Cradle to Cradle House

Cradle to Cradle House in Roanoke, Virginia by Matthew Coates & Tim Meldrum

The following text and images are by Matthew Coates and Tim Meldrum, with Brendan Connolly, Ron van der Veen, Kristine Kenney, Julie Petersen, and Richard Franko, the winning professional team in the Cradle to Cradle Home Competition. 

ENERGY is neither created nor destroyed. It is collected and returned. This design utilizes passive solar strategies by shielding unwanted summer sun and absorbing heat from low winter sun through its thermal mass. Active solar collection provides the main source of necessary electrical energy. The core extends vertically, clad with a super-conductive photosynthetic plasma cell skin that is able to generate 1200% more electrical voltage per area than contemporary photovoltaics. Building on current research involving extracted spinach protein, the living skin is photosynthetic and phototropic. It grows and follows the path of the sun, generating electricity in excess of single family needs. Excess power is distributed to neighborhood homes and street lighting infrastructure.

WATER is a crucial resource to life that should be enhanced by future development. This design integrates building with landscape. A vegetated roof system collects and filters stormwater into the building core. This core collects and supplies all household plumbing elements contained within it. Black and gray water are released to a primary septic tank below the core and eventually released as effluent to the "living garden." Garden beds along the entry receive irrigation and nutrients to provide site-yield vegetables. This system is engineered to accept and treat residential wastewater from neighboring homes in addition to the primary residence to lessen off-site dependency.

MATERIALS should enable, not consume. Earth acts as a primary insulator and reduces building material use. Rapidly renewable soy-foam wall panels offer superior thermal resistance with minimal embodied energy. Reconstituted concrete with striated polymer mesh reinforcement efficiently supports the open building plan, allowing a flexible arrangement of partitions and spaces to accommodate present and future uses.

VENTILATION is fundamental to comfort in southern climates. Prevailing summer wind from the southwest flows freely up the length of the site toward the upturned earth plane. The building form and contour increase the speed of wind while the roof overhang captures the breeze and directs it through operable louvers to the interior. The core serves as a stack ventilation tower, allowing a controllable flow of hot air up and out of the house by the positive pressure being created within the house. Shaded outdoor space provides comfort choices for users and interaction with neighbors.

COMMUNITY underlies all technological success. No advances in residential building design and technology truly matter if single families remain isolated and independent of one another. This design suggests that community interdependence is the necessary foundation for future growth. One home shelters one family, but creates a resource that benefits many. Excess energy is distributed to offset conventional power production while communal waste is retained on site, collected and treated to nurture common garden space. In time, this seed of shared resources spreads through common design to create a fundamental line between individual and whole.