Images for December 16th: Omega Institute

The Omega Institute's Center for Sustainable Living, the Living Building Challenge, and the Cascadia Region Green Building Council were discussed in a lively discussion among Skip Backus, CEO of Omega; Gennaro Brooks-Church, eco-friendly builder from Brooklyn; Jake Alspector, architect; and myself, your host, Curtis B Wayne, architect.

Site Plan of the center (in grey)

View of the Center, with PV arrays in the foreground

Interior view of the "lagoon" area, also showing the "skycatcher" skylights. 

Thanks for listening!

Our next program will air live on 6 January 2010.

Talk with you next year.

Happy Solstice.

December 2nd: Trash talkin' about ----- trash

On this segment of Burning Down the House we're talking trash: trash as a natural resource, trash architecture (all that glitters is NOT gold), and what to do with waste products of life in a sustainable way, with guest Jacob Alspector, Architect.

First up, some images from the Sustainable Lab at Cooper Union, which I visited recently:

Detailed view of a rope made by the students from plastic (polyethylene) grocery bags.

And a bowstring arch, constructed from vitamin water containers - presumably in compression, with polyethylene trash cable as thetension member:

Trashy architecture is a recurrent them througout history. Shanties and shacks in North America, favellas outside of Sao Paolo in Brasil - all constructed of garbage. But what to say when a high-rise residential building approximates the haphazard appearance of a garbage dump? Case in point - and worthy of indictment in Design Court is this recent Visual Crime, designed by the otherwise-acclaimed French architect Jean Nouvel:

Where is Venustas - or delight?

Where is elegance?

This random pile resembles nothing more, or less, than an accretion of discarded, mis-matched windows. A scavenger's paradise, writ large - and ugly - on the landscape.

For this excretion we summon the officers of the Visual Victims Unit.

But waste - real or imagined - need not be ugly. Case in point is the waste-processing features of this new building at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY:

Photo credit: Gregory Edwards, courtesy of the Omega Institute

More on the Omega Institute Center for Sustainable Living, the Cascadia Living Building Challenge to come in our program of December 16th!

Thanks for listening.

Speak with you again soon.

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