Most city apartments don't leave much extra space for gardening or sun rooms -- but what if you could add on an eco extension to your existing apartment? That's the idea behind the clip-on Plant Room, a design proposal from a Wellington, New Zealand design team for the 2009 Sustainable Habitat Challenge. Designed for a variety of existing apartment types, the Plant Room is a prefabricated room that bolts on, provides extra living space for urban gardening, and can also help improve the sustainability of the building.
The New Zealand team came up with the idea in part because there are so many apartment buildings out there that could benefit from a sustainable upgrade. Rather than tear these buildings down, the Plant Room provides an eco-addition. Inside, apartment dwellers can use the room like a greenhouse to grow plants and veggies, compost organic waste, and create a bit of extra living space. The top of the Plant Room features a green roof and a solar hot water heater, which provides enough hot water for the apartment.
Besides providing extra space to grown one’s own food, the Plant Room acts as a buffer for the apartment, protecting it from the sun and providing extra insulation. In the winter, the room collects heat from the sun and circulate the warmth into the apartment, while in the summer it provides shade. Compost is processed in a worm farm located in a built-bench, and rainwater is collected from the roof to help irrigate the plants. Currently, the design team is working on two prototypes – one will be built onto a traveling shipping container, while the other will be built onto a prototype building.