PHANTOM HOUSE

Green architecture

The New York Times Magazine

2007

While the environmental movement focuses public consciousness to the delicate and vulnerable state of our environment, “green” architecture is hardening into a new orthodoxy characterized by a lifestyle of guilt and sacrifice. Green architecture often stands at odds with the American Dream and the promise that a lifetime of hard work will be rewarded with prosperity and material comforts. Do we have to accept a reversal of this dream to be good global citizens? The project for print, commissioned by the New York Times Magazine, proposes a green architecture that satisfies our quest for the good life while compensating for it. Conceived in collaboration with Atelier Ten, this single-family house sits on an elevated 2-acre lot overlooking a rapidly growing city in the southwest. It is a living, thinking organism; a sophisticated desert dweller that dynamically adapts to its harsh and variable environment. The house comprises twin domiciles, an indoor conditioned house that hovers above its outdoor counterpart. Function-for-function, the two levels mirror one another. Redundancy is introduced as a new form of efficiency. The doubling of domestic functions allows for use and location to be determined according to climatic conditions, thus reducing the need for 24/7 climate control. A comfort shadow tracks the movements of inhabitants and anticipates their needs and preferences. Body and house becomes an intertwined single organism; energy salvaged from domestic activities is banked and used for domestic services as needed. The project assumes a “soft ownership” in which the home is connected to larger economic and ecological systems in a production-consumption cycle.

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