I'm an Architect in San Francisco, saw your post, and wanted to comment. If you care. :)
> My ideal house:
> 1. It's built on a concrete platform, on concretes poles high above the platform
This 'pole foundation' or 'pile foundation' is used a lot on hillsides and over water/wet/swamp areas. It works rather well, however it costs more than a normal foundation for two reasons. There's more work involved in it's fabrication, and by being held off of the ground everything must support it's weight to those poles via beams. Most current foundations are able to just send the majority of the house's weight to the ground directly, so you can have much much thinner floors on the ground floor and don't have to have beams under everything.
It's a perfectly feasible idea; In America, where labor is more than materials, and concrete being a somewhat-labor heavy thing (formwork, casting, steel re-enforcing fabrication, specialized workers)
Also Concrete isn't really the most ecological of materials. unless you were turning out a whole bunch of these houses, and can re-use the formwork, you have to first build the formwork, then cast the house, then toss the formwork (which is usually made of plywood). Concrete also takes a lot of energy to make (transpiration, mixing, and cement production). It's also really hard/takes a lot of energy to get rid of/reuse. There are ways for making it better, but locally collected sustainable wood (Bamboo, Pine) or recyclable steel could be more ecological selections for materials.
> 2. It includes its own well, upon which the house is constructed, so that you can pump manually or
> with electricity from the inside of your house your own groundwater directly into your house.
This a way cool idea, however wells aren't so predictable and could just simply not be there, such as in rocky or arid areas. Also in a city like San Francisco, the ground water you could get might be polluted from prior industry, and might be polluted by salt water.
> 3. It has a roof with solar energy plates, it has conventional wood and coal stoves and floor heating
> based on hot water.
They make roof tiles with built-in photovoltaic. They are really cool. The roof could also be made to trap rainwater for your hanging garden.
Radiant in-floor heating work really well and has gotten a lot cheaper in recent years, due to the pipes being flexible plastic and easier to set up prior to casting the concrete. Another advantage is that the *Ceiling* of the room would get heat too, from the 'floor' above.
The wood/coal stove is a good idea too, for it could burn anything. Another thing would be to have a heat pump as part of the house design, so that the heater doesn't have to do as much work, and the cooler (if there needed to be one) would need as much work either.
> 4. It's built like a terrace and has at least four floors
The ability to escape from fire via the balconies is neat. However, the house may benefit from NOT having a pyramidal shape. For example, in a cold place, having it be a pyramid could work, for each floor would get more sun and warmth. In a hot place, however, you would almost want the house to be the opposite, so that each floor shades the one below. Also if you wanted to take advantage of solar angles then the pyramidal scheme goes out the window.
So I think it's the right idea, but you may want to think about other shapes that would make this possible.
> 5. If there were an earthquake, there would not be too much damage, because the smallest unit
> would be on the top floor. Nothing much can fall from the top to the lower level.
Damage from an earthquake primarily happens via *shear*. If something like your house gets shaken, it's not that something will fall, it that something (a wall, a concrete pillar) will crack from getting raked by the movement of the building. also if a floor above moves enough, it will 'tip' it's supports under it causing the whole floor to fall castrophically on the one below. This is what happened to the apartment buildings in the big Mexico City earthquake.
Now your idea is right, if there is less mass up high, the house will get raked less. But it's the house's movement within itself, trying to tear itself apart, that is dangerous in an earthquake. Most buildings either try to be squat and heavy, so they ride out the earthquake like a rock; think of churches or houses. Tall buildings try to sway like a tree in the wind, so they take the shock and ride it out without much damage. Something in between, like a four story post & beam house like you describe, is the worst, for it's not flexible enough to take the shock, nor is it massive enough to ride it out. by adding some heavy walls to your scheme, or making the house like one big frame, would make it massive enough to ride it out, and by isolating the pillars and such you could make it flexible enough to take the shock...
> 6. If there were a storm, there wouldn't be much roof, which could fly away.
You are spot on. Also there is less roof for less solar gain, a problem in hot areas.
> 7. In my next life I would be an architect and construction engineer and would write this in a
> manner that you guys wouldn't have to get heart attacks reading through this baloney and turn
> around in your graves.
All your ideas are completely valid. Just because someone is an architect or engineer doesn't mean they can see the forest for the trees. Just because I'm an architect doesn't mean I can't design an ideal drawing program and have valid ideas on what it should do :)
> 8. The house would have a composting facility, which takes care of the treatment of sewage and
> wastewater. There are individual units which can do that.
The wastewater could also be processed via your hanging garden, via a system of three ponds. pond one digests the raw waste, and is mostly bacteria. Pond two is swamp plants feeding on the gray water from pond one. Pond three cleans the water more with special species, and then the water that runs off of pond three can be used for any of the plants in/on the house and can be filtered and then drank.
> 9. On the balconies, which are large and are wrapped around the house on each floor, you
> would grow a lot of stuff, at least half of what you eat regularly.
See no. 8 above.
> 10. Beneath the concrete poles, where my boat is residing and my car, there is not much light and
> it might be moist. I will grow champions there on cut of tree stumps.
Why stop there? there are plenty of things you can eat that like lots of shade. :)
> 11. I also will have some rabbits living aside my boat.
The rabbit 'exhaust' if you will could be fed to your composting system too- more fuel for the plants. There are some wonderful little greenhouses made by Jay Baldwin that use fish tanks to feed the plants. the tanks also work as a heat sink to stabilize the internal temperature, and you can eat the fish too.
> 12. If I get a nasty neighbor, who doesn't like my pyramid house, I will also get a couple of hens
> and a rooster (my revenge).
And a really touchy alarm on the boat & car :)
> 13. If it were a city house, where you work, you could staple those unit on to of each other and
> connect them on the north side so it would be a pyramid with one straight side on to which you add
> the next unit etc.
Better yet, you could make them in such a way where they link together and share resources, much like computers in a cluster, so that they can pool available water/power/heat...
[ Parent ]