ARM Architecture of Melbourne, Australia has designed a private residence that makes a bold statement about sustainability, according to Architecture & Design. The owners asked the architects to answer this question: “How far would you go for sustainability? Is your domestic aesthetic flexible enough?” The answer to that question is called The Water Tank House. To say it is unusual in appearance would be an understatement.
The exterior is covered by 19 black plastic water tanks and modular vertical planters, each covering 22 square feet. Together, they hold 10,000 gallons of water. They are designed to capture rainwater which will then be used to supply the home’s toilets, laundry facilities and extensive gardens. All that water will also provide a thermal barrier between the interior and the exterior of the home. The toilets have integrated hand basins that store the water used for hand washing until it is needed later for flushing.
Atlantis Gro-Wall modules cover the rest of the building exterior. Designed to be fastened directly over any exterior surface, they feature a fully integrated watering system supplied by the water captured in the external water tanks. Vertical gardens provide further insulation and absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
The rooftop of the Water Tank House features solar panels that supply much of the electrical needs of the family along with a domestic garden for growing fresh fruits and vegetables. The three story central staircase is designed to act as a thermal chimney that conducts warm air upwards to a roof mounted skylight to help cool the interior without air conditioning.
ARM says the façade, which will form a micro-ecology as it grows, puts the environment first, and forces the concept of sustainability into the public realm. “The façade is palazzo-like in that it appears to seal off the household from the outside environment, yet it is not a forbidding security fortress: its message is about protecting species and environmental elements,” says the architect. “It chooses shared, functional sustainability over a personal luxury ideal.”
Exterior photos by Aaron Poupard; interior photo from Freemantle Media.