10 Historic Green Homes

The Philip Johnson Glass House: New Canaan, CT, USA

The 1,728-square-foot (160-square-meter) Glass House is noted by architecture historians as one of the first examples of a home fully integrated into the surrounding landscape. The Glass House's greenest feature, from a design standpoint, is its startling transparency: Thanks to four walls of glass, each supported by spare black pillars and framing a glass door, it appears to vanish from view at certain angles [source: The Glass House].

Johnson designed the house in 1947 as part of a "composition" of structures -- it's just one of 14 structures Johnson designed for the 47-acre (19-hectare) site. Most notable among these is Johnson's Brick House, built as a complement to the Glass House. Both structures feature Johnson's signature clean lines and spacious glass walls and windows, which blur the lines between where the interior ends and nature begins [source: Daily Icon].

The Glass House site is a prime example of how environmentally sensitive building doesn't just stop at the solar panels, geothermal systems or high-efficiency windows. Homes that are designed to blend into their natural environments break down the wall between indoors and outdoors, making the home's residents more aware of nature. A home designed in this manner can give its inhabitants a closer connection with the seasons, a better appreciation for natural beauty and a greater awareness of the valuable role nature plays in turning a house into a home.

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