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old tobacco farm on sunny high meadow of western MA

good place for a little architectural experimentation

today we're making earth-sheltered passive-solar with planted roof, rainwater collection, composting toilet, interior planters...

and we're making it CHEAP

better housing that costs less - affordable eco - that's the plan

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but how do you make eco affordable?

most eco-housing is MORE expensive than conventional

because it's basically conventional housing with eco tech - solar panels, geothermal systems, etc  - slapped on

 

the answer is, you CAN'T make eco affordable without rethinking and re-engineering housing from the ground up

so let's re-think:

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SUN

comes through

WINDOWS

warms

MASS

 

RAIN

drains through

GRASS

collects in

CISTERN

 

WATER

gets warmed by

FIRE

flows through

FLOOR

WASTEWATER

drains through

PLANTERS

feeds

FLOWERS

 

EARTH

shelters

HOUSE

from

WIND

 

AIR

blows through

WINDOWS

gets breathed by

HUMANS

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the problem is:
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my approach only has 3
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so I am building a little prototype of this kind of structure on my corner of the Juggler Meadow here in Leverett, MA

<<  here is the plan of the prototype

this particular building is going to be a yoga and music studio; but it will also be a way to prove and/or improve the essential technology, and assess the true economy of this way of building

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here we are in late summer 2006

 laying out the basic footprint in loose block

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poured a concrete footing where the blocks were

formed with native pine that will be reused inside the building

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rebar set in the footing

first layer of block laid

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about half way up

blocks are stacked dry - no mortar

they will be surface-bonded with a cement-fiber mix

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walls mostly up

fiber-cement bonding mix already applied (both sides)

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you want your insulation on the OUTSIDE of the walls so that the sun's heat can be absorbed by the massive walls INSIDE the building

the pink will get covered over either with earth or with fiber-cement stucco

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backfilling

the earth is the real insulation here - pink stuff is just a 2" thermal break

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here's the cistern for rooftop rainwater collection going up

this corner will eventually be 8 ft underground

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2007

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back to work

here I am with my boy up on the north wall we've started laying steel framing members between the block walls

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steel framing runs east-to-west to support roof deck runing north-to-south

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some of these suckers are pretty big

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steel framing in place

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roof deck going up

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roof deck up

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starting to get a little shape to it...

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attaching pour stop to roof edge

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pour stop all around

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fin wall extensions those extra cinderblock stacks eventually will go up and over the roof...

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covering up the pink stuff

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drainage pipes going in these will be buried in the roof slab and in the walls

here's a piece of land
now this is all well
and, again - the pink