zeroHouse Speaks To The Conservationist And The Romanticist

Jan 26, 2010 by Ted Goodman weblog
zeroHouse graphic. © Specht Harpman via Bēhance Network

As if designing an energy-neutral, self-sustaining home for four was not enough for Scott Specht and Louise Harpman, of the NYC/Austin-based architectural firm Specht Harpman, the zeroHouse™ has even more appealing features... zeroHouse is prefabricated!

You say that prefab is not your style? Then perhaps you might be just a little tempted by these visions of where you can take zeroHouse by literally packing it up in an extra-large suitcase!

zeroHouse graphic. © Specht Harpman via Bēhance Network

zeroHouse graphic. © Specht Harpman via Bēhance Network

zeroHouse graphic. © Specht Harpman via Bēhance Network

Indeed the zeroHouse can be placed virtually anywhere, including in 10 feet of water and on hillsides with slopes up to 35 degrees, all due to its helical-anchor foundation that requires no excavation. And when you’re ready to move, you can literally pick up your stakes and go.

zeroHouse graphic. © Specht Harpman via TreeHugger.com

Energy, water, and waste? No problem for the zeroHouse. The generate all the power, which is stored in a battery for a week, just in case the sun does not wish to shine. The beautiful bay windows are heat-mirror glass that is triple-paned to provide extra insulation, and the zeroHouse collects its own and filters it in four 550-gallon cisterns. Waste is collected in an automated composting unit and used to feed the garden once a year.

Automated? The whole house is automated and programmable to minimize electricity use. zeroHouse is even wired with sensors to communicate with your PC.

zeroHouse is only 650 square feet but, as designed, every inch of the space is utilized. It does look to be quite comfortable inside. "People think they need a bigger house, but they may just need a better designed one," Louise Harpman told the Austin Statesman. Below is the layout of the two-story zeroHouse:

Lower floor of zeroHouse, graphic. © Specht Harpman via Bēhance Network

Upper floor of zeroHouse, graphic. © Specht Harpman via Bēhance Network

All of the zeroHouse electronics, construction materials, and fabrics are chosen for their durability as well as design appeal. Below are the living room and kitchen designs; color choice is wide.

Design of living room, zeroHouse graphic. © Specht Harpman via Bēhance Network

Design of kitchen, zeroHouse graphic. © Specht Harpman via Bēhance Network

zeroHouse will sell for approximately $350,000. Any takers besides me?
___

Explore further: First of four Fukushima reactors cleared of nuclear fuel

More information: Specht Harpman -- www.spechtharpman.com/

Specht Harpman Portfolio, Bēhance Network -- www.behance.net/Gallery/zeroHouse/302499

Statesman.com -- www.statesman.com/business/rea… enest-of-182527.html

zeroHouse.net -- www.zerohouse.net/

Related Stories

Solar Home Built by Students

Sep 22, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Students from the Boston Architectural College (BAC) and Tufts University have submitted a completely solar-powered home, the Curio House, as New England's entry into the Solar Decathlon competition. ...

The future of solar-powered houses is clear

Apr 10, 2008

The future of solar-powered houses is clear. People could live in glass houses and look at the world through rose-tinted windows while reducing their carbon emissions by 50 percent thanks to QUT Institute ...

The easy way to go green

Oct 20, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- At last Friday's Energy Night at the MIT Museum, Dr. Keith Collins described his approach to fighting global warming with all the gusto of a really good insurance salesman. But Collins, who ...

US Solar Decathlon seeks best sun-powered homes

Oct 08, 2009

For the past week on the National Mall in Washington, international crews have been busy putting up structures for an event showcasing a radiant source of energy that some once revered as a god.

Getting wrapped up in solar textiles

Jun 09, 2008

Sheila Kennedy, an expert in the integration of solar cell technology in architecture who is now at MIT, creates designs for flexible photovoltaic materials that may change the way buildings receive and distribute ...

Recommended for you

The state of shale

Dec 19, 2014

University of Pittsburgh researchers have shared their findings from three studies related to shale gas in a recent special issue of the journal Energy Technology, edited by Götz Veser, the Nickolas A. DeCecco Professor of Che ...

Website shines light on renewable energy resources

Dec 18, 2014

A team from the University of Arizona and eight southwestern electric utility companies have built a pioneering web portal that provides insight into renewable energy sources and how they contribute to the ...

Better software cuts computer energy use

Dec 18, 2014

An EU research project is developing tools to help software engineers create energy-efficient code, which could reduce electricity consumption at data centres by up to 50% and improve battery life in smart ...

User comments : 17

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

abhishekbt
5 / 5 (1) Jan 26, 2010
$350,000! Are you kidding? It's difficult to get a single bedroom flat in that price these days.
Count me in! When I can order and take a delivery?
This must be the first house that is 'delivered' though.
otto1923
not rated yet Jan 26, 2010
Nah, prefab houses are pretty common over here. I see no storage- where does my stuff go? Shipping container?
PinkElephant
3 / 5 (2) Jan 26, 2010
Wow, a glorified RV for $350,000. Golly gee.

How much for the land to park this thing on?

And, rainwater collector? Unless one intends to live in England, or in a rainforest, somehow I doubt the collecting capacity of that roof is quite going to suffice for a year-long occupancy.

And better plan on not having any strong winds, either. Between that wing-like roof, large cross-section, high center of gravity, and that spindly foundation, this house might well double as a short-lived amusement ride: especially when parked on a steep hillside...

If deployed in locales with snowfall in the winter, I wonder how the flat roof will cope (and what keeps the snow from blocking up the solar panels?) If deployed in locales with high ambient heat in the summer, I wonder how it will cope without an AC unit.

All of which makes me wonder: just where is this thing actually practical?
Zander
5 / 5 (1) Jan 27, 2010

If deployed in locales with snowfall in the winter, I wonder how the flat roof will cope (and what keeps the snow from blocking up the solar panels?) If deployed in locales with high ambient heat in the summer, I wonder how it will cope without an AC unit.


it does have an air conditioner.

"zeroHouse is fully climate controlled, with high-efficiency air-conditioning / heating system and separatley zoned sleeping and living areas" [http://www.zerohouse.net/]
PinkElephant
not rated yet Jan 27, 2010
Heh, I thought the article would've mentioned such an important detail. Thanks for going the extra mile, Zander.

With AC included, I guess it's a fair-weather design for wealthy subtropical land owners. The price tag, though, is still ludicrous.
jsovine
5 / 5 (1) Jan 27, 2010
$350,000! Are you kidding? It's difficult to get a single bedroom flat in that price these days.


Where on earth do you live? I can RENT a two story house with 3 acres of land for around $500/mo out here in Ohio...
otto1923
5 / 5 (1) Jan 27, 2010
collecting capacity
wing-like roof, large cross-section, high center of gravity, and that spindly foundation
flat roof will cope

Mr Pinkl,
I would have mentioned these things but I figured the architects wouldve collaborated with competent engineers in their design, and that the renderings reflected the result, including performance projections and recommendations for different locales as would be included in the installation and operations manuals. Not to mention compliance with local building codes and inclusion of seismic design as needed. Indeeed sir.
Hunnter
not rated yet Jan 27, 2010
Solar panels could be halved in length, and spread across the other 2 directions. Less strain and less need to support the huge span.

No wheels and (probably) hard to take apart, it has nothing on caravans
If the floors could collapse to minimize height, rotate 2nd floor around to be one wide structure, pop on some wheels, much more appeal.
Increases complexity quite a bit, but at that price, it won't make much difference anyway.

I'm all for smart use of space in buildings.
Ceilings heights are so wasteful. Vertical drop storage is amazing for cleaning up space around the floor and walls for seating and other things.
Toilet and sinks can be combined in to one system easily.
You can go one further and have the seat rotatable so it can be rotated in to the wall, add a shower at the top and a hole at the bottom, you now have a shower + toilet + sink in one space. (or you can keep the seat out if you find standing bad on the legs)
kasen
5 / 5 (1) Jan 27, 2010
Couldn't find the price list on their site. If it's fully-furnished and the shipping is included, the price is reasonable. It looks pretty compact, which coupled with off-the-grid capability should keep land and legal expenses low, too. Way too much for my pockets, though. I'll stick with the 50$ underground house.

The helical foundation is quite ingenious, but the overall structure doesn't seem very stable. Those rooms/modules sticking out the sides beg some extra support columns, but I might be wrong. Also, wouldn't the whole thing require a crane, or something, to build?

It would be better publicity to see an actual finished one, instead of those models.
Bob_B
3 / 5 (2) Jan 27, 2010
This structure will only last in low wind and very low snow conditions...IMHO.
otto1923
not rated yet Jan 27, 2010
IMHO Bob is not an engineer and has no idea how they input into the design of structures to accomodate environmental loads. IMHO Bob thinks his opinions are ice cream.
kasen
5 / 5 (1) Jan 27, 2010
Hmm...This is a bit weird. I googled the subject a bit and it turns out this concept has been around since early 2008. The company was hoping that the first ones would be done by late 2008, but I couldn't find a single image of a built zeroHouse. Several other off-grid designs, yes, but not this specific one, with the quirky architecture and copyrighted name.

Add to that the blatant advertising(with extra corny salesmanship) done in the above article and you have a curious idea that appears to have yet materialise, but is struggling to do so.
kasen
3 / 5 (2) Jan 27, 2010
Another thing I realised while wasting my time. In an effort to minimise the literal footprint of the house, it was made so that the entire weight is concentrated on those four drilling columns.

Admirable intent, but that means a prospective owner has 2 options: limit his location to geological, hydrological and meteorological uneventful parcels of fairly dense soil, or stick that foundation really deep into Mother Earth. That'd need some heavy machinery, I reckon.

So, Otto, I seriously doubt that engineers were consulted on this project.
otto1923
not rated yet Jan 27, 2010
So, Otto, I seriously doubt that engineers were consulted on this project.
From their website:
"Specht and Harpman — who are divorced but share an architectural practice — said they received seed money from a New York investment firm to produce the architectural drawings and the structural and mechanical engineering documents.
"Now the house is "shovel-ready," said its creators, both of whom have master's degrees in architecture from Yale University. They are in search of a "visionary" investor to finance the $300,000 to $350,000 construction of the prototype and live in its 650 square feet of interior space, with 250 square feet of outdoor covered decks."
-So no its not built yet but yes its engineered. As to what parameters codes etc- it dont say. Built like a trailer, RV, plane, shipping container; cant say. At any rate kasen is ill-self-informed.
I seriously doubt that engineers were consulted on this project.
Thats what they said about the Brooklyn Bridge.
abhishekbt
not rated yet Jan 27, 2010
@jsovine ->
I was talking about 'buying' as in different from renting.

My mistake though, It's not quite the steal that I initially thought. I stay in Singapore and the cost of buying a new condomonium here is well over 500K S$. After conversion, this comes pretty close to that.

CarolinaScotsman
not rated yet Jan 31, 2010
I don't care how good it may be, it's the ugliest dang thing I've seen in a while. Looks unbalanced, top heavy, vulnerable to high winds and heavy precipitation. And it's still ugly.
Bob_Kob
not rated yet Jan 31, 2010
From what I can gather it's not intended to be something that is residential nor something that is lived in all year round. What it looks like is some sort of 'getaway' house. You leave it there for months at a time, it collects water, charges battery and then you have a vacation there for a couple of weeks.

Chuck a few of these in nice forrest areas and youve got something much better than caravan parks.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.