A green roundhouse

According to Forbes, two architects are building a roundhouse to make it more energy-efficient. The architects claim that their 'new methodology dramatically improves all aspects of the design and construction of buildings.' Their first realization 'will be a 13,000-square-foot residence set on a 3.25-acre lot in the canyons above Beverly Hills.' It should be completed in early 2009 for a price tag of $16.5 million. With such a price, I guess the owners will have enough money to buy furniture fitting with the shape of their roundhouse. But read more...

According to Forbes, two architects are building a roundhouse to make it more energy-efficient. The architects claim that their 'new methodology dramatically improves all aspects of the design and construction of buildings.' Their first realization 'will be a 13,000-square-foot residence set on a 3.25-acre lot in the canyons above Beverly Hills.' It should be completed in early 2009 for a price tag of $16.5 million. With such a price, I guess the owners will have enough money to buy furniture fitting with the shape of their roundhouse. But read more...

The Attia's green roundhouse

You can see on the left some artistic renderings from this future roundhouse which show that "as ambient light changes, the Roundhouse's appearance changes along with it." (Credit: Eli Attia) You'll find more images in this gallery.

Eli Attia, now 71, emigrated from Israel to Chicago in 1968, and "was chief of design at Philip Johnson/John Burgee Architects in the 1970s." You can see some of the buildings he worked on on his website (Caution: this Flash-based site is not viewable with Internet Explorer; please use Firefox or other browsers).

The Forbes article explains why this round building will be so energy-efficient. "The Attias make some lavish claims for what a circular layout does for building efficiency. A Roundhouse, they calculate, delivers 150% more square feet of floor space per unit of exterior wall than a traditional home does. Yikes, how is that possible? Take a basic 40-foot-by-25-foot layout in a boxy 2,000-square-foot two-story home. Going from a rectangular to a circular floor while keeping the perimeter fixed adds only 34% to the space. Their comparison, it turns out, was based on a nearby Mediterranean-style home with many nooks and crannies that a simple rectangle doesn't have."

The Roundhouse website adds that this design provides additional benefits:

  • Much quicker and more efficient to build;
  • Minimized carbon footprint, materials use, and waste created during construction;
  • Minimized energy required to operate;
  • Far more durability;
  • More effective living and working environments;
  • Unparalleled aesthetic appeal.

As Forbes notes, the footprint of this house is not really circular. "Environmentalists will be thrilled that the Roundhouse's frame will consist not of old-growth Douglas fir but of recycled steel. The windows and steel will fit together as a 64-sided polygon; the house isn't exactly round, but it looks round from a distance. The Attias say the exterior of the house can be assembled by a seasoned crew in a week. Total construction time, from foundation to wall paint, should be under two months."

Now, let's wait until next year until this first house is built. Of course, to have a positive environmental impact, such houses would need to be considerably cheaper. And owners would have to adapt themselves to curved walls. To me, this roundhouse looks more like an expensive experiment than a way to improve our envoronment.

Sources: Forbes Magazine, March 10, 2008 issue; and various websites

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