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Medieval thatched roof cob cottage in Hope Cove, South Hams, Devon, UK

Imagine a magical building material. It's strong, eco-friendly, and as cheap as dirt. In fact, it is dirt.

Earth Houses
Architecture Spotlight10

These Roofs Will Grow on You

Tuesday April 22, 2014

Proving they're Always Ready, the U.S. Coast Guard is going green all the way to the top. Green organic roofing of the Coast Guard Headquarters near Washington, DC in June 2013 Beginning in 2013, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Coast Guard began packing up and moving to a new location—a campus with 5.6 acres of green, living, organic roofs (see larger image).

Why would the federal government spend tax dollars to go green? Obama can't take the credit (or blame) for this one—Perkins + Will drew up the plans during the G.W. Bush administration. Does GREEN transcend politics?

Learn more about the architecture of living roofs: Green Roof Basics.

Other Earth Day Stories:

Photo: Coast Guard Headquarters near Washington, DC in June 2013. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley

Architecture Updates: April 6 - 19, 2014

Saturday April 19, 2014
Got hammers? Got dreams? We've added lots of new content to our remodeling pages. Room interior piled with sheetrock scraps from remodeling and reconstruction Maybe we'll give you some inspiration. Or maybe the thought itself is just too exhausting. Whatever house projects you decide to do, let us know how it goes. And if you just want to take a nice, long vacation instead, that's fine, too. Until next year.

Selected Updates to Architecture Pages:

New Architecture Articles:

Photo by Dana Neely / Collection: Taxi / Getty Images (cropped/sized)

World's Most Creative Architects

Saturday April 19, 2014
Who's designing the most most interesting and unusual buildings today?Architect Jacques Herzog in 2013 Fast Company raised the question back in 2009, and the architects they selected have continued to win accolades. The top picks are:

Today we celebrate the birth of one of these designers. Happy Birthday, Jacques Herzog, born in Basel, Switzerland on April 19, 1950.

But here's another question: Does architecture have to be unusual before it can be considered great?

Full Story: The 10 Most Creative People in Architecture by By Cliff Kuang, June 9, 2009, Fast Company & Inc

Photo of Jacques Herzog in 2013 by Sergi Alexander ©2013 Getty Images/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Old House, Energy Hog?

Monday April 14, 2014

Why do the front doors in many older homes open into a vestibule hallway with stairs? Preserve energy-efficient original designs, like this entrance foyer Could be to save energy.

We took a look at the U.S. National Park Service's Preservation Brief 3, Improving Energy Efficiency in Historic Buildings, and summarized the results in our article, Make Your Home More Energy Efficient. The authors of this Brief give us a lot of pointers and suggest many actions that may improve energy consumption. They also tell us to look at the architecture of old buildings and try to determine the reasoning behind the designs.

Breezy porches in the south and thick adobe walls in the southwest helped deflect the heat. It could be that entryways like the one shown here compartmentalized cold air in the winter and transferred cooling breezes to upper floors in the summer. Everyone who has an older house knows that they rarely come with instructions, so improving energy efficiency requires analysis, thought, and patience.

So, I really want to hear from you. This past winter was terrible. How did you save energy at your house? What do you plan to do to prepare for the summer heat and next winter's unpredictabilities? Let us know.

Photo of traditional, energy-efficient foyer by Lived In Images / Collection: The Image Bank / Getty Images

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