The Cube House is architect Tullio Inglese’s earliest house design. In 1968 – before the heightened interest in sustainability spawned by the energy crisis of the mid-seventies – Inglese was designing for compactness and efficiency, motivated by a sense of social responsibility. He strove to minimize surface-to-volume ratio, committed to a more efficient use of our natural resources – especially non-renewable fossil fuels.
The Cube House is named thus because its design is based on a 12 × 12 × 8 foot arrangement of ‘cubes’ which are assembled as efficiently and compactly as possible. The Cube House has enabled us to investigate and experiment with a variety of building techniques and details but, more importantly, the design has helped set a precedent for energy conscious residential architecture to follow.
The Cube House was designed as a prototype to be emulated. Construction drawings and specifications were made available to individuals planning to build their own house. Three variations have been built since the house’s first design in the late sixties. As a result of this particular project, Inglese used the term generic architecture for the first time.
In designing and building the Cube House, Inglese attempted to accomplish the following goals:
- To produce a generic form which would permit variation, adaptability and improvement. In other words, the basic structure or prototype could be easily modified and repeated.
- To combine the efficiency and economy inherent in prefabricated construction with the creative, on-site improvisation of the individuals involved in its construction.
- To encourage and enable his architectural interns to develop their drafting and construction skills by participating in all aspects of the project.
- To design and build a house based on principles of ecological architecture by demonstrating a number of energy conservation techniques.
Examples of this fourth goal are as follows: Most closets in the house are on the outside walls for added insulation. The bedrooms are downstairs where it is cooler and more intimate. This places the kitchen, dining, living room and study upstairs, revolving around a central column. A centrally located skylight is operable and naturally exhausts warm air on summer days. The design works especially well on a hillside where the approach to the house is from an elevation higher than the first floor.