A new way of dwelling, building, interpreting homes
From renovation to brand-news buildings, the creativity and the innovative push of architecture has no boundaries.
Among the examples of the resourcefulness of this sector stands the initiative launched by Airbnb to support innovative projects or the ascent of shipping-container architecture.
New ways of dwelling the private spaces of houses are catching on, as well as new ways of interpreting design itself. Those schemes mentioned above are not simply fleeting trends but rather tangible symptoms that a new culture -one that aims to tackle social, political, and ecological problems- is gaining a foothold in our lives.
The sustainable greenhouses by Hague and van Aubel
Eliza Hague and Marjan van Aubel have proven that the creative potential of architecture can be used to address environmental issues. Design student Eliza Hague created a concept of inflatable greenhouses made out of bamboo paper. Hague’s idea stemmed from the desire to find a solution to help and support residents of Jaipur grow their own food, as Natasha Hitti recently discussed.
Hague seeks to encourage the inhabitants of Jaipur to reduce their meat consumption, which is quite an ambitious project when taking into account that 71% of people living in India have a meat-based diet.
Hague’s greenhouses are made from shellac-coated bamboo, a sustainable and durable material specifically developed by the designer for her project. Hauge envisions that the bamboo-paper greenhouses will be connected to shared houses made of soil.
This would create communal “greenhouse villages” in the most isolated areas of Jaipur. In an earlier article, Hitti presented Marjan von Auble’s project, by emphasising how it tackles the issue of food shortage instead.
The Dutch designer has developed a hydroponic rooftop greenhouse that generates solar energy. The structure created by the designer, going by the name of Power Plant, makes use of solar glass panels to maintain an indoor temperature and to bolster an integrated hydroponic system and specifically coloured LEDs.
$1M for ten groundbreaking ideas.
“Unusual shapes, unexpected locations, immersive concepts, spaces with a story”. Airbnb, the online rental company portal, founded in 2007 by Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia, and Nathan Blecharczyk, launched its $1M Unique Fund to find and help finance the 10 most unconventional and unusual liveable spaces on the planet. Due to the COVID-19 emergency, Airbnb has shelved its Fund and is envisioning the possibility to reopen to entries again in 2021.
Discovering extraordinary homes designed by famous architects
Airbnb has always supported creativity through a number of initiatives. In collaboration with the Louvre, the rental platform gave the opportunity to win an exclusive night at the museum. Among the most incredible experiences offered by Airbnb we shall mention the possibility to rent designer houses, such as Rotterdam Cube House. The Kubuswoningen complex, designed by Piet Blom in the 1980s, was born to challenge conventions, and more specifically those ideas according to which “a building must be recognisable as a house in order to be classified as accommodation”.
Eppstein House features among the many architecture gems available for rent on Airbnb. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1947 under the commission of scientists Samuel and Dorothy Eppstein, it is part of a residential community project which includes 21 homes built on a circular parcel of land.
Wright also designed the Bernard (and Fern) Schwartz House in Wisconsin. The architect and designer wanted to create a “dream house”. His gem was designed as part of the 1938 LIFE magazine “Eight Houses for Modern Living” project. Among the other unique and spectacular houses to rent on Airbnb, we find the luxurious flat in Stefano Boeri’s Bosco Verticale, or ‘vertical forest’, with a balcony covered in greenery. The Muralla Raja, a postmodern apartment complex in Calpe was designed by the architect Ricardo Bofill who, in turn, took inspiration from the North African casbahs.
The Off-grid itHouse is another of these gems. Designed in 2007 by the Taalman Architecture studio, the house is 100% eco-friendly, and brings together raw industrial aesthetics with the tactics of green design. It is situated in the California high desert. Kurokawa House, located in a “kipuka” and immersed in nature, was designed by Craig Steely Architecture.
Modular and Container Architecture
Recent approaches and new developments in architecture reveal a trend towards “upcycling” — the use of recycled and upcycled material, such as shipping containers, to build houses, hotels, and shops. Starbucks is one of the first multinationals attracted to this concept and in 2018 opened a store in Hualienbay (Taiwan). The branch is made from 29 large shipping containers painted white and stacked at random to create different levels and a number of terraces. The architecture, Kengo Kuma, commented on his project:
“ I strongly believe this is a new, more sustainable way of understanding architecture”.
The volume “Container Atlas: A Practical Guide to Container Architecture” published by Gestalten, testifies to the enormous and sudden development of container architecture projects, by including and commenting on the most visionary recent examples. The Joshua Tree Residence by the English architect James Whitaker is one of these. The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2020, and consists in a 200mq house of 200 sqm, to be built atop the vast Californian mountainside.
In 2006, Freitag opened its store in Zurich, made of 19 containers that form a tower. Designed by Spillmann Echsle Architekten, the building is now one of the most iconic of the ex-industrial neighborhood of Kreis 5.
In addition to the digressions on architecture, Container Atlas investigates the factors that, over the years, have led to the designing and building of container buildings all over the world. These laminated structures manage to perfectly combine functionality and aesthetics, tackling in a concrete way the most crucial environmental issues that the field of design is called to act upon.