HOUS.E+ by Polifactory HOUS.E+ © Polifactory

Rammed earth house

Ecohome Sept. 2, 2012, 4:24 p.m.
Mike Reynolds

The age of cheap oil made it possible to build a home using materials from the furthest reaches of the earth. Sustainable housing practices involve sourcing materials much closer to home.

In the age of globalization, it's hard to know where a lot of our possessions truly originate, in part because even the simplest of items can be manufactured using raw materials from multiple locations around the world.  

Housing is no different, so transportation of materials plays an enormous role in the true ecological cost of the materials we choose to build with. The cheapest flooring you can find may very well be Canadian wood, but it might have made a return trip to China for manufacturing.

Similar to the 100 mile diet which encourages people to eat local, the 100 mile house competition challenged participants to design a home that could be constructed using only local materials. This was an international competition, but the playing field was a lot in a suburban Vancouver neighbourhood.

Competitors were tasked with designing a home for four occupants, with a maximum of 1200 square feet, using only materials found within 100 miles of the city. One contender in that contest was a home designed largely using materials from the building site itself.

You probably wouldn't be alone if you were now conjuring up images of hovels made of dirt and sticks, which is not far from the truth, except that the final design is anything but a primitive dwelling.

Using dirt excavated from the site to build walls, combined with generating energy onsite and using heat from the ground beneath, the HOUS.E+ by Polifactory is an excellent example of how modern housing can reach back into the past for low impact housing solutions.

Read more at Inhabitat.com.

HOUS.E+ by Polifactory
HOUS.E+ © Polifactory
HOUS.E+ by Polifactory
HOUS.E+ © Polifactory


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