The Venice Beach Eco Cottages
We should all be so fortunate as to be able to afford or design our own eco-friendly pads; not necessarily on the scale of a LivingHome model - which may be a bit much - but, more realistically, on the same plane as one of the myriad prefab homes we regularly feature. Karel J. Samsom and Cynthia Foster, two entrepreneurs living in Venice Beach, CA, have spent the better part of the past 8 months demonstrating just how much such a DIY approach can accomplish.
The fruit of their efforts, the Eco Cottages - individually named "Papa Hemingway Cottage," "Aunt Zoe's Place," and "Le Bébé Cottage" in a wry take off the Goldilocks fable - was completed just a few weeks ago. Samsom and Foster will offer up the cottages for rental to vacationers or long-term residents seeking a "green home experience" (we're sure the short walk to the beach won't hurt).
What is most remarkable about these cottages is that they had almost been slated for destruction in the early 1920s; the enterprising couple, spotting an opportunity to rebuild them with a sustainable focus, purchased the land and set out to fulfill their vision. Samsom explained the impetus for the project, which he undertook with the help of his wife, Cynthia, and a team of eco-minded designers, builders and suppliers, thusly:
"Today, these properties often get taken down and end up in the landfill, and make place for huge modern villas. We felt we could create an attractive alternative by rebuilding the original cottages. And we did it sustainable by reusing materials
from the site, architectural doors and windows from period houses in the area, solar power, hot water on demand, super low energy appliances, super insulation, no/low VOC paints and materials, no materials with environmental sensitivities, etc. The cottages demonstrate the combination of green, design and comfort."
He responded to a few of the criticisms frequently made of his and similar projects - the high rental/purchasing costs and supposed glut of features - by explaining that:
"In order to mainstream sustainability we have to ask people to adapt their consumption patterns systemically with a view to the balance between economy and ecology which is now disrupted (a physical impossibility in the long term).
It does not at all mean that we cannot have a spa in our garden or a car or many of the conveniences/luxuries of the present. Green does not have to mean scarcity. In fact, it is economics which preaches scarcity and ecology which shows us abundance! It means that we need to be more efficient AND cut back on the use of limited resources as well as population numbers . . . everyone should be encouraged to make up their
own balance of services and goods with a minimum of burden on the ecology."
Those of you familiar with our fondness for Steve Glenn's LivingHomes probably won't be surprised to hear that we firmly agree with him. In fact, for those of you interested in reading more about this project and the amount of sweat and labor that went into it, you can look forward to a series of posts over the coming months. For now, you can sate your thirst for more pics by heading over here.