Simpatico Prototype installed in one day! It turns out that the greenest home in Emeryville is also the fastest to be built. On Saturday July the 9th the Simpatico Prototype home was delivered and installed. It was a long day that began with the trucks departing the factory at 5:30 am ended at 6:00 pm after the last components had been set into place and the crane rolled off the lot. Work on the custom components began just 12 weeks earlier in the modular home factory 50 miles away in San Jose.
Over the course of the “set” day 4 flatbed transport vehicles offloaded 7 prefabricated components. The day was also a major event for the neighborhood—in addition to the two-dozen team members actively working on the installation, more than a hundred people from the community were in attendance. It was the modern day equivalent of an old fashioned barn raising.
“Through prefabrication we have the opportunity to create custom-quality modern residences at a price point at least $100 per square foot less than our other site-built residences” says architect Robert Swatt, FAIA, designer of the home and a partner in Simpatico Homes.
The residence is participating in the UGBC’s LEED for Homes program and is on track to achieve a Platinum rating (the highest available). When complete it will be one of the greenest homes in the country. The home boasts an all-electric net zero energy design, hydronic radiant heating, 6.2 kw solar panel array, living green roof & rainwater catchment system.
July 10th, 2011
With its energy efficiency, kitchen geek appeal and growing reputation for power and precision, induction cooking may be the iPad of the kitchen.
As a new article in the New York Times on induction cooking states “22 percent of the people surveyed… said their next range or cooktop would be induction. The appeal is especially strong among younger people setting up their first serious kitchens, according to the report. Unlike their baby boomer and Generation X counterparts, the new class of cooks is less tied to the aesthetics of gas and more interested in environmentally sound choices.”
We’ll count ourselves in that 22 percent. Click here to read the full article.
April 7th, 2011
Harsh conditions. Scarcity of materials. “Astronomical” costs of building. The lessons learned from NASA building the International Space Station are actually quite relevant down here on Earth. (well, except for that astronaut urine idea. you could get arrested for that.)
except and illustration from the article Building Tomorrow in Dwell Magazine February 2010
“We can learn a lot about how to build in the future by looking at how we are building now at the International Space Station. All the issues we deal with down here exist in an amplified state in space. We’ve figured out ways to be truly sustainable. We generate our own power. We recycle everything—–absolutely everything—–even the astronaut’s own urine and perspiration are processed into potable water. The conditions we design for are beyond harsh, and the site where we build is very hard to get to. We prefabricate our components and ship them up, and we build them with such precise tolerances that they lock perfectly together into place. We have to exceed efficiency up there, and so much of what we do end up being applicable down here.”
February 1st, 2011
The energy system design for the Simpatico Prototype Home qualifies it as a Net Zero Energy residence. Simply put, a Net Zero Energy home is one that produces as much energy as it consumes. This means that the Prototype will be self-sufficient with its electric, hot water and space heating needs. (This system has the added bonus of eliminating any need for natural gas in the home, highlighted in the posting An Introduction to Induction.)
The Net Zero Energy goal will be accomplished by combining 30 solar panels on the roof with a high-efficiency electric heat pump, passive solar architecture, and extremely efficient fixtures and appliances. This system will allow the home to “sell back” excess energy it generates during sunny days and to purchase energy like any other home during nights and cloudy days. Over the course of a year, the power bills should achieve a net zero energy equilibrium.
With rapidly declining solar install costs and aggressive federal and state credits/rebates, the projected payback on this system is only 3-1/2 years. To learn more about how this Net Zero Energy system works, please visit our design partners at www.NetZeroEnergyCertified.com.
January 25th, 2011
excerpts and illustration from the article Voyeur’s Delight by Karrie Jacobs in Metropolis Magazine
We have become huge fans of the bold architecture of The Standard hotel in NYC for ushering in a new relationship between public and private (and what a walk in the park can do to lift your spirits). The Standard actually straddles New York’s newest park, the High Line– an adaptive reuse of a dilapidated elevated rail line servicing the Meatpacking District. The “transparency” of the hotel’s glass facade, however, has caused tremendous media controversy and it as been dubbed “exhibitionist-friendly.”
“Historically, luxury living in New York has meant a well-cultivated isolation from the hoi polloi, maintained by doormen, altitude, extra window glazing, and a spot in a quiet, genteel neighborhood. What these buildings suggest is a new urban luxury that embraces the city, its smells, noises, and peculiarities. And that inevitably means, either intentionally or by default, a degree of exhibitionism.
I happen to think a little overexposure is a small price to pay for the panorama the hotel affords. The building’s inherent nakedness is its greatest virtue… a highly transparent building in an urban setting is the architectural equivalent of Facebook, a form of social networking. While some guests are, as the Post insists, behaving badly in public, most are just reveling in the uncanny, Edenic pleasure of being at once immersed in Manhattan and butt naked.”
November 16th, 2010
Want to know how to cook faster, using less energy, with more control? Try cooking with magnetic induction, a process that bypasses heating the cooktop surface and goes right to heating the pot. The Net Zero Energy design for the Prototype Home presented us with an interesting dilemma– keep a gas line in the home only to run a gas cooktop or eliminate gas completely and embrace an alternative method?
Magnetic induction cooking uses electricity to produce a magnetic field that sends currents into iron atoms that react by movement which causes friction and heat in a metal vessel. The electro-magnetic elements are housed under a ceramic-glass surface.
Unlike conventional cooktops that create heat below a pot, the magnetic induction process makes the pot into the heating element. Food is heated more quickly and to precise temperatures. Because they are not directly heated, cooking surfaces cool more quickly eliminating the potential of injury from unknowingly coming in contact with a hot surface. Cooking with magnetic induction is also 90 percent efficient, as compared to resistance electric at approximately 65-percent efficiency, and open-flamed gas which measures in the 55-percent efficiency range.
The simple act of boiling water will never be the same!
October 15th, 2010
Those of you who are familiar with the work on the Simpatico Prototype will find this image amusing. We also find it inspirational in both form and function. As told by author Andreas Stravopoulos in Dwell Magazine:
“First came the idea. Then came the late nights of Craigslist searching. And then it happened quickly: a trip to a derelict horse ranch in the Salinas Valley, an exchange of cash in an old barn, and a harrowing towing adventure up Highway 101 netted me my current abode—a 1959 Airstream travel trailer. The Airstream now resides in the garden of a co-op in North Berkeley, a few steps from the Cheeseboard and Chez Panisse.
My obsession with mobility, modularity, and affordability began long before the Airstream and has since extended beyond. As a recently self employed (read: laid off) landscape architect, I have been able to address several of the problems that I see in my field. Namely, the lack of connection between the LAND and the ARCHITECT.”
Click here to read the full article and view the slide show on Dwell.com.
August 3rd, 2010
Simpatico Homes’ partner architect Bob Swatt and Swatt Miers Architects just received the Merit Award for Architecture from the American Institute of Architects. You can read more about the stunning Teahouse structures at the Design Awards website. Be sure to view all the gorgeous photos and read the project description to learn about the inspiration for this one-of-a-kind project.
January 30th, 2010
And its one of our favorite local spots.
At Oakland’s Pizzaiolo, diners can view the coop that supplies eggs for dishes. It’s all part of the City’s urban chicken renaissance.
Just off Pizzaiolo’s back patio is a brand new, custom-built chicken coop. Eggs laid there in the morning will top the pizzas by nightfall. Diners will be able to wander over, Barolo in hand, to commune with the creatures that might contribute to their dinner. It is certainly redefining the local food movement and the urban landscape.
Click here to read the full article from the LA Times.
August 18th, 2009
Check out the nice press we received about the Prototype Home on Jetson Green. Jetson Green is a daily updated magazine that’s obsessed with green building and everything related to it, including sustainable architecture, good design, green prefab, clean technology in the built environment, affordable housing, and eco-friendly development.
June 5th, 2009