We consider Sustainable Dwellings a design approach and living lifestyle. This approach engages sustainable building methods, materials, and suitable technologies with natural energies while embracing ‘green-living’ practices to facilitate a more ecological and sustainable lifestyle. In general, ‘sustainability’ is a lifestyle choice with ongoing evaluations regarding your ecological, societal, and economical needs with mindfulness to these factors while positively impacting politics and cultural practices for educating future generations to be living in harmony with the Earth and cosmos.
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First Underground Home in Pennsylvania: 1978 - 1980
Design Team: Simon Koumjian
Production Team: Simon Koumjian III, with Simon Koumjian Associates
Located in the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA, the 3,600 sq. ft. home was the first underground home to be built in Pennsylvania. The house is set into the property’s sloped hill and overlooks a luscious forest area.
The choice in 1979 to live underground in close proximity to Philadelphia, as well as forego using oil or gas to heat the house was courageous and visionary for its time.
The owners, ‘Mr. and Mrs. Jones’(pseudonym) requested an unusual merger of traditional elements with contemporary underground construction methods. The entry is designed as a tower with a second-floor circular writer’s room, which provides 360-degree views of the surrounding landscape vistas and roof garden for ‘Mrs. Jones’, a journalist. The house’s interior spaces are bright with sunlight, and its landscape views give no sense that one inhabits partially subterranean spaces.
"The Earth is such a powerful metaphor of truth that vision questors will dig a hole into the earth and go down into the hole in order to be more in tune with the silence fused with perfection. It is not surprising that the chambers for teaching the ancient mysteries were underground. Going underground was the metaphor for entering the perfected self.”
– Native American Indian, Joseph Rael
Natatorium 2005-2011: construction was scheduled for 2012: Not Completed
Existing Site Plan
Existing Site Plan - with view from existing tennis court
Proposed 6,000 sq. ft. addition located under the tennis court - Arial X-ray Site Plan
X-ray view of new addition located under the tennis court
Underground lap-swimming pool
Underground recreational room with lap-swimming pool beyond
Underground living and meeting room with lap-swimming pool area beyond
Underground gym area, jacuzzi and lap-swimming pool
Underground gym area, jacuzzi and lap-swimming pool - stairway up to existing house
Section view of tennis court over underground Natatorium areas
Diagram X-ray view of tennis court over underground Natatorium areas, & existing house beyond
Exterior entry night-view down under tennis court to Natatorium areas
Exterior entry day-view up from Natatorium areas under tennis court
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Design Research Team: Simon Koumjian III with
Skylar Tibbits: http://www.sjet.us/Bio.html
Jared Laucks: http://matter.media.mit.edu/people/bio/jared-laucks
Brandon Kruysman: https://vimeo.com/esperantorobotics
Construction Documents Team: SKIII SpaceVariations LLC
Structural Engineers: Joseph Barbato Associates LLC http://www.jbarbato.com/#
Construction Budget: $ 3,000,000
The challenge was to design a sustainable visionary underground addition to a conventional suburban house in Pennsylvania. The design program required an indoor swimming pool and spa with exercise and sporting spaces along with a multipurpose room to be designed as an illuminated series of spaces. Given the constraints of the building site and zoning codes, the additional 6,000 sq. ft area desired was not acceptable. We proposed building under the existing tennis court, while connecting to the existing residence with a new subterranean stair gallery – all was permissible by the township.
The vast continuous ceiling surface became a focus of designing for a topological aesthetic using sheet-building material geometry for organizing the new underground natatorium spaces. Research focused on forming the surface geometries of materials for the ceiling and walls by the motion of folding, bending, and stacking geometrical compositions into a woven matrix of sheet-surface plastics, recycled composites, plaster and lighting elements into a vibrant topographic iconography.