Architectural design company Ambrosi Etchegaray recently created a stunning villa in southwest Mexico called Casa Volta — and the architects used discarded materials to do it.
The International Energy Agency released a report in 2019 showing that construction is a major contributor to pollution around the globe. In particular, it releases huge quantities of heat-trapping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
“The buildings and construction sector accounted for 36% of final energy use and 39% of energy and process-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2018, 11% of which resulted from manufacturing building materials and products such as steel, cement, and glass,” says the report.
When creating Casa Volta, Ambrosi Etchegaray looked for materials that were safer for the environment. The company chose “waste” clay bricks manufactured nearby at the Casa Wabi Foundation.
Using the materials at hand reduced the need for shipping, which saved money and meant less fuel burned by trucks and trains, and thus, less carbon dioxide released into the air.
The home is also designed to be as open as possible with many areas exposed to the air. The enclosed rooms use reed screens to provide privacy while still letting air flow through beneath the rounded brick roofs. This helps keep the villa cool in Oaxaca’s hot climate — saving even more energy and fuel.
Even the furniture is secondhand to save both money and the materials to make new furniture.
Structures like Casa Volta that use local materials and suit the natural environment are less expensive to build than many other types of modern homes. They’re also cheaper to live in, since residents don’t have to spend as much money on climate control — an expense that the U.S. Energy Information Administration says accounts for more than half of the energy use in an average household.
All of this is in addition to being quick to build and better for the environment than a traditional house.
“Casa Volta is the proof that an adequate relationship between architecture and nature can be achieved with few well-thought elements,” said the architects, “that constructive order is not in contradiction with the apparent chaos that surrounds it — on the contrary, they can merge in a harmonious way. It is also a reminder that simplicity is always elegant.”
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