ТОП 10:

Read the news dating May, 2000 and check whether Rolph Disch’s ideas have been realized. Were your predictions about the chances of the new type of houses to get ground correct?

One of the most modern housing estates in Europe is being built in Freiburg which was named Environmental Capital of Germany in 1992. The so-called surplus energy houses on the estate produce more energy than they consume. In his design for the houses, the renowned solar architect Rolf Disch has united modern energy-saving technology with centuries-old solar construction skills.
The houses are positioned with architectural precision, each strictly lined up with the sun. Their terrace-like south-facing facades are designed to soak up the heat, especially in the winter when the sun is low in the sky. Their northern facades, which are three or four storeys high, are closed off, shutting out wind and inclement weather. A refined ventilation system keeps the houses cool in the summer and warm in the winter. "We’ve used 460 kilowatt hours since May," says the architect, gesturing towards the mouse-grey interior of the meter box. "And we’ve produced more than 4,000 kilowatt hours" — without gas or oil. These days, it’s not only journalists who take one of Disch’s guided tours through the first finished row of terraced housing in Europe’s most modern solar construction project, at the foot of the Schlierberg in Freiburg. Fellow architects, engineers, house-builders and whole bus-loads full of tourists travel to Germany’s solar capital to see this first financially feasible housing project that produces more energy on average than it consumes.


Study the information below and then try to give a reasoned explanation to the fact that wood is a favourite building material of Hubert Fritz and his followers.


Simply put, manufacturing wood is energy efficient. Compare the amount of energy it takes to produce one ton of cement, glass, steel, or aluminum to one ton of wood:

· 5 times more energy for one ton of cement

· 14 times more energy for one ton of glass

· 24 times more energy for one ton of steel

· 126 times more energy for one ton of aluminum

Wood products make up 47% of all industrial raw materials manufactured in the United States, yet consume only 4% of the total energy needed to manufacture all industrial raw materials. Wood's manufacturing process alone makes it the environmentally friendly choice in building materials.


What is the best summary of the previous extract?

1. Wood is the most ecologically friendly material.

2. Wood is the lightest material.

3. Wood offers more product for less energy.

4. Wood is the cheapest material in production.

5. Wood is the most energy efficient in production.



Look through the unit again and make notes under the following headings. Then use your notes to talk about ecologically-friendly architecture and construction.


1. Alternative sources of energy and their application in construction industry.

2. Passive solar design and its benefits.

3. The appearance of new types of houses in Germany.

4. Famous names in eco-friendly building.

5. Construction materials of the future.

6. New technologies employed in new types of houses.

7. The examples of such houses.


Reading task D


Look at the pictures of these six houses. Do you think they have anything in common? Read the descriptions below and match them with the corresponding houses.

Villa Girasole

The oldest rotating house we have found is Angelo Invernizzi's Villa Girasole (Villa Sunflower) near Verona, Italy. "The two storied and L shaped house rests on a circular base, which is over 44 meters in diameter. In the middle there is a 42 meters tall turret, a sort of conning tower or lighthouse, which the rotating movement hinges on. A diesel engine pushes the house over three circular tracks where 15 trolleys can slide the 5,000 cubic meters building at a speed of 4 millimeters per second (it takes 9 hours and 20 minutes to rotate fully).

2. Everingham Rotating House

This Australian house rotates around a central pivot point. “It also encapsulates many aspects of ecologically sound building principles, such as optimising on natural light and heat, while rotating 180o to take advantage of sunshine and shade at different times of the day and year.”

The Everingham model is a 24 m (79’) diameter octagon with a 3-metre (10’), 360-degree verandah. It weighs 50 tonnes, but can rotate a full 360-degrees, around a central core of plumbing and electricals. Within this core is also a geothermal piping system (120 metres long and 2.5 metres deep), supplying a constant 22ºC to the house.

3. Massau Rotating House

50 years ago François Massau built this rotating house so that his sickly wife could enjoy sunshine and warmth any time of the year. Massau was an eccentric builder who does not appear to have been very nice, and spent his last years fighting in court, dying alone and penniless at 97 in 2002. However his house survives, with its fixed roof and house that turns beneath it.

4. Maisons Labbe Turntable House

We now enter the realm of speculation, of proposals that are not yet built. In Nice, France, Frederic Plazar has designed a series of turntable houses ranging from 80m2 (861 SF) to 140m2 (1506 SF). The Maisons Labbé website calls it a "Bioclimactic house", that uses 60% less energy than a conventional house.

5. Glenn Howells' rotating "sustainable" Dubai Condo

Its hot in Dubai, and everyone wants water view- so Glenn Howells is building "an eco-friendly sustainable design, using solar power to revolve the cylindrical form and recycling water to irrigate the landscaped gardens. The concept for the façade design has evolved through the use of intricate layers and textures that also help to address the extreme heat conditions in Dubai, while providing the residents with energy efficient control of their internal environment.

The dual-skin breathing façade creates a dynamic appearance and adds depth to the building with interesting materials including high performance glass with neutral coating and gold screens." We like the line in the advertising: "Awake one day to see panoramic lake views and another day to see beautiful landscapes and the worlds biggest shopping mall .

6. David Fisher's Rotating Tower in Dubai

We have been dubious about Architect David Fisher's rotating tower for Dubai, with its wind turbines built in between each floor, and its claims that "the building will generate 10 times more energy than required to power it." We also wondered about how "The new tower is the first building of its size to produced in a factory. Each floor, made up of 12 individual units, complete with plumbing, electric connections, air conditioning, etc., will be fabricated in a factory. These modular units will be fitted on the concrete core or spine of the building at the central tower."


2. Answer the following questions:


1. What do these houses have in common?

2. Which of them correspond to the principles of ecologically friendly architecture and construction? Can you prove it?

3. Which of them are “plus-energy houses”?

4. Which of them are “low-energy houses”?

5. Which house do you like most of all?

6. Which house would you like to live in?

7. Can you think of any other examples of rotating houses?


Time for fun


Construction Worker and Engineer


An Engineer and a Construction Worker are sitting next to each other on a long flight across country. The Engineer leans over to the Construction Worker and asks if he would like to play a fun game. The Construction Worker just wants to take a nap, so he politely declines and rolls over to the window to catch a few winks. The Engineer persists and states that the game is real easy and a lot of fun. He explains "I ask you a question, and if you don't know the answer, you pay me $5. Then you ask me a question, and if I don't know the answer, I'll pay you $5." Again, the Construction Worker politely declines and tries to get to sleep. The Engineer, now somewhat agitated, says, "OK, if you don't know the answer you pay me $5, and if I don't know the answer, I'll pay you $50!" This catches the Construction Worker's attention, and he sees no end to this idiotic torment unless he plays, so he agrees to the game. The Engineer asks the first question. "What's the distance from the earth to the moon?" The Construction Worker doesn't say a word, but reaches into his wallet, pulls out a five-dollar bill and hands it to the Engineer. Now, it's the Construction Worker's turn. He asks the Engineer "What goes up a hill with three legs, and comes down on four?" The Engineer looks up at him with a puzzled look. He takes out his laptop computer and searches all of his references. He taps into the Airphone with his modem and searches the net and the Library of Congress. Frustrated, he sends e-mail to his co-workers -- all to no avail. After about an hour, he wakes the Construction Worker and hands him $50. The Construction Worker politely takes the $50 and turns away to try to get back to sleep. The Engineer, more than a little miffed, shakes the Construction Worker and asks, "Well, so what's the answer?" Without a word, the Construction Worker reaches into his wallet, hands the Engineer $5, and turns away to get back to sleep.


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