In my professional work I've been writing about green homes--clean energy, green building and remodelling materials, and (my favorite of all topics) passive solar design. It's fascinating work.
As someone who's always had a weak spot for home design, I can't help but imagine how I'd apply the green design principles I've been learning to my own home. As a child I used to pore over the tanatalizing blueprints of seven-figure apartments in the back of the New York Times Sunday Review; during the deathly boring school week I'd covertly design my own. I'd sit there, sniff a little Elmer's, and get lost in a fantasy of wide wood plank flooring, clerestory windows, and ultra-quiet appliances.
My vision has changed a little since then. For once thing, my dream house isn't in Greenwich Village any more (although I wouldn't say no to a little pied-a-terre). Instead, I imagine myself in the country--close to where I am right now would do just fine. My ideas are coming together a little like this:
I see a home dug in the side of a drumlin with southern exposure in the side of the house, facing the sea. The roof is a green garden, full of edibles, with a large herb spiral dead center.
Inside, the centerpiece of the home is a large, sea blue-tiled pellet-fed kachelofen in the shape of the torso of a Venus figurine, with the fireplace (and pizza oven!) located beneath her navel, in her core. The whole structure is an open floor plan oval with skylights on the darker north side of the interior. Most of the home is single story, but there's a dome above the kachelofen with a built-in tile staircase wrapping around the back of the kachelofen, leading to a conversation pit hollowed in the "head". Several small tubular daylighting holes located around the base of the herb spiral light this area.
The windows, mostly south-facing, are coated on the edges with photovoltaic solar cell dye that supply energy to the house. A polished concrete floor adds to the abundant thermal mass of the home, scattered with thick wool rugs. The walls are a pastiche of tile and limewash.
Everything is quiet. Everything is clean. Everything is green.
Now all I have to do is win the lottery so I can build it. ;-)