Perhaps the greenest home is the one already built. A couple in the city of San Juan, Puerto Rico took this to heart when they renovated an abandoned early eightieth-century home and transformed it into an urban garden. This 9000 square foot building was carefully upgraded and preserved with a light modernist touch. The couple had very different ideas for a home so they compromised by doing both — the husband has a large vegetable garden and green roof, while the wife enjoys the home’s location in the heart of town and runs her arts nonprofit on-site.
The colonial building was boarded up for decades, so the couple had major restoration work to do. Doing the design work themselves, they kept the original floor plan intact — touches like freshly-plastered walls and polished concrete floors harmonize the interior. The large flat roof was converted to a vegetable garden and grassy area. In the dense downtown neighborhood this small patch of green gives the family food and a place to be outside, above the bustling and colorful neighborhood. The list of produce they acquire from their urban garden is impressive — green beans, tomatoes, eggplants, sweet potatoes, scallions, rosemary, basil and other herbs.