one year and then discard them. They should make a perfect moisture barrier. And, as discussed in a previous blog post, recycled polystyrene is available. In this design, loose polystyrene is used around the perimeter, and home-made rigid board insulation is used on the roof and under the floors. Be sure to test the rigid board insulation so it doesn’t compress and cause cracking in the slab floor.

Other features:
– Sloping, earth-sheltered design has no vertical walls exposed to the harsh wind. This greatly reduces heating cost.
– Radiant floor heating is the recommended heating system. At least one back-up heating system is called for due to the extreme climate – either a wood stove or propane heater.
– A window wall separates the greenhouse from the main living space. Solar powered, heat activated fans blow heat from the greenhouse into the home, and cold air return vents draw cool air back into the greenhouse.
– Double door airlock reduces heat loss.
– The entry or mud room has space for coats, boots, shovels, snowshoes and greenhouse window insulation (possibly more polystyrene panels).
– The entry vault helps block westerly winds and prevent drifting snow from accumulating on the greenhouse roof.
– Pantry provides long-term food storage to reduce trips to the store.
– Storage room for greenhouse supplies and potting bench.
– Buried cisterns (not shown) with gravity flow design or back-up water hand pumps in case of blackouts.
– Joseph Jenkins sawdust composting toilets greatly reduce water use. Water conservation is important since water deliveries are expensive and unreliable in remote areas.
– Enhanced livability over current low income housing: traditional design for cultural acceptance; warmer (huge psychological boost when the floor and air temperature are always comfortable); more pleasant living environment with abundance of plants and much greater daylighting (combats cabin fever); fresh food production and higher oxygen level; superinsulated design with far lower energy costs (money stays in the community); adequate space for extended families and storage; greater self sufficiency.

Note to other designers: I’d like to refine this design with input from other design professionals and make all drawings freely available on the Internet. Please email me at strawhouses [at] yahoo.com if you would like to contribute. Or just leave a comment here if you’re short on time.

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TINY: A Story About Living Small (Teaser Trailer) from TINY on Vimeo.

Here’s another great find from TinyHouseDesign.com.

The video is due out in Spring 2012. Visit the website below for the latest updates.

Tiny – a story about living small

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