The guys who run FreeGreen, the free homeplan website, are so smart; they could have just hired architects to do plans, and would have had to go to the trouble of deciding which architect to hire; instead they write a brief and run a competition. Now they have the work of hundreds of architects to chose from; established firms with the works in the drawer, young designers hoping to be discovered. But they are not the only ones who benefit; everyone can look, vote and learn from over 400 submissions.
The challenge was to "re-envision the typical suburban home in an ecologically conscious manner that also reflects today's modern lifestyle" in less than 1800 square feet. Other than this great rendering by Buffalo's ABStract Architecture (and a great urban infill project) let's look at sections; if you can't read the detail, click on the links to see them at Freegreen.
From an environmental and ecological point of view, the section is arguably the most important architectural drawing. It shows how the house is built, how it sits on the land, and these days, how it works with sun and air. TreeHugger regular Greg La Vardera demonstrates "three strategies to provide the right amount : An efficient and compact house design that lives larger than its size, a platform for both active and passive heating and cooling, and a highly insulated envelope that reduced energy consumption." More at Freegreen
Tess Hilgefort + Rob Busch write: "The best green technologies are those not needed. Technologies serve the purpose of overcoming that which cannot be solved naturally. The Passive-Agressive house assertively employs non-technical solution to diminish or eliminate the need for expensive technologies that quickly become obsolete and require maintenance and service."
Amen to that. More at Freegreen
It is a perspective and not a true section, but says a lot about the simple strategies that Winnipeg's House 5 uses to build a passive house on a tight urban lot. More at Freegreen
Serpa + Lee of Durham, NC is an alliance of an architect and an ecological engineer, and it shows. "the result avoids the design of houses with added "Green systems" and as opposite seeks for the design of programmatic events around Eco-Systems. "
You could spend an hour trying to figure out the water systems; forget houses, these guys could plumb the International Space Station. More at Freegreen
Finally, Garrett.vanLeeuwen+Nick.Pierotti of the Inertia Design Collaborative, who note that "not all environmental systems have to be costly. We have employed a number of strategies that will save the homeowner money and energy in the long run." More at Freegreen.
Go to Freegreen and vote for your favourites before March 18, but really, in this competition everybody wins; the designers get great exposure, FreeGreen gets a house, and we get to learn from so many interesting submissions.