Entry Title: "
Interstice Architects, Inc.
Category: Professional, Build
Designer(s): Arjun Bhat
Since 2009 over half of the worlds population resides in cities, and this number is on the rise. The urban dwelling must be the vanguard of impactful green thinking and practices. The mission of designers must be to build a residential prototype consistent with the demands of a world no longer at our material disposal. The Green House of tomorrow must explore every avenue of design innovation from materials, energy, systems, and construction practices, to reclamation, resource efficiency, and lifestyle choices. Living Green is more than a applique of technologies applied to design, it is a way to be, think, build, and dwell.
The Mission:House is a domestic experiment in design and building practice. Green experiments range from construction waste reclamation and recycled material integration, to passive energy reliance, renewable resource integration, and urban agriculture.
The house is a two-story mixed use hybridizing residence integrating home with office thus eliminating the commute and inviting the community in for formal commercial uses, pop-up shop retail, and gallery space. The main residential space sits above. Located in the diverse Mission neighborhood of San Francisco, the house is both the home and living laboratory for the designers, who have made it their personal trial grounds for green materials, light, passive energy, and unorthodox construction techniques. The project represents a ten year experiment through which sustainability was understood not merely as measurable product but also a process. A methodology that integrated material choices, systems, scope, and morphology has resulted in a design to which sustainable thinking was not just applied but woven into the very formal language of the building. Experiments range from floors of expansive steel plates, walls of thermal plastics, and magnetic closet/display walls, to integrated passive energy strategies, ingenious waste-stream material reclamation, home agriculture and high-tech thermal & solar power collection.
The ground floor access to both units is through a faade of shingled glass built entirely of reclaimed material, creating an unusual GREENskin of refracted light filtered through superimposed frames. The lower unit opens up through a sliding recycled thermal plastic faade onto a rear yard containing a translucent garden-shed/play-house and an FSC certified wood tiled deck nestled between a swath of drought tolerant swaying grasses and a tall harvestable bamboo grove. The studio interior is divided by a 50-foot long wall of sliding pin-up/doors which smartly double the function of the space by reconfiguring to reveal library shelving, storage and service rooms, a conference space, and kitchenette.
The open interior upstairs breathes light deep into its core where an operable skylight stretches across the house letting in the sky (and rain) allowing for passive ventilation of the entire space to balance solar gain from the rear 30-foot tall corrugated thermal plastic faade which looks into the canopy of the timber bamboo grove. The tree bamboo shades the double skin corrugated plastic trombe-wall that acts as a seasonal heat collector/dissipater on the south facing wall of the structure. The active air circulation system of the home draws in winter air warmed by the passive thermal system and re-distributes it throughout the building. In summer, the horizontal corrugations act as louvers to deflect light energy, while the wall itself opens up to ventilate excess heat through the passive thermal chimney designed into the homes morphology. In this way the buildings morphology considers the natural seasonal cycles and is responsibly manipulated to absorb or shield solar gain.
Landscape & Community Involvement
The landscape is designed as a harvestable productive garden, energy regulation system, and aesthetic amenity. Planted of native and non-native adaptive species the landscape is designed to be entirely drought tolerant - from the permeable planted streetscapes in the public right of way at the front of the building to the rear yard grove plantings. Permeable street plantings (accomplished by applying for and receiving a neighborhood challenge grant) were also the focus of a neighborhood involvement effort. The importance of community participation in the landscapes construction was the result of a re-assessment of how sustainability should be more than a laundry list of green technologies; rather, it is also a method of collaboration so that small scale interventions may eventually serve to achieve larger scale work and longer lasting goals.
Site water management was also a critical point of interest for the projects sustainable design strategy. All of the productive rear and roof agricultural plantings are subsurface drip irrigated. The natural soil profile was exploited by design to reservoir the water in a natural subsurface clay bowl before draining to a subsurface collector. Grey water reuse was employed to siphon bath water into two 30 gallon reservoirs which then drain gradually into the street plantings. The sustainable site extends to the roof to regain the lost footprint of the urban lot as an energy and food producing surface. The reconfigured roof integrates an organic vegetable garden, hot tub, and green roof as well as a 4.5 Kwatt photo-voltaic array into a ship-like topography of modular wood tiles.
Recycled + Reclaimed Materials
Recycling on the macro scale, the original 1890s structure was recycled and rehabilitated, boasting a new central vacuum system, prefabricated cabinetry, recycled materials, and new insulation. On the street side of the building, the original turn of the century residential Edwardian faade is restored to float above the re-claimed glass storefront, which extends down from it to the street like a skeletal hoop skirt. This GREENskin is an installed prototype for a permanent storefront glazing system made entirely of re-claimed insulated glazing units (IGUs) salvaged from the local construction industry and reassembled to create a new glass shingle shop-front. The system seamlessly receives the random shapes, sizes, colors, and thicknesses of this ubiquitous waste stream material, to create a continuous weather-proof skin at street level.
Five horizontal steel shelves are stretched across the entire facade set at varying offsets, which reduce vertically as they ascend. This allows the IGUs to be overlapped like glass shingles, creating a fish-scale faade of transparent salvaged units. The vertical modulation allows for larger units at the bottom, and smaller units at the top, all leaning into the system like frames on display shelves. Two existing entry door openings are accommodated into the airtight reclaimed skin. The minimal steel assembly is 75% recycled content and the IGUs are 100% reclaimed material.
The salvaged units are arranged and rotated to create the most continuous horizontal skin possible across each shelf. FSC-certified wood is used for the doors and infill strips at edge conditions. The geometry, color, transmittance, and reflective quality of the individual found units varies widely producing an unexpected play of light and shadow across the GREENskins surface, tinting views through a Mondrian-like structure of intersecting frames and reflections.
|About the Company:
Interstice Architects was founded in 2000 by architect Andrew Dunbar and landscape architect Zoee Astrakhan. After years of working in separate disciplines, the arbitrary distinctions were just too constraining, so Interstice was born as a multidisciplinary firm of architects, landscape architects urban designers and visual artists. Over the past ten years, this critical practice has grown designing public and private spaces on projects of multiple scales, focused on the broadest possible interpretation of the constructed realm.
As an integrated practice, IA combines professional services concentrating the experience of these shared disciplines to create a civic minded practice, where all staff are active citizens and advocates for better communities. Working with private clients, City Agencies, Redevelopment Agencies, Task Forces and other institutional organizations we design collaborations rather than dictating solutions, viewing constraints as opportunities, we reach for the unexpected by exposing root problems. Personally and professionally, we reside in the city and create from an immersed point of view. Our work is inspired by constant research into the urban condition and those idiosyncratic social, historical and ecological aspects that make each project challenging and distinctive.
IA is a collaborative of civic-minded individuals that embrace sustainability as integral to lasting and relevant planning and design. As designers, educators and urban activists, we strive to imbue material and space with identity, to create simple and sustainable solutions through intelligent infrastructures. We are material explorers and strategists prioritizing long term, fundamental change: creating solutions where things not only appear different, they are different.
Collaborating closely with our diverse clients, from private residential, to institutional and civic agencies, IA works without walls, in a very big room, with lots of extra chairs...
* 2011 Green Awards - 1st Place Winner - Product Category
* 2011 Green Awards - 1st Place Winner - Concept Category