Written by  Nicole Jewell
Jul 2012   Modified Aug 2012

3rd Place: Janus Welton | Orca House

The prefab Orca House from EcoArchitecture DesignWorks is 100% energy self-sufficient due to a highly insulated building envelope and various renewable energy elements such as its passive solar design and wind turbine. The vegetated “living roofs” are arched in order to circumvent the Aleutian winds and shed runoff water. The house has 1,250 square feet of interior living space, and its layout gives the space an additional 350 square feet of unconditioned enclosed porch entry and a greenhouse. Materials include cost-effective components like recycled shipping pallets and other durable, non-toxic materials that are suitable to the climate challenges of the area.
Janus Welton’s Orca House, tied for third place in the Living Aleutian Home Design Competition 2012

Janus Welton: “This is a building supremely rooted in its environment, a northern outpost on the sea. It uses locally bagged sand in its foundation, not only a massive cost savings but also a technique highly resistant to tectonic shock. It’s a modern, efficient analogue of the traditional Unangan barabara but suffused with healthy light, space, and air quality. At a time when the Native Alaskan Unangans are reviving their language and culture, the Orca House attests to the durability and adaptability of the human spirit.”

Petal – Health:

  • A spacious and light design that connects people with daylight
  • The high arching cathedral ceiling provides healthy air circulation and the clerestory windows allow cooling when necessary
  • The well-insulated, translucent Kalwall façade on the eastern side offers expansive views and allows the morning light to enter
  • Indirect T.5 fluorescent light responds to photocell-controlled dimming and can be switch-controlled in the evening
  • Solatubes bring daylight deep into the earth-bermed bedrooms
  • A covered deck and a green roof covered with native grasses, herbs, and low-growing berries
  • A greenhouse to grow fresh vegetables, much needed in such a severe environment
  • The sunspace, daylight warm lamps, high-grade insulation, and thermal controls enhance indoor living
  • A small-scale, self-contained hydroponic garden, producing 80 plants in 10 square feet
  • All materials are toxin-free
  • A simple mechanical ventilation system provides fresh air year-round