This is our first newsletter with the latest news on Mindful Design.
What is Mindful Design? It is taking care of your home, or your
business space, where in return your home (or business) will take
care of you - your physical and mental well being.
If you are still interested, please keep reading. Today’s letter
will show you how easy it is to build an off- grid, ecologically
friendly home in this era of environmental challenges. Also, if
you are in the process of thinking about building your own home,
you can WIN a full set of construction documents ($25,000 value)
of THIS particular house for FREE! Keep reading for your chance
to WIN! I hope you enjoy our monthly dose of the latest news from
Truly yours, EKATERINA
KOHLWES principal / designer
YOUR OFF-GRID HOUSE
A Brief History of the Industrial Revolution
Imagine that you have been given the assignment of designing
the Industrial Revolution - retrospectively. With respect to its negative
consequences, the assignment would have to read something like this:
Design a system of production that:
• puts billions of pounds of toxic materials into the air, water,
and soil every year
• produces some materials so dangerous they
will require vigilance by future generations
• results in gigantic
amounts of waste
• puts valuable materials in a hole all over
the planet where they can never be retrieved
• requires thousand
of complex regulations: not to keep people and natural systems safe,
but rather to keep them from being poisoned quickly
productivity by how few people are working
• creates prosperity
by digging up or cutting down natural resources and then burying or
• erodes the diversity of species and cultural
To Cradle” by William McDonough and Michael Braungart.
What do YOU think today’s residential houses should be like?
I truly believe our home should:
• Safeguard the mental and physical well-being of humans.
• Produce enough energy to operate ALL needed equipment.
• Convert human waste into useful resources.
• Be easily expanded or downsized.
• Be maintained with minimum effort.
Did you know that we can build this house using currently available
technology, materials and resources?
Imagine a new home, ecologically friendly and comfortable
to live in. It is made out of natural materials which don’t emit
harmful chemicals. It utilizes from nature: sunlight, wind and rainwater;
providing back cleaned wastewater, electricity, and organic fertilizers.
This “machine” lives for as long as people need it. After that,
unbolted metal beams will be taken out and recycled; walls will
be simply leveled down to the ground and the lot returned to its
For C2C competition Mindful Design proposed a rammed earth house
as a solution to the problem.
Rammed Earth Walls
This home is comprised of three main parallel structural
walls supporting the whole building. The rest of the assembly is
very light, flexible and can be removed as needed to change the
layout for different use. These walls are made of local stabilized
earth and rock, the oldest construction method on the planet. The
earth is waterproofed as needed on the outside but exposed on the
inside so that the walls “breathe”. The thickness of the walls serves
as a barrier for temperature change.
walls involves a process of compressing a damp mixture of earth
that has suitable proportions of sand, gravel and clay (sometimes
with an added stabilizer) into an externally supported
frame that molds the shape of a wall section creating a solid
wall of earth with beautiful natural coloration.
Each of the three walls of the house serve a different function:
ARE YOU THINKING ABOUT BUILDING?
wall – retaining and water collecting wall. A water collecting system
installed in front and through the wall collects rain and snow water
from the hill. This water is directed into a water storage
tank in the basement of the home.
2. Middle wall - heat collecting trombe
wall. Large glazed openings in the southern wall direct winter
sun onto this wall. The earth wall collects the sun's warmth during
the day. At night the heat radiates throughout the house. This wall
also hides air distributing ducts which bring cool air from outside
through the water storage tank for additional cooling effect in
3. Northern wall - cold protecting wall. It is water and wind proof.
The openness of the structure allows for the natural flow of air
in the summer. Clerestory
windows at the top of the roof can be opened to allow hot air
There is a hydronic
radiant floor heating system. It is quiet and low maintenance.
This form of heating was first used by the Romans. Modern technology
made it possible to lay the system inside of wood panels known as
thermalboards. Thermalboard is constructed out of non-virgin wood
and is fully recyclable.
The basement serves as another temperature controlling air pillow
for the main level, as well as a place for a water storage tank,
toilet and other equipment.
shape of the building along east-west axis takes advantage of southern
exposure in winter. In the summer, louvers positioned at a certain
angle keep the sunlight out.
Solar panels are placed on the southern portion of the roof. They
generate power for the house and feed excess power back onto the
city power grid, reducing the use of fossil fuels. The rest of the
roof is metal “cool”
roofing, which can be recycled.
Eastern side of the house is an enclosed staircase. This space is
an air barrier between the outside and the inside. It is a transparent/translucent
transition between the inside and the neighborhood. It also lets
indirect sunlight inside of the home, minimizing the use of electricity.
ARE YOU THINKING ABOUT BUILDING?
A flowerbed by the driveway is a “treatment plant” for vehicular
waste. The sloped driveway allows water to run into the bioswale.
Local plants are carefully selected for this function and for the
local climate. The site around the home is barely disturbed by simply
adding more plants and stepping stones marking the path into the
lights can be added throughout the garden and on the front of
the house for safely.
This best-in-class home utilizes all of the currently available
collective knowledge relating to the matter of ecologically friendly
construction and puts it to work for the future of humanity.
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