William Maclay - Vermont Architects and Planners
Choices in Sustainability
Dimetrodon Cluster Housing - Warren, Vermont

environmentally sound pattern for growth

environmentally sound pattern for growth

Since World War II, suburban sprawl, strip development and the advent of the automobile has lead to the decline of healthy and vibrant neighborhoods, village centers, and cities. As students in architecture school two colleagues and I designed Dimetrodon in response to this breakdown in development in the U.S., providing a working model of a more environmentally sound pattern for growth. We developed this community as a cluster of apartments around a common courtyard, which left the majority of the land undisturbed or used for agricultural purposes. Begun in 1971, before the oil embargo and rise of gasoline prices, the design incorporated innovative solar, wind and wood energy systems. Much of the design and construction of Dimetrodon was done by the owners and users, keeping average unit costs less than $50,000. Dimetrodon is a successful example of self-help, affordable housing that has continued to exist as a thriving community of more than 20 adults and children since its beginning.

This project has been recognized internationally as an innovative example of renewable energy community housing. It has been written about in 6 books, French, Japanese and U.S. architecture journals, and numerous newspaper articles. It has been included in 4 exhibits in the U.S. and Italy.