I was lucky enough this week to be given a tour of Dunmora by my friend, the listing realtor, Leslee Farrell. The tour reminded me that heritage homes, once renovated, may be both one of the best forms of eco design and of eco lux. Nothing like them can, will, or possibly even should be built today, if only because of the type and amount of material that was used. The embedded carbon footprint of heritage architecture makes replacement / teardown-rebuild, a thirty year or more payback. So please think about this fact before you agree to teardown any home just to replace it, even with a model eco home. I am a strong proponent of eco renovations for many reasons.
At Dunmora, all the granite was from the area and all the wood came from the property. We either can’t or we simply don’t do that kind of local material sourcing as a habit today. However local building and design material sourcing is what I have been proposing at my design studio for over three years with my 100 Mile Design principles at the eco Design Gallery jcscott.hhdev.hothousemarketing.com and at our retail store WestCoast eco Home www.westcoastecohome.com (see blog).
But these are early days in local material sourcing for construction. We are barely out of ther ground in North America on local food production which is the catalytic and dominant factor in restarting the local source movement. Remember that two or three generations ago, virtually everything we used and everything that we ate was local, but that was a full generation of corporatocracy ago, before the dominance of Walmart, Costco and China.
Originally at Dunmora, the estate grounds were so large that today after subdivision, an entire 10 home enclave has been created, allowing other families to enjoy this spectacular site. www.lesleefarrell.com/dunmora http://lesleefarrell.com/properties/
On the same day that we toured Dunmora, I was photographed for an article on how I am proposing a better future, at another eco lux property, The Point, an all glass house which I designed for the father of Victoria’s Old Town, the publican and eventual philanthropist, Michael Williams.
This house is a model of traditional design intelligence, but neither Michael’s intelligence nor mine, but architectural wisdom based on respect for traditional architectural forms. We employed Roman and Victorian design principles, much to the disappointment of the mechanical engineerrs who said we needed air conditioning, that the house would be too hot, too cold, too drafty, too damp etc. This very comfortable and energy efficient home is a virtual atrium house with its natural air conditioning created by a small fountain at the centre, with falling water and plants cooling the air, regenerating oxygen and creating natural convection.
The home ‘breathes’ under greenhouse or ‘wintergarden’ principles established by the brilliant Victorian gardener Sir Joseph Paxton. Vents open and close throughout every day by digitally controlled monitors unlike the manpower to do the same tasks which I have seen being used at Kew Gardens or which was employed so that hundreds of thousands of people could enjoy The Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace in London, 1851 but the principles are the same: drawn in cool air from moist shaded areas in or around the building, and then by natural convection, make that air travel as far as possible before it is released as warm air at the top of the building.
Eco is possible, eco lux is not an oxymoron, what is needed is a new way of thinking about buildings, about energy and about materials. This is my mission.