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.

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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.

+ Wall Street Journal