Friday, October 9, 2009

Robert Dunay introduces LUMENHAUS

via TreeHugger
Thanks to David DeFranz


  1. The Lumenhaus has been an inspiration for those architects and interior designers who are pro-environment. The house uses natural energy, mainly from the sun. The interior design is great, too. Not to mention the bathroom with the skylight! I love that! It makes me want to install them on a future bathroom remodeling. Minneapolis hardware shops have the equipment, so maybe I can try making one of my own bathroom skylight!

  2. An inspiration?? Ehhhhh, not so much. On closer inspection, Lumenhaus is a nice start but an incomplete attempt that doesn’t meet all its design requirements – and one of those requirements had better be that it be suitable for city or suburbs. All those windows only work if you have a huge lot with no other buildings within 500 feet or more of yours and some trees or tall fences between the lots. If your neighbor's house is only 25 feet or less away from yours on a narrow city or suburban lot, all those windows without walls destroy your privacy. Even during the day I don't want my neighbors to know my business or see everything I'm doing, let alone how I'm dressed while I'm doing or not doing it. Better to have both windows and walls within protected enclosures, as Frank Lloyd Wright well knew, than to have Mies's mistake in the city.

    Mies only got away with the Farnsworth house design because it was plunked down in the middle of a prairie. Even so, he was so arrogant that he never bothered to consider that it was being built in a flood plain - ! And that house *has* had flood damage from the nearby Fox River. You'd think location would have been a basic consideration on his part, but no.

    So where can your Lumenhaus be built, eh? If it's on a prairie, it has to withstand not just flood but tornadoes, and if it's near the coast, it has to withstand hurricanes (both of those locations would require heavy-duty roll-down protective shades for the windows plus, in the case of tornadoes, a basement room without windows for safety until the danger passes; no basement here, and no good reason for not having it -- you could have a second bedroom, laundry room, half bath, and office/den/media room down there). If the house is in the mountains, it better withstand flash floods, rock slides, and mud slides after a rain in addition to a certain minimum load of snow in winter. Making it fairly fireproof to withstand forest fires would be good, too. And if it's on or near the West Coast or a fault line, it better be able to withstand earthquakes. I don't see any of that being taken into account in this design -- which means it completely fails a reality check on suitability for its location.

    Oh, and where's the garage? Even an electric car needs one, especially in winter -- probably with its own solar roof and a small wind turbine for charging the car.

    Bottom line: even for a house with a small footprint, you shouldn't have looked to Mies van der Rohe and the Farnsworth House for a model -- because Mies was **CRAP** at designing residential!! That was *your* mistake. You should have looked to Frank Lloyd Wright and the Robie House instead: an almost equivalent footprint, built on a long, narrow city lot smack in the middle of a densely built college campus neighborhood, it uses plenty of windows to bring in the outdoors AND YET it still has walls and creates plenty of open yet private spaces that neighbors can't easily see into, plus views onto the street looking west and south toward the sun. All you would have needed to do was give it slightly higher ceilings, a roof that doesn't leak, a basement, and the same energy efficiency as you did the Farnsworth spin-off (solar roof, etc.) -- and then your Lumenhaus would have been a much better, more liveable and versatile urban design. But a bigger kitchen with more storage is still a must, or haven't you watched enough HGTV to know that the kitchen is the room everyone migrates to the most these days? Any realtor could have told you that.

    Do better planning next time, y'all.