Images by B. Alter
Grand Designs Live is a biiiiig show, covering every aspect of home design: building products, gardens, interior design, technology and show homes. It's a great place to gather ideas and information and it is quite environmental in its outlook.
If you are yearning for a room/office/hideaway of your own, this Archipod could be the answer--nestled at the back of your garden, far from the maddening crowd. It is a pre-fab made from timber with glass-wool insulation from recycled bottles.
The O-Pod is a not-so-sleek variation. It is a round structure that comes in different sizes and can be plunked at the back of the garden to be used as an office, or playhouse for a lucky child. It is covered with wood shingles, or recycled plastic slate shingles, is highly insulated and has a long life span. It is surprisingly roomy inside, with room for a desk and chairs and has alot of natural light. Not the most gorgeous looking thing, but very useful and green.
This year's show homes featured two very different green houses. The first, called the Pilotis, by Gaukroger and Partners, is an experimental pod made from English chestnut shingles and standing on Douglas Fir stilts. It has been used as part of a school and for holiday houses.
It is built of locally sourced products; mainly from timber and has decks made from a composite of recycled plastic milk bottles and wood shavings. The one on show is a one bedroom, with one kitchen and one living room, suitable as a holiday retreat by a lake or in a forest. It is very low tech. and highly insulated. A private school has used three for class rooms. It looks very woodsy and inviting from the outside and the interior is spacious although you wouldn't want too many rainy days... It costs approximately £65,000 ($US 98,000).
By contrast, the Ecohome, by Eco Modular Living, is designed to be affordable housing: several City Councils have bought them for tenants to live in on a temporary basis whilst Council housing is being renovated. Or they could be a good starter home. Made out of 4 recycled containers, they are very portable as they sit on screw piles. They can be set up on their own, or as part of row housing. They have a number of options that can be added to make them even more environmental. For example a peaked or flat roof, suitable for planting, solar water heating and rainwater harvesting.
They have 2 bedrooms, a large bathroom and a smallish ground floor. They sell for £95,000 ($US 143,000) or rent from $900. a month. Since the system is modular they can be used for schools, classrooms and larger houses.
And a word of praise for Cafe Direct: they have their stand in a container and the chairs are made out of the jute coffee bean bags. It's portable, green and fair trade, what more could you ask.