house is a project focused on the long-term dwelling of humans on earth. Phase one was a year-long research phase looking at how to decentralize all public utilities. In partnership with Utopia, Stone Edge Micro-grid, and Center for Art and Public Life at California College of the Arts, we are publishing what we learned as we determine the best next steps.
What do we mean by “decentralize all public utilities”? Well, today if you want water, power, waste, or communication to be available at your home, you need to connect to your cities or counties’ utility grid. We are researching a future in which you can be separated from that grid system. This may sound a bit like a micro-grid but thinking even smaller. Our focus is on what we are calling the pico grid or a grid that can service all traditional public utility needs of one household. To achieve this, we are working to develop a system, called core, which would maintain and manage all your utilities.
We think that cities will contine to grow [^1] and suburbs will become more dense until they become more like cities. So our core would look into optimitizng suburbs and more traditional apartment building. Now it might make sense to create a specific system to handel water, power, and communications all seporatly. But we are interested at the intersections in which we camn rejuce joing waste across all utilites.
The Core can be thought of as a plug-n-play style device. Just connect all the appliances and utilities in your existing home, and we will manage all the input and output to the city grids.
What can we make today?
Making a core will take several years of research and development by its self. But we also wanted to explore how we could start with a product today and transition to a core like model over time. So communicating what this might look like, we created three products around power, water, and internet to show how we might start augmenting current appliances today. Some starting products might be a Router, Sink, and Switch.
Internet traffic today is very redundent in how we have ch
Currently your router talks to a data center when ever it needs to get any form of data you request.
Often neighbors are requesting the same software update or watching the same show too. And they are much closer then a data center to you.
Our router would store recently visited sites, software updates, and web media to reduce the bandwidth and thus energy need to maintain our internet Infrastructure.
Wastewater shouldn’t be discarded after one use! We created a way to filter and capture the waste materials from the sink to be used as a dry compost material. Either in your garden or given to a local farm. Then the gray water could be more easily upcycled locally in your home into water plants or flushing your toilet. It would essentially replace your current garbage disposal.
In some cities, waste needs to be trained out because the water treatment plants can not keep up with demand.
We can reduce the amount of water you need to import from the local water grid if we filter to capture waste particles and pass on the gray water to other sources in the home.
It takes a lot of energy to clean the wastewater we use when we can be filtering and reusing a lot of it as gray water, which would double the lifespan of the water and cut the embedded energy almost in half.
We wanted to help transition existing appliances too. So with our smart switch, you can set a timer to determine when to start the device when energy is cheaper. For example, maybe you want to run your washer at night or early in the morning when there is typically less energy demand.
We tent to think of energy in a very simplified way. For example, there is a power plant that sends energy to our home.
But in reality, there are lots of wires, transformers, and boilers, which help get the energy to us.
And since energy production is a slow process, there is typically an entire power plant sanding by idling waiting just in case we all turn on the light at the same time.
This was a 20% project for a lot of the team so we are on a break, thinking about how to best bring this project forward into the real world.