Thursday, July 2, 2009

Future of Housing: Living Underground?

Bilbo's House
Originally uploaded by Jose Palad (modezero)
The ninja turtles did it, why can't we?

I've often wondered about the direction in which home building is going. "What will homes look like in the future?" And I always come to the same conclusion. Homes of the future are all going to be "underground" in one way or another. I put it in quotes, because the definition of "underground" in the way i speak of it can be disupted.

If we look back at the history of homes the first shelters were caves. It seems like a caricature of the cave person, but there is much evidence that points to caves being used as the earliest shelters by humans. See Lascaux. I'm also sure that trees were used as shelters, soon afterwards, sticks from the trees to prop an overhead structure up, then huts made of sticks and wood, and eventually that evolved into the modern day house.

I believe if the technology were available much earlier in our human history, we would probably be living in man made caves and underground. But it didn't and so instead, we are coming up with buildings with green roofs and living walls.

Windows. it seems silly, but that seems to be the most important distinction. When thinking of a cave, one typically imagines a dark, often damp, hard and sometimes scary place. Buildings instead, (particularly homes) are well lit, have windows to see outside and let in sun, are dry and very warm and comforting. With what is possible now and all the achievements made in engineering, living underground can be just as comforting, warm, well lit, and dry as living above ground.

Living underground is environmentally friendly on very many levels. More and more buildings today are taking advantage of the consistent 58 degrees Fahrenheit of being underground. Here in Pomona, the Center for Regenerative Studies has a building built into a hillside. This design takes advantage of the earth's natural insulation. Other buildings like that are popping up all over the place. Having a green roof also provides opportunities to grow food, and/or a place for wildlife to visit. The California Academy of Sciences building in San Fran does exactly that, it is planted with vegetation found specifically in the area where the building was placed. The Center for Regenerative studies also has a study building with a green roof that has some food plants growing on it. The same can be done with living walls.

When I own land, I'm going to build my home underground. And I mean literally underground, I'll likely be living in Pomona and since our water table is relatively high it'll look like a mound. It will have solar light tubes to let light into the home and I'll be growing fruits and vegetables all over it. Maybe it'll end up looking like Bilbo Baggins house from The Hobbit.


Mona Hsieh said...

where can i sign up for ninja training? we miss you kanzler pants!

Jared said...

great post andrew. i love the idea of underground living. one of my first designs in LA 102 was an underground house. i loved it while others didnt. maybe i just couldnt get the idea across.

Ed said...

I love the post.

Empoprises said...

While the ideas are interesting, and they'll certainly work in parts of Pomona, it should be noted that underground living wouldn't be as easy in, say, the Great Plains states where the land is flat.

But does this mean that you'll get hairy toes? :)

Anduhrew said...

Thanks Ed

Empoprises- actually i think the great plains flats would be just as easy if not easier. like the academy of sciences building, one would just have to lift the earth. Imagine all the earth that would be excavated to build underground. just place that on top and on the sides and you're set. I actually think living on a hillside and excavating there would be much more difficult

maybe if it's cold enough i'll get some hairy toes.

Anonymous said...

Check out this underground home built way before our time in Fresno! I've been through and they are very cool, especially in 110 degree summers.