The New York Times chats up the developer and a few very happy residents of SOL Austin, an affordable, 5.5-acre sustainable housing development in the Lone Star State built as "an ambitious attempt to upend the conventions of the American subdivision." The small-ish and minimalist "matchbook" homes (rendering above) in this cul-de-sac community with net-zero energy ambitions are being purchased by "young homesteaders [that] say they love the way the neighborhood is filling up with others like them, but they also praise the presence of the subsidized renters and homeowners, a generally older and more racially diverse group. In short, they are buying into the 1950s suburban ideal without leaving the city behind." A fascinating piece, especially with regards as to how developer Chris Krager pulled this all together despite a hostile economic climate.


Dwell admires the gumption of Brian Whitlock, a prefab-obsessed resident of Jackson Hole suffering from a serious case of SSTF (Swanky Ski Town Fatigue). Long story short, Whitlock got the hell out and relocated to Bozeman, Mt. where he didn't buy a modern prefab (too pricey) but instead built an eco-friendly custom home on a small infill lot. Whitlock kept costs low by performing the electrical and landscaping work himself. 


Jetson Green is fascinated by Rubble Floor, a new building material made from, umm, old building materials like roof tiles, glass, nails and screws, and bricks. Dutch designer Dave Hakkens is behind this intriguing concept.


Core77 partakes in some target practice at the winter 2012 session of the New York International Gift Fair with some assistance from Bitplay's BANG! Lamp, a LED table lamp that can be turned on and off with a remote control shaped like a handgun. Check it out for yourself in the video below.


The Atlantic bogarts the compost in an article about the mind-altering, antidepressant qualities of M. vaccae, a microbe that lives in compost piles. Pagan Kennedy lays it out all in the first sentence: "I'm holding a bowl of dirt up to my nose, in hopes of getting high on the fumes of my backyard compost pile."


Gigaom reports that Japanese electronics giant Kyocera has developed a three-in-one home battery system comprised of rooftop photovoltaics, energy management system, and lithium ion battery that will enable homeowners to both generate and store their own power in the event of widespread natural disasters like last year's earthquake/tsunami/nuclear disaster in Japan.


TreeHugger shares a quote from MoMA curator Paola Antonelli: "Few labels are as frayed and worn out as 'green' is. In absence of any organised approach or regulation, manufacturers and users alike have flaunted and overstated ecological virtue to the point of devaluing it, much as has happened to the label 'organic' in American food retail. People have been encouraged to trust as 'truly green' only products that manifest holier-than thou austerity, vaguely crude looks and a sprinkling of freckles on the packaging to indicate recycled paper or plastic, all aimed at being a Birkenstock-style atonement for our vanity and sins of indulgence. But is it really true that everything that is tasty and sexy is bad for you? And is it really true that in order to be a better person one needs to flagellate one's natural inclinations towards lightness, humour and pleasure? Environmentally responsible design should be like dark chocolate: delicious and sensual, yet still good for the health of body and soul.



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

Playing catch up: May the best link win
For your perusal this Super Bowl weekend: Mind-altering compost, recycled content flooring, handgun-controlled LED table lamps and a Texas subdivision with net-