Nanotechnology, self-contained energy and sewage systems, a green wall and roof and more might be coming in a house of the future, planned for Balboa Park in 2015.
The San Diego Regional Sustainability Partnership wants to build a 3,000-square-foot futuristic house filled with technology and gadgets now only on drawing boards.
A low-water-use garden, visitor center, transportation building and products pavilion also are planned on the site of about three-quarters of an acre. A location has not yet been selected.
The idea, unveiled at the organization’s annual meeting last week, is the first big proposal by a nonpark organization for the yearlong celebration of the centennial of the Panama-California Exposition that made Balboa Park what it is today, San Diego’s cultural center and crown jewel.
Park institutions are developing their own exhibitions, while local companies and research and education firms also are expected to participate.
Overseeing the project is Dave Rosenberger, a manager at the Seattle-based Sparling engineering company and husband of the partnership’s chairwoman, Elaine Rosenberger. He said the temporary exhibit would cost upward of $1 million, with corporate sponsors expected to cover expenses.
“We want a 4-year-old to enjoy it as much as a 60-year-old,” he said. “We want to appeal to the masses and have them come away with a renewed sense of the environment. They could go home and do some things in their own homes to make them much more energy-efficient and use less water.”
Some elements of the three-bedroom, three-bathroom house sound almost 22nd-century-like: possible incorporation of nanotechnology in lighter but more durable structural elements; a water recycling and treatment system that does not have to be connected to the municipal sewage system; and an organic design that resembles fish circling the interior atrium.
The San Diego Zoo has been invited to help incorporate “biomimicry” — emulating animal and plant behavior in the creation of man-made materials for a home.
“We’re looking, for instance, at termite mounds,” Rosenberger said. “They maintain the same temperature on a hot day versus a cold day within 2 degrees. How can we use those design techniques in our building to use less energy to heat and cool?”
The “green roof” would feature plants that cool the building and capture rainwater. Photovoltaic cells would generate electricity. There might be a “green wall” featuring edible plants.
“You could be in the kitchen, and if you need parsley, you could pick the stuff and off you go,” said project architect Brett Tullis of Sillman Wright Architects.
The futuristic house won’t be totally alien to today’s lifestyle. A room will be outfitted to demonstrate how an elderly grandparent could live comfortably in a multigenerational household. There would be a home office. Sliding glass doors would blur the difference between indoor and outdoor spaces.
But there won’t be any fireplace.
Sustainability advocates consider traditional wood-burning fireplaces polluters and gas-powered fireplaces energy wasters.
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