Viridian Future 1

Aiming to be not just the most environmentally sustainable townhouse in Manhattan, but a net zero energy home.

Buildings start out inside peoples heads

A quick update on progress with the planning application - we had our first virtual meeting with the city examiner last week, which went really well. There were two items they queried: firstly they said that our zoning classification, which is R7, requires a minimum boundary width of 18 feet. As our property is only 17 feet wide, we are not in compliance. Given that the property and its boundaries were created in 1901, and the zoning was created some fifty years later, I found it rather funny. Did they want us to tell our neighbors that we must take 150mm(6") of their property in order to comply with the regulations, the net effect being our row of townhouses would extend several meters into the main street! The second point was wanting to know the manufacturers of our solar panels. Not a big hurdle to surmount, so we came away feeling very pleased. Now we wait for the next meeting.

Meanwhile, I am continuing with the design work. Hence the title today. I am busy at my computer and elsewhere learning and deciding on materials and finishes. As I imagine the hallway, with its bordered hardwood floor and the wall lamps that I am also designing, I can get quite carried away. I am so keen to see for real, the master bathroom that at the moment I only see in my head, and the automated door opening system for the bank of closet doors.

I am talking to suppliers and designers of home automation controls, and sometimes my head spins with the possibilities and alternatives. And I remember the way things were done when I started out in the building industry. Light switches all carried mains voltage, and came between the fuse board and the light. Nowadays the light switches are replaced by touch screen controls that send signals to computers, that send signals to relays, that turn on the lights. More complicated in many ways, but oh so many more options. It is now possible to use individual pin numbers on apps on phones to disarm the security, turn on the lights, play music throughout the house, and set the temperature, all to individual preferences, before even entering the house.

Central Park and Upper East Manhattan Skyline from our window.

Central Park and Upper East Manhattan Skyline from our window.

And even as I get excited by all the possibilities, I turn and look out the window, and see the New York skyline, none of which would exist if it hadnt first been imagined inside someone head. 

When I was fourteen, my parents gave me a kit to make a radio.  My bedroom was in the attic, which gave me access behind the false wall. I went out and bought switches, wires and other equipment, and created a control panel beside my bed, by which I could turn on my radio with one switch, the room lights, with another, the bedside light with another, and so on. I dreamed of a switch that would open the curtains, and one that would ring a bell in the kitchen so my mother would bring me a cup of tea. So here I am designing things in my head, with so many more toys to play with. The only element that hasnt been brought up to date is that whatever bell rings in the kitchen, there is little chance of Lorna bringing me a Gin and Tonic. I'm still dreaming.


Web Design by Abel B'Hahn, with grateful thanks to The Story of Us | VIRIDIAN FUTURE 1 | New York, New York, USA