DIY yurt could be the answer for true social distancing

April 2, 2020 by  
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In these trying days when social distancing seems to be so hard for so many, perhaps a change of living space is the key to finding some alone time. Designed by the team from  Woodenwidget , the Plurt is a lightweight yurt  that can be assembled quickly with just a few simple tools. What’s more, the round yurt offers a sustainable and highly insulated home that can be built in just about any landscape. While we’ve seen some pretty impressive DIY yurt designs over the years, the Plurt is designed to take the guesswork out of the process. The entire set up includes six curved wall panels, 15 flat roof panels and a door frame. Enabling an easier transport process, the panels, which are made out of exterior grade wood, weigh less than 45 pounds each. In fact, the entire yurt weighs only about 550 pounds. Additionally, the interchangeable panels are custom cut to ensure that the project is as low-waste and low-impact  as possible. Related: 7 cozy tipis and yurts that make you feel right at home Once put into place, the  wooden panels are bonded together through several adjustable clasps and sealed with waterproof wood glue. According to the team from Woodenwidget, the round yurt structure can be assembled by just one or two people using basic power tools in about 200 hours. About 16 feet in diameter and just under 9 feet high, the interior of the yurt is a fairly compact size, but the living space seems quite spacious thanks to an abundance of  natural light . Curved walls made out of plywood add a cabin-like feel to the living space. In addition to the large windows, a central skylight covered by a plexi dome can be raised or lowered for natural air ventilation. Besides the resiliency naturally achieved by its  circular design , the Plurt also offers several sustainable features. Unlike most yurt designs, the structure is constructed using the insulating layer as a structural element, which in return, reduces the project’s overall number of building materials. Additionally, the design’s highly-insulated system and natural lighting mean that it can be used in almost any climate. A Neoprene seal stops water leakage and a simple gutter system helps redirect rainwater from the roof. + Woodenwidget Images via Woodenwidget

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Where to order vegetable seeds online

April 2, 2020 by  
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My grandfather always liked to garden, but he ramped up his vegetable production during World War II. Many folks at the time grew what they called “ victory gardens ” to supplement food shortages and ration cards. Nowadays, with COVID-19 raging on, people are similarly starting pandemic gardens. If you’re thinking of starting a garden or adding to your existing plots, here are some tips on buying seeds online. “There’s a huge number of people looking for planting information right now,” Melody Rose, an editor at Dave’s Garden , told Inhabitat. “We’ve seen an uptick in members who have slipped away coming back.” Related: New gardener advice and suggestions So far, supply chains are holding. While toilet paper may be scarce, there’s still plenty of food. But why not start a garden? If you’re sheltering in place anyway and you have some outdoor space, this healthy habit will connect you with the earth, get you safely outside and provide food in the coming months. Rose talked with Inhabitat to share tips for starting a garden and finding the best places to buy seeds online. What to plant If you’re new to gardening , you might not know what to plant. My early gardening attempts involved grandiose dreams of winning county fair prizes with exotic vegetables, none of which wanted to grow in my yard, as it turned out. That’s because you have to know your turf. Thanks to a neighbor’s enormous oak tree, I get less than the ideal amount of afternoon sun. So after some trial and error, I know to stick to kale , peas, beans and lettuce. Lucky enough to have more sun? “Beginning gardeners will have good luck with squash and cucumbers if they have a sunny spot outdoors and the seeds can be planted directly in the ground,” Rose said. “Beans are easy to plant outdoors, you just need at least a dozen plants to do much good, and probably more. Lettuce and radishes are quick and easy, and you can plant seeds several weeks apart to ensure a crop for a longer time.” Vegetables grow best with at least eight hours of full sun every day, Rose advised. “Afternoon sun is preferable to morning sun. I plant my vegetables where they get full sun all day, but I know that isn’t an option for some. Lettuce, radishes and spinach will do okay with a little more shade, especially when the summer temps get really hot.” Some plants are more high-maintenance than others. “Tomatoes and peppers are a bit tricky to start since they require several weeks under lights indoors,” Rose said. If you’re new to gardening, it’s better to minimize start-up costs and see how your new hobby goes. If it turns out you constantly forget to water and weed, you’ll regret buying a bunch of lights. Garden choices also come down to taste and whether you have enough space to grow a sufficient number of plants. What good is a bountiful bean harvest if you hate beans? And what good is one plant if you can’t harvest at least a single meal’s worth of vegetables from it? “Being Southern, I like okra,” Rose said. “It needs warm summers, but grows well and few pests bother it. Each plant will provide one or two pods every day all summer . You’ll need between one and two dozen pods for a family of four, depending on how they like it.” Where to buy seeds online Toilet paper companies aren’t the only ones experiencing increased demand. Seed companies are feeling it, too. “Good companies are having a huge surge in mail orders,” Rose explained. “I know that Baker Creek had to shut their portal down over last weekend just to catch up with orders.” Rose recommended a few vendors she’s ordered from herself. “I have nothing but good things to say about them,” she said. “I think all of these companies are having a good sales year.” Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds , based in Missouri, began in 1998 and now offers about 1,200 varieties of heirloom vegetables, herbs and flowers. Try the purple lady bok choy and atomic orange corn. Iowa-based Seed Savers Exchange started with tomato and morning glory seeds brought by the founder’s grandfather from Bavaria. Johnny’s Seeds , which is 100% employee-owned, began in the attic of a New Hampshire farmhouse in 1973. Kitazawa Seed Company , founded in 1917, is the country’s oldest seed company specializing in Asian vegetables. People who start seed companies are a special breed. It takes a lot of passion and perseverance for small, organic companies to go up against huge, conventional seed growers. I recently ordered seeds from Wild Mountain Seeds in Colorado, after sharing an Uber Pool ride with the one of the owners, who was en route to an organic seed growers conference. Wild Mountain specializes in heirloom tomatoes and sturdy seeds that can withstand colder climates. Because of the pandemic-related upsurge in seed sales, keep in mind that these and other companies might be slower than usual in delivering, out of stock and/or might have to temporarily close ordering to catch up with demand. Rose recommended checking out any unfamiliar seed company in the Garden Watchdog rating database on Dave’s Garden. You can even narrow your search to specific plants. Beginner gardening tips Rose suggested starting small and properly preparing your soil . Too much ambition and too little knowledge could put you off gardening forever. “One of my husband’s employees decided that he and his family would plant a garden last year and he had a huge plot tilled up,” she said. “They battled weeds, bugs, raccoons, rabbits and deer. The ground wasn’t prepared properly and they chose a location that was shaded in the afternoon. Needless to say, it was a huge disaster.” If possible, test your soil before planting. The Old Farmers Almanac offers DIY testing advice . Otherwise, Rose recommended incorporating well-rotted manure or a commercial fertilizer with a 10-10-10 rating. Even if you don’t have a proper plot, you can still container garden. Just be sure not to pick containers that are too small or shallow. “A tomato plant needs the minimum of a five-gallon bucket and a gallon of water every day to produce,” Rose said. “A squash plant is similar.” Microgreens are an option for people who have no outdoor space and/or lack green thumbs. Microgreens are nutrient-packed plants that require only a tiny container, a handful of soil and a sunny windowsill . “I think microgreens would be an easy and nutritious option for lots of people,” Rose said. “Easy, very little equipment and fast turnaround.” Whether you’re an indoor urban gardener or have an acre of land, there’s never been a better time to get your hands in some cool dirt and grow something nutritious to eat. + Dave’s Garden Images via Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat and Eco Warrior Princess

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Antony Gibbon’s Flux House appears to float on the water’s surface

March 19, 2018 by  
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Architect Antony Gibbon  has unveiled yet another incredible structure – this one designed for a future world where homes float on water . The circular Flux House features two rings of thin timber panels , equally spaced around the frame in order to illuminate the interior with a soft diffusion of natural light. Four walkways provide access to the home, which has a large swimming pool at its center. The main house is designed to sit upon a large body of water, creating the effect of being surrounded by a modern-day moat. The timber slats in the facade not only let in natural light, but allow for light to reflect off the water and into the structure. Related: Antony Gibbon’s Lucent House is a serene minimalist retreat made of glass and stone The interior maintains the home’s  circular shape , with the living and dining areas on one side and the bedrooms on the other. The swimming pool, accessible from any room, serves as the focal point of the building. The Flux House design is conceptual at the moment, but, like most of Antony Gibbon’s designs , it could very well be used as a private home or off-grid resort. + Antony Gibbon Images via Antony Gibbons

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Dilapidated WWI soldier barracks in Essex converted into stunning eco home

August 31, 2017 by  
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Instead of demolishing an old, dilapidated Nissen Hut that had sat on their farmland in Essex for nearly a century, one ambitious couple decided to convert it into a stunning eco property. The elongated iron structure – which was originally built as soldier barracks in WWI – has been reborn as the Zinc House, a contemporary, five-bedroom family home updated with a beautiful zinc roof and various sustainable features . Originally built as make shift soldier housing during WWI, Nissen huts were then used as bomb shelters during the Second World War. Most of the old structures, which are scattered across the UK countryside, have since fallen into disrepair. Related: True North Detroit is an affordable live-work community made from prefab Quonset huts However, instead of demolishing the rusty old building that had sat on their farm land for almost a century, Claire Benbrook and her late husband Richard decided to restore the old building. The home was gutted and clad with an attractive zinc roof and updated with large terraces on either side. The home, which is just under 4,000 square feet, was also installed with various sustainable features such as ultra-strong insulation and a ground source heat pump for added efficiency. The curved elongated structure has double-glazed bifold walls that run the entire length of the home. Glazed doors and large windows illuminate the interior with plenty of natural light and provide stunning views of the surroundings. The interior is a minimalist design , with white walls and an Italian glass staircase that holds court in the entranceway. The first floor houses an open-plan layout which includes the kitchen, dining area, and large living area. A massive 22-foot-long master bedroom is located on the second floor, with a large covered terrace that looks out over the expansive countryside. + Strutt & Parker Via Stuff Images via Strutt & Parker

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Futuristic house made of massive steel cylinders hides two houses in one

January 25, 2017 by  
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Spanish architecture firm, Z4Z4 , has created one very unique home consisting of massive white cylindrical structures fused together to create two houses in one. Inspired by the homeowner’s love of travel and nature, the interior space connects the home to the earth through a large interior greenhouse , while the rest of the home “floats” whimsically above ground. https://vimeo.com/164173559 The home’s design was meant to represent the homeowners’ paradoxical love of both travel and domesticity, “A family was looking for a new home able to represent their trips around the globe, their desire to live in a garden and to embody the cinematic diversity of domestic life. The result is the design of two different houses on the same plot,” explained the architects. Related: Blue Sky Homes Completes Elegant Steel Prefab Home In Yucca Valley The three-story structure is built on two elongated concrete walls, and is supported by a series of interconnecting “stilts”. The main cylindrical volumes are surrounded with a sliding screen made of corrugated iron curtains that allow for optimal natural light into the minimalist interior . On the interior, the space is soothing, with little in terms of divisions apart from the double height greenhouse , which is divided by the “Good Life” garden on the south and the “Grotesque Garden” to the north. Along with nine spacious rooms, the home also includes a lounge area, pool, sauna and fitness center. + Z4Z4 Via World Architecture Photography by Imagen Subliminal

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Sweden’s first round Passive House boasts an innovative solar-powered balcony

April 15, 2016 by  
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