Low-impact ‘Outside House’ is built on an old lava flow in the mountains of Maui

November 22, 2017 by  
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Oregon-based firm FLOAT Architectural Research and Design recently built the “Outside House” for a client who wants to spend her days communing with nature at its fullest. To provide a strong connection to the surroundings, the architects created two simple wooden cabins – the Mauka house and the Makai house – on top of a three-hundred-year-old solidified lava flow high up in the Maui mountains. According to FLOAT architect Erin Moore, the design was inspired by a back-to-basics philosophy that puts the focus on enjoying nature, “The Outside House is a place to live outside. Two small pavilions shape the basics of daily life and structure an intentional relationship with the land.” Related: World’s most active volcano harbors a tiny off-grid home—and you can stay overnight The first cabin, the Mauka (Hawaiian for “inland toward the mountains” ) pavilion, is an enclosed cabin with a small bedroom. It’s equipped with just the basic necessities – a bed, built-in bench and small desk with chair – and it has a large sliding window that provides beautiful views of the landscape. The cabin is raised off the ground by four concrete blocks to reduce its impact on the ground. The Makai (Hawaiian for “seaward”) pavilion is an open-air deck with a small kitchen that offers stunning view out over the Pacific and the island of Kahoolawe in the distance. The wooden cladding and deck were are made from Juniper – a tree that is harvested for its protective qualities in the Pacific Northwest. An open shower is located on the backside of the kitchen, covered with a privacy panel made out of woven marine rope. Based on the wishes of the homeowner, the construction process took great lengths to protect the land. The architects built the cabins using prefabricated galvanized steel, which was carried to the building site by hand to anchor one of the cabins to the ground, while the other one was placed on concrete blocks. This reduced the impact of the project while also allowing the structures to be easily dismantled. + FLOAT Architectural Research and Design Via The Contemporist Photography by Olivier Koning

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Low-impact ‘Outside House’ is built on an old lava flow in the mountains of Maui

Man quits his job, travels 31,000 miles in a renovated van with his cat [video]

November 21, 2017 by  
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It turns out dogs aren’t the best travel companions, cats are! In 2015, a man named Rich East quit his corporate job, renovated a camper van and took off with his rescue cat, Willow. Since then, he and the friendly feline have traveled more than 50,000 kilometers (over 31,000 miles) across Australia’s six states and two territories, venturing down many of the country’s lesser-trekked paths. Rich explains on his blog Van Cat Meow , “In early 2014 I started making plans for a massive life change. Unhappy with my 10 years in the corporate world I started designing a new life for myself. I started designing a campervan that could provide me with shelter, a home, and comfort for this next stage of my life. Slowly I began to sell all my possessions such that what was left would fit in this van.” In 2015, he was ready to go. “I sold my house, all of my possessions, and quit my job so I could take the trip of a lifetime,” he  explained . “But one thing I couldn’t say goodbye [to] was this little cat so the obvious decision was to take her with me.” Their deep bond is evident in the travel photography East uploads to Instagram . Related: Amazing camper van maximizes space with clever boat design tricks According to East, there are some distinct advantages to traveling with a cat, rather than a dog. He said, “I may be biased but I believe travelling with a cat is easier than travelling with dogs. Cats are very independent and don’t require a huge amount of attention. Willow is quite nocturnal, sleeping throughout the day if we are driving and coming out in the afternoon for some food and a cuddle.” He added, “The only disadvantage to having a travelling cat is not being able to go into the occasional area where pets aren’t permitted. We avoid the National Parks to find our own hidden places that maybe we wouldn’t have found otherwise.” While most cats aren’t suited for nomadic living, Willow is the exception. “Some people think it’s odd that I’m traveling with a cat, but Willow is so chilled out and absolutely loves our new lifestyle,” East said. For her protection, the feline wears a special collar that tracks her location. “With the tracking collar, I have the peace of mind that if she decides to go for a hike I will be straight onto her,” he said. Though the pair’s trip concluded in early 2017, neither East or Willow have plans to stop traveling. East continues chronicling their adventures on Instagram and even compiled some of the best travel shots into a 2018 calendar that is now available for sale in the Van Cat meow online shop . + Van Cat Meow Via MyModernMet , TreeHugger Images via Van Cat Meow

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Man quits his job, travels 31,000 miles in a renovated van with his cat

TAXA unveils ultra-lightweight Mantis camper with pop-up roof

October 12, 2017 by  
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The camper designers at TAXA Outdoors have outdone themselves with their latest off-grid masterpiece. Weighing in at just under 2,300 pounds, the Mantis can be towed wherever adventure calls you. The 18-foot-long home on wheels comes complete with a pop-up roof that adds more space to the interior, creating enough room for four full-sized adventurers to sleep comfortably. The innovative flexible space adds a lot of value to the otherwise compact camper. At full height, the pop-up central roof adds ample standing room in the kitchen and bathroom areas. For sleep space, a full-size bed/couch at the rear of the camper fits two full size adult and two bunk beds fold out in the living area. Related: Tiny TigerMoth Camper generates power while being towed Like most of the TAXA campers, the Mantis is designed to be enjoyable on the road and easy to store when not since it easily folds down to 6´9″ to fit into most standard length and height garage. Founder Garrett Finney, former senior architect at the Habitability Design Center for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), explains the inspiration behind the ultra-efficient Mantis design, “Our dealers wanted something with more sleeping room to round out our family of products beyond the Cricket, which is designed for 2 adults and 2 younger children,” Finney says. “The number one selling trailer for the past decade is a 20-foot trailer that sleeps 4 adults. This is our version of that.” For basic needs, the camper comes installed with integrated electric and plumbing systems, and is pre-wired for solar panels . The camper was also installed with ample storage underneath the bunk beds and in the kitchen. The Mantis also comes with the beloved TAXA feature of well-placed cargo nets and bungee cords, which are infinitely handy. The roof also has a cargo deck and rack for large items like bikes or kayaks. The Mantis camper has an estimated starting cost of $32,500 and will be available for purchase this month. + TAXA Mantis Via Uncrate

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TAXA unveils ultra-lightweight Mantis camper with pop-up roof

This giant Cup Monster wants Starbucks to use recyclable cups

October 12, 2017 by  
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A monster created with over 500 old Starbucks cups prowled outside a Seattle hotel this week. Advocacy group Stand.earth created the Cup Monster to pressure the company to deliver a better, recyclable cup. Although Starbucks has trialed recyclable cups , when you order that pumpkin spice latte or mocha today, the paper cup you hold still can’t be recycled in many regions. Stand.earth says Starbucks serves four billion disposable paper cups every single year – but many facilities can’t recycle them “because the inside plastic lining clogs the equipment,” according to the group . So they showed up at the Seattle Sheraton hotel this week, where Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson was speaking at the 2017 GeekWire Summit, with the Cup Monster in tow. Related: Starbucks trials recyclable paper coffee cups for potential global use Ah the Cup Monster is out of control! Every @Starbucks unrecyclable cup that gets trashed only makes it stronger! Kevin Johnson, be a hero! pic.twitter.com/V0c8KNsq9L — Stand.earth (@standearth) October 10, 2017 According to Stand.earth United States campaign director Ross Hammond, over 8,000 cups go to landfills every minute. He said in a statement, “We hope Seattle’s tech leaders will join us in calling on Starbucks to stop serving 21st century coffee in a 20th century cup.” GeekWire reported although activists wore Starbucks uniforms, they aren’t affiliated with the coffee company. Starbucks vice president of communications Linda Mills told GeekWire the company’s cups can be recycled in some markets like Seattle, San Francisco, Boston, New York, and Washington, D.C. She said they are also working with municipalities so the cups can be recycled in more areas. Reusable cups are also an option; the company has offered a discount since 1985 for customers when they bring in cups that can be used over and over. On Starbucks’ webpage on recycling , they say, “We will continue to explore new ways to reduce our cup waste but ultimately it will be our customers who control whether or not we achieve continued growth in the number of beverages served in reusable cups.” You can sign Stand.earth’s letter to Johnson asking for a better cup here . + Stand.earth Via GeekWire Images via Stand.earth Twitter ( 1 , 2 )

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This giant Cup Monster wants Starbucks to use recyclable cups

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

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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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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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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