Yale University and Gray Organschi Architecture have designed and built a self-sufficient tiny house for UN Environment and UN Habitat, and the building is on display in UN Plaza in Midtown Manhattan until August 11. The Ecological Living Module contains 215 square feet of occupiable interior space and carves out another 16 square feet for a rear mechanical closet. The unit uses passive lighting and moisture collection, structural cross-laminated timber (CLT), food-growing green walls, and sun-tracking solar panels to shrink both the building’s embodied energy and resource needs. According to UN Environment, housing construction worldwide uses 40 percent of all resources produced every year and accounts for one-third of greenhouse gas emissions (not to mention the conflicts being fought over rapidly dwindling materials like sand). The module was commissioned just in time for the United Nations High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, to illustrate the idea that sustainable urbanization can only be accomplished if buildings minimize their contribution to climate change. The Yale Center for Ecosystems in Architecture and Gray Organschi worked together to design and install the module in only four weeks. The building was fabricated partially in New Haven and partially in Brooklyn and assembled on the UN campus amidst heavy security and tight construction restrictions. In order to balance maximum sun exposure with thermal comfort, the module was designed with New York’s specific micro-climate in mind. The dramatically-sloped building is clad in dark cedar planks and is home to two cascading “farm walls”, one on either side, and Gray Organschi claims that in New York the home can produce over 260 servings of vegetables. Plants were used inside as well in the loft area, and a living wall in the upper loft area purifies air for the inhabitants. “Structure was used as finish,” explains Gray Organschi founding principle Alan Organschi. The same pale CLT used to support the building was left exposed inside to create all of the finished surfaces, from countertops to stairs. The timber was sourced from the northeastern U.S. and sequestered more carbon than the effort used to harvest it. The team optimized daylighting in the building by carving strategic cuts into the back and roof. An Integrated Concentrating Solar Facade was installed to both reduce the amount of incoming sunlight and harvest solar power; an array of tiny panels track the sun’s movement and focus light on the minimally-sized solar receivers. The team wanted to build a system that could be assembled with the least amount of effort, and that would use the minimal amount of toxic materials to create. After August 11, the Ecological Living Module will be partially disassembled and brought to San Francisco; the structure was built narrow enough to be towed by truck. After that, the module will be flown out for demonstration in Quito, Ecuador, and then Nairobi, Kenya.
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2017 Best of Design Award for Residential – Interior: Chilmark House Architect: Gray Organschi Architecture and Aaron Schiller of Schiller Projects Location: Chilmark, Massachusetts These simple, dark buildings are approached via a farm road that winds through the town’s dense thicket of scrub oak. A broad stair links a large south-facing porch back to the farm road and provides pedestrian access through the field to the beaches beyond. Drawing on a shared love of the dense aggregation of New England’s farm complexes, the firm sited the studio and the house barns tightly together, creating a charged outdoor space between them and providing the approach to the house’s entrance. Colors were carefully chosen to balance with the changing seasons while materials were selected for longevity and their connection to the area’s natural textures. “The views threaten to steal the show here, but for me it’s really about those interior finishes. They’re so rich. There’s a natural beauty and a warmth to these spaces, which manage to be clean and contemporary without feeling severe. ” —Morris Adjmi, principal, Morris Adjmi Architects (juror) Facade: Delta Millworks and Schiller Projects Glass: Bayerwald Landscaping: Contemporary Landscapes Builder: Rosbeck Builders Honorable Mention Project Name: Capsule Loft Architect: Joel Sanders Architect Location: New York A “sleeping capsule” inside this 2,500-square-foot West Village apartment accommodates a second level for bedrooms while maintaining the architectural integrity of the industrial loft. The black oak stairs leading up to the cantilevered wood suite divide the dining area and den below into two distinct zones.