Update: Alex Michaelis' Underground Green House
A big "thank you" to reader Chris Miller for pointing out that the Telegraph has a more in depth article about Alex Michaelis' green underground house which we recently posted about. The best part of the Telegraph piece is the photos; more of them than in the CNN article, and they really give a sense of how cool and "child-centric" the house is with its slide built next to the staircase and its kid-sized indoor pool. See below for pictures and more details.
By digging down 22 feet, he has created an airy, fashionable, five-bedroom dream of a house - all bright white surfaces and light coming at you from every direction. In order to stop the house feeling like a 21st-century dungeon, or one of those "garden flats" that lurk, damp and unloved, at the bottom of period conversions, he has created a liberal amount of "sub-terraces" which act as lightwells. In addition, there is a vast rooflight in the living room and smaller cousins, on the patio that surrounds the house, which lure as much sunshine as possible into the basement bedrooms.
However, it does have a more earnest agenda. Michaelis was concerned about making the home's outgoings as sustainable as possible and so the walls and glass are as insulating as they can be and the roof, a glorious field of sedum and thyme, also retains heat.
Over the carport he has arranged one flank of solar panels that fuel his wife's electric car and another set that works a heat pump to bring water 300ft up from his specially sunk borehole. This arrangement provides all the house's hot water - including that for the pool and underfloor heating - and a filtration system means that the water can also be drunk (it is slightly sparkling and delicious). "I wanted to show that you don't have to wear sandals to do this sort of thing," says Michaelis.
Unfortunately, this commitment to eco-friendliness has resulted in a utility room that resembles the control deck of a submarine - huge Heath Robinson pipes circle the ceiling space, there are giant tanks and something that appears to be entirely lagged in silver foil like a bad Doctor Who prop - but it does mean that the house has surprisingly green credentials.
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