FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Monday, March 14, 2005

A High-Tech Home With a Good Pedigree

The German engineering firm Werner Sobek Ingenieure has designed a radical high-tech house that not only pushes the limits of technology, but also minimizes material and energy needs.

As the firm itself explains:

It is our firm conviction that modern buildings should not only represent the latest technologies, but also minimise the use of resources, be light, transparent and designed and built with a view to easy dismantling and recycling. Minimising the use of resources means using as little material as possible in the construction of a building, minimising the energy demand of the building over its lifetime and, if possible, making all construction materials recyclable.

The house, named "R 129," uses lightweight construction from plastics and titanium, and lots of transparency. It is also round, to optimize usable space. The "skin" of the house features a "low e" coating that reflects heat in the summer and retains it in the winter. Indead of fixed walls, residents can arrange cells to create "rooms" as they see fit. And when the residents don't care to be on public display, they can activiate an electrochromatic foil envelope that also contains solar cells. A carbon floor regulates temperature year-round.

However revolutionary R 129 might seem to those who prefer faux mansions in developments with aristocratic names like "Wellington Estates," R 129 has clear roots in the designs of Buckminster Fuller, and even The Jetsons. In fact, R 129 seems to be an updated version of Fuller's groundbreaking 1946 Dymaxion House. But if a few of these are built, have demonstrable energy and space-utilization benefits, and even sold, it could have an impact on designers of more traditional homes, encouraging them to explore different construction techniques.

Source: we make money not art