This off-grid tiny cabin in the Australian wilderness is just what you need for a late summer getaway

August 23, 2019 by  
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If you’ve been stuck at your desk all summer, now is the perfect time for a little break, and this beautiful tiny cabin in Australia is just the place to get away from it all. Designed by Sydney-based firm Fresh Prince , the Barrington Tops cabin is an off-grid eco cabin that is nestled into the remote wilderness. Located in New South Wales, the 150-square-foot cabin , which is available on Airbnb , is surrounded by pristine woodland just steps away from a babbling brook. The serene location inspired the architects to create something classic and minimalist. Related: 160-square-foot off-grid Elsewhere Cabin invites us all to live a little simpler Clad in matte black Weathertex (an eco-friendly, locally sourced timber product made from forest thinnings and other industry by-products), the prefab structure manages to blend in quietly with its location. Built on a wheeled chassis, the lightweight cabin is quite mobile. Designed to be used as an off-grid retreat, the cabin produces all of its own energy and was built to have minimal impact on the environment. A solar array is affixed to the pitched roof, which generates sufficient power for the residence. The design also features sustainable plywood lining, a composting toilet and low-E glass windows with operable louvres that provide a natural system of air ventilation. The dark black exterior gives way to a bright, light-filled interior thanks to a large glass door. The door, along with several windows, let in an abundance of natural light , which, paired with the lightly-hued plywood walls, opens up the compact space. The layout is simple , with a bed at one end and a bathroom at the other, separated by a compact kitchen with a small refrigerator and a two-burner gas stove. There is a small dining set in front of the door, which can be moved outside to dine al fresco. To make the most out of the cabin’s limited interior space, the architects went with a function-first mentality. Fresh Prince founder Richie Northcott explained, “Working within a small footprint, everything must earn its place; there is no room for waste or inefficiency. The cabin was conceived as one continuous piece of joinery, interlocking and aligning to provide space for storage, cooking, sleeping and sitting, without disrupting the overall space.” + Barrington Tops Cabin + Fresh Prince Via TreeHugger Photography by Rachel Mackay via Fresh Prince

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This off-grid tiny cabin in the Australian wilderness is just what you need for a late summer getaway

Giraffes win CITES protection

August 23, 2019 by  
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Giraffes are doing a victory dance today after winning international trade protection on Thursday. Delegates at the World Wildlife Conference in Geneva voted to list giraffes on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species ( CITES ). Countries will now be required to issue non-detriment findings before exporting or importing giraffe parts. This means that in order to get permits, a scientific authority of the state must decree that the trade will not be detrimental to the survival of the species. The number of giraffes has declined by 40 percent over the last three decades, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council , which calls the situation a “silent extinction.” Habitat loss, poaching for meat, trophy hunting, disease and trade in their parts has left giraffes more endangered than elephants. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has classified seven of the nine giraffe subspecies as threatened with extinction. Related: Don’t forget to fight for these “less glamorous” endangered species Giraffes range through 21 sub-Saharan African countries. Six of the range states — Central African Republic, Chad, Kenya, Mali, Niger and Senegal — submitted the proposal to curtail indiscriminate trading of giraffe parts. The U.S., E.U., New Zealand, much of South and Central America and 32 African nations supported the proposal; however, some countries in southern African wanted to be exempt. CITES discourages this kind of split listing, as it makes things difficult for law enforcement to distinguish between legal and illegal trade. Fortunately, this idea was overruled. Because giraffes haven’t been listed under CITES in the past, there is not much international data on the trade in giraffe parts. But U.S. data points to a heinous level of trade, with nearly 40,000 giraffe parts arriving in the U.S. between 2006 and 2015. This equals at least 3,751 whole giraffes. Skins, bone carvings and raw bones were the parts most commonly intercepted. Taxidermied trophies and knives made with giraffe bone handles were other frequent imports. The long-necked ruminants and all their supporters are hoping that the U.S. will soon list giraffes under the Endangered Species Act . After conservation groups spent more than two years petitioning for protection, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is finally conducting an in-depth review of the status of giraffes. Hopefully, it will act sooner rather than later. + CITES Via Reuters and NRDC Image via Loretta Smith

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Tuck into these off-grid meditation cabins proposed for rural Latvia

January 8, 2019 by  
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Bee Breeders and Lauku Tea have recently announced winners of their Silent Meditation Forest Cabins competition, an open international contest seeking designs for off-the-grid meditation cabins in rural Latvia. Launched in search of eco-friendly and cost-effective proposals for compact and easily replicable cabins, the competition asked designers to propose a series of all-season cabins that could comfortably house a single person for nearly a week, have enough room for meditation activities and food storage and incorporate alternative lighting options and a heating system. The winning proposals will be considered for construction. Keep reading to see the top three winning entries. First prize was given to designer David Florez and Stefani Zlateva for the Solo Cabin, a timber-clad building comprising three stacked and staggered 2-by-2-meter spaces symbolic of the “various layers of nature,” namely the forest floor, the understory and the canopy. The tall structure is centered on an atrium that’s flooded with natural light thanks to a roof made from polycarbonate sheets. Further tying the project to the environment, the proposed construction recalls techniques found in traditional Latvian architecture. In second place is Nest, a proposal by Marko Simsiö of the University of Oulu. Designed as a treehouse , the cabin is elevated into the canopy and clad in charred wood to blend it into the bark of the surrounding trees. In contrast, the interior is lined with light spruce and minimally decorated. The jury praised the design for its low-impact approach. Related: 8 cabins that are perfect for a dreamy winter getaway A team from Wroclaw University of Science and Technology took third place with Aesthesia, a proposal that consists of three rectilinear cabins. Each cabin is made up of a series of modules, half of which cater to the basic necessities while the other half are used as a meditation zone with three different rooms. Large windows frame views of the outdoors. + Bee Breeders Images via Bee Breeders

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Tuck into these off-grid meditation cabins proposed for rural Latvia

This cozy off-grid cabin shows beauty on a budget in upstate New York

November 8, 2017 by  
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Manhattan studio JacobsChang shows off beauty on a budget with their completion of the Half-Tree House, a one-room cabin tucked into the forests of upstate New York’s Sullivan County. Located on a remote 60-acre site, the 360-square-foot structure operates off-grid and was built by amateur weekend builders with a limited budget of $20,000. Despite the challenging steep slope, the architects and builders achieved an elegant result that dramatically juts out into the landscape. JacobsChang kept construction costs for the Half-tree House low by sourcing most of the materials on-site , including the timber cladding made from locally felled pines. To minimize site work and use of retaining walls , the architects anchored the building on one side with simple concrete footings and then used the existing trees to support the other side with a Garnier Limb anchoring system. Related: Prefab tiny cabin perched on a granite rock to minimize environmental impact Traditional Scandinavian pine tar was used to give the cabin a dark facade, which contrasts with the whitewashed interior. Three floor-to-ceiling pivoting windows open the cabin up to the outdoors, letting in ample natural light and ventilation. Say the architects: “The space is heated with a highly efficient Jotul wood stove and power, if needed, is drawn from a portable generator. The entire construction was performed by its two owners, and in the true spirit of New England barnraising, with a team of dedicated weekend support.” + JacobsChang Via ArchDaily Images © Noah Kalina

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This cozy off-grid cabin shows beauty on a budget in upstate New York

Colorado man builds state’s most energy efficient house

January 17, 2017 by  
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Passive House is a globally-recognized building design technique that promises huge cuts in energy use for any kind of building in any climate. In a nutshell, the Passive House Design strategy relies on airtight buildings, super insulation, thermal mass and passive solar design. As a former Inhabitat contributor, I was keen to put Passive House design to the test in the Colorado Rockies, where the winters can be brutal and living off-grid comes with a tiny energy budget. The house I ended up building definitely lives up to its promises in terms of energy conservation, but the biggest surprise is how comfortable it is. Read on as I tell my story about how I came to build Colorado’s most energy-efficient house. After years of building, research, and writing about green design, I became fascinated with the concept of Passive House design, which was originally pioneered in Germany. In Europe, hundreds of buildings have been built to consume 90 percent less energy than their neighbors, using super tight insulation and passive solar design, and the trend is gradually picking up in the US as well. Reporting for Inhabitat, I visited a Passive House by NEEDBASED in New Mexico, and was amazed how well adapted it is to a climate that is both very cold and full of sunshine. The visit convinced me Passive House design is the state-of-the-art tool for building design, and that I wanted to apply it for my own home. Passive House has been both celebrated and spurned for its radical departure from normal building techniques. While in Europe it is catching on quickly , and is even being incorporated into the code from New York City to Vancouver BC, it is still considered exotic to many designers and builders. From the thick walls, triple pane windows, and sophisticated fresh air system, to the extensive energy calculations, Passive House design leaves little to chance and the certification process can be arduous. Related: How to design a passive house off-grid, and without foam After having an erratic and disappointing experience trying to certify with the US based group Passive House Institute US (PHIUS), I ultimately chose to certify with the Passive House Institute (PHI) in Germany. One of the main issues when doing energy modeling is avoiding bad inputs. As I looked closely at the critical climate data that we were building, it turned out to be way out of whack. PHIUS was in the process of introducing a more climate dependent certification scheme, and building to such a careful system using bad data left a sour taste in my mouth. Other issues kept coming up and it was time to change the approach. The process of certification with PHI though the Passive House Academy took some time but went relatively smoothly. To my surprise, we beat the energy threshold by almost two times. This turned out to be great news as the home is only powered by solar electricity and has a small propane hydronic heating system. The home’s main heating source is the sun, followed by the “waste” heat of the occupants and appliances, and then finally a small hydronic heating loop in the wall and at the Heat Recovery Ventilation system. The home has been occupied for a year, and while it uses practically no energy for heating, the real take away is how comfortable it is. The house tends to naturally hover between 67 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit without heating or cooling. I use the heating system sparingly, so during a recent cold spell, when exterior temperatures reached -10 degrees, I let the house get down to 62 degrees. After taking a shower, I was surprised that it did not feel chilly like in most houses. Why? What I learned in high school physics class paid off. The heavily insulated building envelope reduces heat loss through conduction, but it turns out that ambient air temperature is not the only reason we feel comfortable or not. With such a tight and well-insulated envelope there is neither cold air coming in nor interior air circulating by cooling convection. But what really makes the difference is the radiantly neutral surfaces, especially the triple pane glass. My bare (and damp) skin does not bleed heat via radiation to cold surfaces, which in turn reduces the need for extra layers. The other discovery was learning the difference between passive solar design and passive house. A typical passive solar building will utilize up to 50 percent of a home’s south side for glass. This works well in some conditions, but in very cold weather there is significant heat loss, or things can get too toasty, especially in spring and fall when the sun sits lower on the horizon. My house comprises about 20 percent glass on the south side, which means it neither heats up dramatically, nor loses heat. That balance pays off in simplifying heating and cooling needs. Even so, the house can still get a little too warm in fall, so I have to be active in opening and closing windows and plan to add some movable external shading. Much is said about health and indoor air quality, but little is known about how Passive Houses keep occupants healthy. I tried to minimize potential risks by building with low-processed materials like plywood, timber, tile, and cellulose and mineral wool insulations. But activities like cooking can still be problematic, so the University of Colorado Boulder is measuring my home’s indoor air quality to see how a passive house compares to a typical house in terms of indoor air quality. I’ll keep you posted! All images by Andrew Michler for Inhabitat

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Colorado man builds state’s most energy efficient house

Off-grid eco-retreats reconnect you to serene nature in Brazil

January 4, 2017 by  
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Couples looking for a romantic escape can unplug in comfort at these off-grid eco-cabins hidden away in the remote coastal mountains of Brazil. Surrounded by nature and captivating views, these solar-powered getaways are the latest installments of Minimod , a prefabricated modern home designed by MAPA Architects. Cozy and dreamy, these Minimod Catuçaba dwellings are the first of their kind in Brazil and are even available to rent on AirBnB. Located on the five-hectare estate of a former coffee plantation that dates back to 1840, the two Minimod Catuçaba cabins border the Serra do Mar State Park and overlook a verdant landscape of trees and mountains. The two 45-square-meter units are placed 1,000 meters apart and were built with different viewpoints and different layouts—one is cross-shaped while the other is rectangular. Both cabins were prefabricated offsite in a factory using cross-laminated timber and are equipped with solar panels and full-height glazing. “We invited Minimod to join the Fazenda Catuçaba community because we believe it is a revolutionary concept in Brazil, that shares in our vision of natural living,” write Casas de Catuçaba , the operators of the eco-cabins. “The Minimod is a primitive refuge with a modern twist. It´s not just a living space, it is an experience. It is a technological experience applied to the natural landscape, an invitation to live on the border between of the natural and the man-made. The Minimod incorporates a silencing system to enhance the experience between the inhabitant and the landscape.” Related: MAPA Architects’ Tiny MINIMOD House is a LED-Lit Prefab Home for Off-Grid Living Each cabin accommodates four and includes two beds, bathroom, kitchen, and living area with an indoor fireplace. Guests have access to trails through the woods that lead to a lake and floating deck, as well as an outdoor fire pit. The cabins are available to rent on AirBnB for $267 per night. + Minimod Catuçaba Via ArchDaily Images via Minimod Catuçaba and © Leonardo Finotti

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Tesla extends free charging at Supercharger stations

January 4, 2017 by  
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As of two weeks from now, there will be no more free lunch for Tesla car buyers, as the company will be cutting off free access to its Supercharger network of charging stations as of January 15, 2017. Engadget reports that this is actually somewhat of a reprieve for Tesla customers, as the cutoff was initially supposed to be January 1, 2017. According to Engadget , Tesla announced this change was coming a few months ago, telling customers they were soon going to have to pay for their own electricity. Given the recent announcement, potential buyers have just a short period in which to get unlimited free electricity for their Tesla car, which amounts to a huge bonus for anyone buying before January 15. Cars bought after that date will be limited to just 400 kilowatt hours of free power per year, and owners will have to pay for the rest. According to Tesla, that’s roughly enough power to drive for about 1,000 miles. Related: Tesla’s next Supercharger could charge electric cars in mere seconds Tesla says charging beyond that amount will be available at an additional fee, the amount of which has yet to be announced. They have said it “won’t be too expensive” and will cost drivers “less than the price of filling up a comparable gas car.” So if you’re thinking about a Tesla, now could be the time to buy. This announcement comes shortly after CEO Elon Musk hinted that a new generation of Superchargers could charge a Model S in just seconds. Near the end of December 2016, Musk hinted in a tweet that the Supercharger V3 would have an ouput of at least 350 kilowatts, or more than double the output of the current Superchargers in Tesla’s network. Via Engadget Images via Tesla Motors, Joseph Thornton and Steve Jurvetson , Flickr Creative Commons

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California valley cabin is a dreamy weekend escape unplugged from the grid

December 1, 2016 by  
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When the Baird family sought a weekend escape from the city, they asked Malcolm Davis Architecture to design a second home that would immerse them in a remote and sunny valley of Sonoma County, California. The San Francisco-based architects, who also designed the Bairds’ home in Berkeley, delivered a stunning off-grid cabin that focuses on the outdoors. The solar-powered retreat, named Camp Baird, is a modern interpretation of the traditional dogtrot home and is naturally cooled with no need for air conditioning. Set within 165 wooded acres west of Healdsburg, Camp Baird offers indoor and outdoor living within two structures—a prefabricated car-and-barn-equipment metal shed and a main custom cabin—placed in an L-shaped formation. The buildings are clad in Corten metal to minimize fire threat and topped with galvanized metal roofs that reduce heat build up. Full-height glazing opens the home to the south where the living footprint is extended to an expansive ipe wood porch and an 82-foot-long solar-heated lap pool. The south-facing backyard also features a concrete outdoor fireplace for grilling and cooking, a partially screened outdoor shower, and a variety of recreational features including a treehouse, rope swing, and archery area. Related: Rugged eco-friendly cabins offer off-grid lodging in Norway’s wilderness The off-grid and energy-efficient Camp Baird houses three rooms that can be fully heated by Rais wood stoves. Heavy insulation keeps the interior cool on hot summer days. Landscape architect Cary Bush of Merge Studio designed the landscaping made up of drought-resistant native plantings. The rooms are set on a concrete slab floor and are divided into two halves by a breezeway that allows for cross ventilation. + Malcolm Davis Architecture Via Dwell Images © Joe Fletcher

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California valley cabin is a dreamy weekend escape unplugged from the grid

Father and son build a tiny off-the-grid cabin in Wisconsin

October 26, 2015 by  
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Take a tour of this professional snowboarder’s innovative off-grid cabin

April 27, 2015 by  
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Click here to view the embedded video. Mike Basich was one of the early innovators in professional snowboarding, and now he’s leading the way in stylish off-grid living. On his 40 acres of land near Truckee, California, Basich has built himself an incredible 250-square-foot off-grid cabin – almost exclusively from materials he found on his own property. Check out the video above from “Going Off Grid,” to get the webseries’ visual take on Basich’s unique cabin and way of life. Read the rest of Take a tour of this professional snowboarder’s innovative off-grid cabin Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: legendary snowboarder’s off-grid cabin , mike basich builds his own off-grid cabin , off-grid cabin designed by golden ratio , off-grid cabin made with salvaged materials , snowboarder off-grid cabin

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