Green dwellings

February 13th, 2004 § Comments off

Every time I see the odd green house at the corner of Dwight and Martin Luther King in Berkeley, I think covetous thoughts and ponder the advantages of homeownership. There are some condominiums going in next door with roughly the same design, and as it turns out, there’s an open house to view them on Sunday afternoon. Obviously it’s meant for people who are actually interested in buying them, but I’m sorely tempted to go anyway.

Both buildings emphasize green design, with recycled materials incorporated throughout in surprising and beautiful ways. Who would have guessed, for example, that old highway signs would make such attractive siding? The builders also use more conventional techniques, like making doors and paneling from reclaimed wood and adding fly ash, a waste product from coal-fired power plants, to their concrete. It takes real skill, though, to incorporate someone else’s trash into a building in such visible ways. (Rural Studio, an Auburn University project that builds houses in a poor part of Alabama, is probably the master of the art.)

Leger Wanaselja Architecture designed the green house and condominiums, and their other work is also spendid, both environmentally and architecturally.

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