written by:
January 28, 2014
Hay insulation, passive solar, drought-tolerant gardens: Behold the following 7 houses from Dwell's pages that give back by striving for net-zero status.
simpatico home exterior

With a sleek prototype in Emeryville, California, under its belt, Simpatico Homes sets out to redefine prefab's cost—and footprint. Instead of taxing the taps, the home’s drought-tolerant garden can be watered with runoff from the roof. Photo by Jake Stangel. 

Originally appeared in Color Coded: 7 Vibrant Exteriors
1 / 7
Kids playing outside their backyard

How an unfussy, nearly zero-energy family home in Santa Cruz, California, wound up with hay bales in the walls, a state-of-the-art heat pump system, and six very happy residents.

Designed by architecture firm Arkin Tilt, Bernie Tershy and Erika Zavaleta’s 2,500-square-foot straw-bale home marries cutting-edge green technology with natural building techniques and locally sourced materials. Photo by Gabriela Hasbun. 

Photo by 
Courtesy of 
GABRIELAHASBUN©2012
Originally appeared in Green Zero-Energy Family Home in Santa Cruz
2 / 7
straw tech exterior

When Anders Stokholm asked his old friend Felix Jerusalem to design his family’s new home in Eschenz, a northern Swiss village on the Rhine River and Untersee Lake, the client and architect agreed that they didn’t want to disturb the ancient Roman artifacts buried in the property’s wet soil. But they did want something both modern and green.

Jerusalem’s solution, the Strohhaus, beautifully merges the old with the new: The structure floats above the saturated ground on pilings—referencing building methods used in the area thousands of years ago, according to Zurich-based Jerusalem. And except for its concrete core, the entire house is made from slabs of prefabricated, formaldehyde-free compressed straw. 

Originally appeared in Color Coded: 7 Vibrant Exteriors
3 / 7
Architect Rob Pyatt's box-shaped addition is the modern kid on the block, with distinctive corrugated-metal and wide-plank cladding. Behind the facade, uncommon materials share a common story with the neighborhood: Of design decisions driven by a desire t

Architect Rob Pyatt's box-shaped addition in Boulder, Colorado, is the modern kid on the block, with distinctive corrugated-metal and wide-plank cladding. Behind the facade, uncommon materials share a common story with the neighborhood: Of design decisions driven by a desire to keep the next generation—and the planet—healthy and safe. Photo by Dave Lauridsen. 

Photo by 
Originally appeared in Post Bale
4 / 7
While the slate-clad northern facade has few windows and a steeply pitched roof, the southern facade is dominated by glass with the solar-panel-clad roof strategically angled to catch the sun.

Standing proudly on the outskirts of the Danish city of Aarhus is an experimental eco-home where one brave family is testing out life with the latest cutting-edge sustainable design. For the past year, Sverre and Sophie Simonsen, along with their three children, Axel, nine, Anna, seven, and baby Marie, have been living in the world’s first Active House—a building so technically advanced that in 40 years it will have created enough energy not only to support the family inside along the way but also to pay back the energy used for its materials and construction: a house, in short, with no carbon debt. Photo by Jens Passoth. 

Photo by 
Originally appeared in Test-Case Scenario
5 / 7
Arranged and slotted together like a tidy row of Legos, the IJsselstein housing project reflects typical Dutch efficiency, “not just in terms of materials used,” notes architect Gregory Kiss, “but in terms of space as well.”

In Holland, being green is not a choice, it's a governmentally enforced obligation. Architects Han van Zweiten and Gregory Kiss's project makes a case for obeying the law. Arranged and slotted together like a tidy row of Legos, the IJsselstein housing project reflects typical Dutch efficiency, “not just in terms of materials used,” notes architect Gregory Kiss, “but in terms of space as well.”

Originally appeared in Run by the Sun
6 / 7
net-zero prefab in los angeles

A net-zero prefab home design is set to reinvigorate a down-at-the-heels Los Angeles neighborhood. Components for low-cost prefab homes designed by Habitat for Humanity and the firm Minarc for South Central Los Angeles were trucked in and assembled over three days. Photo by Art Gray. 

Originally appeared in An Innovative Net-Zero Prefab in Los Angeles
7 / 7
simpatico home exterior

With a sleek prototype in Emeryville, California, under its belt, Simpatico Homes sets out to redefine prefab's cost—and footprint. Instead of taxing the taps, the home’s drought-tolerant garden can be watered with runoff from the roof. Photo by Jake Stangel. 

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

San Francisco living room with Wassily chairs
Materials and furniture transformed the layout of this San Francisco house, without the need for dramatic structural intervention.
May 24, 2016
shiver me timbers tallow wood kitchen
A pair of married architects put their exacting taste to work on their own family escape in the Australian bush.
May 24, 2016
in the balance small space massachusetts cantilevered cabin glass facade
When nature laid down a boulder of a design challenge in the Massachusetts mountains, an architect’s solution elevated the project to new heights.
May 24, 2016
Wooden Walkways
A home in Ontario, Canada, demonstrates how factory-built housing can be as site sensitive as traditional construction.
May 24, 2016
15 icff 5
From Corian furniture to immersive installations, here are some of our favorite designs we saw at the 2016 shows.
May 24, 2016
gpphoto44
A home and community celebrate natural remove in unison.
May 24, 2016
With our annual issue devoted to the outdoors on newsstands, we did a lap of Instagram for some extra inspiration.
May 23, 2016
forest for the trees english prefab mobile home facade chesnut cladding
On the edge of a historic park in an English shire, a prefabricated home sets a new design standard.
May 23, 2016
tread lightly australia
A family home on Australia’s Mornington Peninsula is built to blend in with its lakeside setting.
May 23, 2016
jardins party dining room hay chairs local wood floor
A pair of architects help a client carve out an oasis of calm amid São Paulo’s bustle.
May 23, 2016
hwm6zf 1
No matter where you're located or what time of the year it is, having a fireplace in your home is a treasure that’s continuously sought after. Besides the obvious benefits of keeping a fire going through the cold winter months, it can also be a cherished asset that provides an extra level of year-round comfort—not to mention how it can help define the layout of a space by acting as a sculptural element.
May 23, 2016
An office Crosby Studios designed for NGRS in Moscow
Crosby Studios just cares about the essentials.
May 22, 2016
cold sweat seattle floating sauna gocstudio
A cadre of designers let off steam after hours by building and sailing a seaworthy sauna.
May 22, 2016
in the swim off the grid campsite healdsburg california swimming pool solar heat lap pool ipe deck loll designs lounge chairs
An off-the-grid house that is little more than a decked campsite—albeit with a roof—includes a swimming pool for a family that loves to enjoy the elements.
May 21, 2016
A print by Kristina Krogh
From flat to physical, Kristina Krogh masters every dimension.
May 21, 2016
scifi
Every week, we highlight one amazing Dwell home that went viral on Pinterest. Follow Dwell's Pinterest account for more daily design inspiration.
May 21, 2016
beverly hills living room piano view
Architect Noah Walker, principal of Los Angeles–based studio Walker Workshop, shares completed and work-in-progress residential designs on his Instagram page (@noah_walker). Take a peek at some of the striking modern houses here, and tour the Venice House on the Dwell Home Tours on June 26.
May 20, 2016
ripple effect san fancisco small space yard outdoor monica viarengo pebble mosiac artificial turf slide
A San Francisco landscape designer finds a small-space solution that’s anything but narrow-minded.
May 20, 2016
Oslo living room with light wood floors and wood slab table
A pair of designers in Oslo, armed with tricks for introducing color and daylight, remake their compact late-19th-century apartment.
May 20, 2016
family affair backyard addition portrait
In coastal Massachusetts, a resourceful couple and their equally enterprising children use reclaimed materials to create a versatile 168-square-foot backyard building.
May 20, 2016
speed machine australian beachside prefab archiblox facade colorbond ultra steel cladding queensland blue gum wood
With little time to waste, an Australian firm erects an efficient prefab overlooking the ocean.
May 20, 2016
Christian Benimana at Design Indaba
When he was younger, there wasn't a single architecture school in his country. Now, as part of MASS Design Group, Christian Benimana shares how architecture can heal and inspire Africa.
May 19, 2016
01 1
This Italian villa is serenity incarnate.
May 19, 2016
michael cobb interior
Alternative materials help a house in California’s wine country tread lightly on the land.
May 18, 2016
13266797 1799532953608317 1984666518 n 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
May 18, 2016
Industrial kitchen built on a budget.
In Austin, Texas, architect Sean Guess forges an inventive industrial kitchen for a cost-conscious couple.
May 18, 2016
great danes dining area
In an up-and-coming area of Copenhagen, a pair of designers and their twin girls inhabit a converted loft, filling it with serious design savvy and a hefty dose of creativity.
May 18, 2016
25687 preview low 1633 2 25687 sc v2com
An 1885 house in Montreal dips a little into its backyard for spare space.
May 17, 2016
modern ecoconscious pavilion walkway roof
A couple’s retirement home on a nature preserve in Carmel, California, emerges as a series of eco-conscious pavilions that rest lightly on the land.
May 17, 2016
Formafantasma's designs for Alcantara's Touching Tales
In a 17-century palazzo, two young design studios explore a very modern material.
May 17, 2016