Each year, Dwell on Design partners with Ecofabulous to design and decorate a fully-appointed residence that epitomizes aspirational sustainable living. The resulting showhouse lives on the Dwell on Design floor where attendees can make themselves at home while they indulge in their deepest green living fantasies. We went behind the scenes to see what Ecofabulous and their partners pieceHomes and OneBuild have planned for this year's home of the future.
Anyone who saw last year's Modern Living home is in for a brand-new experience in 2011, says Zem Joaquin, Ecofabulous founder and editor-in-chief, who is serving as lead designer for the house. "This year is a completely different opportunity to show that any style can be approached with consciousness." While last year focused on reuse—with everything from walls salvaged from a Texas livery to vintage furnishings snapped up on eBay—this year is all about innovation. "I really loved the last two houses, and I'm really proud of what we were able to do with them," says Joaquin. "This year, because we have this very modern palette, we can really celebrate new materials."
A video of last year's Modern Living showhouse shows the focus on reuse.
Those cutting-edge materials and emerging technologies are the theme for the 550-square-foot home, which is currently being assembled by prefab builder OneBuild. By working closely with pieceHomes architect Jonathan Davis, the team was able to create a functional floorplan using varying ceiling heights and lots of natural light, which helps it feel much bigger than its footprint. "The use of the space is very efficient," says Davis. "This is a comfortable home for one to two people that feels very open and far more spacious." One space-saving centerpiece is a console that helps partition off the living space from the sleeping quarters. "It's a freestanding cabinet piece that has a wealth of storage in it as well as becoming a partial divider unit," says Davis. The sculptural element is wrapped in "plyboo," a plywood made from super-renewable bamboo.
Among the home's long list of sustainable features ranging from natural ventilation to passive solar heating to deep shading overhangs, it also has one very unique quality, for a prefab: a concrete subfloor. This 4.5-inch thick floor not only adds stability to the structure, a series of hot water pipes which lace through the floor provides an extremely efficient way to heat the home. "I think we have a claim to make that this is one of the very first homes built in a factory with a structural concrete floor that has radiant heating," says Davis. The house also comes ready for photovoltaic energy and a solar hot water installations.
One of the most exciting textures can be found on the exterior of the home, a material called EcoClad that uses recycled paper and bamboo fiber to create a vegetable-based resin. Besides its ability to be morphed into various sizes and grains, it also stands up exceptionally well to the elements. "It's very low-maintenance," says Davis. Joaquin points out an even more important aspect: "It never needs to be painted!"