In a recent news interview I shared my opinion about the unsustainability of high-tech housing. Here’s a quick quote from the article:
“Wojcik’s tree house is a good example of architecture students who have cast off the rule book,” countered Michael Janzen, 46, a corporate Web designer in Fair Oaks, Calif., and the founder of tinyhousedesign.com. “It’s extremely expensive to put in photovoltaics and all those high-demand appliances. I don’t think going the high-tech route is sustainable. Sure, people like to share these ideas—I like to share them on the blog—but when the rubber hits the road, can you really make a glossy house like that happen?”
I love to see high-tech ideas like this wild tree house; I just don’t think they are practical. Most folks can’t afford or need fully self-contained high-tech marvels – they need practical, affordable, truly sustainable & attainable homes. We can all learn from designers exploring extreme high-tech ideas, but at the end of the day downsizing and simplifying gets us closer to what’s truly sustainable and attainable.
Spending a fortune on high-tech solutions like covering the sun facing side of a house in photovoltaic solar panels looks cool, but instead we should consider first designing homes around lower energy needs and build them from locally sourced natural materials. This is not only cheaper but often results in a healthier place to live.
For example, a passive solar earthen home, like an Earthship, naturally maintains a comfortable interior by design. It doesn’t need an air conditioner or much fuel to heat. If low-consumption appliances and lights are used the overall energy demand also drops which directly drops the cost.
I’m not saying everyone should live in an Earthship or a cob house (pictured above). I’m just saying that we might want to consider embracing low-tech solutions before getting consumed by the newest high-tech solution. I suspect you’ll find what you need can be accomplished very simply, and built-on to add comforts.
When we avoid succumbing to our culture’s normalcy bias toward high-tech, we often discover that there are much simpler and more cost-effective ways of living comfortably – like tiny houses.
Pictured above is a Ziggy’s Cob House in Missouri and Wojcik’s tree house design concept.