Related Topics: Green Architecture, Green Building, Weather & Climate, Natural Disasters, Prefab Image: Oceansafe Steel SSIPs/Flickr With the terrifying, tractor-trailer tossing tornados that recently hit the Dallas-Fort Worth area still fresh in everyone’s minds, I thought I’d take a gander at theSunshower SSIP House, a natural disaster-resilient prototype home recently completed and opened for tours in New Orleans, a city that’s no stranger to weather-related calamities.
I first started hearing about the Sunshower SSIP House back in 2010 when the design, conceived by Tulane School of Architecture professors Tiffany Lin and Judith Kinnard, took first place in the New Orleans Sustainable Design Competition sponsored by New York-based SSIP (steel structural insulated panel) supplier Oceansafe in collaboration with the RenGen Group. Beating out seven other NOLA-based entrants, Lin and Kinnard’s Sunshower SSIP House was designed to withstand whatever nastiness Mother Nature just happens to throw at it: hurricane-force winds, 8.
0-magnitude earthquakes, floods, wildfires, tornados, you name it. The home is also termite-proof and mold- and mildew-resistant. And as detailed by competition guidelines, the prefabricated Sunshower SSIP House is composed of $100,000 worth of building materials (powerful Oceansafe SSIPs are used for the exterior walls and roof) that can easily fit into a shipping container and be deployed to disaster-stricken areas for quick assemblage, making it not only a safe place to ride out a storm in but a suitable place to live during the aftermath of a natural disaster.
Late last month, Lin and Kinnard’s vision was at long last (the Deepwater Horizon oil spill delayed construction of the home, as pointed out by Builder Online) realized at 222 Harrison Ave. in the Lakewood section of New Orleans, an area particularly devastated by Hurricane Katrina’s floodwaters. Oceansafe, RenGen Group (together, the two joined to form REOSE Sustainable Building Systems), C&G Construction, and Woodward Design & Build carried out the construction of the home. A slew of vendors, most New Orleans-based, also contributed to the FEMA-registered project.
The two-bedroom, two-bathroom model home with its rubberneck-inducing Swiss cheese-y covered porch, is not only structurally impervious to extreme weather events but is suited for off-the-grid living thanks to a 5kW photovoltaic array and a 1,000-gallon rainwater collection and filtration system. The latter is made possible by the home’s gently sloping primary roof that funnels rainwater into the home’s front courtyard where it enters a catchment basin and then to an underground cistern.
The photovoltaics and solar hot water systems are located atop a higher, steeply pitched secondary roof located at the front of the home above the aforementioned porch/courtyard area. Other notable green specs of the 1,100-square-foot home, aside from the dual “sun” and “shower” roofs, include modular planting beds and a layout that embraces natural ventilation and daylighting. And as you may have noticed in the photos, there’s even an outdoor shower out front on the porch — “just to get the water point across” says Kinnard in a Tulane University news article.
Personally, I can’t imagine a better way to greet your neighbors than stepping outside in the morning for a zesty al fresco shower sesh. Remarked Vincent Basilice, CEO of Oceansafe in a press release announcing the grand unveiling of the home: The Sunshower SSIP model home is a remarkable example of cooperation and advances that have been made in green building. The companies that participated in this project are to be commended for their commitment to sustainability.
The ‘Sunshower’ is an attractive home; its design is smart and functional in terms of energy efficiency and ability to weather the toughest storms and adverse environmental conditions. Now that the model has been completed, we can truly appreciate the winning design that was submitted in the 2010 REOSE Sustainable Design Competition. We can all take pride in the strides made in sustainable building that this structure represents. As of now, the Sunshower SSIP House will remain a model home, open to tours for the media, the green building community, government officials, and others.
Tours to the general public are also available by appointment. Lots more info over at the Sunshower SSIP House website. There’s also the project’s Flickr stream where you can take a virtual tour of the completed home and see what it looked like under construction. Anyone in the New Orleans area been able to check out the home since it opened its doors in March? Via [Builder Online] -At least 600 million urban dwellers in Africa, Asia and Latin America live in “life and health-threatening homes”.
At least one billion people do not have access to safe and healthy shelter and the number will increase dramatically with population growth if the appropriate action is not taken (UNEP, nd). -One billion people live in bamboo houses. In Bangladesh, 73% of the population live in bamboo houses. Bamboo provides pillars, walls, window frames, rafters, room separators, ceilings and roofs. -It has been calculated in Costa Rica that only 70 ha of bamboo plantation are sufficient to build 1000 bamboo houses per year.
If these houses were built with timber, 600 ha of natural forest would be destroyed each year. -Studies show that processing of bamboo requires only 1/8th the energy for processing of concrete and 1/3rd of that of wood to create a building materialof the same capacity. In comparison to steel, bamboo needs only 1/50 of the energy for processing (Roach 1996). – Due to the lightweight and favorable elastic properties of bamboo, buildings made from it are very good at resisting earthquakes. All 30 houses in the epicenter of a 7. 6 magnitude earthquake survived without any damage in Costa Rica.
– Bamboo possesses excellent strength properties, especially tensile strength. Study shows that bamboo is as strong as wood and some species even exceed the strength of Shorea robusta and Tectona grandis (Sattar, 1995). According to the Christian Science Monitor: While much of modern-day building in China is done with steel and concrete, ancient Chinese intellectuals preferred living in retreats made of bamboo, a plant whose qualities were often likened to the character of an honorable man. In Yunnan Province, which borders Sichuan, the Dai minority still lives in bamboo homes.
And in affluent Zhejiang Province, where bamboo is plentiful, local officials have been encouraging architects to design recreational infrastructure using bamboo. Building experts in China who have been testing bamboo give it the seal of approval for building in the seismic zone. “Bamboo can be an excellent engineering material. The technology is mature. We believe the bamboo and plywood with a steel frame should be good for earthquakes,” says Chen Xu He, formerly a Chinese Academy of Forestry researcher, who tested the bamboo panels used in the INBAR models. via:Archinect
Bamboo has a high-fibre rating that makes it exceptionally hard-wearing and bamboo materials have high tensile strength and good resistance to shock. The project can become a model for adopting sustainable reconstruction efforts with bamboo in post-disaster areas. The project also aims to demonstrate how such building methods can not only contribute to sustainable development but also help make houses more resilient in the face of possible natural disasters in the future. Project Website: http://www. switchbamboo. org Bamboo not only offers an accessible and affordable option for post
disaster housing, bamboo structures have proven especially resilient to earthquakes because of their strength and flexibility. We are working with INBAR and the European Commission to strengthen the bamboo sector in the wake of the 2008 earthquake. Guo Hengxiao, Deputy Director General, Sichuan Forestry Department. BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN—Over a decade ago, Brunei-based architect Eddie Urcia bagged a Bagong Bayani award for inventing the world’s fastest bicycle with 48-gear combinations. He tried manufacturing his bike but it proved too expensive.
Nonetheless, his restless and inventive mind has not stopped working. The Bicolano-born Urcia more recently unveiled what he believes is one of the cheapest and most ecofriendly building blocks. His “Easy-Block,” as he calls it, is made of cement and toilet paper roll cores and costs 30-50 percent less than traditional hollow blocks or bricks. “I have invented a cheap and innovative composite block that will revolutionize the construction industry globally,” he declares. “It is very ecofriendly, simply made of cement and toilet paper roll core. Yes, toilet roll core.
This usually ignored cardboard core has structural properties unimaginable when put together. The usefulness of the block is unlimited and it is an all-weather product, useful in hot or cold countries because of its remarkable insulation,” he pitches. “My latest invention is intended to compete with bricks and hollow blocks. It is easier to install and manufacture. Also, it is cheaper and better in quality. Easy-Block panels can be used as external walls, interior partitions, flooring, finish ceiling and roofing. The price of one Easy-Block can cover three times the area of one hollow block.
It is cheaper by 50 percent compared to cement or foam board,” he says of his product. “Laboratory tests prove Easy-Block’s quality and reliability. A typical sandcrete hollow block would have a compression strength of 4,800 psi. Easy-Block has at least 21,660 psi strength. In a test fire, a . 22 caliber bullet chips the surface but does not exit the Easy-Block,” he adds. Urcia is promoting his blocks for low cost housing projects and is starting to produce his blocks in San Mateo, Rizal and (Guagua and Floridablanca) in Pampanga. Brunei has apparently provided an encouraging environment for Urcia’s creative mind.
“I came to Brunei in 1981 when I joined Singapore Associate Architects for six years,” he relates. He then moved to the Public Works Department (JKR) of the government of Brunei Darussalam. He is credited with designing Brunei’s National Stadium (30,000-seater multipurpose stadium) which opened in 1984. He was also the resident architect for Brunei’s old airport and has participated in the planning of industrial sites and housing projects, particularly those for persons with disabilities, in the rich Southeast Asian sultanate. Eddie Urcia. Photo from Eddie Urcia Urcia hails from the Bicol region.
“I was born in the mountains, (during the Japanese war), in Milaor, Camarines Sur (Bicol region). My mother used to teach me how to draw. She held my hand to draw cats and mice when I was 10 years old. I was also fascinated by gears and springs. One time, I experimented with the antique clock of my father (a US-trained educator and one of the founders of what is now Technological Institute of the Philippines). I made time stop… for which I got a spanking,” he recalls with a smile. But his mishaps did not discourage him. When he was 12, he remembers constructing his own toy airplane with sticks and rubber.
Not surprisingly, he pursued a career in architecture. He is currently a senior partner in Urcia and Fang, affiliated with Palafox Associates, a Filipino company. On his previously noted bicycle invention, he shares: “I had a research and development workshop for innovative bicycles in Brunei. The invention is basically a cycling devise with gears and chain to provide drive revolution to as fast as 2,400 revolutions per minute. I decided to modify my son’s bicycle and install the gear system. “With my gear system installed, a bicycle has the potential to go faster than any average bike or even race bike.
We made a lot of bicycles and sold some, but the price was prohibitive. We had five custom-made in China. It was nice, but again, expensive. ” He has many other inventions to his name. “I obtained a number of patents for my inventions like a prize-winning swim stick to help swimmers and divers. It works like a Pogo bolt stick, telescopic and made of PVC pipe. It lets you swim under water to chase fish. When I was in New York, I experimented with a ‘humane’ mousetrap made of collapsible cardboard, for which the American Inventors Associated had requested to see a prototype.
I also invented multiple gears at a single axis, a cable cutter and a fish snapper. Because of this activity, I was awarded the Bagong Bayani (Modern Hero) Award in 2000 in the Philippines. ” The Bagong Bayani Foundation Inc. , working with the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, honors outstanding overseas Filipino workers with the Bagong Bayani Award every two years in a Malacanang ceremony. In Brunei, Urcia makes a living designing and planning various mixed development projects such as high-end apartments, commercial hubs and forest road developments, among others.
He is also involved with the Islamic University Brunei project together with the Palafox group. Urcia is proud to say he is now being assisted by his three children who have all followed in his footsteps: “Charisma is with Palafox Associates as associate architect, Francis completed his architecture degree in the United States and Jasmine is preparing to be a full architect. ” “I am a simple guy interested in arts, architecture and mechanical things. I have a good family to treasure, am very religious and blessed with ideas. My wife, Conchita, is also working in Brunei,” says Urcia.