It's no secret that the folks at Inhabitat are big fans of prefabricated homes, and not without reason. Prefab houses can be assembled on site in very little time and with highly reduced production waste compared to old-school building methods. Of course, this also leads to reduced production costs, something we really can't complain about.
But the features of zeroHouse are enough to make EcoGeek stand up with Inhabitat and salute. All the power for the house comes from that wing-like protrusion at the top. The solar panels up there provide more than enough sunlight on a regular day and on a full charge, you can go for an entire week with no sun at all. Additionally, the rainwater cistern can hold 2,700 gallons (10,220 liters) of water which is distributed by gravity to the various rooms of the house, nixing the need for any pumps. There's also a composting system in place that takes care of organic waste. I'd like to express some level of concern over the "house brain" they refer to as the system that controls how the whole house works, though. As a geek and fan of a certain science-fiction film, "house brains" make me uncomfortable.
Sadly, now I have to ruin it by complaining a little.
One of my favourite features of prefab homes is the chance of properly modular buildings. If I had my way, I'd sit on a computer and put a future house together in a lego-like fashion from parts available to me. An assembly crew would come next week and, over the next couple of days, they'd assemble all the pieces. Hey presto: New, fully customised house for me! If I wanted another room later on, I'd order an extra module and they'd come and slide it on to the rest of the construction.
So why don't Specht Harpman ever make these kinds of houses? They call the various levels of the house "modules," because that's obviously how it's assembled. Why not expand on that and make it properly modular? They obviously have the know-how to create both well-designed and sustainable houses. But to me, it looks more like the lego airplane my two-year-old nephew made this Christmas than a home built for nature lovers. Their design has the effect of making the house look like an intrusion on the otherwise serene landscapes. The house even looks like it wants to fly away from the scenes, perched with those solar panels sticking out like wings (Right above the patio, I might add!) ready for take-off.
Don't get me wrong, it has a lot of awesome ideas and features within it, they're just wrapped too tightly in "master architect" pretensions and impersonal design choices.
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