Urban Living: How do you bring nature into the city?

Urban Infill

Charlotte, North Carolina, is a fast-growing city, committed to revitalizing its urban center, bringing people back to the city center to live, work, and play. At the crossroads of crucial 18th-century trade routes, Charlotte’s urban center was the historical hub of the city’s economy and culture.

More than four decades ago, the city’s public and private leadership launched a vision to re-establish Charlotte’s City Center as a vibrant  focal point of a thriving region. New housing, cultural venues, parks, restaurants and shops, and public transit have transformed Charlotte’s urban core into a lively and livable community. The city’s 2020 Vision Plan projects continued commitment to creating a strong and smart urban center. The UNC Charlotte net-zero energy, solar-powered house, “UrbanEden,” is inspired by this vision. With its DoE Solar Decathlon 2013 entry, the UNC Charlotte team promotes the benefits, and reduced carbon footprint, of an urban lifestyle.

UrbanEden combines the vitality and sophistication of urban living with a respect for and intimacy with the natural world.

Eden in the City

Envisioned as an urban-infill project, UrbanEden’s design begins with an ancient urban material, expertly modified to become an eco-friendly, innovative building material: pre-cast geopolymer cement concrete. Aesthetically versatile with its many possible surfaces, but always appropriate to a city setting, the concrete provides an effective sound barrier to the noise of the city.

Outdoor living defines UrbanEden's design. The home's southern facade is completely comprised of high-performance glass, which fills the home with light and connects the interior rooms to a set of private outdoor rooms enclosed by a vertical garden that provides a peaceful habitat for flora and fauna, as well as herbs and vegetables for sustenance.

The house has been designed to incorporate natural cross-ventilation when the humidity and temperature are in an acceptable range. But even with all doors and windows closed, a vital connection to the outside is maintained through fresh air supplied by the energy efficient Energy Recovery Ventilator.

UrbanEden is defined by a commitment to urbanism: sustainability, vibrancy and diversity, technological innovation – a house that is good for the environment, that promotes a certain way of life, and that creates a place of peace inside the bustle of the city.