The Prototype house was designed in order to test many of the systems that were planned for the Main House. At the time, the Main House had evolved to the point of having so many innovative components that had never been done in China (and in some cases had never been done in the world) that the client was becoming apprehensive. Rather than eliminate these pioneering initiatives, the client decided to put the construction of the Main house on hold and test the innovations on a smaller project. This decision on the part of the client is a testimony to their commitment to pioneering solutions for China. The Prototype house is the first insulated rammed-earth building in China and Asia. It is also the first project to use radiant cooling and thereby eliminate the need for air-conditioning. Finally, it was one of the first projects in the greater Shanghai area to use a geothermal system. The geothermal powered, radiant cooling system was tested in mid-summer where the outside temperature was 34C and the resulting interior temperature was 24C.
The house itself has a partial positive impact on the ecology of the site: the green roof brings biodiversity to an area that had none previously and helps sequester carbon. Also, the waste water is captured and used to create topsoil. More importantly, the project is an important part of a greater system which is designed to be ecologically regenerative. Please see the Master plan for more information.