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Simply sustainable

By Jessica Wallace

Faculty of Environmental Design (EVDS) graduate student Yiming Su design might be considered simple, but her ‘S House’ project stood out among more than a hundred entries.

Su recently was named the west region winner in a 2012 student design competition sponsored by Habitat for Humanity and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) for her low-cost, low-energy, and long-lasting dwelling.

“Winning this award was a huge surprise,” said Su. “My studies in EVDS helped me understand that architecture is not just about building, but it’s also about improving the quality of people’s lives.”

Administered by the ACSA, the 2012 The Sustainable Home: Habitat for Humanity Student Design Competition engages young professionals in Habitat for Humanity’s effort to eliminate poverty housing by advancing the design of simple, decent, healthy, and affordable homes.

EVDS professor Graham Livesey incorporated the design competition into his 2012 Winter senior research architecture studio, in which students designed two versions of a small, affordable house. In each case, the students worked with a Calgary based building systems manufacturer. Su’s project employed the system developed by Sprung Instant Structures, Inc.

“Su devised an ingenious application of the Sprung system, which is not typically used for residential design,” said Livesey. “Her scheme is both simple and compelling.”

Her design is sustainable in the broadest sense. S House is low-cost, low-energy, and long-lasting with a basic three-bedroom plan designed for a young family with two children, with movable partitions that allow the family to transform the living space once the children move out.

Supporting Habitat for Humanity’s priority of sustainable building solutions that minimize the negative impact of residential sector construction on the environment, Su’s design incorporates the Sprung system – one of the most sophisticated high-performance fabric building system in the market.

Modularly constructed, all components come to the site pre-fabricated. The whole construction can be finished within a few days, complete with a solar hot water radiant heating system.

Su holds a bachelor of engineering from the University of Shanghai. She graduated in June 2012 from the Faculty of Environmental Design with her Master of Architecture.