In his book The Shape of Green, Lance Hosey said that you cannot have sustainability without beauty.
If it's not beautiful, it's not sustainable. Aesthetic attraction is not a superficial concern- It's an environmental imperative. Beauty could save the planet.
And then we have the House on the Cliff by GilBartolome Architects, in Granada, Spain. It hits a pile of TreeHugger buttons; by being buried into the side of a cliff and with 16 inches of insulation in the concrete roof, which "allows for a magnificent mix of insulation and thermal inertia." It maintains an interior temperature of 19.5°C [67°F] year round without additional heating or cooling.
The engineering of the roof is remarkable too, made with a handcrafted formwork system using deformable metal mesh. Even the concrete is local, made less than 10 km away.
The architects tell ArchDaily that there was a strong social aspect to the design:
The construction of the House on the Cliff relies heavily on craftsmanship and local labor. The house was to be built during the worst possible financial crisis on Spain, with 26% of unemployment in our country, and close to 36% unemployment rates in the region where the house was built. In this social context we decided to avoid machine made industrial construction systems and develop an architecture that is based on many hours of labor.
Even the furniture is made on site, although not exactly traditionally:
The interior bespoke furniture made with fiberglass and polyester resin are all designed through digital design software, but manufactured by hand on site, using the ancient method of "measuring from plans" and also allowing room for the workers creativity and abilities to achieve the general aesthetical goals that were discussed during the site visits.
The architects call it "a Gaudiesque contemporary cave"; I think it is perhaps the ugliest thing we have ever showed on TreeHugger, animal, vegetable or mineral, uglier even than the psychrolutes marcidus. They won't need a burglar alarm; this house just sits there and snarls at you.
But then that is just my opinion. People thought Gaudi's work was ugly too. What do you think?