Bridgette Meinhold

The Incredible Edible House of the Future

by , 04/30/09

veggie house, incredible edible house, sustainable design, urban farming, green design, green building, sustainable architecture, green house of the future, rios clementi hale studios, wall street journal

Will the house of the future be centered around growing our own food? That’s part of what the Wall Street Journal attempted to find out this week in their feature, “The Green House of the Future.” Author Alex Frangos asked four well-known architects to design the house of the future, which is energy-efficient and sustainable, but under no budget constraints or restraints on how we currently live. Our favorite design was the “Incredible Edible House,” by LA-based Rios Clementi Hale Studios, which is clearly an out-of-the-box concept for a sustainable 3-story house that doubles as a vertical garden.


The Edible House is constructed out of three prefab containers stacked on top of one another. As prefab and container homes become more popular, the house of the future will very likely contain a number of prefab elements, which reduce resource consumption and are more efficient to produce over the long run. Since the three containers are stacked on top of each other, the home’s footprint is quite small, which as the designers say, is a “nod to the importance of building dense, urban-style houses in order to reduce energy use.” The three floors house the eating and living space on the bottom, sleeping rooms in the middle, and office/studio space along with a glorious deck on the top.

Vertical axis wind turbines are mounted along the roof placed in front of an evaporative cooling reservoir. This integrated energy production and cooling system will reduce energy usage dramatically. Additionally, a photovoltaic awning is mounted over the top deck for both energy production and shading. Adjustable doors on the sides of the house allow for natural cross ventilation.

Attached in front of the prefabricated modules is a hydroponic skin that covers the living quarters with a multitude of plant, vegetables and fruits. A living wall on the outside of the house acts to reduce heat gain to the house, thus reducing cooling load, and is watered with a rainwater collection system. The best part about the house is the ability to walk out on the deck to pick your vegetables for the night’s dinner from your own edible garden.

Besides Rios Clementi Hale Studios, the WSJ also asked world-renowned William McDonough + Partners, Cook + Fox, and Mouzon Design to offer their ideas. These brilliant architects designed amazing homes centered around integrated systems, gardens, solar power, innovative exteriors and smart design to make the house more useful for the inhabitants inside. We would love to see any four of these design come to fruition.

+ Rios Clementi Hale Studios

+ Wall Street Journal

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5 Comments

  1. Lateral Design May 27, 2009 at 4:55 am

    AWESOME!

    Will work in good climate regions – south Africa can do with something like that!

    Will definately keep in mind next time we have a client wanting to have a house which is 100% sustainable and self sufficient!

    Keep it up lads!

    Blessings and greetings from Johannesburg Sunny South Africa

  2. NoahPollock May 4, 2009 at 11:29 pm

    Many of the ideas of the house are certainly intriguing. However, I worry that many of the elements need serious testing before being implemented. Vertical axis turbines are notorious for not living up to there high expectations. Solar panels do not do well when overlapped as depicted. A big open water system on top of a building would weigh a lot – and need to be designed to handle leaks. I have seen pictures of living walls before, but never ones rich with edible vegetables. Usually it is mosses and ferns. I am not convinced the plants depicted could live in such a set up, nor would harvesting be an easy process. I don’t mean to be disparaging – I studied ecological and ecological economics at the University of Vermont with the likes of John Todd (learn more about these programs (which includesa bunch of neat summer classes in at http://learn.uvm.edu/igs/) – but without seeing such a house actually built and tested, I am hesistant to endorse it.

  3. TanyaN. May 3, 2009 at 9:24 am

    Hi,
    the design is great, eco-friendly etc.
    I just wonder how much a home like this would cost.

  4. alexjameslowe May 1, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    Such good ideas! This is fantastic in so many ways- decentralized food and energy production is going to be so healthy for communities. Cities with many houses like this will seed spontaneous little neighborhood farmer’s markets. It’s more energy efficient, people will walk to get there because the food is hyper-local, and it will increase the solidarity of people living in cities, which will reduce crime. Not to mention the food will be healthier, a well-known problem in American culture.

    The energy stuff is a no-brainer- I assume the ‘evaporative reservoir’ draws heat out of the house for natural air-conditioning. Grey-water recycling would make it all the better. Best of all, this is something that could be produced and reproduced at scale. We have to get these things off the drawing boards!

  5. dpstudiousa April 30, 2009 at 2:41 pm

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