Hey Architects, Can You Design a 100-Mile House?

ezioman/CC BY 2.0

Log cabins, igloos, stone houses, and caves -- historically, most homes were constructed from the materials available in the surrounding area. But is it still possible to build a hyper-local house in the modern, urbanized world?

Riffing on the once-trendy "100-Mile Diet" (and the subsequent 100-Mile Cafe, 100-mile diet bike tour, 100-mile bathroom...), the Architecture Foundation of British Columbia has issued a challenge to architects, designers, students, and anyone else who thinks they're up to the task: Design an environmentally sustainable and aesthetically pleasing four-person home "using only materials and systems made/manufactured/recycled within 100 miles of the City of Vancouver."

Search For Prototypes
Entrants in the global competition, which kicked off this month and closes to submissions April 26, are encouraged to ignore costs and Vancouver-specific building codes and focus on creating "prototypes that could be modified and the ideas exported to any geographic area."

For inspiration, the Fast Company innovation blog Co.Exist points to an igloo-like Chilean home "made out of recyclable glass, steel, and aluminum, as well as local stone and cypress wood from fallen trees," and to companies that specialize in locally sourced building materials.

Earthbag Homes
Another model might be the off-grid earthbag home built by a British woman using dirt from her own 6,500-square-foot plot of land near Turkey's Mediterranean coast.

"Humans have been using earth to build homes for centuries," the woman, Kerry Bingham, told the Abu Dhabi-based newspaper The National. "We've forgotten what a durable and healthy material earth can be."

The only question is, how far did Bingham have to go to get the polypropylene bags she used to hold the dirt?

Tags: Architecture | Green Building | Turkey | Vancouver

Best of TreeHugger