Couple Builds Net Zero Home to Age in Place

When writer and adventurer David Noland set out to build an “old man’s age-in-place home” he set his sights on harnessing as much of the sun’s energy as needed to keep him and his wife comfortable through all four seasons. “The plan was to make our house small, simple, one floor, close to the road, … Read more

Veteran Coder Builds Stone-Covered Dome Home Into Texas Hill

I usually avoid posting about projects that involve the use of lots of cement, but this underground homestead has many other features that are worth exploring. When Al Schwarz moved from upstate NY near Dallas, TX, he wanted a home with low energy bills and protection from extreme weather, so he dug into a hillside, … Read more

Retiree Builds Off-Grid Tower House in the Andes

Wendy Green spent most of her life in suburban New Jersey spending long days as a yoga teacher, so when she turned 50, she sold her house and used the proceeds to buy remote land in the Andes. In her new homestead, she built an all-wood, tall and narrow, home, installed solar, a gravity-fed water … Read more

Pushing the Structural Boundaries with Bamboo

The Luum Temple in Tulum, Mexico is a pioneering example of what happens when traditional wisdom meets modern engineering. It is designed to stand against hurricane winds and significant seismic forces. The structural system has five intersecting hyperbolic paraboloids made of bamboo arches and split bamboo beams. Due to bamboo’s lightweight nature, particular attention must … Read more

Columbia University’s Natural Materials Lab

Lola Ben-Alon sloshes water into a tray of dirt and plunges her fingers into the muck. She smears it between her hands to see if it cakes on her skin, then mashes it into a sticky lump. “You need to know how much clay is in the soil,” she says. “That’s the first criterion for … Read more

Using Natural Tree Forms in Buildings

The use of trunks or branches of trees in their entirety can accentuate their innate mechanical properties for structural stability. By embracing the grain structure and longitudinal fibers of timber, these wood pieces demonstrate strong mechanical resistance. Some engineering companies, such as Whole Trees, and architectural research institutes, such as the Architectural Association postgraduate program … Read more