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Note: Design Forward LLC is proud to have served the Southern California area designing straw bale homes for over 15 years. However, we have moved on to other business ventures and have closed the business as of January 2017. We will not taking any new projects or responding to phone and email requests. This website will be left up as an archive of data for straw bale and design. You may find that some of the links are broken or out of date, but we will not be updating this site any longer. Thank you!
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June 2003
Design Forward
 Sustainable Concepts . Design Forward Newsletter 
June 2003 
. . . . . . . . .

Welcome to the June 2003 newsletter for Design Forward. Please take some time to enjoy this month's features.

Quote of the Month: "The job of buildings is to improve human relations: architecture must ease them, not make them worse." - Ralph Erskine

in this issue
  • Silver Residence
  • Getting Back to Our Roots?
  • Insulated Concrete Forms by Eco-Block
  • Feedback

  • Getting Back to Our Roots?
    Is sustainable architecture bringing the world of architecture back around full circle?

    Historically, buildings were built with natural materials, local to the site. Sun orientation and wind were taken in to account. There were no hazardous materials or energy-intensive manufactured products used in construction - they hadn't been invented yet. All the products and man-made materials that brought onto this earth for one reason or another are now destroying it. So what do we do? One answer: Go back to basics of materials - using rammed earth or straw bale. The more natural material we incorporate into the cities the healthier they become. Another approach is going back to the basics of communal design - Creating the spaces similar to those of old European cities - narrow streets, allowing only bicycle or walking traffic, reduce pollution from cars or mixing of commercial and residential spaces. High-density areas allow the bicycle/pedestrian traffic to easily maneuver one's way around the city. A different approach to green architecture has also surfaced - newly manufactured products - the ideas that have not been done before, such as the structural insulated panels, or concrete foam, or waterproof breathable vapor barriers. New products that incorporate technology, modern architecture and energy conservation are integral to the world of architecture.

    So what is the best approach, unfortunately we are not going to be able to take away the car and narrow all the streets in America. We are not going to be able to build everything out of straw bale because our resources are somewhat limited. And restrictions of straw bale and similar materials do not always work well in the industrial and commercial sectors. We will never get the United States 'back to basics' - walking to work, living in caves, or collecting rain water to wash their dishes. But we can bring new products into our modern lives that accommodate nature and us. The key to green architecture is combining what we know already about existing materials and the modern techniques that are being invented.

    Article by Lisa Van Veen, 2000. Article in full Design Forward.

    Insulated Concrete Forms by Eco-Block
    One of the fastest growing sectors in the construction industry around the world is Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs). These forms, which are made of Expanded Polystyrene (EPS), are used to build reinforced concrete walls for both residential and commercial buildings.

    Once the manufactured forms are erected, concrete is poured in. After the concrete has hardened, the forms stay in place and become the insulation for the walls.

    These systems are environmentally friendly, significantly reduced the use of wood products, are energy efficient providing a minumin R-value of 22, and can be quickly constructed.

    Picture Eco-Block.com

    Find out about Eco-Block... »

    Design Forward works toward promoting Sustainable Design. If you know of a project that should be featured, please contact us. Let us know why you think it should be featured and give us a basic intro to the project, the sustainable elements and any websites or contact information.

    If you would like to submit a fun and/or entertaining quote about architecture, building, or such, send it in! If it at all possible, include the author.

    If you have any other feedback concerning this publication, please feel free to send an email or use the form.

    Contact Form... »

    Silver Residence
    The modest straw bale home currently under construction has been an evolving process. Laura Silver's journey of how she first chose straw bale can be better described in her own words: "Over many years I read up on alternatives to toxic building materials, kept an eye on the progress of photovoltaic (solar power generation) technology, and learned about passive solar design. In the late 80's I came across an article in one of my home magazines that talked about a book called A Pattern Language. Yes, it's a classic now, and endemic to much of sustainable design - but back then I had to go to a specialist book shop and have it imported from England. It cost me more than $60 on a paramedic's salary, but I didn't bat an eye. I was in design-hog heaven. Sometime in the very early 1990's, I saw a small photo and sidebar description of a straw bale house in an issue of the very same home magazine that led me to A Pattern Language. That was it." so here she is over 10 years later building that dream home.

    The teachings of A Pattern Language greatly detail the correlation between humans and space. This book has become a bible of sorts to the design world. The Silver Residence is designed around many of the fundamental ideas of the book. One example, the width of the building is 25' wide as suggested by the book as the ideal size of a room. The windows are also designed at a 60 angle to reduce glare and increase light with out increasing window area.

    Laura was very concerned about the materials used in the structure as well. Recycled and natural materials were important to her. The building will be constructed of formaldehyde-free plywood, granite and poured- concrete kitchen countertops, recycled steel framing, metal roofing with water catchment, and tankless water heaters. She even went so far as to purchase salvaged doors and windows and then have the home was designed around them. The Silver Residence is a great success of simple and modest natural building.

    The detailed story and timeline of the project can be followed on her website. [use the link below] Article and picture Design Forward.

    Silver Residence....

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    Last Month's Newsletter

    Featured Link - Rastra - High Performance Wall Systems

    Featured Link - Formtech - International Concrete Forms Company

    Featured Link - Quad-Lock Building Systems

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    Revised December 12, 2003