Category Archives: Greener Architects

destroying the ‘green houses are ugly’ myth

Yesterday on Green Building Advisor, Alex Wilson attempted to dismantle the myth that green houses are ugly. Bold, yes, but the truth is most homes being built are horrendous and almost as many being peddled as green are really just greenwashed and appalling. While Jetson Green, treehugger, etc. make a concerted effort to cover nearly every green project, this invariably includes such winners as the neo-colonial LEED platinum or a 7,000 SF LEED platinum OC house with 3-car garage . We don’t really see the point, or desire, in dressing up new houses to look like they’re 80+ years old. But we’ve been told on numerous occasions inoperable/faux shutters that couldn’t cover the width of the window are a high selling point for the Kinkade crowd.

Elevating the Discourse: Umweltbundesamt Dessau


In 1996, the German government decided to move the Umweltbundesamt (Federal Environmental Agency) and nearly 800 staff members to the city of Dessau (DE). The UBA is a little like the Environmental Protection Agency, except with actual teeth. After much deliberation, a master plan was drawn up with the proposed site in Dessau’s gasviertel (gas quarter), adjacent to the hauptbahnhof. One of the initial steps for this exemplary demonstration project was to site the building on a contaminated brownfield. 

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Haus R[ömerstrasse]-128

Werner Sobek is the director for the Institut für Leichtbau Entwerfen und Konstruieren | Institute for Lightweight Structures and Conceptual Design (ILEK), as well as the MvDR visiting professor at IIT. His own office is quite productive, performing engineering services, design services and green consulting for numerous firms around the world. Sobek’s green services include passivhaus consulting, although Sobek has said regarding passivhaus, “you live like you are in a Styrofoam box” – a nod to the thick, super insulated walls typically needed to meet the rigorous standard. Haus-R128 is Sobek’s own experimental residence, which is somewhat of a theme for Baden-Württemberg.

While this house is not new, recent journal publications have us revisiting this knock out. It’s definitely one of our favorites. Continue reading


Das Kybernetische Prinzip | the cybernetic principle

Günter Pfeifer is a founding principal of pfeifer_kuhn architekten and recent recipient of the Gottfried Semper Architecture Prize. Günter is a professor, artist and author – having written several manuscripts on architecture typologies and construction techniques (concrete, brick). Pfeifer was also the Project Architect for several buildings at Vitra in Weil am Rhein. To this day, I curse myself for not verifying the concrete specifications of the Ando pavilion. Continue reading