The new American Dream: 100K(+ 20) | Starter Home

IKEA Hack!
October 1, 2008, 3:06 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags:

I came across this blog this summer and was truly impressed with some of the projects posed on IKEA Hacker. It features projects by people who came up with creative ways to transform IKEA furniture or cabinetry into something more specific to their needs. Some of them are simply re-upholstered chairs, but the most interesting are the case goods. I thought this might spark some ideas for exploring an inexpensive alternative to custom millwork.

This one was the most memorable: kitchen cabinetry turned dining area banquette. Click on image to read about how this was installed.

September 28, 2008, 1:32 am
Filed under: Material/Building Systems | Tags:

Greenscreen is a company that sells modular wire trellis systems that can be applied in many different configurations, such as columns, curved walls, attached to the facade of a building, etc. This is a solution for creating a light-weight green wall, rather than a “living wall”, so it is probably more cost-effective (checking on pricing) because it does not involve retainting soil vertically or an irrigation system. The idea is that climbing plants that are planned at the base of the system will grow over time through the wire and fill the wire mesh. When the plant has fully developed in the mesh, the shading that its leaves offer cut down on a building’s cooling costs. Another thing is that the mesh makes an architectural statement even when the plant has not yet fully overgrown the fencing.

The 100K House project on their blog talked about the concept of this system as inspiration for creating their own green wall using standard wire fencing. Read about it here.

Update: The Greenscreen “Modular Wall-Hung Trellis Panels” cost $10-12/ S.F., with an additional 20-30% for shipping because they are manufactured in California. Also, a good estimate for how much a plant can grow through this system over time is about 5-1/2 feet per year, varying depending on location. There is also a list of recommended climbing plants, please let me know if you are interested.

Manufacturer References
September 26, 2008, 7:50 pm
Filed under: Material/Building Systems | Tags:

I came across this website that has links to Manufacturers broken down by CSI categories.

Hope it helps!

Dual-Flush Toilets
September 18, 2008, 12:09 am
Filed under: Material/Building Systems, Technology | Tags:

In an attempt to conserve and salvage the most water possible, here is another solution. This toilet from Caroma USA is a high-efficiency dual-flush toilet. It has two buttons, one that flushes 1.6 gpf, the other 0.8 gpf. According to, the toilet costs about $500.

Annex House
September 5, 2008, 8:38 am
Filed under: precedents | Tags: ,

This home designed by Jun Igarashi Architects Inc. of Japan is a small home that utilized the concept of a loft to organize the space. It is a seemingly small home (approx. 1,000 – 1,200 sq ft, not much is written about the house) that is able to encompass all the necesities of modern living in an open, un-inhibiting space. Its exterior is wrapped in a translucent material (unknown) that gives off a soft glow at night, much like a lantern, and allows the space to flood with light in the daytime. The unusual feature of this home is that there are almost no walls, instead the architect treated spaces that needed enclosure, such as the mechanical space, as volumes slotted into the main space which allowed that volume to act as a partition.

Food Prices
September 3, 2008, 7:05 pm
Filed under: Social / Cultural Issue | Tags:

The price of food has increased dramatically withing the past few years wordwide, some food items doubling in price within the past two years. One of the main reasons is the price of oil which affects the cost of bot international and national trasport of food. Average meals travel 1,500 miles to your plate. It also affects the cost of fertilizer which is a petrolium-based product. Climate change has spurred inconsistent and radical weather that has caused droughts and floods, ruining crops. Many riots have broken out worldwide against the price of food, and global security is at risk.

Another reason is the United States offers subsidies to farmers for the production of biofuels such as ethanol. This has motivated farmers to switch their focus from a food-based crop to a fuel crop. In 2007, biofuels took up one-third of the US’s maize harvest. Higher grain prices have also forced farmers to clear more forests to be able to grow more maize. Pork products have increased in price because the grain needed to feed them has increased in price.

The higher cost of food and oil is instigating new ways for people worldwide to think about how to obtain food, such as growing their own food privately to reduce dependence on commericial food and to reduce the amount of oil used to transport their food. Other ideas include Vertical Farming which would harvest crops in a sort of high-rise fashion in a controlled environment year-round, reducing dependence on nature’s rain and soil. This project could be also adapted into urban environments.

Collapsible / Adaptable
September 3, 2008, 2:53 pm
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Collapsibles are based on adjustment or adaptability- a mechanical method by which a thing changes form to save space or for transport. Because we are limited essentialy by cost and square footage in this project, there need to be ways to effectively use the space that we design for.The book “Collapsibles” explores the different methods by which something can collapse by folding, nesting, bellowing like an accordian, hinging, sliding, inflating, etc. Here for example, is a collapsible bench that is cleavarly imbedded into the floor of a deck. This method maximizes space outdoors and minimizes the need for furniture and storage space for them in the winter months, as the furniture is an integral part of the floor.


Wall House (Prototype)
September 3, 2008, 7:21 am
Filed under: precedents | Tags: ,

The Wall House, designed by FAR (Frohn & Rojas), located in Santiago in Chile is a low-budget home designed for a family of three. The architects define the project as an “investigation of the qualitative aspects of a wall”. By designing four sets of enclosures, they introduce a gradual separation from inside and out, blurring the boundaries of the home. Each of the layers are characterized differently in function, climate and structure, which in turn affects the “interior” spaces. By doing so, the architects challenge the notion of separation of space by walls, allowing spaces to slip. In terms of sustainability, the materials selected with the decision to essentially create a quadruple facade allows for excellent insulation. The main material utilized is Multi-wall Polycarbonate which offers a diffused light and good insulative qualities bringing comfort to the space. Its HVAC system also uses far less energy than conventional systems by utilizing gas-powered radiant heating and PEX hoses for cooling. The total cost of the home in 2007 was about $147,00.

The architects have further developed this idea into a potential prototype because of strong encouragement from the client and critics alike. FAR offers their services to evolve the idea of the Wall House based on personal need, building codes, climate, etc. calling the project “Your Wall House”. It is currently at an experimental phase via internet.

FAR’s website had more detailed drawings and models of this project.

Gray Water Recycling System
September 3, 2008, 5:50 am
Filed under: Material/Building Systems | Tags:

The BRAC System collects and filters water from the shower, laundry, and sink, and re-routes the water to be recycled for toilet use or irrigation. The BRAC water filter can be integrated to filter harvested rain water. The system saves about one-third of the total household water usage. It is installed by a plumber and can easily be integrated into an existing plumbing system. And while gray water is typically delivered to the filter by gravity, it is still possible to use it in a single-story residence by utilizing a sump basin to collect the gray water and a sump pump to send it through the filter.

A 39 gallon tank, appropriate for a residence of three people, costs approximately $1,800.

Clovelly House
September 3, 2008, 4:24 am
Filed under: Material/Building Systems, precedents | Tags: ,

This home in Australia encompasses a natural backyard water-treatment plant that collects and stores about 800 gallons of rain water. Alongside rainwater, the system collects gray water and naturally cleans it via a “green wall” developed by Kennedy Associates Architects. The water is then recycled through the home to fulfill various tasks. With all of these systems in place, the family is able to collect all the water on-site and recycle it down to watering their plants and flushing the toilet. The space utilized to perform these functions also enables the residents to have a small pool area. Excess storm water is drained into a sump tank and allowed to percolate through the soil naturally. This natural system has allowed the residents to use 75% less fresh water. The only demand on the municipal water system is that which is used for drinking and cooking. According the an article on Dwell, the entire system cost $12,000, but one which has saved them money long-term and reduced their environemental impact in an especially arid climate.