Making sustainable living as easy as ABC
The challenge was to design a new housing prototype for suburbia. The solution was Building Blocks Homes, which opened to the public on April 22, 2009.
At the conceptual level, Building Blocks consists of 26 modular blocks - from A to Z – that give the homebuyer real choice, more than picking fixtures and fittings. The blocks combine to form detached, semi-detached, row and stacked townhouses resulting in neighbourhood diversity, both in terms of built form and price point.
Designed for flexibility and adaptability, different modules offer from 2 to 7 bedrooms, a ground floor Adaptable Bedroom, barrier-free washroom, tandem garage or two-storey garage with ‘Granny Flat’ above, suitable for rental unit or home office. Homeowners can also choose between renovation-ready or fully-finished spaces. For example, the renovation-ready attic, constructed with glue-lam beams and structural insulated roof panels, is a dramatic cathedral-ceiling space, unimpeded by truss diagonals. Its floor is structurally designed for habitation and the space requires only minor finishing by the homeowner.
Modularity adapts readily to factory construction, where greater efficiencies of material use, waste management, recycling and environmental controls can be realised.
Additional sustainable technologies used include heat- and entropy-recovery ventilators, flat plate and evacuated tube solar collectors, PV panels, wind turbine, geothermal heat, an off-grid engineered wetlands wastewater treatment system, drain water heat recovery, Energystar lights and appliances, low-flow toilets and faucets, passive solar design, double and triple-glazing, FSC certified wood, advanced framing techniques and 24” stud spacing, recycled paint, a green roof, native and drought tolerant plants, grey water and rain water harvesting, durable materials, superior insulation and airtight construction.
The homes have been third-party verified as LEED-platinum, exceeding the design brief’s sustainability requirement of LEED-gold.
Building Blocks Homes were designed to give the homebuyer everything they desire in a home as well as superior environmental performance. They are a model for sustainable housing specifically targeted at the mass-production market where small changes, multiplied hundreds or thousands of times over, result in exponential improvement on the status quo.
Building Blocks was designed by Anne Stevens of FORT architect inc. and Terrell Wong of Stones Throw Design Inc.