Innovations That Matter

Top 7 Designs for Sustainable Homes and Offices

Innovation Snapshot

With World Environment Day in mind, we're highlighting our favourite sustainable home and office designs from recent months.

We continue to be inspired by the endless number of creative sustainable buildings developed by architecture and design firms around the globe.

Innovative uses of existing structures, like shipping containers, as well as the use of sustainable building materials, solar technology and other environmentally-friendly techniques, are laying the groundwork for how homes and offices should be constructed now and in the future.

With World Environment Day nearly upon us, we’re taking this opportunity to highlight our favourite sustainable home and office designs from recent months.

Photo source Dennis Lo

1. SUSTAINABLE BUILDINGS MADE FROM SHIPPING CONTAINERS

The design agency, A Work of Substance, has created a modular marketing suite in Hong Kong, purely out of stacked shipping containers. The marketing suite was built for the logistics company, Goodman, in the Tuen Mun district of Hong Kong. A Work of Substance chose to build with the containers not only for their sustainability but for their multifaceted nature, which they believe stands as a symbol of the logistics industry itself.

Sustainability is at the heart of the construction. The building is formed of four shipping containers, which are combined to create six different spaces. The entire building can be collapsed and transported to a new location, leaving a minimal imprint on the original landscape.

Read more about A Work of Substance’s design.

Photo source Koto Design

2. SUSTAINABLE ARCHITECTS AND DESIGNERS COLLABORATE ON NET-ZERO HOMES

A joint effort between UK-based, modular, sustainable architects Koto Design and US-based prefabricated design and manufacturing company dedicated to sustainable construction, Plant Prefab, revealed designs for two net-zero homes.

The homes, named Yksi House and Piha House, follow Plant Prefab’s humanistic approach to design and sustainable living. The sculptural form of the cantilevered Yksi offers a two-bedroom residence in just over 1,100 square feet. Piha (meaning “courtyard” in Finnish) presents a spacier version featuring a  four-bed, three-bath, 202,90-square-metre house with two courtyards that connect inhabitants with the outdoors. 

Read more about the net-zero homes.

Photo source Powerhouse Company

3. GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE LEADERS WORK FROM ENERGY-NEUTRAL, FLOATING OFFICES

Opening in the later months of 2020, the Floating Office Rotterdam is to house the Global Commission on Adaptation (GCA). Set in Rotterdam’s Rijnhaven harbour, the three-floor office building includes a living roof, solar power and self-sufficient heating and cooling systems. Large overhangs on all sides shade and cool the building, and the modular, wooden construction means the entire structure can be taken apart, moved and rebuilt at a different location.

Designed by the Powerhouse Company architecture firm, construction will be rapid, with plans for it to take less than a year. Via a heat exchange system, the harbour waters both heat and cool the building. And to assist in creating strong local community connections, the onsite restaurant, terrace and swimming pool are open to the public.

Read more about the floating offices.

Photo source Javier Agustín Rojas

4. ARCHITECTS TRANSFORM RUNDOWN RENTAL INTO A SOLAR-POWERED HOME

Moarqs, an Argentinian design studio dedicated to improving quality of life, has turned a neglected building from the 1920s into a light-filled home. The project carefully balances conservation and restoration with expansion and improvement. Poorly maintained rooms at the back of the building were torn down to make room for a swimming pool and garden, but wherever possible, original features were preserved throughout the interior, including much of the wooden flooring, and finishing details such as iron and plasterwork.

Read more about Moarqs’ design.

Photo source Dook Photography

5. A SUSTAINABLE LODGE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NAMIB DESERT

Johannesburg-based design agency, Fox Browne Creative, partnered with the architect Jack Alexander to design the Sossusvlei Desert Lodge, a sustainable luxury hotel set on a private 37-acre reserve and cradled against the ancient mountains of the Namib Desert.

The design team’s goal was: “to create an extraordinary experience for the visitor; design structures that are in harmony with their natural setting and minimize the human impact on this sensitive environment.” All of this was achieved using purely natural materials and a sense of desert-inspired luxury. The structure consists of a series of geometric lines made from glass, rock and steel, contrasting perfectly with the organic curves and natural forms of the surrounding hills and sand dunes.

Read more about the Sossusvlei Desert Lodge.

Photo source Geoship

6. SUSTAINABLE, HIGH-QUALITY HOMES FOR LOW-INCOME PEOPLE IN LAS VEGAS

California startup Geoship is changing the construction industry through its use of bioceramic domes. Obtained from wastewater, the bioceramics are largely phosphate-based and self-adhesive. When combined, they form domed buildings that resemble footballs. 

The tiles are energy-efficient, quick to install and naturally repellent to insects and other pests. The dome shape makes it highly resilient to natural disasters, including earthquakes, floods and hurricanes. As a result, the homes should last more than 500 years. Costs range from around €50,000 for the smallest building to €250,000 for the largest one.

Read more about Geoship’s design.

Photo source Alexis Dornier

7. PRE-FAB HOMES ON STILTS EASY TO MOVE AND RE-ASSEMBLE

Created to replace the common short-term approach to building in Bali, Stilt Studios are prefabricated, modular and easy to assemble. Designed by architect Alexis Dornier, the structures have many uses and come with a number of ecologically friendly aspects. Being raised off the ground reduces the footprint of the building and construction process. Each Stilt Studio also presents cross-ventilating rooms and rainwater harvesting roofs, allowing to maximise the local climate.

The roof includes a large overhang, which shades and cools the interior and provides space for solar panels on top. Many homes in Bali sit on land with very short leases, and it is common practice to destroy a structure once the lease is up. Stilt Studios can be disassembled and transported with ease, thus making frequent moves much less expensive and polluting. The studios can also be joined together to create larger living spaces, and they come in a range of designs.

Read more about Stilt Studios’ design.