That was the assignment Stephanie Mestyan gave her upper school architecture students when she asked them to develop a design wish list to build the perfect sustainable house. “There is no budget, and the only limit is your imagination, so get creative!” she said.
Using SketchUp, the 3D modeling program, students considered roof configurations, solar paneling, locations and site placements in their work. Mestyan reminded students to consider the geographic region in which their house would reside and “to factor in average rainfall, snowfall and general weather information along with where the home sits on the land.”
During the week of November 8, students shared their ideas, research and designs during class presentations.
“I have been struck by the use of green roofs and the creative use of siting of buildings — both very ancient techniques — as a means of looking toward future designs that work in harmony with the natural environment,” Mestyan said.
Henry Timmer ’23 designed a minimalistic modern house that he described as “pretty boxy with a 19-degree slope on the roof.” He included solar panels and passive house standards. “This would allow my house to power itself and be as efficient as possible,” he explained.
Mestyan was inspired by how students presented their innovative and forward-thinking ideas. “If our charge as teachers is to help students think critically about the present and past while planning for future innovations, we must think about our relationship to the environment around us,” she said. “It is our responsibility as makers and builders to create that which is not only sustainable, but that actually gives back.”