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Latest Articles in Design 101

inflamed marshmallow

Cooking

Ian Tattersall, curator emeritus at the American Museum of Natural History, says that some anthropologists believe that we tamed fire before we were even human. “When the first prehumans came out of the trees and moved to the African savannas,” an event Tattersall says took place about one and a half million years ago, “they were primarily fruit eaters. In order for them to make a living on the plains, they would have had to eat meat.” But with vegetarian intestines, these hominids would have had a very hard time absorbing animal protein—unless it were broken down through cooking.
April 11, 2012
burning wax candle

Lighting

Lisa Heschong, a California architect with the Heschong Mahone Group, which specializes in research on building performance, doesn’t think much of firelight: “The use of fire for lighting, while romantic, is extraordinarily inefficient, energy intensive, and potentially polluting. Indoor combustion is one of the main sources of indoor air pollution, especially in the third world.” Cities like Sacramento, California, even limit wood-burning fireplaces to keep skies clearer. “In our climate,” Heschong explains, ”the presence of smoke in the winter increases the prevalence of soot, thereby reducing daylight.”
April 11, 2012
firewood burning

Warmth

Kiel Moe, assistant professor of architectural technology at Harvard University, specializes in architecture and energy issues. “As fuel prices fluctuate,” he says, “you’re going to see more people return to heating directly with fire.”
April 11, 2012
use of fire and energy in the home

Fire in the Home 101

Taming fire was humankind’s first and most critical step toward its mastery of the material world. About 400,000 years ago, our ancestors learned to harness the flame, setting us on the course that would lead from the stone hearths those early humans built to the modern high-efficiency catalytic woodstoves we use today. More important, though, was the capacity to selectively apply heat, a transformative power that allows us to turn dirt into metal, cold into warmth, dark into light.
April 11, 2012
renting 101 an introduction to renting illustration

101 Renting

The American Dream, some say, is all about owning a home. Here's how you can live the dream without the picket fence or the mortgage.
November 16, 2011
renting 101 an introduction to renting illustration

An Introduction to Renting

The American Dream, some say, is all about owning a home. Here’s how you can live the dream without the picket fence or the mortgage.
November 16, 2011
building codes 101 andy rementer modern problems1

Modern Problems

Love superclean design but fear the building inspector? Here's our guide to skirting those modernist missteps.
October 5, 2011
building codes 101 andy rementer floor plan infractions

Moving Violations

Can you spot the 11 infractions in this modern house?
October 5, 2011
building codes 101 andy rementer  2

Permission Denied

Muculus Grigsby runs afoul of the permits department, costing him a chunk of change and loads of time.
September 29, 2011
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