Snail-inspired retreat is the perfect escape for nature lovers

August 2, 2017 by  
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Although you certainly wouldn’t be able to carry this shell-shaped structure on your back, the El Caracol retreat is perfect for getting away from it all. The dome home features an all-glass facade that connects the interior to 8 acres of pine forest in Lledó, Spain. If that isn’t enough of the great outdoors for you, nearby is a limestone gorge with a natural swimming pool and two wild rivers, making it the perfect escape for nature lovers. The structure is set deep into the mountainous forest where two rivers meet, making it a true nature lover’s paradise . However, the property itself is so relaxing, it might be hard to get out and explore the surrounding area. Related: Norway’s Fleinvaer cabins offer the ultimate in off-grid living on a remote island The concrete dome is cut in half with a slanted, all-glass facade that juts out over the outdoor patio. The large windows flood the interior with natural light and connects the living space with the natural exterior. On the inside, there’s an open-plan living area with a large kitchen. Exposed steel supports are found throughout the home, giving an industrial aspect that contrasts nicely with the all-concrete walls. The three bedrooms and two bathrooms are located on the upper level. The master has a beautiful convex wall on one side and a full-length glass wall that offers spectacular views of the surroundings. The heart of the retreat is undoubtedly the outdoor living area. A large shaded area provides outdoor dining space that opens up to the infinity pool . Guests can enjoy the BBQ area, a hammock, and plenty of nooks and crannies for long siestas in the Spanish sun. El Caracol can be rented through CoolStays.com + El Caracol Via Dwell Images via Cool Stays

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Snail-inspired retreat is the perfect escape for nature lovers

Report: meat industry responsible for largest-ever dead zone in Gulf of Mexico

August 2, 2017 by  
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Most people know by now that a plant-based diet is better for one’s mental and physical well-being. But did you know that reducing your consumption of meat — whether from bovine, chicken or pig — can also benefit the environment? It’s an important revelation, one more people need to learn, as a new report reveals that toxins poured into waterways by major meat suppliers have resulted in the largest-ever “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico . The report was conducted by Mighty , an environmental group chaired by former congressman Henry Waxman. It was determined that toxins from manure and fertilizer which companies are pouring into waterways are contributing to huge algae blooms . This, in turn, creates oxygen-deprived areas in the gulf, the Great Lakes, and the Chesapeake bay. As a result of the pollution and worsening algae blooms, it is expected that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) will confirm that the Gulf of Mexico has the largest ever recorded dead zone in history. Concerned environmental advocates predict it to be nearly 8,200 square miles or roughly the size of New Jersey. The report blamed American citizens’ vast appetite for meat for driving much of the harmful pollution. Small businesses, as well, are “contaminating our water and destroying our landscape,” said the report. Said Lucia von Reusner , campaign director at Mighty, “This problem is worsening and worsening and regulation isn’t reducing the scope of this pollution. These companies’ practices need to be far more sustainable. And a reduction in meat consumption is absolutely necessary to reduce the environmental burden.” To determine the findings, Mighty analyzed supply chains or agribusiness and pollution trends. It was found that a “highly industrialized and centralized factory farm system” is primarily responsible for converting “vast tracts of native grassland in the midwest” into mono-crops , such as soy and corn. When it rains, the stripped soils can easily wash away, resulting in fertilizers entering streams, rivers, and oceans. Related: Gulf of Mexico’s “dead zone” in 2017 could be the largest on record Tyson Foods , which is based in Arkansas, was identified as a “dominant” influence in the pollution. This is because the company is a major supplier of beef, chicken, and pork in the United States. The Guardian reports that every year, the supplier slaughters 35 million chickens and 125,000 cattle every week. Its practices require five million acres of corn a year for feed. Unfortunately, Americans’ appetite for animal products is only expected to increase in future years , which spells trouble unless the majority of the United States adopts high-quality, organic plant-based diets which require fewer resources to grow and are less detrimental to the environment. Mighty is urging Tyson and other firms to use their influence and to ensure grain producers, such as Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland, implement practices that reduce pollution in the waterways. These changes include not leaving soil uncovered by crops and being more efficient with fertilizers so plants are not sprayed with so many chemicals . While more action needs to be taken, the report, at the very least, raises awareness about the pervasive issue which demands attention. Via The Guardian + Mighty Images via Wikimedia , Pixabay

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Report: meat industry responsible for largest-ever dead zone in Gulf of Mexico

Curvaceous green landscape near Edinburgh Castle will hide buildings underneath

August 2, 2017 by  
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Scotland’s historic Edinburgh Castle may date back to the 12th century, but the landscape next door is getting a modern refresh. American architecture firm wHY and Edinburgh office GRAS just won the Ross Pavilion International Design Competition with their designs for a curvaceous green landscape with buildings hidden underneath. The winning design, called Butterfly, beat out proposals by six other teams including the likes of BIG , Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter, and Sou Fujimoto Architects. Located on the West Princes Street Gardens site, the £25 million Ross Pavilion will be integrated within a rolling terrain that the jury commended for its sensitivity to the landscape history as well as for increasing the green space within the Gardens. The design embeds the pavilions , which will comprise a visitor center and cafe, underneath an undulating landscape to keep Edinburgh Castle the focal point. The pavilion will replace an existing garden bandstand and host key events in Edinburgh’s calendar. Related: Zaha Hadid Architects unveil plans for spectacular Eco Park in England “They demonstrated an impressive collaboration which respects and enhances the historical context and backdrop of the castle and the city, whilst creating new heritage and increasing the green space within the gardens,” said jury chair Norman Springford. “All of which were key aspects for us all and respected the importance of the space within a world heritage site.” A sunken outdoor amphitheater sits between the green-roofed buildings and is accessible via a ramped pathway. Construction on the Ross Pavilion and West Princes Street Garden is expected to begin in 2018. + wHY Architects Via ArchDaily Images by wHY Architects

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Curvaceous green landscape near Edinburgh Castle will hide buildings underneath

This Oregon dome home could be yours – if aliens don’t come for it first

July 27, 2017 by  
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We can’t guarantee that aliens will visit you in this eco dome – but we’re pretty sure that they’d be drawn to its UFO-like design. Located in Eugene, Oregon, this tiny dome structure – which could be yours for just $115,000 – is located on a large plot of land surrounded by a thick green forest. It’s a perfect setting for potential “take us to your leader” moment, if you ask us. Located on almost four acres of wooded forest, the monolithic home is in a perfect spot for off-grid living. The 855-square-foot structure’s shape maximizes floor space – although you’ll be sleeping next to the lovely open-air toilet. Along with that charming feature, there are also two sinks and a shower. According to the real estate listing, the septic tank and water well appear to be in working order. Related: Desert dome camp in Jordan offers tourists “The Martian” experience Round porthole windows provide the grey structure with optimal natural light as well as a full view of the surroundings. As a bonus feature, there is a Styrofoam shed clad in stucco located adjacent to the dome home, providing extra storage space in case your new alien friends need some room for their luggage. Forget ET “phone home” – maybe the little guy was just looking for a “dome home” after all? + Estately Photographs via Estately

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This Oregon dome home could be yours – if aliens don’t come for it first

Cool homestead retreat with vintage trailer brings glamping to Mojave desert

July 24, 2017 by  
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Architect Andreas M. Larisch is revamping the homestead movement for those who’d prefer a little luxury with their off-grid dreams. Larisch has created Homestead Modern, a series of upscale rentals in the Mojave Desert. The first home, Homestead Modern No. 1, comes with a one bedroom house, detached casita and our favorite – one very cool refurbished vintage trailer . Installing luxury digs into the ruggedness of the harsh Mojave Desert is no easy task, but with good design, anything is possible. The first in Larisch’s series of rental homes is Homestead Modern No. 1, which is located in the Hollywood-built Pioneertown. Known for its beautiful desert surroundings , the area is a favorite of nature lovers who can now rent the home to experience the amazing desert sunrises and sunsets right out the front door. Related: Experience the good old days of off-grid living at the El Cosmico vintage trailer park The Homestead Modern No. 1 complex includes two glass and steel buildings as well as the beautiful vintage trailer . The main home features a one-bedroom, one-bath house with a kitchen, living room, and dining area. For guests, a separate one-bedroom, one-bath casita is also on site. Clad in a rusted welded metal and concrete, the exterior blends seamlessly into the desert sands. The main home has a large outdoor deck in the back with a bbq grill and an enclosed front patio with a fire pit. Both properties were built with an abundance of glass windows and doors, as well as private outdoor showers, to provide a strong connection between the home and its natural surroundings. Guests can also enjoy the outdoor sauna as well as the galvanized “cowboy” tub located just steps away from the home. However, if it were up to us, we’d bunk in the beautifully refurbished vintage trailer . Equipped with a queen bed and full bath, the 28-foot, 1973 Holiday Rambler is the perfect off-grid st ay for those looking to enjoy some quiet time me time. The property is currently available for rent on at Airbnb  or HomeAway . + Homestead Modern Rentals + Andreas M. Larisch Via Dwell Photography by Lance Gerber

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Cool homestead retreat with vintage trailer brings glamping to Mojave desert

Experience the good old days of off-grid living at the El Cosmico vintage trailer park

May 9, 2017 by  
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Although some may think that tiny home design is a relatively new concept, trailer living has been around almost since the dawn of time, or at least since the creation of the iconic Airstream . For those looking to go back to the good old days of simple living, El Cosmico Trailer Park located in Marfa, Texas, is home to 11 restored vintage trailers that have been painstakingly revamped back to their heyday state of “nomadic recreation.” El Cosmico Park is a colorful trailer community that sits in the desert plains of Marfa , an art-loving community known for its incredible landscape. The vintage trailers have been restored to their original glory as much as possible. Most have marine-varnished birch interiors and no-frills amenities geared to those looking for a respite from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Related: The Vintages boasts 15 painstakingly restored trailers in one retro park The 11 vintage trailers – that are available to rent throughout the year – come in a variety of shapes and sizes, all with their own unique character. The 42-feet Imperial Mansion, for example, has its own bathroom and a full kitchen. Its lovely wooden deck is perfect for a smokey bbq dinner under the stars. Little Pinky, on the other hand is a quaint, she shed-esque 13-feet trailer that also comes with a sweet little deck, but shares an outdoor toilet and shower with her neighbor, Amigo. Each trailer has the basic equipment for cooking, dining, sleeping, bathing, etc., and most have open-air decks. All of the trailers are also equipped with heating and cooling for year-round stays. However, in true off-grid fashion, there is limited Internet, which is only available in the lobby. For those looking to go a bit more rustic, the camp also offers yurts and teepees . + El Cosmico Trailer Park Images via El Cosmico Trailer Park

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Experience the good old days of off-grid living at the El Cosmico vintage trailer park

Watch this groundbreaking new solar device open and move like a flower

May 9, 2017 by  
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The Smartflower is a groundbreaking solar panel that can’t—and won’t—sit still. Arriving Stateside this month, the portable all-in-one unit mimics the behavior of certain sun-tracking blooms by rotating its solar-module “petals” throughout the day. This format, according to Austria’s Smartflower Energy Technology, allows the system to be 40 to 50 percent more efficient than traditional photovoltaic arrays , which tend to be limited by their fixed tilt. The company claims that a single Smartflower can produce the equivalent of a 4 kilowatt rooftop system, which it hails as a breakthrough for a standalone solar product. You can tell that the Smartflower is designed for residential and small-business use. To add to its visual appeal, it’s available in a slew of colors with names like “berry,” “jungle,” and “porcelain.” The Smartflower’s day starts at sunrise when it deploys its panels, which are backed by brushes that slough off any dust and debris. Related: Tesla unveils discreet new rooftop solar panels Turning to face the sun at a 90-degree angle, it uses GPS-based dual axis tracking to calculate—and shift—its optimal angle as the day progresses. The modules fold up at night, or when sensors detect high winds that may cause them damage. The basic Smartflower model, which starts at around $16,000, can be used in a variety of “plug and play” settings, including juicing up an electric car. A pricier “Plus” version includes battery storage that lets you squirrel away harvested energy to tide you over cloudy days. About 1,000 Smartflowers have already been installed at sites across Europe, including the Botanical Gardens in Madrid and the University of Applied Sciences Kufstein in Austria. Related: Google’s Project Sunroof expands to 7 million homes in Germany Arnold Schwarzenegger , the actor and former governor of California, is apparently fan. “Even though I like size, sometimes something small is very effective, “ a brochure quotes him as saying. “And when it comes to photovoltaic solar there is nothing better than, for instance, the Smartflower. I mean what a brilliant idea, you put this in front of the house, you plug it in—no installation, nothing.” + Smartflower

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Watch this groundbreaking new solar device open and move like a flower

This ready-made tiny home can be shipped to any destination

March 24, 2017 by  
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There are those who work for months or even years to create a beautiful tiny home out of nothing, but if you don’t have time for all that, now you can order your own ready-made Mobile Home. The compact structure, designed by Ruzanna Andressa Oganesya, is built on a moving platform and can be transported virtually anywhere. Those looking to go off grid hassle free can order it to be delivered to their desired location, ready to use as a serene mountain retreat or even as an urban home addition. The Mobile Home is a prefab modular construction that is wide enough to fit on a freight-liner truck bed, making delivery ultra-convenient. The home is compact, approximately 150 square feet, and comes with all of the basic necessities, including a selection of furnishings. The compact house is a unique shape, almost completely covered in glass panels. Adding to its charm is a lovely open-air deck that leads into the interior. Related: Inhabitat spends the night in a Harvard-designed tiny cabin in the woods On the interior, a mezzanine floorplan allows for optimal use of space. The bedroom hovers over the living space connected by an open staircase. Along with the glass walls, a skylight floods the home with natural light . Strategically located just over the bed, it allows residents to enjoy a bit of stargazing as they nod off to sleep. + Ruzanna Andressa Oganesya Via Yanko Design

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This ready-made tiny home can be shipped to any destination

Self-sufficient Platypus Bend House was built to float above torrential flooding

March 4, 2016 by  
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SOM debuts “world’s largest 3D-printed polymer building” designed for off-grid living

January 28, 2016 by  
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