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A typical house has a roof, walls, and a foundation; in building science, they’re called the “building envelope”.  The building envelope protects the structure from the elements (sun, wind, rain, damage, etc.), and it also keeps the inhabitants warm.  Unfortunately, most builders don’t pay attention to building science, so many houses experience problems with leaks and mold, not to mention the constant maintenance necessary to keep a building from deteriorating.  A “rain screen” is relatively new technique being used in residential construction, where the structure and insulation are separated from the exterior skin of the building.  This allows moisture and air to circulate without compromising the thermal performance of the building envelope.  

Taking this concept one step farther, I’d like to separate the skin from the structure entirely, so it can move and shift to accommodate its ever-changing surroundings (sun, wind, rain, etc.).  This skin could deflect winter winds, follow the sun moving across the sky, or even open up to collect rainwater.  Here’s some of my inspiration:

cuttysark1http://www.basestructures.com/portfolio.php?pfname=Cutty-Sark

ignacios_elevationhttp://www.boston.com/business/technology/gallery/homestocome?pg=3

Hoberman is the best: http://hoberman.com/portfolio/transformablecanopy.php?myNum=21&mytext=Transformable+Canopy&myrollovertext=Transformable+Canopy&category=architecture&projectname=Transformable+Canopy

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5 Comments

  1. GOOD FOR YOU STEVE!!! I know its hard times for everyone, but I like to hear that you are standing up for what you believe in, and that you are willing to take a risk. I think in the long run, that will be good for you. I like this concept of a protective cover to go over homes as they are being built. I have been recently dealing with a TON of structural issues in my condo, including a very leaky window, and masonry that is falling off the outside wall. And the place is all of 7 years old.

    Anyway. I hope your project goes well, and that you have fun!

  2. Admirable and fascinating, Steve.

    • Thank you!

  3. So, wait. You want to live in a yurt, right? Everything old is new again….

    • I think the perfect scenario for the future would be a symbiotic balance of traditional techniques/materials and modern technology. Have you read “Ecotopia” by Ernest Callenbach? It’s required reading if you live in Berkeley! Check it out.


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