Malcolm Wells, Pioneer of Underground Housing, 1926-2009


Another type of building is emerging: one that actually heals the scars of its own construction. It conserves rainwater- and fuel- and it provides a habitat for creatures other than the human one. Maybe it will catch on. Maybe it won't. We'll see.

that is how Malcolm Wells described his earth-sheltered buildings, which didn't quite catch on as big as they should have, even though they made so much sense. He called it "gentle architecture" that would "leave the land no worse than you found it."
urban housing

Bill McDonough puts in a few words in the New York Times obituary:

"As a thinker, he was a hidden jewel," said William McDonough, an architect and the author, with Michael Braungart, of "Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things," an environmental-design manifesto."In the world of what has become known as green building," Mr. McDonough added, "Malcolm Wells was seminal, actually inspirational, for some people, me included."


even gas stations can be built underground.

Some quotes from Malcolm Wells:

"...We live in an era of glitzy buildings and trophy houses: big, ugly, show-off monsters that stand--or I should say stomp--on land stripped bare by the construction work and replanted with toxic green lawns. If the buildings could talk they would be speechless with embarrassment, but most of us see nothing wrong with them, and would, given the opportunity, build others like them, for few of us realize that there's a gentler way to build.


...A building should consume its own waste, maintain itself, match nature's pace, provide wildlife habitat, moderate climate and weather and be beautiful. That's a series of pass/fail evaluation criteria...."

Malcolm Wells, dead at 83. More information on his website. Read also the obituary he wrote for himself (pdf here)

Tags: Architects | Designers

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