Wednesday, 17 October 2012

"A New Vision For Sustainable Urban Housing Combines Technology With Open Spaces

The Canopea project from France is looking to take this trend further by marrying the high technology aspects of sustainability--smart grids, super efficient heating and cooling, and sustainable mobility--with the natural advantages of earthen walls, rooftop gardens, and indoor vegetation.
Canopea’s “nanotower” design (which won Europe’s Solar Decathlon competition), essentially stacks modular small single family homes on floors with plenty of open spaces and vegetation. It tries to combine the efficiency and convenience of urban living with some of lure of leafy suburbs. The nanotowers’ co-housing-style dwellings offer personal sleeping and bathing quarters, with shared cooking, laundry, garden, and recreation spaces. The design maxes out at 10 floors, to keep thing dense yet manageable.
So far, the prototype--just the top housing floor and a common space level have been built--has taken top honors in European competitions. But the Canopea team from the French region of Rhone-Alpes is set to see how far it can take it.
The biggest catch may still be the cost. Like many homes pushing the sustainable envelope, it doesn’t come cheap. Although the team hasn’t released the costs of Canopea’s construction, similar projects such as the Leaf House ran around half a million dollars. A response to these high prices (generally in connection with large nation competitions such as the Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon) has been a new breed of competitions for sustainable homes the make cost a primary consideration. To wit, the Rocky Mountain Institute is now launching its own solar home competition, to encourage permanent green homes, at affordable prices, in cities around the country. Sustainable houses won’t mean much if only a few people can live in them."

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