Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Green Homes for New Orleans' Ninth Ward

Image by William McDonough + Partners

In New Orleans, Brad Pitt's initiative - Make It Right Homes - is refitting the devastated 9th Ward with an interesting collection of affordable green homes. Four years after the storm, several units are finished and occupied, more are under construction, and still more are on the way.

Pitt's organization managed to obtain the services of some of the country's leading green architects to design MIR prototypes including this one by architect William McDonough.

McDonough seems to have come out of the womb thinking green. His influential book Cradle to Cradle has proven to be somewhat of a manifesto for sustainable design. In the book, he and coauthor Michael Braungart promote the idea that "waste equals food" introducing to a wide audience the concept that products can be designed for infinite uses in a closed loop life cycle.

His early claim to fame was the design of a solar house built in Ireland in 1977. New Orleans has considerably more sun than Ireland; you guessed it - this home is equipped with a rooftop of PV panels.

Some very nice work is going on here, but given the huge demand for affordable housing in the Katrina affected zone, it's just a drop in the proverbial bucket. But the ideas generated in the process - many experimental - are the real power of this initiative. How this plays out will influence far more than the Ninth Ward, I predict.

Click on this link for detailed renderings and plans of William McDonough's green duplex prototype.

And for some "on the ground" reporting on the new MIR homes, check out this link from Lira Luis' blog. Lira is a former Taliesin apprentice and uber-creative architect in her own right.

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