in pursuit of energy efficient minimalism
I was extremely disappointed in the tone and content of the letter released by the Pritzker Prize in response to the Women in Design’s petition to recognize Denise Scott Brown. I’m also slightly shocked it’s only garnered 18,000 signatures at this point. There have been some good articles on the ensuing debate, and if anything, at least it has opened a much needed dialogue.
In response to the letter, Michael Kimmelman tweeted a point I wholly agree with.
Truth is, scores of great women architects today make the star system and its prize culture seem absurdly creaky and clueless.
— Michael Kimmelman (@kimmelman) June 15, 2013
Stemming from that was a comment that women in the profession seem to be vastly under appreciated, and when I disagreed, was asked to name a few doing strong work and receiving deserved recognition for it. So I did. These firms have been elevating the discourse in their own right. Far from comprehensive, but this assemblage includes built work that has touched, influenced or inspired me – in many cases, quite heavily. Instead of focusing on the absurd Priztker letter, I want to focus on some phenomenal projects from some incredibly talented folks.
This is really meant as a jumping off point for exploring, so enjoy the links…
Francine MJ Houben, mecanoo (AMS)
Natalie de Vries, MVRDV (AMS)
Caroline Bos, UNStudio (AMS)
Benedetta Tagliabue, EMBT (BCN)
Carme Pinos, Estudio Carme Pinos (BCN)
Rebecca Chestnutt, Chestnut_Niess Architekten (BER)
Regina Leibinger, barkow leibinger (BER)
Ute Frank, Augustin und Frank (BER)
Charlotte Frank, Schultes Frank Architekten (BER)
Louisa Hutton, sauerbruch + hutton (BER)
Brit Andresen, Andresen O’Gorman Architects (BNE)
Ann Beha, Ann Beha Architects (BOS)
Andrea Leers + Jane Weinzapfel, Leers Weinzapfel Associates (BOS)
Maryann Thompson, Maryann Thompson Architects (BOS)
Jinhee Park, Singlespeed Design (BOS)
Mariana Ibanez, I|Kstudio (BOS)
Paola Maranta, Miller + Maranta (BSL)
Anne Marie Wagner, Bachelard Wagner Architekten (BSL)
Anne Lacaton, lacaton + vassal (CDG)
Françoise-Hélène Jourda, Jourda Architectes (CDG)
Dorte Mandrup, Dorte Mandrup Arkitekter (CPH)
Lene Tranberg, Lundgaard & Tranberg (CPH)
Sofía von Ellrichshausen, pezo von ellrichshausen (CCP)
Roisin Heneghan , heneghan peng architects (DUB)
Michelle Fagan, FKL architects (DUB)
Valerie Mulvin, Mc Cullough Mulvin Architects (DUB)
Sarah Cremin, CAST architecture (DUB)
Sheila O’Donnell, O’Donnell + Tuomey (DUB)
Yvonne Farrell & Shelley McNamara, Grafton Architects (DUB)
Carme Pigem, RCR arquitectes (GRO)
Angela Brooks, brooks + scarpa (LAX)
Sharon Johnston, JOHNSTON MARK LEE (LAX)
Sarah Wigglesworth, Sarah Wigglesworth Architects (LHR)
Amanda Levete, AL_A (LHR)
Allison Brooks, Allison Brooks Architects (LHR)
Mary Duggan, Duggan Morris Architects (LHR)
Farshid Moussavi, Farshid Moussavi Architecture (LHR)
Renata Sentkiewicz, Abalos + Sentkiewicz Arquitectos (MAD)
Zahava Elenberg, Elenberg Fraser (MEL)
Julie Snow, Julie Snow Architects (MSP)
Gisue & Mojgan Hariri, Hariri + Hariri (NYC)
Amale Andraos , WORK AC (NYC)
Kate Orff, scape (NYC)
Galias Solomonoff, solomonoff architecture studio(NYC)
Wendy Evans Joseph, Cooper Joseph Studio (NYC)
Jing Liu, SO-IL (NYC)
Maya Lin, Maya Lin Studio (NYC)
Victoria Meyers, hanrahanMeyers (NYC)
Karen Fairbanks, Marble Fairbanks (NYC)
Mimi Hoang, nARCHITECTS (NYC)
Hillary Sample, MOS (NYC)
Ada Tolla, LOT-EK (NYC)
Lindy Roy, Roy design (NYC)
Annabelle Selldorf, Selldorf Architects (NYC)
Toshiko Mori, Toshiko Mori Architect (NYC)
Lise Anne Couture, asymptote architecture (NYC)
Liz Diller, diller scofidio + renfro (NYC)
Laurie Hawkinson, SMH+U (NYC)
Marion Weiss, Weiss/Manfredi (NYC)
Deborah Berke, Deborah Berke Partners (NYC)
Yui Tezuka, Tezuka Architects (NRT)
Kazuyo Sejima, SANAA (NRT)
Michelle Kaufmann, Michelle Kaufmann Studio (OAK)
Zoka Zola, Zoka Zola Architecture (ORD)
Jeanne Gang, Studio Gang (ORD)
Siv Helene Stangeland, Helene + Hard, (OSL)
Kristin Jarmund, Kristin Jarmund Arkitekter (OSL)
Kelly Bauer, Richard + Bauer (PHX)
Jennifer Luce, Luce et studio (SAN)
Anne Fougeron, Fougeron Architecture (SFO)
EB Min, Min|Day (SFO)
Rachel Neeson, Neeson Murcutt Architects (SYD)
Anne Heringer, Anne Heringer Architekten (SZG)
Meg Graham, superkül inc (TOR)
Betsy Williamson, Williamson Chong (TOR)
Patricia Patkau, Patkau Architects (VAN)
Johanna Hurme, 5468796 architecture (YWG)
Annette Gigon, GIGON/GUYER ARCHITEKTEN (ZRH)
Barbara Holzer, holzer kobler (ZRH)
Sarah Graham, agps architekten (ZRH)
Gabrielle Heachler afgh architekten (ZRH)
Marianne Burkhalter, burkhalter sumi architekten (ZRH)
Monica Ponce de Leon, MPdL Studio (formerly, co-founder of office DA)
Helena Njiric, HPNJ+ (formerly of Njiric + Njiric)
The Passivhaus gurus north of the border are planning quite the soiree for energy nerds this Autumn. They will be hosting PASSIVE HOUSE NORTH 2013, CanPHI’s first Passivhaus conference, which will take place 27-28 September 2013.
Yours truly has been invited to present, and the list of speakers is tres impressive/humbling – a veritable Who’s Who of the North American PH community. The focus will be broad (e.g. not limited to single family houses) and this is PHantastic. We are looking forward to this and are hoping to corral a number of our compañeros here in the NW to head north with us. We are, after all, one awesomely large bio-region. They’re pulling out all the stops, and Dr. Feist has been confirmed to speak as well. In case you were wondering, yes, this will be one of the highlights for North American PH movement this year.
Additional speakers include Tim McDonald of Onion Flats fame, Henry Gifford, Bronwyn Barry and one of the most prolific educators/promoters/gurus of PH we’ve ever met, Passive House Academy’s Tomas O’Leary. Covered topics will include PH affordability, cold climate difficulties, large wood structures, multi-family housing, prefab construction, high-performance window design, heat recovery ventilation, and airtightness – amongst others.
In case you were afraid to travel to BC for a single day event, fret not. The conference will take place over multiple days, and much like the PHI’s conferences, there are pregame events and a banquet on Friday night, with a presentation by Henry Gifford. I’m really looking forward to this one, folks.
Discounted/early bird registration is open til June 23rd. This has been extended to iPHA/PHnw and NYPH members – an extraordinary gesture for cross-border cross-pollinization.
So if you haven’t done it yet – here are but a few reasons you should click that registration button.
1. Vancouver is an amazing place and, unlike other locales hosting PH conferences, worth visiting. ( I’d live there if it was further from the States).
2. Top notch venue – the Westin Bayshore ain’t no armpit with dingy carpeting and smoke-laden curtains from the 70s.
3. We’ll be there, and as the unofficial black sheep of the PH community, we always bring the fun.
4. CanPHI is an organization worth supporting, especially w/ their new certification option!
5. Did we mention it is in Vancouver?
6. Latest group to join APHN!!
7. meat & bread!!
27-28 September PASSIVE HOUSE NORTH 2013
Westin Bayshore, 1601 Bayshore Drive, Vancouver, BC
5:30-7:00 PM, CAN$ $400 (members) | $550 (non-members) – includes meals/fees/taxes.
The 2013 NW Green Home Tour is this weekend from 11 am to 5 pm. Tours are open and don’t cost a thing, so come out and support your local green gurus!
Last year’s tour had some great offerings including an efficient HufHaus featuring CLT panels.
I will be at the Dwell project all day with some PH goodies and lots of info, so feel free to bring your questions! It’ll be a glorious n’ gloomy, cold day – perfect for observing the awesomeness that is Passivhaus!
More details about le Tour here (alas, it’s not really bike-able – but I know you can see a lot of ‘em that way, Jesse). There are also google maps showing locations, which can be accessed from the ecoguild. Eventually, it would be great if these events were turned into an app – with archival info/fotos/contacts stored. That way, when people are walking by in future years, they would be able to learn about the green projects around them…
‘discovery consists in seeing what everyone else has seen but understanding it for the first time’
- Albert Szent-Györgyi
Martin Holladay, Joe Lstiburek, et al like to rag on Passivhaus because it supposedly forces designers to create ‘ugly boxes’. Recently, Martin tweeted…
Fortunately, they’re not all that way – but PH designers are strangely attracted to ugly boxes
I’d say it’s not that PH designers are ‘strangely attracted to ugly boxes’ – and as we’ve pointed out, many of those boxes are actually rather stunning – it’s that designers aren’t pushing themselves. I would say it’s a combination of shoe-horning, failing to optimize, and refusing to think outside the box. What exactly do I mean by this? Well, there are a multitude of ways to ‘head fake’ a compact form into seeming more complex. Those methods can go a long way to avoiding the plethora of banal boxes – while also providing additional benefits.
It’s not like this is without precedent – for centuries, subtle shifts in finish or facade adornment have been utilized to essentially dress up a simple box. Palladio’s Villa Rotonda is essentially a cube with superimposed porticoes on all 4 sides and various accoutrement.
I do think, as designers, it’s our duty to ‘push the envelope’ – incorporating strong design and high performance. We don’t disagree with Martin’s sentiment – that there are some pretty poorly designed Passivhaus ‘boxes’ – but as we’ve previously blogged – some 90% of non-suburban projects are boxy, and most leave a lot to be desired (on top of consuming oodles of energy). Nearly all urban projects (and many suburban ones) are ‘dumb boxes’ – it’s the nature of construction. So don’t let the absurd crits of ‘boxy’ Passivhaus buildings get you down. If you want to push the envelope – you can either hire us as your designers/Passivhaus consultants … Or get creative. Here are a few approaches we like…
We’ve shown several projects on our blog that incorporate what we would call a ‘thick edge’. That is – a deep zone around the perimeter of the structure that could serve a multitude of functions. Now, I don’t mean thick walls necessarily (thought it could be, at least visually) – but rather utilization of PH walls with a 2-6′ deep space outside of them. This space could be like the ambulatory on a peripteral temple. It could be utilized for storage, or balconies, shading – a combination thereof… The possibilities are numerous, and when done well – damn, it makes for a phenomenal project. I’d say the firm that best typifies this approach is Baumschlager & Eberle – who have incorporated this approach, diagrammatically, on several award-winning, low-energy projects. Many incorporate usable exterior space and manually operated shading devices to stunning effect.
Buildings, especially houses, need storage. But does all that storage need to be located within the thermal envelope? Heck no! Can we incorporate an unconditioned space that houses waste receptacles/bikes/maintenance tools, etc? Why, yes we can! This approach has been used on a number of European PH projects, with I think the best example being bere architect’s Camden Passivhaus (PDF). The stunning entry and bike shed pulls double duty with an incredibly detailed deck. This helps to break up the massing and adds visual interest. The thermal envelope is still compact, but the thoughtful incorporation of the shed helps to create a more interesting (and functional) project.
We’ve talked about this on a number of projects – semi-conditioned or unconditioned vertical circulation can be used to break down the boxy goodness some are opposed to. We think this is a great strategy on low-rise multi family projects. Austrian low-energy gurus like Hermann Kaufmann have used this approach on a number of stunning PH and near-PH projects…
Balconies can be a great way to introduce an outdoor connection in addition to breaking up a boxy massing. They can also be a great way to shade windows and prevent overheating during warmer months. We’re huge fans of balconies that incorporate operable shading. And there is something incredible about those ‘thick edges’. Just ensure you’re not introducing any thermal bridges…
Optimizing a project (e.g. taking out thermal bridges, being smart about window/glass placement and type, etc) can allow a designer to get away with a ‘looser’ massing. That is, a rigid box may not be necessary, even in colder climates. And typology also affects the massing – single family houses have the hardest envelope requirements needed to meet Passivhaus – so pair one with a few buddies, and huddle up for resource efficiency.
Breezeways and Carports
The incorporation of a breezeway to separate the house from storage/garage /accessory structure, or the incorporation of a carport can avoid overly clunky massing. It can also introduce a phenomenal asset to the project – especially in misty climes like Seattle: useable outdoor space! A personal fave is the carport from chadbourne + doss’s wood block residence nearby on Mercer. Sweeter than a garage, especially for sporting your Tesla or EV defender 110 (drool!).
Going back to the example of older buildings – subtle shifts in finish or fenestration patterns can also do a lot to break up the monotony of a facade – especially in urban conditions. It doesn’t take much. A well-detailed rainscreen can do wonders…
So those are a few of the strategies we like. Care to add some more? Hit up the comments…
Powered by WordPress