You might remember back in 2020 the ‘controversy’ around Gigi Hadid’s New York apartment, when the supermodel posted pictures of her recently transformed home on Instagram. Giant pen sculptures lent against walls, coloured penne entrapped in glass kitchen cupboard doors, and garish cushions, were quickly etched into the minds of her 68 million followers. Despite the internet’s outcry exclaiming Gigi’s apparently perplexing taste in interiors, one follower tweeted “Gigi Hadid’s inedible dyed pasta cabinet facades ruined my day”, it begged the question: if she likes it, what does it matter? Our homes are an extension of ourselves, a representation of our imaginations, and to some degree, represent the values by which we live our lives. With the recent increased awareness around sustainability, homeowners are asking themselves what impact, both positive and negative, their home will have on the environment? aware_ presents five eco-homes, well four houses and one hotel, that reject mediocre design practices and an increasing demand on energy production, instead celebrating an unadorned connection between the occupation of the land and the environment outside.
Jersey, the largest of all the channel islands, is renowned for its rugged beauty, with cliffside walking trails and secret caves sliced into the rocks. It is within the Jersey Coastal National Park that the award-winning architects, Guz Architects, were briefed to design the unique home, Logie Point. The brief demanded a structure built “into the rugged headland site, be environmentally sustainable, be homely and yet make the most of the spectacular views” (Archello). By sinking the structures into the topography of the exposed headland, the architects were able to place accessible roof gardens on top of the house. Aside from complementing the surrounding landscape, the added green space contributes “to the overall greenery and biodiversity of the site” (Archello). In order to meet sustainable building standards, Logie Point was fitted “with a highly insulated envelope, air-source heat pumps, as well as photovoltaic cells integrated into the roof together with Tesla Powerwall batteries to allow the house to survive off-grid” (Archello). The end result is truly spectacular with the green roofs reaching out seamlessly to greet the sea and an expanse of solar panels that look almost like the ocean’s surface. This cutting-edge home designed by Guz Architects was awarded the “Jersey Design Awards 2019 for the best large-scale development (residential or other) in the UK” (Guz Architects).
The Olive House is a breathtaking build, with central water courtyards (filled with luscious plants and foliage) for respite from the hot, humid temperatures of Singapore, where the house has been built. In keeping with Guz Architects belief that their work should “help neutralise the effect of global warming” (Guz Architects), steel was used to construct the columns and roof structure due to its lighter carbon footprint. The roof itself was built using aluminium, “to reduce solar gain, before being topped off with a large array of photovoltaic cells” (Guz Architects). According to an article by Tatler magazine, the founder, Guz Wilkinson, grew up in a 600-year-old house in the UK so his work with modern materials springs from a deep understanding of long-lasting design. Despite the Olive House existing as a modern construction, the build feels saturated in an understanding for timeless, durable design; complete with a total, uncompromising appreciation for the natural world.
White Pod Hotel
Luxury hotels are the epitome of decadence: a towel twisted into a swan, chocolates waiting on the pillow. But with no golf cart standing ready to whisk you off to dinner, the White Pod Hotel in Switzerland is not your typical luxury weekend getaway. In fact, the hotel ask that you walk by foot over the green pastures from the reception to your room, all the whilst taking in the breathtaking views. Sustainable principles define the DNA of this unique hotel experience; each guest resides in a geodesic dome for the duration of their stay. Alone the structure of these unique domes is inherently efficient, according to research “they need no intermediate columns or supporting walls” (The Guardian). Originally the domes were designed for “inexpert hippies” but as a reaction against the use of oil, architects favour that the domes require 33%-50% less energy than conventional houses. In addition to this, the pods at the hotel are heated solely by a pellet stove, all waste generated by the hotel is recycled, and ingredients are purchased locally. The White Pod Hotel not only invites guests to think more carefully about their day-to-day consumption but also invites each guest to play an active role in its sustainable mission.
Cal-Earth, the non-profit organisation founded by the late Nader Khalili, is “committed to providing solutions to the human need for shelter through research, development, and education” (Cal-Earth). The number of displaced people globally currently stands at 20-40 million, Cal-Earth envisions “a world in which every person is empowered to build a safe and sustainable home with their own hands, using the earth under their feet” (Cal-Earth). Using “ancient building techniques to create resilient, affordable dwellings” (Homes and Gardens), Khalili spent 30 years developing the now infamous igloo-like structure, the Superadobe, built using “bags filled with adobe to form a compression structure” (Wikipedia). Earthbags have been used for decades, particularly during wartimes, to create bunkers and barriers. The bags are laid in coils to create load-bearing walls that rise as high as fifteen feet, then spiral inward to form a domed roof (Bidoun). After this, “strands of barbed wire are threaded through the bags to secure the layers and stabilise the walls” (Bidoun). These methods are both cheaper than mortar and require a base level of skill. The end result is incredibly powerful, with four people able to construct a Superadobe shelter in a day, and the structures provide protection: the houses “are fireproof, hurricane-proof, and earthquake-resistant” (Homes and Gardens).
Marc Koehler Architects, the brains behind Dune House, describe the house as “a rough diamond embedded into the dunescape” (Koehler Architects). This extraordinary home appears to rise from the sand and grasses, an undefinable mass simultaneously melting into the sky above, and sliding across the terrain.
“Unfolding along a spiral route, the split-level interior reflects the experience of wandering through the dunes, where the atmosphere changes from sheltered to open with uninterrupted sea views.”
– Marc Koehler Architects
Dune House has been designed with empathy for the environment in which it was built. Its understanding of nature extends beyond the visual elements, embracing sustainable practices in its construction. So as to have as little impact on the surrounding environment as possible, Dune House was built using modular components, prefabricated off-site. Additionally, this private home has been “fitted with passive heating, solar panels, and a biomass fireplace” (Latitude); sustainable architecture at its most considered, careful and curious.
by Eliza Edwards