Man converts old ambulance into a traveling tiny home on wheels

August 3, 2018 by  
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Ebay may be filled with trash that many turn into treasure, but one man has taken it a step further by converting an old ambulance into a gorgeous tiny home on wheels . Ian Dow purchased the ambulance in 2016 and promptly got to work customizing the space into a dream home built for adventure – one that even comes complete with a rooftop sundeck. Unlike many bus and van conversions built on the owners’ dreams, Ian’s tiny home on wheels was built on pain. “I’d been searching for a van to convert and was blinded by the Sprinter fad,” Dow told ABC News . “After getting burned by a Craigslist seller — he backed out after I drove 12 hours to buy his Sprinter — I was depressed and I crashed my motorcycle. Then I had an epiphany. I was in pain and needed some emergency help. Sitting on the couch that night with a busted shoulder, I searched eBay for ambulances, found a cheap one, and even Google Earthed the charity listed as the seller, finding the ambulance parked right outside.” Related: Traveling family renovates old school bus as both solar-powered home and hostel The Newport Beach native purchased the old ambulance for $2,800 and began the renovating process by gutting most of the interior and retrofitting the old life-saver into a customized tiny home on wheels . To make efficient use of the space, he installed some seriously flexible features. For starters, Dow installed beautiful teak floors that run the length of the living space. The subway-tiled kitchen is a space-saver, with built-in shelves and plenty of storage areas to avoid clutter. A collapsible hardwood table, used for eating or working, can be stowed when not in use. There’s even a cedar-lined closet for Dow’s clothing. The sofa folds out into a bed, and an additional wooden plank – stored in a closet – extends to create extra sleeping or lounging space. Unique to the design is the former equipment closet located on the exterior, which Ian converted into an outdoor shower – perfect for enjoying incredible views while cleaning up after a long day of hiking or surfing. And, as if the beautiful interior weren’t enough, he added a sundeck on the ambulance’s roof, complete with an extendable umbrella. Dow, Dino the dog and their friend, Dylan, have been traveling for the last few years in the converted home on wheels. You can follow their adventures on Instagram . + Ian Dow Via Little Things and ABC News Images via Ian Dow

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Man converts old ambulance into a traveling tiny home on wheels

School-in-a-Box brings the gift of learning to children in Papua New Guinea

July 27, 2018 by  
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Americans often take education for granted. Whether their children attend public or private schools, the opportunity to learn is always there, from kindergarten through high school and often beyond. Meanwhile, many children around the world can only dream of this priceless endowment. Sydney architect Stephen Collier noticed this problem and wanted to take action – so, along with various international non-profit groups, he developed School-in-a-Box, which has helped make the dream of education a reality for many children in Papua New Guinea . In the Beginning Four years ago, Collier read Drusilla Modjeska’s novel The Mountain , which tells the story of how established cultures based on clans struggle to embrace contemporary mores in post-independence PNG. Since Collier was born in PNG, he had a personal interest in the material, and he contacted Modjeska, a stranger at the time. She asked him to join her on an excursion to Tufi , where she revealed she had an indefinable project in dire need of an architect. Collier was soon en route; he and Modjeska flew into the tropical coastal fjords of the province of Morobe in a tiny Dash8 plane. Multiple Challenges Modjeska is the co-founder of Sustain Educate Art Melanesia (SEAM), an organization that works to improve literacy in the six villages of Morobe. In the more remote areas of PNG, adult literacy is often as low as 15 percent; even though parents want their kids to be educated, they don’t want to sacrifice their customary connection to the farmland that sustains everyone in the villages. In addition, the villages are each very difficult to reach, with many sitting along single-file ridges above the coast, creating a long and treacherous journey for children. Even though the PNG government funds remote schools, each of which typically supports between 100-150 students of various ages with two teachers, these schools have a minimal number of books (no reference or literary texts, only workbooks) and hardly ever have electricity. Paper is hard to come by, fresh water is rare, and there are no pencils, crayons, pens or other writing materials. Students can’t read to each other, and the schools have nothing written by locals. The Box is Born Collier and Modjeska started brainstorming as soon as their plane touched down and a solid concept for School-in-a-Box began to grow. Early on, it was clear the box had to include water and solar electricity resources and storage systems. The box had to be light enough to easily transport from village to village, large enough to be functional, and tough enough to last and protect its cargo. Related: Hand-Built Library on Wheels Helps Retired Teacher Spread the Love of Reading The boxes, made from polycarbonate , are the same as those used by the US Army to transport armaments. The tents, poles, solar panels, and other materials conform to the box’s dimensions. The stretchable roof covers around 485 square feet and its translucent fabric is easily wound into a miniscule size for storage. The Treasure Inside Modjeska’s and Collier’s goals for the School-in-a-Box were multifaceted. They wanted the contents of the box to focus not just on childhood education, but also on creative writing and drawing for adult literacy classes, sharing and recording local stories to encourage imaginative investigation instead of pattern/repetitive learning, and making education more accessible to girls. After intensive idea sharing, they decided that each lockable, waterproof School-in-a-Box would include: two marine-grade plywood cabinets a 20 x 26-foot stretch tent with cables, poles, cables, stakes and ties two flexible solar panels batteries and an electrical board two laptop computers an A3 printer, guillotine and laminator books, paper, pencils, crayons, paints and brushes a 1,320-gallon water storage tank a simple water filter that can function without electricity or chemicals How It Works When the assembly is complete, cooling breezes flow freely underneath the structure. The roof is flexible enough to adjust to weather conditions and the sides are adjustable to stave off high winds. Collier created a hefty fabric gutter along one side to accumulate rainwater for storage in a pillow tank. To protect the gutter from direct sunlight, he made it concealable under a raised platform. The local community contributes some of the materials and helps in the platform construction. When closed, the cabinets form a box, although they open up and extend out in five directions. A teacher can conduct a class on one side, private study can take place on another, and the other sides serve as storage compartments. Looking Forward Mundango Abroad, The Readings Foundation, Planet Wheeler Foundation, Victorian Womens’ Trust, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and numerous other charitable organizations support the project, which has been going strong since its inception in 2014. Stephen Collier Architects, which won The Australian Institute of Architects Small Project Architecture prize in 2018 for this project, is investigating how to deliver more boxes to PNG in the future. A new fund to make that happen and take donations has been set up. If you would like to donate or assist in other ways, please email  info@collierarchitects.com  with SCHOOL-IN-A-BOX in the subject line. + Stephen Collier Architects Images courtesy of Stephen Collier Architects

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School-in-a-Box brings the gift of learning to children in Papua New Guinea

Harrison Ford: The greatest threat is that people in charge don’t believe in science

November 16, 2017 by  
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Take it from Indiana Jones (or Han Solo, or Rick Deckard) — doubting climate change is dangerous. The actor who played all of these characters, Harrison Ford recently gave a speech at the 30th anniversary gala for Conservation International  (CI). After receiving the Founders’ Award at the ceremony in Culver City, the outspoken advocate for ecological and environmental protection expressed his frustration with Trump — albeit indirectly. The vice-chair of CI said, “We face an unprecedented moment in this country. Today’s greatest threat is not climate change, not pollution , not flood or fire. It’s that we’ve got people in charge of important shit who don’t believe in science .” As IFLScience points out, it is hard to disagree with his assessment. Though 97 percent of climate scientists agree that global warming is a real phenomenon that poses great threats, the Trump administration — led by President Donald Trump — has downplayed the veracity that global warming is real and worrisome. To make matters worse, the administration hasn’t just ignored the science — it has outright attacked scientists and the field’s various branches. Related: Major climate science denial group admits to using false temperature data “I’m here tonight for one reason: I care deeply for the natural world . It’s not about me, it’s not about me at all, it’s about this other world we’re going to leave behind,” Ford continued. “If we don’t stop the destruction of nature, nothing else will matter. Jobs won’t matter, our economies won’t matter, our freedoms and ethics won’t matter, our children’s education and potential won’t matter, peace , prosperity.” “If we end the ability of a healthy natural world to sustain humanity nothing else will matter, simply said. For decades, Ford has advocated for sustainable change. He has met with lawmakers, businesses, and communities to discuss how improvements can be made to conservation policies and practices, according to the Hollywood Reporter . Now, he’s fed up with politicians dragging their feet and is using his platform to speak out and raise awareness. Ford concluded, “Other than my family, doing this work has been the most important thing of my life. Nature doesn’t need people, people need nature.” Via Hollywood Reporter, IFLScience Images via Wikimedia Commons,  Flickr

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Suspicious radioactive cloud over Europe may have originated in Russia

November 16, 2017 by  
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A radioactive cloud of pollution sounds like a plot point out of a B movie – but that’s what multiple European monitoring stations recently detected. Official monitors in Germany and France detected ruthenium 106, a nuclide, in late September, and some people suggested it originated in Kazakhstan or southern Russia . Multiple European monitoring stations confirmed the presence of ruthenium 106, according to France’s Institute for Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety , in the atmosphere of the majority of countries in Europe. The cause for alarm appears to have drifted away for now: the institute said since October 13, they have not detected ruthenium 106 in France. They said in a recent statement , “The concentration levels of ruthenium 106 in the air that have been recorded in Europe and especially in France are of no consequence for human health and for the environment .” Related: UNEP chief: Polluters should pay for environmental destruction, not taxpayers But there is some question over how much ruthenium 106 leaked in the first place. The institute said the amounts at the source would have been significant. If such an accident had occurred in France, authorities would have had to implement measures to protect populations for a few kilometers around the point of release. Where did the ruthenium 106 come from? Germany’s Federal Office for Radiation Protection said on October 11 , “Recent analyses as to the source of the radioactive substance suggest a high probability of a radioactive release in the Southern Ural, although other areas in the South of Russia still cannot be ruled out.” Just a few days earlier, on October 8, they’d said in a statement “Russia must be assumed to be the region of origin” and called on Russian authorities to provide information. The German and French agencies did not think the ruthenium 106 came from a nuclear reactor accident, as other nuclides probably would have been detected in such an event. France’s institute said the source could have been “nuclear fuel-cycle facilities or radioactive source production.” French agency senior official Jean-Christophe Gariel said he talked to counterparts in Russia last week, and “they told us that our results were coherent and correct, but that they were not aware of any event that could have caused that.” Via The New York Times , the Institute for Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety , and the Federal Office for Radiation Protection ( 1 , 2 ) Images via Depositphotos and Institute for Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety

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Suspicious radioactive cloud over Europe may have originated in Russia

New York City is now offering free lunch at all public schools

September 8, 2017 by  
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Good riddance “lunch shaming” — the practice of holding children accountable for school lunch bills. Starting this school year in New York City, all 1.1 million students who attend public schools will receive their lunches for free. The move has been long sought after by food policy advocates, as 75 percent of the student body qualifies for free or reduced lunches. Now an additional 200,000 kids will benefit, saving their families approximately $300 per year. According to city officials, the program will not cost the city additional money since New York state changed how it tracks families that are eligible for benefits and matched them with schools their children attend. The city was then able to identify more students whose families receive those benefits. It made officials realize the whole city qualifies for a federal program that dishes out free lunches at schools. According to Carmen Fariña, the school’s chancellor, “This is about equity. All communities matter.” Fariña is one of many who thinks the practice of lunch shaming needs to stop. When a student’s account is in overdraft, oftentimes their food is thrown away in front of them and they are given a simple sandwich on white bread as a replacement. The practice is so embarrassing, many kids choose to go hungry rather than subject themselves to the humiliation. Related: 8 Organic School Lunches That Can Be Prepared The Night Before New York isn’t the first city to offer free lunch to all students. Other major cities that do the same include Boston , Chicago, Detroit, and Dallas. However, New York has far more children to feed than any of those cities, which is why this initiative is particularly applaudable. While breakfasts were already free to students at the city’s public schools, this latest development will ensure all students receive most of their daily recommended food intake. This is vital, considering 13 million children in the United States live in food insecure households. Via New York Times Images via Wikimedia Commons , Pixnio

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What3Words provides an address for every person and point on planet earth

September 8, 2017 by  
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What3Words is a revolutionary addressing system that pinpoints locations more precisely than conventional street addresses. The tool divides the world into 57 trillion 3 meter x 3 meter squares and assigns a unique combination of three words to each square. This enables more efficient aid and delivery services around the world – and it could actually save lives in disaster zones and informal settlements without street names. Roughly 75% of the world suffers from inconsistent, complicated or inadequate addressing systems, meaning that 4 billion people are unable to report crime, receive deliveries or request aid . They also are unable to exercise many of their rights as citizens because they simply have no way to communicate where they live. Even in the developed world, people get lost and mail goes delivered. Related: 5 brilliant designs that will change the world win the 2017 INDEX: Award London-based What3Words offers an efficient, precise solution that is currently being integrated into businesses, apps and services across the globe. Each of the 57 trillion 3mx3m squares in the world has been allocated a fixed & unique 3-word address. The What3words geocoder turns geographic coordinates into these 3 word addresses & vice-versa. The system works across all platforms and devices, in multiple languages, offline and with voice recognition. Related: Life-saving LifeArk snaps together like LEGO to provide emergency off-grid housing Nigeria ‘s postal service has just started using What3Words to tackle its snail-mail problem and the poor addressing system. By adopting this state-of-the-art technology , NIPOST hopes to increase home delivery to 70 percent over the next two years. The firm has also signed a deal with Mongolia’s national delivery service and drone company Altavian, which designs and manufactures high quality drones for commercial enterprises. They teamed up with Indian moped taxi firm Bikxie, which is utilizing What3Words’ award-winning addressing system to help women travel more safely. What3words has been selected as the winner of the world’s biggest design prize – the INDEX: Award – which recognizes sustainable designs that generate positive impact in the world. + What3words + INDEX: Award

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What3Words provides an address for every person and point on planet earth

6 ways you can help people affected by Tropical Storm Harvey

August 28, 2017 by  
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Tropical Storm Harvey is battering the Houston area, affecting over 6.8 million people . With so many people and pets displaced and suffering, you may be wondering how you can help. Whether you live close to the disaster area or on the other side of the world, here are a few great ways you can support people hit by the devastating storm . Donate to a food bank or another charity There are several charities out there you can support financially as they work to help Tropical Storm Harvey victims. Food banks can also use donations in the aftermath of Harvey. You can donate online to the Central Texas Food Bank . Or donate to the San Antonio Food Bank ; according to SBNation, some displaced Houston locals will be relocated to San Antonio. SBNation has a list of more local charities here . Related: INFOGRAPHIC: How social media can save lives in a disaster Donate to the Salvation Army The Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services is on the ground to help out both first responders and locals. The organization is offering shelter at Salvation Army locations in the area, and as of earlier this week had served over 3,000 meals, drinks, and snacks via their mobile kitchens. You can help out right now by texting STORM to 51555 or by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY. You can donate online here or send donations to The Salvation Army, PO Box 1959, Atlanta, GA 30301. Open up your home through Airbnb If you live in Texas and can share your space, Airbnb has a page for urgent accommodations in the wake of Harvey. They waive service fees for those impacted, and allow locals to list their homes so people can find a place to stay for free. You can find shelter or list your space here . Donate blood You can donate blood to help people affected by the crisis as well. South Texas Blood & Tissue Center has been calling for blood donations – you can get in touch with them at 210-731-5590. They also posted a list of locations to donate on their Facebook page, including addresses and donation hours. According to the post, Houston is asking for more than 2,000 units of blood from blood centers, so if you live in South Texas, consider finding a place to donate blood. Donate the use of your boat If you live in the area, you can help by volunteering the use of your boat. Get in touch with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office by calling 713-881-3100. Help rescue furry friends Let’s not forget the animals and pets impacted by the disaster. You can donate to the Houston SPCA , which is providing animal rescue and relief. Donate online here . Call 713-869-7722 if you need help. Austin Pets Alive! (APA!) is another Texas-based organization that’s been helping shelters in the path of Harvey to transport animals to APA! As of the weekend, they’d brought more than 235 animals to their facility. If you live in the Austin area, you can help by fostering animals or donating supplies like cat litter, leashes, or brooms. You can also donate online here . APA!’s address is 1156 West Cesar Chavez, Austin, TX 78703 and their phone number is 512-961-6519. Images via Harris County Sheriff’s Office Facebook , Salvation Army , Lars Plougmann on Flickr , Connect for Life Facebook , Austin Pets Alive! Facebook , National Guard Photo by Lt. Zachary West , and

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Whole Foods prices just dropped by as much as 43%

August 28, 2017 by  
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Until recently, few people could afford to shop at Whole Foods regularly. Now that Amazon has bought out the grocery chain for $13.7 billion , however, big changes are underway. On its first day, the internet giant slashed some of the store’s prices by up to 43 percent. The goal is to upend the way customers shop and ensure more people have access to affordable, healthy food. The first step to addressing the store’s reputation for being overpriced (which has led some to call it Whole Paycheck) was to mark down the prices of food. Bloomberg reports that at the Whole Foods store on East 57th Street in Manhattan , organic fuji apples were marked down to $1.99 a pound from $3.49. Similarly, organic rotisserie chicken fell to $9.99 from $13.99 and organic avocados changed from $2.79 each to $1.99. All of the marked-down items have orange signs reading, “Whole Foods + Amazon .” The sign also lists that there is “More to come.” “Price was the largest barrier to Whole Foods’ customers,” said Mark Baum, a senior vice president at the Food Marketing Institute. “Amazon has demonstrated that it is willing to invest to dominate the categories that it decides to compete in. Food retailers of all sizes need to look really hard at their pricing strategies, and maybe find some funding sources to build a war chest.” 60-year-old Simon Salamon couldn’t be more pleased by the marriage between Amazon and Whole Foods . He said, “It reminded me why I shop at Amazon. Ninety-nine percent of the time they have the best prices and their return policy is great. With the prices lower, I think we’re more likely to shop here every day.” While Walmart has invested billions into lowering prices all around, it’s Costco that might be Whole Foods’ biggest competitor. The chain has a slate of organic items that are priced about 30 percent cheaper than Whole Foods, according to Sanford Bernstein. Prices can remain low, as Costco charges membership fees and sells bulk-sized goods to customers. Related: Whole Foods reveals the bleak future of dessert without bees Now that the deal is done, only time will tell if the organic grocery chain will be successful at changing its reputation and, in the process, serving a wider clientele. Via Bloomberg Images via Whole Foods , Pixabay

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Whole Foods prices just dropped by as much as 43%

Hundreds of people come together to save beached whale in Brazil

August 25, 2017 by  
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A beached whale is a tragic sight – but a community of sun-worshippers in Brazil refused to sit by when it happened on their beach. Hundreds of people rallied around a stranded humpback whale in Buzios, digging around the animal in hopes of saving its life. They spent hours trying to save the whale, and were rewarded with the return of high tide. A humpback whale was recently stranded on the beach of Praia Rasa in Buzios, and people on the beach jumped into action. They tossed water and dug around the whale to keep it alive for hours. Biologists on site said the whale was young, weighed as much as 15 tons, and was around 45 feet long. Related: Hundreds of whales die in New Zealand’s third largest mass stranding When high tide returned, the whale was at last able to leave the beach. A Buzios City Hall spokesperson said the whale found its way back to the ocean . Amateur video footage shows crowds of people standing on the beach watching the whale reenter the water. We don’t fully understand why whales strand themselves, although several reasons have been suggested. University of Aberdeen professor David Lusseau published a piece on The Conversation detailing some of these reasons, like that whales beach themselves because they are injured or sick, or have become disoriented. They also might behave differently if food stocks plunge, temperatures are strangely low or high, or if pollutants seep into the water. Lusseau said often whales that are returned to the ocean will re-strand themselves hours or days later (especially if they were ill) – but some whales are able to escape. If you come across a beached whale, the charity Whale and Dolphin Conservation said your first response should be to call an expert for help – many countries have stranding networks that can help ensure the whale is treated correctly. Via The Telegraph Images via Wikimedia Commons and screenshot

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9 incredible pod homes to help you win at off-grid living

August 25, 2017 by  
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If your #lifegoals include living off the grid in some stunning locale, then check this out: we’ve rounded up the best pod homes that can be installed in even the most remote locations. From a futuristic 3D-printed shelter to the nature-influenced Baobed , there’s something for every world traveler (and almost every budget). Pod Space Pod Space’s award winning pre-fab pods can be installed just about anywhere you can dream of. The modular pods are customizable, so you can use them as a backyard office, an extra room, or even a fully-equipped tiny home . The best part is the floor-to-ceiling windows, so you can let nature in while keeping the elements out. Podzook If you are the type to think outside the box – literally – you’ll dig the spherical Podzook. With its locally-sourced shingled wood exterior and its space-age interior, the Podzook is what you’d get if you combined traditional Maine craftsmanship with an alien space pod. Each one is made to order and comes with a skylight and a futuristic gull-wing door. Prices range from 28 – 32k depending on the options you choose. 3D-Printed SOM shelter Architecture firm SOM is taking off-grid living into the future with a 3D-printed shelter that looks like something out of a sci-fi movie. It features rooftop solar panels for power and comes with its own vehicle that generates its own power. Best of all, the structure and the vehicle can share power wirelessly when you need an extra bit of juice. The SOM shelter can be “printed” right on site, illustrating what is possible in the future of home building. ALPOD The 65k ALPOD is a high-tech solution to skyrocketing real estate prices. The prefabricated structure is made of lightweight aluminum, so it can be moved where needed and then recycled when has reached the end of its life. The pods can even be stacked, so you could create an entire skyscraper of them. With 480-square feet of living space, it’s a great solution for both urban locations, since it can be hooked up to the grid, and off-grid with it solar power option. POD-Idlada POD-Idladla is a prefabricated home that can be shipped flat-packed for on-site assembly in a snap. The 186-square foot tiny home is powered by solar energy and is modular, so it can be expanded if necessary. Tall ceilings help make the space feel large without increasing its footprint, and costs start at just $15k. Ecocapsule The egg-shaped Ecocapsule is the stuff that off-grid dreams are made of. The ultra-portable house is powered by solar and wind, with rainwater collection and filtration built-in. The 86-square foot space manages to pack a lot of features, with a folding bed, dining area, shower and toilet, storage and a kitchenette. Each capsule fits inside a shipping container so it can go nearly anywhere. Ecocapsule homes start shipping this year, so save your pennies, because owning one will set you back $94,000. Drop Pod The DROP Eco-Hotel is different because it isn’t designed as a permanent home, but as a pod-like hotel room for modern nomads that can be installed in some truly incredible places – including elevated above the earth. The prefabricated structure is clad in slotted wood to control solar gain, features a skylight for daylighting and a rainwater recycling system. Harwyn Pod The Harwyn Pod is a tiny space for distraction-free work. Designed to be an office, art space or yoga studio , each pod can pop-up on-site in just 5 hours and comes complete with built-in furniture. With a footprint of only 2.5 by 2 meters and luxury car-inspired design, each tiny dwelling is fully insulated against the elements. Baobed Sleeping Pod The Baobed pod is a treehouse for adventure-seekers. The sleek pod can be suspended in the treetops, nestled on a beach, and plopped on a rooftop or even in the middle of a pond. The fruit-like shape was inspired by the fruit of the baobab tree and provides a tiny, safe space for travelers. Thanks to its tiny footprint and light weight (just 992 pounds), it can be transported on a trailer and can be equipped with a platform, mosquito nets and storage options.

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