“Cradle to Cradle” Home Competition, Roanoke, VA

Project Size:   1800 sf

Construction Type:  Type V

Units:  3BR Single Family Home

Siting this as a great opportunity to explore and educate the firm, Strauss Architects, my fellow colleague and I headed the design team for the entry to the first “Cradle-to-Cradle” home competition.

The competition is based on William McDonough and Michael Braungart’s book, “Cradle-to-Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things”.    The concept is that the products after their useful life should be designed in such a way that they provide the “seeds” for something new either as “biological nutrients” for the environment or “technical nutrients” that create closed-loop industrial cycles.  They argue that most current manufacturing processes cast of as much as 90 percent of materials used as waste.  In a process in Nature, waste becomes food for other processes.  In the manufacturing world, much of the waste is toxic and exits the industrial cycle in landfills or pollution.  Recycling minimizes the damage, but the goal is to create self-sustaining loops, not slow down the problem.

The design approach was to create a home that was a flow through system for sun, wind and rain.  The elements would be borrowed and then returned to the environment in a state that would allow them to continue in a natural closed-loop cycle.  The concept was called using “Free Sources”.

Some of the ideas employed were simple while others were more complex.  These are a few:

  • Siding with radiating fins that help regulate building temperature, much like fins on a stereo amplifier.
  • Central atrium to create natural convection patterns to cool house.
  • Integrated laundry lines to encourage line drying.
  • Low cost and low impact hay bale construction for main living level.
  • Rain collection for irrigation, water and cooling.
  • Grey water recollection/reuse.

Fitting into neighborhood context was also extremely important.  A simple gable roof form was chosen.  Porch space and interior spaces that could open to the exterior were also created to encourage the interaction of neighbors and sense of community.

Click here for additional articles on the competition and Cradle-to-Cradle:






Project Team:  Strauss Architects

Project Role:  Co-Project Manager, Designer, Modeler

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