Friday, June 29, 2007

New Mexico EcoSteel House - the garage & shop

The first structures to have the slab poured will be the garage & shop and the barn. We received photos of the set up for these slabs today so it is a good time to look at the development of the design of the garage&shop. At the site you can see the formwork for the slab edge in place, and the pluming stub - ups for the piping that is embedded below the slab. There are a series of floor drains in the garage as well as a utility sink in the shop area. And of course the reinforcing bars, welded wire mesh, and the anchor bolts for the steel structure are placed as well. This must all be inspected prior to the pouring of the slab. Although a utility building there were several functions to accommodate in this structure. There is parking for the car and truck that are used on a daily basis, storage for a camping trailer that requires a high bay door, storage and parking for motorcycles, small atvs, and tractor for site work on the ranch. There is also dedicated space for maintenance work on the smaller vehicles and a dedicated work shop for handling the the day to day tasks that come up. When so remote you have to be prepared to fix it yourself. A little bit desert island, a little bit hacker! We progressed from rough sketches, relocating the access doors as the interior layout sorted itself. As the orientation of the building was determined we were able to place windows and provide shading for them, all which figured back into the building form. The overall form of the roof compliments the main house, slightly lower it picks up the slope of the main house roof. The covered walkway connecting to the house. As with the house, my schematics led to the fabrication drawings which are in the shop right now. For the next update we can look at the observatory - very cool stuff. Continue reading "New Mexico EcoSteel House - the garage & shop"

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Vermont Plat House - landscaping commences

What is this? A little bit of Palm Springs in Vermont? Hold the cactus, bring on the ferns. The Vermont Plat House begins site landscaping. Done with the same care and thoughtfulness as the rest of the owner's choices. I can't wait to see the rest of it.

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The Slow Home - a new advocate of our Re-Modern Movement

Today I learned about a great web site called The Slow Home which seeks to establish a movement that is parallel to the Slow Food movement, except in this case mediocre developer housing is the junk fast food. I love this site because it captures the ideals of what I have called our Re-Modern Movement and frames them in values that we all can understand and agree on. Modern homes without pretense, smaller, more efficient, smarter design, earth friendly design, design that is meaningful to you the homeowner in both your home and community. The Editor, John Brown, has built a wonderful site around the idea with thoughtful writing backing up the proposal, and a Folio of architects and designers that he believes represent the ideals in their work. There is a video blog where by he introduces new additions to the Folio, and many of the entries in the Folio include short video interviews with the designers explaining their work. Great leverage of our internet medium - this is a smart site. Must reading is the 10 Principles of the Slow Home, and the What is Slow Home page. I am not going to provide direct links to these - click around and get to know the site. Spread the word to like-minded friends. Remember as I have said before, this kind of sharing and cross linking is how we build our movement, its how we get our voices heard in the marketplace, its how we bend the housing industry to serve us and ultimately to build the kind of houses we want. Credit where due: I found this on this entry at Future House Now. Future House Now saw this on WorldChanging. And if you must, but you should really visit both those links first, here is a link directly to The Slow Home.

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

A Colorado Plat House - excavation and footings

More images today of the Plat House project in the mountains of Colorado. Excavation and pouring of the concrete footings happened this past week. The digger starts! It looks like it is working just at the crest of the hill, reaching down a bit probably for the deck footings. Here is the excavation cleared, re-bars appear to be hammered in marking the outline of the spread footings. Looks well drained, moist soil, but no water in the excavation - always a good thing. Here is the mixer feeding the pumper, and the boom making the long reach to the house site. A boom pumper rental is not insignificant, but it can really speed up the handling of the concrete making it well worth it. More so if you have a site where direct access to the excavation is tough. Footings filled, and curing. Our thanks go out to all our customers who share their projects with us and help feed our passion for modern homes.

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Vermont Plat House - move in day

While the Owner is far from settled he has moved into the house. There are many loose ends to complete but it is very gratifying to see the house occupied. All that was missing was a life! These early morning pictures show the overhangs of the Plat House doing their job, and taking a bite out of the direct summer sun. The windows should be completely shaded by late morning. Here is the living room right in front of the fireplace. And looking across the living room from the table bay adjacent to the kitchen. Perhaps it is the character of the furniture, or maybe the bit of move-in clutter that reminds me of lived-in clutter, but in the pictures the house has a feeling of inevitability, like it had always been there, always been lived in. An illusion I know, maybe one that only designers experience? We will revisit as he settles in and the loose ends are finished. There are things to do outside as well. I'm at once excited to see the house occupied, and sad to see the discovery of the house being realized come to an end.

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Friday, June 15, 2007

0518 U House - EcoSteel version

About a year ago, long before the stock plans for the 0518 U House were complete, we had an inquiry about making an EcoSteel version of the house. The U House is one of my favorite designs combining the elements of two different design themes in our house plans: The shed roofed bar as you see in the 0242 Plat House and the 0357 Steel Case House; and the low slope roof box as you see in the 0380 Cube House, the 0367 Porch House, and more recently the 0738 Palo Alto (both the Porch and the Palo Alto are hybrids in themselves as well). The bedroom wings of the U House were designed to make them easy to build in a modular factory. The intention was to make it easier to build the house quickly, and support the opportunity for people to grow into the house by building one wing at a time. But at first blush I was not so sure that the house lent itself to the EcoSteel system. I knew the living/dining/kitchen wing would work as its construction is similar to the Steel Case House. I had already looked closely at the conversion of the Steel Case House to EcoSteel, and its a no-brainer. But the bedroom wings? Sometime after this we did a design study for a pair of house designs in Desert Hot Springs, CA. These were to be oriented on a narrow lot along the long dimension. Those designs were previously posted here. Suddenly those design studies shed light on making a long narrow wing for the U House. Now it all made sense, and the geometry of the bedroom wings complemented the house. We didn't get to build this one but it occurred to me that I should show it here on the blog. Maybe the person looking for that EcoSteel U House is reading this right now.

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Monday, June 11, 2007

New Mexico EcoSteel House - the residence

While the first bit of site prep work is happening I thought I would post some background on the project and the design development that has happened to date. As previously posted the project consists of 3 structures, the residence, the shop/garage, and the observatory. Today we will look at the residence. But first lets check in at the site. The preparation for the foundations and floor slab are happening right now. The builder has already begun on a barn structure which is not our system. The photos from the builder show the cleared area for the residence. Our original brief for this project was to be a modified 6040 House. Our early design sketches were for a refinement of the original 6040 design to incorporate the lessons learned in the design of the first 6030 House. Here is a brief comparison of the original and revised 6040 designs: As the design progressed it was determined that the garage was not needed in the main house and all of the parking needs would be handled in the shop/garage structure. The garage space was reclaimed, and the footprint enlarged 18 feet to make the overall footprint of the house 78' x 40'. The floor plans were reorganized to take advantage of the additional space, but one favorite feature of the original design was retained - the second floor bridge. As the design was refined we added a second floor deck to the rear of the house and joined the house and shop/garage with a covered walkway. My final schematics were prepared, and then used by the structural engineer for the basis for his design and by the steel detailer to prepare the fabrication drawings. Which brings us roughly up to today, ready to go into production. Next time I get an update from the site we can look at the shop/garage more closely. Continue reading "New Mexico EcoSteel House - the residence"

Friday, June 01, 2007

New Mexico EcoSteel House

I am very happy to introduce a new project to the blog today. Building permits have just been issued for a new EcoSteel project in New Mexico. The contractor has scheduled for the start of the foundation work, and the components should be going out for fabrication next week. First a little background on the project. The site is quite beautiful, located in a desert setting with nearby foothills. The views for 360 degrees are quite amazing and the site is very remote. The project consists of a trio of buildings - a residence, a garage/shop, and an observatory structure. Yes! That's right. More detail about that later. The three structures are located in proximity to each other at one corner of the site. a site mockup with early building studies a composite view with the model superimposed on a site view final structure siting Eventually a covered walkway between the garage/shop and the residence was developed. I will look at each of these structures more closely in upcoming posts. This will be a good way to pass the time till things start happening on site. If everything falls into place flawlessly the schedule puts components arriving on site early July. I'm guessing an 8 week build depending on the size of the crew. Which means our shells should be complete by the end of August. Come along for this project - it should be fun to see it come together. Continue reading "New Mexico EcoSteel House"

A Colorado Plat House

We were contacted yesterday by a Plat House customer that got their plans last summer 06. They sent along a few small pictures of a newly laid stone drive and a cleared site that looked ready for excavation. This is what they said: Thought we would share with you our initial photos for the Plat House we are building in Pagosa Springs, Colorado. We made only a few modifications from the original plans, to account for snow load and wind as the house is being built at 7,000+ elevation. We will send you photos as construction progresses if you would like? So what do we tell them folks? Would we like them to send us construction photos?

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