Submitted by Jeff Buster on Tue, 04/18/2006 - 14:54.

Turbine home


Now it is pretty easy – and sort of sporting fun -  to be critical of what we think are other people’s hair brained schemes and plans, but  every now and then, to balance out one’s cynicism, one needs to come up with a radical plan to supply a target for every other sporting cynic.   This is the dynamic that creates the basis for stimulating conversation.  And it is how bold ideas get shaken out.

So one of the past posts on this blog  concerned architect Gehry and the extent to which his designs were or were not “moral”.  While I was sniping at Gehry and his clients for the extremely high cost of the Gehry buildings, I hadn’t proffered any alternative designs which were visually interesting and novel, and which might be able to expand the “shelter” envelope more than Gehry’s twisting and turning the facades of office and school buildings. 


Here goes: 


 Instead of advancing University Circle’s and the Clinic’s hypocritical “get me to work faster from the west side” private-road-for-us project ---  the so neatly tagged “opportunity corridor” (as if the sponsors were concerned about doing something nice for the neighborhood),  what if blocks of presently vacant lots or abandoned houses were offered for RADICAL sustainable housing.

Let’s assemble about a dozen packages of a dozen or so house lots – each package having lots nearby one another but not necessarily contiguous – and find financing for each package of lots so that about 144 new houses were built from 12 different  radical designs. Maintain the existing street grid.  I believe it is important to cluster similar designs because houses are merchandise, and merchandise sets itself off more convincingly when it is clustered.  Think of all those Campbell’s soup cans, or stemware at Crate and Barrel.  Repetition reinforces. Think of all those white canvas wind pumps on the Lecithe plane in Crete, beds of dense tulips and daffodils….

The existing occupied homes would infill between the new radical homes, helping improve the value of the homes of the citizens who have stuck it out in this area for years while their neighborhood’s struggled.   Vacant, abandoned buildings – only those in the cities land bank - and other private property with the owner’s permission,  would be assessed for restoration if feasible, or demolished to provide lots for the RADICAL housing.  These houses would not accept real estate tax  waivers.

Forget about convention, forget about resale values, forget about “colonial”, “ranch”, and “bungalow”, definitely forget about “McMansion” and forget about what Solon would  think – get RADICAL.  Let’s see a dozen homes that rotate to follow the sun, a dozen homes notched into an embankment with skylight enhanced sod roofs,  CIA (whose students recently designed and build pallet furniture) can design homes with frames of recycled pallets, filled with insulating perlite, and  covered with stucco,  and Firestone can design homes whose southern exteriors and roofs are rubber “bladders” for the  collection of solar heat to power a community Sterling engine, and Owens Corning and MFG can go crazy with the fiberglass molded “ice cream scoop” prefab wind turbine ducts in bright boat hull colors….BREAK OUT!    The Moroccan builders have for centuries incorporated airshafts with roof top scoops facing the prevailing winds to bring cooling breeze down into their multi level buildings, so it’s really not too radical to put turbine ducts on houses.   

Now if Cleveland seriously took on this project to build 144  RADICAL houses and get them occupied, don’t you think that this would create a substantial influx of tourism and local economic benefit and local pride?  Probably bring more traffic to Cleveland than the Rock and Roll Hall or the Cleveland Museum of Art.

Is Kent State Design School ready to marshal this project – secure the parcels, the zoning, the building permits, connect to donors and private funding, put out the US and international design competition requirements, vet the designs, and connect (small) local builders with local labor for construction? 

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affordable green housing in Patterson, NJ

Listen to this! They are doing it in New Jersey. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5324470&ft=1&f=1025