Cradle to Cradle International Housing Design Competition

The new housing competition based on a revolutionary idea

| October 7, 2004

Most houses are consumption machines. They provide roughly-hewn vessels in which we consume copious quantities of natural resources and produce trash and pollutants. This legacy of 'cradle to grave' design has provided humanity with numerous benefits, but it has also gravely threatened our health, happiness, and natural resources. The basis for this old design is a linear model in which resources pass in and waste passes out -- any sense of cyclical sustainability is eschewed in favor of raw production. Thus, old-school industrial design produces as many landfills and incinerators as it does buildings and jobs. In their book Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, William McDonough and Michael Braungart outline a new standard for design that turns 'cradle to grave' production on its head, detailing a 'cradle to cradle' standard of sustainable design that purifies air, water, and soil and retains natural resources for perpetual reuse. This new paradigm works with nature rather than against it, using cyclical metabolisms of resource use that replenish as they consume.

All of this theory, of course, is useless without meaningful application, which is why the Cradle to Cradle Home competition was formed. Judged by a who's who of sustainable designers and endowed with significant cash awards, the ultimate goal of the competition is to build real examples of the principles laid out in McDonough and Braungart's work. Winning entries will actually be built on a specific site in Roanoke, Virginia, and entrants are encouraged to keep local context in mind when designing their habitations. By encouraging the design of homes that give to the environment rather than take from it, the Cradle to Cradle Home competition provides a crucial forum for green designers to demonstrate the viability of the sustainable architecture concept.
-- Brendan Themes

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