These solar-powered cabins are made of natural materials and shungite plaster

June 29, 2020 by  
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The Karg Cabin provides owners with a cozy opportunity for off-grid living with 100% solar-power capabilities (and that’s not even its most sustainable feature). These honeycombed-shaped micro-homes are also made completely out of natural materials . The solar-powered Karg Cabins come in three different designs: a standard cabin, a micro-home (measuring about 129 to 215 square feet) and a sauna. Karg Cabins can be used year-round and are easily transported via flatbed to a variety of rural or urban locations without a need for environmentally damaging foundations. Solar energy is used to provide 100% of the power needed for everything from lighting to ventilation to electrical sockets. Related: Check out these amazing sustainable cabins by ZeroCabin The compact design, ease of transportation and variety of different model types makes the Karg perfect for a traveling office, guest house, micro-home or just a spot to detox and disconnect from normal, everyday life. When it comes to building materials, the company chooses only those that can be found in nature. The majority of the structure consists of straw panels, cellulose wool for insulation , wood and shungite, a type of carbon-rich mineral found in Russia that is known for its healing properties. The straw panels help ensure proper insulation due to its ability to store heat and provide long-term, stable temperatures indoors. Cellulose wool collects moisture and is breathable enough to maintain a comfortable interior climate yet strong enough to eliminate condensation and keep the construction damage-free during the wet season. Shungite plaster is believed to block electromagnetic waves (EMF), improving the sleep quality of those living inside the home and keeping the interior very quiet. Triple-glazed, reflective windows help bring in natural light and connect the occupant with the outside environment. The Estonian company offers an online feature where those interested can build their own Karg on the website to find out exactly how much their personalized, off-grid cabin or sauna will cost. + Karg Images via Karg

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These solar-powered cabins are made of natural materials and shungite plaster

UNStudio unveils future-proof energy-generating education building for TU Delft

June 29, 2020 by  
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UNStudio has unveiled designs for Echo, a new multipurpose academic building for TU Delft that will not only generate its own energy via solar panels but will also feature a highly flexible and demountable design to ensure sustainability. Created in collaboration with Arup and BBN, the building responds to the campus’ needs for greater and more versatile teaching spaces with the inclusion of seven teaching rooms, the largest of which accommodates 700 people and can be divided into three separate rooms as needed. Echo is currently under construction and is slated for completion in December 2021. Surrounded by full-height, high-performance glazing on all sides, Echo embraces the concept of transparency with the inclusion of a covered public square created by connecting the adjacent square through its glazed ground floor — flanked by two auditoria — and out to the opposite street. Conceived as a “public connector,” the building renders the oft-invisible world of learning into a visible experience and further pulls the community in with a diagonally oriented restaurant with a terrace opposite the D:Dreamhall. Related: UNStudio to transform Gyeongdo Island into a sustainable tourism destination Adaptability defines Echo, which follows the contemporary culture of “Everything Anywhere” emphasizing the importance of interstitial spaces as potential study areas and meeting spaces. For instance, the winding grand stair that forms the heart of the building is wide enough to accommodate the flow of people as well as impromptu study sessions. In addition to the inclusion of classrooms and 300-plus study spaces for group work and self-study, Echo will provide medium-sized and large teaching rooms that accommodate between 150 to 700 people.  User comfort and sustainability has also been prioritized. To protect against unwanted solar gain , the building is topped with a large roof with deep aluminum awnings, while climbing plants will be grown along cables to create a subtle green facade over time. + UNStudio Images by Plompmozes via UNStudio

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UNStudio unveils future-proof energy-generating education building for TU Delft

Tiny house in Tokyo funnels light indoors with a curved roof

June 17, 2019 by  
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After spending a decade commuting to teach at Tokyo’s Waseda University and Art Architecture School, architect Takeshi Hosaka and his wife decided to leave their tiny house in Yokohama for Tokyo, where they would build an even tinier house. Dubbed the Love2 House —the predecessor in Yokohama was called Love House—the micro-home spans just 334 square feet and is topped with a funnel-like roof to bring daylight deep inside the home. The tiny home features a minimalist and industrial aesthetic defined by its reinforced concrete structure, galvanized aluminum panel cladding, and timber accents. Takeshi Hosaka and his wife have long admired tiny homes found across history, from an Edo-period 100-square-foot home for a family of four to Le Corbusier’s 181-square-foot vacation home Cabanon. The couple followed tiny house principles preaching minimalism and a closeness with nature in designing their first micro-home, Love House, and their current home, Love2 House. The tenets for an ideal life in ancient Roman villas—study bath, drama, music and epicurism—also influenced the design of the house, which includes space for a bath, plenty of space for record storage, an old-fashioned earthen pot rice cooker and a library for books. Related: Ultra-Compact “Near House” is a Small Space Marvel in Japan Love2 House’s sculptural funnel-shaped roof was created in response to a solar study that showed that the site would be cast in shadow for three months in winter. Inspired by Scandinavian architectural solutions, Hosaka created a curved rooftop with skylights that funnel in light in winter. The open interior and the use of short concrete wall dividers let light and natural ventilation pass through all parts of the home, which is divided into three primary zones: a dining area, a kitchen area and the bedroom. “When we keep the window facing on the street fully opened, people who walk on the street feel free to talk to me,” says Takeshi Hosaka in a project statement. “It’s like a long-time friend, and children put their hands on the floor and look inside. We even pat strolling dogs from [the] dining [room]. The front street has flower bed so we enjoy it as our garden. In this house we feel the town very close. We are really surprised how pleasant to communicate with the town is!” + Takeshi Hosaka, Photography by Koji Fujii Nacasa and Partners

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Tiny house in Tokyo funnels light indoors with a curved roof

Cool ways to skip the air conditioning and still keep your home chill

June 17, 2019 by  
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Summer is right around the corner, and the rising temperatures in many areas have already arrived. As the searing summer months approach and drag on, finding ways to keep your house cool will make you more comfortable. Chilling out without the use of energy-thirsty air conditioning will not only save you money but is good for the planet, too. For thousands of years, humans found ways to stay cool, even in the hottest climates, without the use of AC. Take a card from that playbook to keep your home comfortable without relying on energy-intensive resources by incorporating the ideas below. Related: A modern home in India stays naturally cool without AC Open the windows Creating a cross-breeze is one of the most effective ways to cool a home. Many resorts and vacation homes in tropical areas rely on this technique instead of installing AC for a good reason — it works. The key to effective breeze cooling is figuring out which direction the wind blows. In some areas, it’s fairly consistent, commonly coming from the same direction during the same times each day (most often in the afternoon). Open up windows during that “window” of breeze to encourage the flow through your home. Also take advantage of cooler nighttime and early morning temperatures. Leave screened windows open to allow the cool air to come inside. Then, trap it by shutting windows on each side of the house as the sun hits it, i.e. the east side in the morning and the west side in the afternoon. Rely on the blinds When your windows are closed, also close off heat absorption by closing the blinds. For windows that are in direct sunlight for a good portion of the day, consider installing shutters or rolling blinds on the outside of the window as well. If you don’t want to block out the light entirely, install window film that is made to insulate against heat while letting light into the room. Blackout the light The most effective way to keep the sun from injecting blistering heat into a room is to keep it dark. Completely close off rooms when they are not being used. If you don’t mind being left in the dark, install blackout curtains, which effectively block the heat from entering the room through the window. Become a fan of fans Both ceiling fans and box fans are effective in cooling a space without cranking up the energy bill. For ceiling fans, make sure they are rotating in a counterclockwise direction during the warm months. Most ceiling fans have a switch near the top that changes the direction in which the blades rotate. This is so that the fan pushes cooler air downward during the summer. Reverse the blades during the winter, which pulls cool air up toward the ceiling to keep the living space warmer. Box and other fans help keep the air flowing throughout the space for a cooling effect. To create cooler air, place a container of ice directly in front of the fan. The air from the fan will bounce off the ice and direct the cool air across the room. Insulate against the heat With all of this talk about the importance of air flow, it seems counter-intuitive to mention insulation . However, keeping hot air from entering your space prevents from having to then cool it. Just like with cold air during the winter, evaluate any place that hot air may seep in. Close the damper in your fireplace. Feel around your doors and windows for airflow, and install weatherstripping as needed. Grab a package of insulation foam for your light switches and outlets. Related: 7 eco-friendly insulation alternatives for a green home Turn off appliances Even during the sizzling days of summer, you need to eat and do laundry , but appliances in the home generate a lot of heat and compromise your success in the battle against a hot house. Plan ahead to avoid turning on appliances as much as possible. Dust off that slow cooker book and cook dinner without turning on the stove. Also enjoy some summer grilling that takes the hot cooking outdoors. Better yet, on very hot days, go with a cold sandwich or salad and avoid cooking altogether. You can also keep the clothes dryer from heating up your space by hanging clothes to dry or only running it at night after the temperature drops. Even the dishwasher sends out heat, so wash dishes by hand and allow them to air dry in the warm space, or run the dishwasher without the final dry cycle that produces heat. Give your refrigerator a bit of a break. It works hard during hot weather, so keep up maintenance by cleaning the vent in the front and the coils in the back. Keep food away from the edges inside the fridge, so air can flow freely. Get shade from plants Keeping the home cool on the inside starts on the outside. Your landscape design can have a huge impact on the temperature inside your house. Plan ahead by placing trees where they will block intense sun rays during the height of the season. Put shrubs and vines on south- and west-facing walls to help insulate against the heat. Stop unwanted heat gain with awnings For a long-term, albeit less natural, approach, build permanent awnings or invest in retractable awnings over corridors, decks and windows. This will also make enjoying the outdoors on super hot days a little easier! Images via Shutterstock

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Cool ways to skip the air conditioning and still keep your home chill

Mobile, off-grid micro home can be configured into 20 different layouts

March 18, 2019 by  
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Architect Beatrice Bonzanigo from Milan-based firm IB Studio has unveiled a stunning, off-grid micro home that is transportable and adaptable to virtually any climate. The tiny structure, called Casa Ojalá, is just shy of 300 square feet but is equipped with a manual mechanical system that allows the space to be configured into as many as 20 different layouts. According to Bonzanigo, the flexible and transportable design of Casa Ojalá was inspired by the need to offer an alternative to the “world of static architecture.” Its versatility opens up a world of opportunity not only in terms of low-impact architecture , but also in offering an off-grid experience that lets occupants completely immerse themselves into the natural world. Related: This off-grid, lunar lander-inspired tiny home is out of this world “Casa Ojalá is a sustainable, minimal, compact and flexible product for a new comfort, away from TV or air conditioning,” explained IB Studio, which is led by Bonzanigo and Isabella Invernizzi. “The boundary between inner and outer space no longer exists. Outdoor is a substantial, fundamental and precious part of it.” The structure is a round volume with a simple layout comprised of two bedrooms, a kitchenette, a living room and a bathroom. A wrap-around, open-air terrace is used to provide a seamless connection between the micro home and its surroundings, no matter where they may be. To create its flexible design , the main structure is equipped with a manual mechanical system made up of ropes, pulleys and cranks that control the sliding wooden walls and fabric partitions. This system allows the structure to be continuously transformed into a fully-customized space, with private rooms or even one large outdoor platform. Built on a track, the house is completely mobile and can be easily assembled on-site. In terms of its sustainability, the structure is made out of eco-friendly materials along with socially-sustainable fabrics and wood features. The design’s footprint is minimal, and the project was also designed to be completely self-sustaining. The design calls for a rainwater collection system and can be installed with photovoltaic panels to generate solar energy. The Casa Ojalá design is slated to be presented during this year’s Milan Design Week. + IB Studio Via Dezeen Images via IB Studio

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Mobile, off-grid micro home can be configured into 20 different layouts

A tiny, 96-square-foot rustic pavilion brings the outdoors in

February 22, 2019 by  
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Small and portable, this tiny structure offers a versatile shelter for the artist, fisherman or weekend traveler. At only 96 square feet, it could make a micro home , but the space, now called a pavilion, is laid out for an effective work studio, storage shed or traveling gallery. When Danish architect Anders Hermansen designed the pavilion 10 years ago, he presented it as a movable art piece. Perhaps more widely known for his vast furniture line and work with audio-visual company Bang & Olufsen (B&O), the lifelong independent designer wanted to create something that encompassed his love for nature and an active lifestyle. Related: Recyclable art pavilion made of mesh pops up in Kolkata Inspired by that connection to the environment, Hermansen used discarded materials sourced from a construction project in Sydhavnen, Copenhagen to support the structure. The main wall hosts four built-in cabinets for storage and organization. Two of the sides are comprised of large double doors that open to the outdoors. The fourth wall incorporates an entrance and a huge floor-to-ceiling window that draws in natural light while protecting from the elements when Mother Nature is in a bad mood. The interior raw lumber creates a seamless transition from the surrounding natural elements and offers a place to mount supplies. The all-wood design adds to the rustic vibe of this tiny studio pavilion. With the idea that art and nature go hand in hand, the pavilion can be moved from place to place as the need arises by loading it onto a flatbed truck. Although tiny, the pavilion offers plenty of space for storage, work or living, and it is now for sale through Adam Schnack at a $38,000 price tag. It is currently situated in a scenic location at Værløse Flyvestation, near Denmark’s largest film studio. + Anders Hermansen Design Via Curbed Images via Adam Schnack and Lars Gundersen

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A tiny, 96-square-foot rustic pavilion brings the outdoors in

A dilapidated garage transforms into an industrial-chic micro home

February 13, 2019 by  
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Vilnius-based IM Interior has proven once again that great design doesn’t need a lot of space. The architects recently revamped an old garage in the Lithuanian capital into a stunning micro home clad in a weathered steel. The 226-square-foot space was also completely made-over with a warm birch wood interior cladding and recessed lighting to create a modern and comfortable living space. While many critics argue that micro housing is not a feasible solution to soaring real estate prices around the world, the micro home trend continues to grow, much to the delight of minimalists. Regarding IM Interior’s recent project, founder Indr? Mylyt?-Sinkevi?ien? explained that the inspiration behind the micro garage was to demonstrate another way of life. “I wanted to show how little a person needs,” he said. Related: Stunning micro home features reclaimed materials and large garage door for entertaining Located in the Lithuanian capital, the ultra tiny home was really built from nothing but a skeleton structure. Connected to a dilapidated building that had been vacant for years, the corner garage was a forgotten piece of property. To breathe new life into the space, the architects clad the compact structure in weathered steel . They also added new windows and a new door to convert the empty garage into a truly comfortable home. Although the weathered metal exterior gives the design a cool,  industrial vibe on the outside, the interior living space by contrast is bright and airy. The living area, dining room and bedroom are all located in one open layout. Two large narrow windows, one over the bed and the other in the kitchen, frame the urban views. Recessed lighting was installed throughout the home, which is clad in warm birch wood, to create a soothing atmosphere. To maintain a clutter-free interior, custom-made furniture provides plenty of concealed storage space. Sitting under the large window, the bed pulls double duty as a sofa , which is also surrounded by built-in storage. Additional seating is found in the hanging wicker chair, adding a bit of whimsy to the design. Like most of the living space, the kitchen is clean and minimalist  but was built with plenty of counter space. The bathroom, although quite compact, features triangular black and white tiling, further lending to the modern aesthetic. + IM Interior Via Dezeen Images via IM Interior

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A dilapidated garage transforms into an industrial-chic micro home

Skinny micro-apartment can pop up in any city in just one day

October 17, 2017 by  
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The thought of living in an apartment with the footprint of a parking space may seem improbable and uncomfortable, but the chic Tikku micro-apartment shows us that it can be done. In response to pressures of the housing crises, Finnish architect Marco Casagrande of Casagrande Laboratory designed and built a prefabricated mobile micro-apartment that can pop up in as little as a day. The three-story-tall micro-apartment is designed to be mobile so it can go almost anywhere a car can—with enough overhead clearance—and can operate off the grid. Tikku, which means ‘stick’ in Finnish, earns its name from its skinny profile and timber construction assembled from cross-laminated timber modules. The stackable modules occupy the footprint of a parking space measuring 2.5 by 5 meters and require no foundations thanks to a sand box counterweight located at the bottom of the building. Even in Finland’s brutal winters, the architects say that 20-centimeter-thick cross-laminated timber is sufficient to weather the cold without added insulation . The first Tikku prototype was unveiled for the Helsinki Design Week 2017 outside Atheneum in the heart of Helsinki. The 37.5-square-meter micro-apartment includes three floors, one for sleeping, another for working, and the topmost reserved for a light-filled greenhouse. The CLT modules allow for easy customization and the introduction of different living spaces, from a kitchen and sauna to knitting room and workshop. Related: NYC announces opening of its first micro-apartment building, Carmel Place The Tikku is self-sufficient and runs off of solar energy. Composting toilets are installed, however running water is not. Residents are expected to make use of their urban resources for showers, saunas, and laundry machines—a reasonable expectation for cities like Helsinki or Tokyo that have that infrastructure. “Tikku is a safe-house for neo-archaic biourbanism, a contemporary cave for a modern urban nomad,” wrote the architects. “It will offer privacy, safety and comfort. All the rest of the functions can be found in the surrounding city. Tikku is a needle of urban acupuncture, conquering the no-man’s land from the cars and tuning the city towards the organic. Many Tikkus can grow side-by-side like mushrooms and they can fuse into larger organisms.” + Casagrande Laboratory Via ArchDaily Images via Casagrande Laboratory

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Skinny micro-apartment can pop up in any city in just one day

The first off-grid Ecocapsule microhomes are shipping to customers this year

June 6, 2017 by  
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Want to travel to the beach or a mountaintop or a jungle – and spend the night in style every time? The Ecocapsule offers that flexibility in a tiny off-grid package. The company just announced it has secured financial backing to move forward with the microhome – and they’re planning to deliver the first Ecocapsules to clients later this year. Late night television host James Corden recently tested the versatile pods out in a peaceful garden, a horse ranch, and a restaurant rooftop – check out his take after the break. Corden hit up the Ecocapsule to explore the latest trends in travel and eco-friendly living. The egg-shaped, mobile microhome is around eight feet high, seven feet long, and 14.5 feet wide, and it’s powered by rooftop solar cells and a small wind turbine . It also collects rainwater to be reclaimed as drinking water. A folding bed, bathroom, kitchenette, and living area provide travelers with all the amenities of a luxury hotel . The Ecocapsule can be towed via trailer or sent to a location in a shipping container. Related: The world’s first off-grid EcoCapsule is now available for pre-order Corden envisioned the Ecocapsule in exotic locations like the Grand Canyon or a beach in Ibiza. He took his characteristic humorous approach to the design of the pod, asking founder Tomas Zacek, “How do I know this isn’t just some sort of spaceship?” Ecocapsule will only make 50 of the first edition pods, but they plan to start mass producing the microhomes for a lower price in 2018. It seems Corden enjoyed his time wandering in the Ecocapsule; he said in the video, “I could stay here for years.” He also told Zacek that snuggling encapsulates the ethos behind the Ecocapsule. + Ecocapsule

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The first off-grid Ecocapsule microhomes are shipping to customers this year

Oregon couple spends years building their net-zero ‘extreme green dream home’

June 6, 2017 by  
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Some people may spend years designing their dream home, but one ambitious couple in Oregon has just spent years building their “extreme green dream home.” As beautiful as it is sustainable , the Desert Rain home by Tozer Design is a 2,236-square-foot net-zero structure that was designed to meet the Living Building Challenge’s green building criteria – the industry’s most stringent. The couple began to build their “conventional” dream home on the same 0.7 acre lot in 2008, but upon hearing about the Living Building Challenge in the fall of 2009, they made the painful decision to scrap their original plans and shoot for the challenge. The result is a beautiful estate made up of five buildings, including the main residence, a detached apartment, a second detached building that can be used as an office or guest space, and the home’s two garages. Related: California city could become the first Zero Net Energy city in the U.S. The new construction began by repurposing materials from two aging mill houses that were previously on the lot. In addition to salvaging the existing materials, the team went far and beyond in finding sustainable, locally-sourced materials for the new home. In addition to the recovered wood already salvaged, reclaimed wood and FSC-certified lumber were brought in from the surrounding region. Additional materials were also specially made for the home’s green construction , such as the exterior plaster, which is almost entirely made out of local clay, straw, and sand. To conserve energy and costs whenever possible, other materials were constructed by the team by ordering and crafting the materials onsite. For example, rather than purchasing the items separately, a large roll of steel was ordered and cut onsite to construct the roofing, eaves, and rain gutters. Desert Rain is a power house of sustainability as well as energy efficiency . The home uses three renewable energy systems , including a solar array on the rooftop, a solar thermal drainage system that heats water and powers the hydronic floor system, and an innovative solar “hot air” system that is used to evaporate liquid from the home’s composting system. Given that the home is located in the arid high-desert region of Eastern Oregon, where the climate is dry and annual rainfall scarce, water conservation can be complicated for any homeowner. This made achieving the Net Zero Water criteria of the project a complicated task. However, using the unique layout of the five buildings, a rainwater collection system was conceived using the standing seam metal roofs to route rainwater through downspouts to the ground-level gravel filters to be used in the landscaping, which features mainly native plantings. + Tozer Design Via Living Future Photography by Chandler Photography

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Oregon couple spends years building their net-zero ‘extreme green dream home’

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