Hudson Passive Project: a new kind of home


A small house is under construction near Hudson, New York, that is the tangible outcome of some very big ideas.  Designed by Dennis Wedlick, this house presents solutions to the economic and environmental problems that have left the housing industry as crippled as a Hummer out of gas.

The Hudson Passive project achieves three ambitious goals, all accomplished through art and craft.  First, and perhaps most importantly, this is a green house that will require little or no energy to keep its inhabitants comfortable and its larger environment unharmed. The project also offers a prototype for the development of housing where value is measured not by square footage or its investment potential, but by its contribution to the quality of life for individuals and communities.  The third goal, embedded in the first two, is to make high quality design and workmanship defining features of new home construction.

When Dennis asked KR+H to become involved in this project he included a broadsheet he had written about the house and the ideas behind it.  This manifesto reminded me of the energy and ambition of the early modernists; the way the promotion of their ideas was as powerful and startling as their built work.  I opened it up thinking that I had never worked on a house that came with a mission statement.  It was splashed across two pages like a banner headline in a tabloid:  IT'S NOT THE TECHNOLOGY; IT'S THE ARCHITECTURE.  This takes the modernist notion that "a house is a machine for living in" and flips it on its head.  The Hudson Passive Project is a prototype built on the conviction that sustainable housing must be self-sufficient, impeccably crafted, and above all capable of supporting and even enriching human experience.  This last feature is critically important; houses will last for hundreds of years only if generations of users love them.