Essential House Features Kinetic Walls to Maximize Space Efficiency
Previously covered on Jetson Green, the E.D.G.E. (Experimental Dwelling for a Greener Environment) House was a 360-foot modular concept home that was designed by Revelations Architecture and won the AIA Small Projects Award in 2011.
Taking inspiration from E.D.G.E., architect Dan Yudchitz collaborated with his father, Bill Yudchitz who is principal architect for Revelations, on his Essential House.
The two-story, cube-shaped Essential House is a prototype that was designed for use in urban infill spaces in the United States. It measures 1,000 square feet, with enough space for a sleeping loft, utility room, and sleeping loft and was constructed for $73 per square foot.
Located in the Rondo Neighborhood of St. Paul, Minnesota, where winter temperatures frequently drop below freezing, the site utilizes a passive solar orientation and maximizes solar gain from the south due to a lack of coatings on windows. The concrete floor is insulated with four inches of foam with hydronic tubing to serve as a thermal mass. Measuring eight inches on the south side, the slab tapers to four inches on the north side. Exterior walls are eleven inches thick and comprised of two sets of non-conducting framed walls with cellulose insulation filling the cavity.
Three-quarter-inch kinetic walls made from Baltic Birch plywood can be reconfigured to create new spaces by moving the walls along aluminum tracks. Tempered glass was used for stair railings to open up the space and reduce obstructions. The exterior of the Essential House is clad with steel panels that are covered with a fifty-year finish and a cedar rain screen provides privacy for the courtyard. A 2 KW solar photovoltaic system provides most of the home’s electrical requirements.
Designing a “system of details,” Dan integrated simple and affordable construction techniques into the plans for the Essential House, hoping that aspiring homeowners would adapt it for their specific sites.
In 2012, the Essential House won an AIA Honor Award. Next on the drawing board for the team at Revelations Architecture is the Sensible House, which will take the E.D.G.E. and Essential House prototypes to the next level.
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