sustainable architecture
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sustainable architecture
design strategies + innovative technologies that promote a sustainable built environment
Curated by Lauren Moss
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The World's First Carbon-Positive Prefab House

The World's First Carbon-Positive Prefab House | sustainable architecture |
Australian firm Archiblox has designed the world's first carbon-positive prefab. We take a tour of the space, which is currently on view in Melbourne's City Square.
Catherine Devin's curator insight, February 19, 2015 7:32 AM

Les photos à l'intérieur la présentent très lumineuse et étonnamment  vaste.

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Students’ Award-Winning Home Leaves Small Footprint

Students’ Award-Winning Home Leaves Small Footprint | sustainable architecture |

'Prefabricated components, solar power, airtight construction and a small footprint at this home, designed and built by a team of students at New Zealand’s Victoria University, earned third place in 2011 in the U.S. Solar Decathlon.

Now relocated to a picturesque beach at Hawkes Bay, its ecocredentials are quite possibly the greenest in New Zealand.'

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Energy Positive Relocatable Classroom / Anderson Anderson Architecture

Energy Positive Relocatable Classroom / Anderson Anderson Architecture | sustainable architecture |

sOne in four students in Hawaii currently study in poor-quality portable classrooms. The states plans to replace 10,000 of these units over the next ten years.

This factory-built energy-positive portable classroom provides a high performance, healthy educational environment, while minimizing energy use through careful daylighting and natural ventilation, employing photovoltaic panels to generate substantially more power than consumed. The classroom also serves as an educational tool, with natural forces and systems highlighted, and building performance monitored and broadcast to students inside, as well as to the web. The life-cycle cost is projected lower than previous generation energy-consuming portables.

Catherine Devin's curator insight, October 3, 2014 7:28 AM

Un autre exemple d'un projet tourné vers les enfants pour les préparer au monde de demain et les sensibiliser aux bons comportements à adopter dès aujourd'hui sur des enjeux critiques comme la maîtrise de la consommation d'énergie.

Reste à souhaiter qu'on initie les enfants avec autant de talent à l'intérieur du bâtiment à adopter de bonnes pratiques, qu''on a mis au service de la construction de leur école.

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Celebrate Earth Day with These Low-Impact Prefab Homes

Celebrate Earth Day with These Low-Impact Prefab Homes | sustainable architecture |

Alchemy Architects, a small firm based in St. Paul, MN, has devoted their work to sustainable building practices—often through the process of prefabricated modular designs. By utilizing recycled and reused matters, along with building strategies that reduce waste, Alchemy rethinks the prototypical vacation home by striving for simplicity and minimal use of materials. Their rustic, often oxidized buildings have a way of sitting harmoniously within their settings, while yielding a minimized carbon (and physical) footprint.

To celebrate Earth Day, check out Alchemy's weeHouses, which exemplify the firm's eco-conscious reputation.

Catherine Devin's curator insight, April 23, 2014 3:04 PM

Une nouvelle proposition pour de petites unités d'habitation préfabriquées, propres à un usage saisonnier... des architectes du Minnesota les ont conçues, en métal recyclé oxydé, différemment d'autres options vues récemment en bois.

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Think Small: Renzo Piano's Vitra House

Think Small: Renzo Piano's Vitra House | sustainable architecture |

Vitra’s carefully curated campus in Weil am Rhein, Germany, contains works by Herzog & de Meuron, Frank Gehry, FAIA, and Jean Prouvé, among other top-tier designers. Now the venerable Swiss furniture company has added a tiny prefab house by Renzo Piano Building Workshop to the mix. In 2013, Vitra unveiled Diogene, a 43-square-foot prototype.

In keeping with the no-frills lifestyle of its ancient Greek namesake, the philosopher Diogenes, the house consists of only one room. A slim, ultra-efficient layer of insulation is sandwiched between the cabin’s wood frame and aluminum skin. “The house is really minimal,” says Vitra project manager Aja Huber. “It’s a life where you have to think, do you want the sofa or the bed?”

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Prefab House Mini Modern by MAPA

Prefab House Mini Modern by MAPA | sustainable architecture |

This beautiful prefab house called the Mini Mod by MAPA utilizes prefab construction, allowing for the home to be built in a controlled environment, creating less of an impact on the construction site. What you see here is just a version of what can be built, expanded and created using the modular system that MAPA has designed.

Osku Penttinen's curator insight, January 21, 2014 1:58 PM

The ultimate bachelor house. I would love one even just as a small cottage. Only thing is, you need to be far from neighbours and other people unless you want to know what a fish in an aquarium feels like.

Patrick O'Carrigan's curator insight, January 22, 2014 2:57 AM

Lovely crisp execution of a well tracked idea

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Casa Oruga: Containers for Nature

Casa Oruga: Containers for Nature | sustainable architecture |
A unique prefab house by Sebastian Irarrazaval architects uses recycled shipping containers on a sloped site in Santiago de Chile to create a family home.

To reduce construction time and costs in architecture, the option is quite simple: prefab. In Santiago de Chile there’s a prefabricated house that reinforces this statement by using second hand shipping containers as the main module for the design of this unusual home. The challenge was to adapt these modular pieces to a very sloped site near the Andes Mountains. An ingenious solution was adopted by letting the containers rest on the slope, following the natural topography of the site… hence, the name of the project: Casa Oruga, whichs Caterpillar House.

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Modular Prototypes for Flexible and Efficient Prefab Structures

Modular Prototypes for Flexible and Efficient Prefab Structures | sustainable architecture |

The prototypes designed for DST Company for the CONCRETA 2003 Exhibition, intend to provide a multiplicity of solutions regarding its purpose. The development of a modular typology that could respond to specific ends such as of temporary housing, environmental observatory, fire outpost, bar, Kiosk, “virtual square” or to a minimum element that could gather the necessary conditions to communicate through IT systems was a priority.

The plan was to produce a module that could be repeated and associated almost endlessly, being at the same time functionally mutable and capable of providing urban conditions through associative forms of its base element. 

Claire Cardwell's curator insight, October 21, 2013 8:46 AM

This looks like a more sustainable source of low income housing.  Pity the governement is still putting up shacks....

De Lille Robert's curator insight, October 21, 2013 6:55 PM

Une solution aux problème de logement?

JMS1kiddz's curator insight, October 23, 2013 2:34 PM

The concept of Prefabs is no new idea, however these modern prototypes change the way one looks at prefabs. Prefabs are generally associated with being made out of some sort of iron material and are built for practicality rather than comfort. These prototypes are designed to manage energy and to work in favour of the land. Not only are they nice looking but they are also complimentary to the land.

-Heather Leigh Arends 

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Absolutely Prefabulous: 10 Modular Homes

Absolutely Prefabulous: 10 Modular Homes | sustainable architecture |

The benefits of using prefabrication are many, and can result in beautiful homes that function just as well or better than custom ones built on site.

Using modular techniques for construction allows for stronger purchasing power. The process of building on site is also much quicker—and cheaper. Prefabrication is also greener since it uses computer technology to manufacture the modules, which creates 50% to 75% less material waste. The one limitation of prefabrication is that the pieces of the home need to be able to be shipped from the factory to the site of assembly.

But the benefits of prefabrication are many, and can result in beautiful homes that function just as well or better than custom ones built on site.

Check out these 10 examples of prefab architecture at the link.

ParadigmGallery's comment, September 1, 2013 6:11 PM
That was a wonderful prefab 101 for a novice like me! Thanks so much,,,
Jorge Forero's curator insight, September 4, 2013 6:45 PM

10 ejemplos de arquitectura modular, los invitamos a visitar para conocer un poco más de arquitectura modular.

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The Best of Prefab: 7 Green Homes

The Best of Prefab: 7 Green Homes | sustainable architecture |

The locations may be far flung—from rural Missouri to Eglisau, Switzerland—the residents might be architects, families, or weekend warriors, but the constant is prefabrication in our roundup of seven of the best prefab homes featured in Dwell.

Ing. Bruno De Berardis's comment, August 12, 2013 11:58 AM
molto bella
Sumaiya Banu's comment, August 16, 2013 9:37 AM
sams boston's comment, August 16, 2013 11:08 AM
Thank q
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One Patio House: A Contemporary, Efficient Prefab Project in Chile

One Patio House: A Contemporary, Efficient Prefab Project in Chile | sustainable architecture |

One Patio House turns a conventional program into a splendid composition of volumes. Positioned in the suburbs of Santiago de Chile, One Patio House materializes a simple and efficient answer to the unique climate and the desired relation between interior and exterior spaces.

Two volumes were developed following a set of opposite concepts: the ground floor volume expresses heaviness while the first floor refers to lightness. Openings also play a crucial role in the game of opposites: the ground volume has huge sliding windows on both long facades while the upper volume contradicts this rule by opening only the wider facades. When it comes to construction process, the difference is quite visible between the two: concrete for the ground floor area, prefabricated steel structures for the upper floor. The interior treatment respects this dual game by revealing the material properties behind each volume: smooth concrete for the flooring of social areas while wood planks are exclusively used in all private rooms. A black steel staircase establishes the necessary bridge between two opposite atmospheres belonging to a single and unique piece of architecture.

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Garoza House: A Modern, Modular Prefab Housing Prototype

Garoza House: A Modern, Modular Prefab Housing Prototype | sustainable architecture |

An industrialized modular housing prototype that allows growth and changes over time, with all systems installed without complex construction procedures.

Manufactured in specialized factories composing single complete units, including all the interior finishes, modules are the maximum size supported by conventional transport.

Interior partitions, storage and fixed furniture are incorporated to the vertical walls, which house highly qualified technical facilities, automation and electronic systems, tailored to the program for each configuration. The resulting collection provides quality, increased control with regard to construction scheduling, maintenance plans and offers flexibility for future growth. 

The principles of sustainable economy and the spirit of recycling guide and support all the project decisions.

Jenny Morris's comment, July 17, 2013 4:23 AM
This reminds me of the Smart Home exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago...very cool!
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Net Zero Prefab Prototype in Emeryville by Simpatico Homes

Net Zero Prefab Prototype in Emeryville by Simpatico Homes | sustainable architecture |

California builder Simpatico Homes specializes in modern modular homes, and recently completed a prototype located in Emeryville, in Alameda County, California.


From Swatt | Miers Architects:

“The partnership with Simpatico Homes represents an opportunity for our firm to bring custom-quality architecture to a broader audience through the cost advantages of prefabrication.

The Krubiner Residence, the Simpatico Prototype, is located in Emeryville just a few blocks from our office.

The Simpatico Homes represent a unique opportunity to transform housing, by combining modern design with off-site prefabrication and LEED-certified sustainability.”

Scott Stroud's curator insight, July 25, 2014 1:29 PM

This is not your father's modular home...

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LEAPfactory installs prefabricated ski school beside Mont Blanc

LEAPfactory installs prefabricated ski school beside Mont Blanc | sustainable architecture |
Using a custom-designed structure, LEAPfactory has constructed a new building for a ski and snowboard school beside the highest mountain in the Alps.

Situated in the shadow of Mont Blanc, on the south-east side of the France-Italy border, the small hut provides a new reception and lounge for the Courmayeur Ski and Snowboard School.

"The new structure is made with innovative, highly performing and durable materials: it does not contain concrete nor permanent parts, and it is completely reversible, replaceable and recyclable," said the team.

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Resourceful low-cost housing projects from around the globe

Resourceful low-cost housing projects from around the globe | sustainable architecture |

Architects plan low-cost residences for all kinds of reasons, whether rehousing victims of natural disasters or creating affordable homes for people with low incomes. We've collected eight of the best examples, from a prefabricated home in Sweden to a bamboo dwelling in Vietnam.

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Wingårdhs designs prefabricated housing made entirely from wood

Wingårdhs designs prefabricated housing made entirely from wood | sustainable architecture |
Swedish architecture office Wingårdhs has designed an eight-storey residential building constructed entirely from wood in the Stockholm suburb of Sundbyberg.
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22 Modern Shipping Container Homes Around the World

22 Modern Shipping Container Homes Around the World | sustainable architecture |

With a little bit of imagination (and a lot work), some talented architects have succeeded in designing dwellings made of shipping containers, ranging from off-the-grid guest homes to full time single family homes.

Shipping Container homes have their pros and cons: they are durable and eco-friendly, usually more cost-effective to build than conventional construction, and pre-fab modules can be easily transported by truck. But they also must be well insulated and sealed, as the steel conducts heat and can easily rust.

Here are 22 of the best modern shipping container houses built around the world to consider...

Michelle Poulter's comment, April 18, 2014 11:10 AM
This is a great idea for technologies curriculum Ellie. I think it definitely demonstrate how technology, architecture and sustainability mixes in todays society. A great scoop. Regards Michelle
François Lanthier's curator insight, April 30, 2014 3:42 PM

Really cool reuse of shipping containers... they are now a permanent part of our landscape!

Chantell Saddler.'s comment, June 6, 2014 1:52 AM
I love your collection Ellie. This one is excellent!
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Prefabricated modular home delivered into the Brazilian countryside

Prefabricated modular home delivered into the Brazilian countryside | sustainable architecture |

MAPA of Brazil and Uruguay has built a prefabricated modular home and transported it by lorry to a picturesque spot in the countryside outside Porto Alegre.

MAPA built the mobile residence as the prototype for Minimod, a business creating bespoke modular structures; the residential retreat comprises four modules, creating separate areas for sleeping, lounging, dining and bathing within a simple steel-framed structure.

The base of the building is raised off the ground to protect it from rising damp and the roof is covered with plants that integrate a natural system of rainwater harvesting and filtration. The structure was entirely prefabricated before being delivered to its rural location, but MAPA says the buildings can also be transported in pieces and assembled onsite.

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An Economical Modular Prefab in Oregon

An Economical Modular Prefab in Oregon | sustainable architecture |

The brief was basic: a simple guesthouse for a familyto live while Bohlin Cywinski Jackson designed their main residence. The architect's design for the is instantly legible with a repetition of trusses, windows, and lumber creating a strong linear profile.

A standard, repeatable, four-foot-wide bay makes use of economical, available materials, such as open-web steel trusses, plywood, laminated veneer lumber, and an insulated aluminum window system. The resulting residence is linear, with an open-plan kitchen and living space, 3 bedrooms, and an office with views over the Cascade Range.

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A Look at the First Shipping Container Home in New Orleans

A Look at the First Shipping Container Home in New Orleans | sustainable architecture |

This home was designed by the Toronto-based maker of prefab homes, MekaWorld, and is the first container home in New Orleans. It is made up of two shipping containers and has a net living area of 640 square feet.

The compact design has large windows installed on each side, letting plenty of natural light into the house. The windows and sliding doors are double glazed and thermally broken; the house is also designed to withstand winds of up to 130 mph.

Julia LeMense's curator insight, November 16, 2013 6:59 PM

A much better use of containers than stacking them up around economically depressed and environmentally degraded neighborhoods to the point that those in the neighborhood cannot see anything other than containers....

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A Modular, Pre-fabricated Hospital in Puyo, Ecuador Surrounded by Gardens

A Modular, Pre-fabricated Hospital in Puyo, Ecuador Surrounded by Gardens | sustainable architecture |

The 'Hospital in Puyo' is composed of eight volumes, lined-up next to one another that are separated by lush green gardens.

The county of Puyo in Ecuador has received a new healthcare facility, composed of three rows of eight staggered volumes that are each shaped with the silhouette of a house. The long pavilions are arranged next to one another, and at certain points are physically connected by pitched roof structures from the exterior, with linking hallways along the interior below. Glazing runs along the inner and outer lengths of the walls, offering visitors, patients and staff of the hospital, views of lush green landscaping planted between openings throughout the site. The challenge posed when building the complex was that it needed to be constructed in record time– less than one year– while still emerging as a first-class leading facility for the area. To finish within the time frame, the architects developed a modular architecture, with a high degree of fabrication as seen by the identical nature of the building components.

António Sousa Correia's curator insight, October 4, 2013 1:17 PM

Great idea for a quality healthcare facility in developing countries.

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Passion House prefab: 400 square feet of Nordic design

Passion House prefab: 400 square feet of Nordic design | sustainable architecture |
This series will enter into fierce and competitive prefab market. It is designed to fulfill the energy consuption requirements in nordic countries, even snow load requirements up to 3 kN. Houses are equipped with high standard ventilation systems, full automation and management systems, they are designed to utilize a solar heating during spring and autumn, have shelter from sun during summer months, thus not requiring a cooling system. Used building materials are in most parts wood, walls are vapour permeable and facades are ventilated. Structural frame is made of glulam, walls have rockwool insulation, internal walls are made of cross-laminated-timber panels, windows are wood-aluminium and furniture is either painted or laminated MDF boards.
Frédéric Liégeois's curator insight, August 28, 2013 10:39 PM

Un faux air du nouveau projet présenté par Starck récemment...

Alysyn Curd's curator insight, August 29, 2013 1:10 AM

This is what I call, "Innovation realized," which is what design/engineering is all about. I'm inspired. What design inspires you?


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DOM(E): Sustainable Geodesic Prefab for Any Location

DOM(E): Sustainable Geodesic Prefab for Any Location | sustainable architecture |

No Rules Just Architecture has created DOM(E), an prefabricated off-grid home that is an eco-friendly and portable shelter. DOM(E) provides optimal living conditions no matter where it is located and is less expensive than traditional construction, while making the best use of natural energy resources.

DOM(E) can be folded for transport and assembled on-site. Its shape provides for natural ventilation while utilizing an underground duct system for heating and cooling. Solar panels connect to a hot water tank and rainwater collection systems can be made part of the drainage system that surrounds the enclosure.

Find more details and images at the article link.

Ursula O'Reilly Traynor's comment, July 30, 2013 9:35 AM
we love this! ty Lauren!
Maryline Khan's comment, July 30, 2013 11:50 AM
very impressive!
Conrado C. Guzmán's curator insight, August 1, 2013 4:09 AM



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Caterpillar House: Contemporay Prefab Construction in Santiago, Chile

Caterpillar  House: Contemporay Prefab Construction in Santiago, Chile | sustainable architecture |

This prefabricated house for an art collector and his family was built in the outskirts of Santiago in a new suburban residential area. In order to reduce construction time and costs, second hand shipping containers were used as follow: Five 40 “standard containers, Six 20“ standard containers and one 40“ open top container for the swimming pool.

The main purposes of the house were two: the first one was to integrate it to the territory of this part of the city where the presence of the Andes Mountain is extremely strong both visually and tectonically. The second one was to allow the external air to run smoothly and easily through the all house and its different parts In order to avoid mechanical cooling.

Mpi Guy's comment, September 6, 2013 2:43 PM
Cudos for inventive design!
Joy Das's curator insight, August 6, 2015 8:34 PM
Cement Masonry Program at Tri-C :

Joy Das's curator insight, August 7, 2015 6:29 PM
CALL 6 Identified Constructional problems at Closed I-65 Extension :

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Sky City, China: World's tallest prefab building breaks ground in June

Sky City, China: World's tallest prefab building breaks ground in June | sustainable architecture |

Sky City in Changsha, China, will be 2750 feet tall, 220 stories, housing 30,000 people in 4450 apartments, with excavation and construction slated to begin in June, 2013.

Aiming to accommodate a growing population, the skyscraper is considered a "pragmatic" building, designed for efficiency, affordability, replicability.

The Sky City concept significantly reduces the per capita use of land, and the associated CO2 emissions generated, thus providing a means of large-scale development with a significantly lower impact on the environment.

As a result, a resident of Sky City will be using 1/100th the average land per person- learn more about this innovative building concept and its sustainable features at Treehugger.

Sofi Lapizco's curator insight, May 19, 2013 5:05 AM

En esto se muestra el diseño de un edificio el cual fue pensado en algunos de los gustos de las demas personas, pensado para que sea atractivo para todos y llamativo.

Sky City en Changsha, China, será 2.750 metros de altura, 220 pisos, viviendas 30.000 personas en 4.450 viviendas, con la excavación y la construcción debieran comenzar en junio de 2013.

Con el objetivo de dar cabida a una población cada vez mayor, el rascacielos se considera un edificio "pragmático", diseñado para la eficiencia, la asequibilidad, la replicabilidad.

El concepto Sky City reduce significativamente el uso per cápita de la tierra, y las emisiones de CO2 asociadas generadas, lo que proporciona un medio para el desarrollo a gran escala con un impacto mucho menor sobre el medio ambiente.

Como resultado, un residente de la ciudad del cielo va a utilizar 1/100o la tierra media por persona de aprender más acerca de este concepto innovador edificio y sus características sostenibles en Treehugger.

Robert T. Preston's curator insight, June 2, 2013 6:24 PM

Article about the new megalithic "Sky City" building breaking ground, this month.  A half mile tall, it will be huge, and will cut the human footprint down considerably, from people with standard homes.

Robert T. Preston's comment, June 7, 2013 2:33 AM
My wife works with the Chinese on many projects. They are quite ambitious, but occasionally, their ambition gets ahead of safety, and quality control. Let's hope that with this beast, they get it all right.