Visit my other book, Architecture & Design versus Consumerism online. In Amazon paperback & kindle.

Multi-tasking design features

A hallmark of sustainable is a system where components serve more than one purpose.  This observation, whether treated as a question or a requirement, can be built into student projects of any design discipline, either as the basis for a design brief or of a critical essay. Here are a few examples to inspire discussion.


ColaLife’s Kit Yamoyo which arranges “free” transport for diarrhea medicine kits in the shipping cartons of coke bottles. Read more about developers Simon and Jane Berry. colalife packaging


Twenty eight “light eyes” in the proposed Stuttgart main station, designed by German Ingenhoven Architekten, multi-task by providing daylighting to the underground station, expelling exhaust air, and passively removing smoke in an emergency.  (Architectural Record covers this and several other projects aiming for zero carbon)

Stuttgart main station light eye from below

stuttgart main station light eye from abovephotos Ingenhoven Architekten


The central staircase in Korean architect Moon Hoon’s house is “a multi-functional space which is a large staircase, bookshelves, casual reading space, home cinema, slide and much more…” (see Lloyd Alter’s Treehugger article for a view of what’s under the stairs)


stair as home theatre
photos Moon Hoon


Finally, the good old green roof also has multiple functions. It expands urban green space, but also lowers energy consumption, reduces the heat from urban congestion, cleans the air, reduces storm-water run-off, and can enable urban agriculture.

An example arises in another station proposal: The Express Rail Link – West Kowloon Terminus by Aedas, which will connect Hong Kong to the National High Speed Rail Network (Thanks again Lloyd at Treehugger!)

West Kowloon Terminus
photo courtesy Aedas

Help me out here. What are some of your favorite multi-tasking feature examples for products?

If you like these posts with tips on teaching sustainable design–please sign up for my newsletter (up on the right column of this page) which summarizes these and provide a bonus, once every couple of months. Also please pass the posts you like on to a friend or colleague who can use it.

One Response to Multi-tasking design features

Leave a reply



Join me on the first Thursday of the month for ideas, tips and inspiration for teaching and researching sutainable design. Sign up to get these posts in your inbox.