No. 247 . 13 July 2005 
ArchitectureWeek
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Cradle to Cradle Winner

by Matthew Coates and Tim Meldrum

In 2002, architect William McDonough and chemist Michael Braungart published Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, in which they argued that energy efficiency and waste reduction are not sufficient as sustainability goals. Architects should instead aim for waste avoidance. To explore possibilities for implementation, an international Cradle to Cradle Home Design and Construction Competition called for submissions with innovative approaches to materials and systems for sustainable residential design. The winning team, from Seattle, presents their design that reflects the paradigm and vision laid out in the book. — Editor

The Cradle to Cradle (C2C) standards are based on the premise that the "three Rs," reduce, reuse, recycle — all preferred alternatives to simply dumping waste — are mere Band-Aids. McDonough and Braungart say we should instead eliminate waste in the first place by crafting our modern systems and patterns of living to more closely mimic natural systems, where waste does not exist.

Our design for the C2C competition doesn't just eliminate waste in its operation; it creates energy to share with neighbors and the community at large. Our goal is to be a catalyst for community-integrated, sustainable design on a local and then global scale.

How the Design Works

Our seven-member team of architects and planners designed a one-story, L-shaped house. The structure is concrete and steel, with exterior walls of glass and metal panels insulated with soy foam. The central feature reinterprets an age-old concept: the hearth. The hearth once provided vital heat for warmth, cooking, and light. Yet today, it has devolved into an ornament known as the fireplace.   >>>

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