Dezeen admires "Dutch Mountain," a stunning, concrete shelled residence that's buried into the side of an artificial hill in the middle of a nature reserve in The Netherlands. Although the "bold and unpredictable" net-zero energy abode — it's the handiwork of young design firm Denieuwegeneratie — boasts an impressive array of green features and technologies including passive solar design, solar photovoltaics, greywater recycling, LED lighting, thermal massing, and the use of local and recycled materials, I still can't get over the fact that there's a vintage Jaguar tuned upside down and repurposed as a bookcase (yep) in the living room. That's the exterior of the home pictured above.


The San Francisco Chronicle gets the inside dirt from Penelope Hobhouse, the acclaimed British garden design guru who lent her seasoned greenthumbs to a certain Palo Alto resident named Steve Jobs. Says 82-year-old Hobhouse of her famous client: "Mr. Jobs asked me to do an English cottage garden — a perfect fit for his Tudor-style home on Waverley Street. That was quite easy for me to do; the plants weren't a problem. It was a really nice project. He didn't know a lot about gardening but he knew the style he wanted. Later, we sent him pictures of every single plant we recommended." She continues: "I was a great admirer of his, and appreciate his ideas about beauty and simplicity. He was rather wonderful. He didn't allow other people to have second-rate standards."


EcoHome traverses the country in search of  "5 Sustainable Homes That Don't Skimp on Style." Among them: a LEED-Silver stunner in Siloam Springs, Ark., a rustic residence sporting plenty of reclaimed materials in Neskowin, Ore., and solar PV-ready townhomes built as an infill project in Seattle's Columbia City nabe.


The Los Angeles Times marvels at El Granito, an off-the-grid Mexican country home designed by architects Alejandro D'Acosta and Claudia Turrent. It's a beautiful, sustainable space for sure with one noteworthy design detail: the home is partially built from an abandoned meth trailer that's been "flipped up on its end — a tower with rooms stacked vertically." Says D'Acosta of the refrigerator truck trailer which took 8 months to air out: “We liked the idea of taking a place that was used for making something bad and turning it into a creative place to cook up some good ideas."


The Wall Street Journal considers gardening issues that may arise due to this weirdly mild winter. Explains the WSJ's resident greenthumb Bart Ziegler: "A snow-free winter can be hard on some trees, shrubs and perennial flowers if it is combined with frigid air. That's because snow serves as an insulating blanket to keep the cold from damaging roots. So far this winter that hasn't posed a problem." There are other issues to consider along with one big perk: thanks to the mild temps, gardeners can get a head start on yard cleanup, pruning, etc. 


The New York Times prematurely preps for the spring cleaning season. One interesting piece of advice: try cleaning the windows with coffee filters (in lieu of newspaper or paper towels) and a homemade mixture of rubbing alcohol and white wine vinegar.


TreeHugger examines an instance of adaptive reuse that may not be all that "green and sustainable." Described as a case of "wretched excess gone heritage," Lloyd Alter doesn't hold back his feelings on an 1848 pumping station in the U.K that's been converted into a luxurious, "upside down monster home."  



Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Playing catch up: Hardly recognized 'ya
This week: A vintage sports car converted into a shelving solution, an abandoned meth trailer reborn as an off-the-grid retreat and a British pumping station tr