EARTH-SHELTERED – Garage Addition

Here is my final competition entry for the PARKITECTURE competition sponsored by Dwell magazine. 

And you can see the winning entry here >>


A garage addition should be in balance with nature, part of the landscape, flexible and multi-functional, and should enhance the built environment. These principles are expressed in the design for an earth-sheltered garage. The garage is nestled into a southern facing earth-berm supported by a folded concrete retaining wall. The wall is clad with locally sourced stone. The earth-berm is made from the soil excavated from the foundations & drives of the garage and the main house. Rich topsoil is added to help support a healthy garden. The exposed sides of the garage are enclosed with a simple wood stud wall panel system, built on site in 4’x8’ sections. These could be constructed and erected by one person.  Asymmetrical roof trusses (tipped up to the north) are used to add extra volume and allow ample light into the space. This helps the garage function as a studio space or woodworking shop in addition to storage for the cars and bikes. The siding for the garage is made from the trees salvaged during the site clearing. These trees are milled into 2x trim (with the bark left in place) and attached to the walls in a rain-screen assembly. A stairway allows easy access to the garden area and the rails of the stair are made from branches salvage on the site. The 24’x24’ garage space will accommodate 2 cars. The doors are made of two 12’ wide sliding panels which can be opened in a variety of ways depending on the needs. A green roof system is installed on the roof to minimize the water runoff on the site and make the garage appear to be a simple hill in the landscape. A simple filtration trench is installed at the base of the roof. The rainwater overflow is filtered through a filter mat and varying sized layers of gavel into a storage pipe (perforated at the top). This cleaned and stored water can be used for washing the car and for watering the garden. A trench drain catches the car wash run-off and a re-circulating pump moves this water back to the top of the trench to be filtered again and reused. The drive area is paved with pervious pavers to further minimize water run-off. Finally, the garage has an optional second floor. This can be used as an apartment, mother-in-law suite, home-office, or studio. Increasing the housing density in established neighborhoods can be a very sustainable option since all the city services and infra-structure are already in place. The streets, utilities, schools, hospitals, fire stations, churches, etc. are already there to support the new housing. This additional density also allows for alternate housing types and changing family configurations over time. The unit can be used as an affordable rental unit, a guest house, a student apartment, a home for your retired parents, a first apartment for your oldest child, a home-based office space, a gallery space, an arts studio, or almost anything. The resulting garage is part of nature, flexible, multi-functional, and in perfect balance with its surroundings.

  1. Great job! Beautiful design, renderings, and eco-thoughtfullness. Good luck!

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