| Follow Us: Facebook Twitter RSS Feed

Development News

Off-the-grid experimental project Free Agent House tests the limits of urban energy sovereignty

For architects like Jibe Design Principal Juliet Whelan, sometimes the most innovative work is better enjoyed as a work of art. So for her most recent design--a completely energy independent house retrofitted into recycled shipping containers--she made artistry the focus, enlisting photographer Stu Goldenberg of Goldenberg Photography and frequent collaborator Naquib Hossain to design a model for a photo retrospective.

After buying a Fishtown lot at an auction, craftsman Martin Lautz enlisted Jibe to design a sustainable, off-the-grid oasis built out of shipping containers. The house, Lautz said, would test the limits of sustainable living in a modern, urban setting. Meanwhile, Goldenberg was looking for his latest muse. When Whelan brought them all together with builders Allison Carafa and Jason Flax, the team created a scaled model called Free Agent House, a test center for sustainable design elements and the subject of a unique photo collection.

"Most un-built architecture projects are only viewed as two-dimensional computer renderings and many iconic completed buildings are only seen by the masses as photos," says Whelan. "I liked the idea of Stu playing with the intersection of a real photo of a real model and a rendered image of an un-built project."

Complete with solar panels, vacuum-insulated wall panels, efficient natural lighting design, passive heating and cooling systems and a solar-thermal water heater, the model creates a complete home without the aid of outside energy producers--a model that may become popular as Pennsylvania rate caps expire at the end of this year. Lautz recently requested a larger home design and Jibe is working to keep the efficiency measures in tact for a larger structure.

"Every project I design belongs on a continuum of my development as an architect," says Whelan. "The Free Agent House fixes some mistakes I've made on other projects, particularly in regards to separating floors vertically for heating efficiency. The innovations in this home will certainly inform my future work."

Source: Juliet Whelan, Jibe Design
Writer: John Steele
Signup for Email Alerts
Signup for Email Alerts