Self-sustaining retreat in Idaho is the perfect social distancing getaway

May 20, 2020 by  
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When a family sought reprieve from the rigors of urban living, they asked Salt Lake City-based architecture firm Imbue Design to design a retreat for them in the “middle of nowhere” in southern Idaho. Because there were no utility connections for miles of the property, the architects created a self-sustaining retreat that follows passive solar strategies, harnesses solar energy and uses an airtight envelope to minimize energy use. Dubbed Boar Shoat, the single-family home that was created to serve as a crash pad and base camp for outdoor adventures has also become a welcome getaway during these uncertain times.  Located next to a natural berm by a grove of aspen trees, Boar Shoat is set on a 60-acre parcel of rolling hills with views of Paris Peak in the distance. In response to the client’s conceptualization of the project as a “spartan shelter”, the architects organized the home as a trio of small structures centered on a larger outdoor living space beneath an expansive canopy. The three volumes — consisting of the main residence, guest quarters and utilitarian storage — flank the outdoor living space on three sides and serve as windbreaks.  Related: Stunning ‘beach shack’ on remote Australian beach is 100% self-sufficient The exterior is clad in accordion metal panels selected for their weather-resistant and low-maintenance properties. The interior complements the outdoors with its simple design and full-height glazing that blurs the boundaries between indoors and out. Natural wood ceilings lend warmth to the interior, while the untreated concrete floors serve as a durable, worry-free surface. Walls were painted white to create a blank backdrop for the clients’ extensive art collection. To generate all of the home’s energy needs onsite, the architects crafted the building with an airtight envelope fitted with performance-enhancing windows and doors as well as superior insulation. Solar energy powers the electricity and heat with supplemental battery storage and a backup generator.  + Imbue Design Images via Imbue Design

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Self-sustaining retreat in Idaho is the perfect social distancing getaway

Work from home in style in these slippers made of natural and recycled materials

May 20, 2020 by  
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Footwear requirements at home are different than anywhere else you may roam. While sometimes slippers or bare feet fit the bill, other times you might need proper support, even if you’re staying indoors. The entrepreneur behind Dooeys thinks you can have the best of both worlds, with a shoe and a slipper in one that won’t hurt the planet. Founder of Dooeys, Jordan Clark, originally from Seattle, Washington, was living in Amsterdam and found herself struggling to find a proper pair of shoes for her typical work-from-home activities. Tennis shoes were too rigid, and slippers didn’t offer the support she needed nor the style she desired. So she decided to design her own footwear that women could wear while working and lounging at home. She dubbed this footwear Slipshoes. Related: Vegan shoes from Insecta are a stylish option for eco-friendly footwear In addition to comfort and versatility, it was important to Clark that the shoes were made with sustainability in mind. She said, “I came up with the idea for Dooeys two years ago before I had any idea there would be a global shift forcing millions to work from home. I spent the past year-and-a-half designing and sourcing sustainable materials to make the perfect house shoes for women.” To that end, Slipshoes are made with a breathable upper portion using vegan apple leather that comes from post-processing organic apple skins grown in the Italian Alps. The insoles are produced from cork , which is harvested in Portugal and bound with natural latex from the rubber tree. The EVA soles are made from sugarcane while the footbed stems from coconut husks. Each shoe is made in Portugal using these earth-friendly materials, along with recycled plastic and recycled polyester.  Jordan hopes the shoes appeal to anyone who loves the environment and just enjoys working, lounging or entertaining at home. The Slipshoes are available as two-tone loafer or slide-in mules. Both styles are currently available for pre-order on the Dooeys website for $145. + Dooeys Images via Dooeys

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Work from home in style in these slippers made of natural and recycled materials

Net-zero Sawmill House is 100% self sufficient in California’s high desert

June 28, 2018 by  
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Building a comfortable self-sufficient dwelling is no easy task, especially when in a harsh climate. But when Seattle-based firm Olson Kundig was tapped to design an off-grid home in the high desert in California, the architects rose to the challenge and delivered an elegant, net-zero dwelling known as the Sawmill House. Located in Tehachapi, California, the Sawmill House serves as a family retreat that weathers the harsh climate with durable materials and sustainable strategies. Completed in 2014, the Sawmill House is named after the valley in which it resides—a scrubby and remote landscape that had been used for mining, ranching and logging. In a departure from the site’s past, the homeowners wanted a family retreat with minimal environmental disturbance that would “give back to the land, rather than take from it.” With that guiding principle in mind, Olson Kundig crafted a self-sustaining, net-zero  vacation home that maximized connections between the indoors and outdoors. Spread out across 4,200 square feet, the Sawmill House is built mainly of concrete blocks, steel and glass, materials chosen for their durability against the harsh and fire-prone landscape. The living space with a central hearth marks the heart of the off-grid home and features a stunning 12-by-26-foot window wall that completely retracts with a few turns of the wheel, opening up the interior to the outdoor patio . The three bedrooms are housed in the three wings that branch off from the central living space. The longer wing, which houses the master bedroom, also includes the kitchen and dining area. Related: Floating Olson Kundig home makes way for Washington wildlife “Tough as nails, Sawmill is made from durable materials that can withstand the harsh climate, where fires are a major hazard in summer and winters are extremely cold,” says Olson Kundig Architects. “The design approach was driven by a scavenger mentality, seeking always to do more with less, including using salvaged and recycled materials whenever possible.” The home is powered with a photovoltaic solar array and comes with backup propane and generator; water is supplied by an on-site well. + Olson Kundig Images by Gabe Border and Kevin Scott / Olson Kundig

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Net-zero Sawmill House is 100% self sufficient in California’s high desert

BIG designs a high-end tiny house that goes off-grid

May 18, 2018 by  
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Bjarke Ingels Group has revealed images for the firm’s first-ever tiny house—the A45—designed for the prefab-housing startup Klein . Inspired by the traditional A-frame cabin, the A45 takes on an angular form conducive to rain run-off and easy construction. The 180-square-foot timber cabin boasts a completely customizable interior design and can be built within four to six months in any location. Constructed in Upstate New York, the prototype for the A45 tiny house is clad in blackened pine with a triangular glazed end wall to immerse homeowners in nature even when they’re indoors. The triangular floor-to-ceiling window—made up of seven glass pieces—and the soaring 13-foot-tall ceiling help create a sense of spaciousness despite the structure’s small 180-square-foot size. The cabin is slightly elevated on four concrete piers in order to minimize site impact and to give homeowners the freedom to place the tiny home in areas without heavy machinery. “The resulting crystal-like shape gives A45 an ever-changing appearance,” said BIG in a statement about their modification of the traditional A-frame cabin. “Upon entering, the 180 [square-foot] interior space reflects a minimal Nordic abode prioritized for ‘hyggelig’ comfort and design.” The subtle natural material palette, from the exposed timber frame built of solid pine to the Douglas Fir floor planks and the space-grade insulating natural cork walls, further emphasizes the Scandinavian aesthetic. Cedar clads the compact bathroom, and the fixtures were sourced from VOLA. Related: This tiny timber cabin was built from construction waste for under $30K The A45 tiny house comprises 100% recyclable materials including the timber frame, wall modules, and subfloor. The home get all of its power from  solar panels, and the service equipment is hidden from view in the back. The cozy interior is furnished with a Morsøe wood-burning stove and handcrafted Nordic furniture including pieces by Carl Hansen and a bed fitted with Soren Rose Studio’s Kvadrat fabrics. Københavns Møbelsnedkeri designed the petite kitchen. + Bjarke Ingels Group + Klein Via AD Images via BIG

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BIG designs a high-end tiny house that goes off-grid

The Cocoon Smart Home will harvest rainwater, solar energy and organic veggies in the Caribbean

May 17, 2018 by  
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This self-sufficient home topped with a soaring cocoon -like structure envisions new heights of off-grid living. The Cocoon Smart Home, designed by  Richard’s Architecture + Design (RA+D), will be the first  Minergie -ECO certified building in the  Dominican Republic . With solar panels , a geothermal system and rainwater harvesting, this Santo Domingo home fully embraces sustainable design. RA+D wanted to design the ideal automated house that contributes to the health of its inhabitants and the surrounding environment . Multiple sources of clean energy will power the Cocoon Smart Home, including solar, residential wind turbines and a geothermal system. The five-bedroom home will also be equipped with a Viessmann fuel cell heater that uses hydrogen — RA+D says this will be the first one in the Caribbean. Battery storage keeps LED lighting and a water heating system running, and excess power can be rerouted to the public grid or utilized to charge electric cars. Related: Futuristic power plant concept generates clean power through wind, solar and geothermal energy An organic vertical garden , framed with glass and steel cables, comprises the cocoon of the building and allows plenty of natural light into the home. RA+D included cross ventilation, tilted louvers and strategic landscaping to mitigate heat. Cocoon Smart Home employs rainwater harvesting and boasts an on-site water treatment plant. With rainwater collectors and water purification systems, residents will be able to obtain clean drinking water. There’s even enough water and power for food production — RA+D said there is potential for gardens or greenhouses to thrive here. The goal of the home’s interior is to connect its inhabitants to nature. An open floor plan, natural limestone floors and fir and ash wood walls, floors, ceilings and furniture blend together in what the firm calls a Caribbean-chic aesthetic. “Each of these systems working harmoniously in this house represents a historic achievement for this landmark project,” said Kyle Hubert, part of the RA+D design team. “We feel confident that these synergized renewable energy technologies, along with energetically self-sustainable organic food production and water sourcing, will begin a new paradigm for private residency development, moving from smart homes to smart neighborhoods and cities.” Hubert said Cocoon Smart Home is currently under construction. + Richard’s Architecture + Design Images via Richard Moreta Castillo

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The Cocoon Smart Home will harvest rainwater, solar energy and organic veggies in the Caribbean

Lego-like kindergarten sparks creativity with a playful brick facade

May 17, 2018 by  
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Brick may often be seen as boring and traditional, but that’s not the case when the material falls into the hands of KIENTRUC O . The Vietnamese architecture studio creatively used the ancient building block to breathe life into Ho Chi Minh City’s new Chuon Chuon Kim 2 Kindergarten located in the city’s District 2. The building is made entirely from bare brick arranged in patterns to form an eye-catching and playful facade that also promotes natural ventilation. Likened to a “giant Lego building,” the Chuon Chuon Kim 2 Kindergarten features perforated brick walls with sections painted vibrant yellow for a spectacular effect. While a playful atmosphere conducive to exploration was crucial in the design, the architects also wanted to create a space that felt calm and relaxed. To that end, the building is organized around a central active core that branches out to serene  classroom settings. “Instilled within the school is an openness with a spark of curiosity that allows people of all ages to venture and explore the space in a relaxing and calming atmosphere,” the architects wrote. “As we have engaged in numerous educational projects, we recognize that these experiences are equally as important as the responsibility of nurturing the kids. It invokes a sense of pride, and interests within the teacher and the staffs. It inspires and embraces them, for they have chosen to dedicate their life for the education and the well-being of the children on a daily basis.” Related: This stunning brick “cave house” in Vietnam is open to the elements Each floor features alternating patterns that encourages children to become more attuned to their surroundings. The walls are punctuated by large windows for continuous views inside and out. Access to daylight , cross breezes and a natural material palette help promote a healthful environment. A rooftop garden tops the building with panoramic views of the Saigon River. + KIENTRUC O Via ArchDaily Images by Hiroyuki Oki

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Lego-like kindergarten sparks creativity with a playful brick facade

Off-grid island home in Florida hits the market for $1M

May 14, 2018 by  
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Near the southern tip of Florida , a breezy and 100% self-sufficient island home has hit the market for a cool million. Located along the Intracoastal Waterway just east of Keewaydin Island, the 5.3-acre property on Little Marco Island is an idyllic private getaway with a custom-built cottage and a front-row view of waterfront wildlife, from dolphins to gopher tortoises. Keep reading for an inside look at the off-grid island home currently listed on Premier Sotheby’s International Realty . Built in 2000, the two-bedroom, one-bath home comes with an adjacent cottage set on 1.8 acres. The 1,968-square-foot main property is set on 3.5 acres of land with a private beach frontage and a boat dock. Only accessible by boat, the off-grid property feels completely secluded despite the fact that its only minutes away from Marco Island, Isles of Capris and Naples. Related: Florida power company scraps nuclear project, will pursue solar power instead Built largely of timber to complement the island setting, both properties stay naturally cool with long eaves , tall ceilings, and large openings that admit cross breezes. On days of unbearable heat however, air conditioning always remains an option in the main home, which is powered entirely by solar energy. The property is equipped with a backup generator, while water is harvested in cisterns and treated through a four-part filtration system. + 11781 Little Marco Island Images via Premier Sotheby’s International Realty

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Off-grid island home in Florida hits the market for $1M

Off-grid Ecocapsule microhomes finally make their international debut

February 8, 2018 by  
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We’ve been following the the solar- and wind-powered Ecocapsule microhome since it first burst onto the design scene. Now, nearly 10 years after the visionary concept was born, its Bratislava-based designers are finally making their international debut with an exclusive release of 50 off-grid dwellings that can be installed pretty much anywhere. Although this round of smart, self-sufficient tiny dwellings will only be available to customers living in the United States, Japan, Australia and EU, the second mass-produced series could be available as soon as the end of 2018. Despite its futuristic design, the Ecocapsule encapsulates a great deal of what makes a building truly sustainable . Albeit made of fiberglass and steel, neither of which are renewable like bamboo or hemp, it deserves major kudos for its ability to generate its own energy with included solar panels and a wind turbine, and collect and filter its own water–all in a compact module with a negligible footprint. It is 15.32-feet-long, 7.22-feet-wide, and 14.76-feet-tall (wind turbine included). Ecocapsule’s Matej Gyárfáš said the wind turbine produces 750W of clean energy, while the embedded solar panels produce 880W at peak. The energy is stored in a battery with a capacity of 9kWh, though the whole microhome can be plugged into an external outlet if additional electricity is necessary. With its two water tanks at full capacity, the unit weighs 3,638 pounds. Made to sleep up to two people, the Ecocapsule can be transported in a shipping container , by passenger car with a trailer hitch, or by helicopter, which is how the first completed unit was carried to the roof of Bratislava’s UNIQ building (see attached picture in the gallery) on January 31, 2018. It has a clean, open interior design with plenty of natural light, and its spheroid shape promotes water collection while also ensuring optimal energy retention. Related: Solar-powered Ecocapsule lets you live off the grid anywhere in the world Gyárfáš said the design was originally intended as a “frontier dwelling, a housing unit for people who need to stay in nature for a longer time – e.g. scientists, photographers, rangers or extreme tourists.” But the design’s easy mobility, containerization and long-term energy independence expanded its potential, he said. He says it can be quickly shipped in “ rapid response situations where infrastructure is damaged” and even function as a “small power plant and water filtration unit.” The Ecocapsule can be installed on rooftops or vacant urban spaces, out in the middle of nature, or even in vineyards. According to the company, it is “a multipurpose unit, which can be used as a house, caravan, houseboat , hotel, or a research station.” Each of the first 50 pieces cost $89,000, according to Gyárfáš. Prices for the next iteration will be lower, but that number has not been revealed. All images via Ecocapsule

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Off-grid Ecocapsule microhomes finally make their international debut

A striking sawtooth roof tops this net-zero lake house in Canada

February 8, 2018 by  
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Architects Julia Jamrozik and Coryn Kempster have created a gorgeous lakeside home that actually generates as much energy as it uses . Located on the banks of Canada’s Stoney Lake, the net-zero Sky House is marked by a zigzagging roof that runs the length of the home. The 3,100 square-foot home consists of two separate structures stacked on top of one another. The upper elongated structure is clad in petrified wood panels and topped with a zigzagging roof . The lower level features a cube-like mini room that’s tucked into the landscape and virtually invisible. The home’s unique layout creates an empty space between the living areas and the sloping landscape. The unusual design provides easy access to various rooms as well as a calm, serene space to read surrounded by nature. Related: Zigzagging Het Anker community center in the Netherlands is partially buried underground The home’s interior is all-white and contemporary, and the living areas are located on the top level. Glazed walls run the length of the home, providing lots of natural light as well as stunning views of the surroundings. The bedrooms are located on the lower level, whose square rooftop pulls double duty as a terrace for the living spaces above. The Sky House is also a sustainable powerhouse packed with energy-efficient features. Solar panels generate 100 percent of the home’s energy needs, while factory-inspired skylights facing north provide natural light and mitigate heat gain in the summer months. The building materials were chosen for their low-maintenance and long-lasting qualities . The house is made of heat-treated wood cladding, and it features a reflective standing seam metal roof. The spacious interior features walls made from formaldehyde-free plywood. + Julia Jamrozik and Coryn Kempster Photography by Doublespace Photography

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A striking sawtooth roof tops this net-zero lake house in Canada

Self-sufficient hydrogen boat embarks on 6-year journey around the world

July 17, 2017 by  
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The world watched in anticipation as the groundbreaking Solar Impulse 2 plane circumnavigated the globe last year. Now, the “Solar Impulse of the Seas” has set sail, aiming to demonstrate in a fresh way that clean energy can power our world. Dubbed Energy Observer , the solar- , wind- , and hydrogen -powered catamaran will sail to 50 countries over the course of six years. Solar panels line the top of the Energy Observer, and two vertical axis wind turbines harness the power of the wind, but those aren’t the only energy sources that make this vessel self-sufficient . The boat is able to generate hydrogen from seawater thanks to an electrolysis system. That hydrogen, stored in tanks, will help the Energy Observer glide through the waves emissions-free. The project was started by French offshore racer Victorien Erussard, accompanied by French explorer and filmmaker Jérôme Delafosse. Related: Energy Observer to sail around the world using only solar, wind, and hydrogen fuel The Energy Observer is equipped with technologies like electric motors, lithium-ion batteries , and a hydrogen fuel cell . It’s around 100 feet long and 42 feet wide, with solar panels covering 1,400 square feet atop the catamaran. Built in 1983, the Energy Observer has already had a long career as a racing boat, but was recently christened earlier this month by France’s environment minister Nicolas Hulot. Energy Observer left Paris this past weekend with mayor Anne Hidalgo aboard. Erussard said on the boat’s website, “There is not one miracle solution to combat climate change : there are solutions which we must learn to operate together. That’s what we are doing with Energy Observer: allowing nature’s energies, as well as those of our society, to collaborate.” And though the boat draws on different technologies than the Solar Impulse 2, it apparently has the approval of pilot Bertrand Piccard , who was present at the christening ceremony. He said, “Energy Observer, just like Solar Impulse, makes exploration work for a better quality of life. We need to lead people towards the future by showing them solutions instead of depressing them.” You can track where the Energy Observer is here and find out more here . + Energy Observer Via ScienceAlert Images via Energy Observer ( 1 , 2 )

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Self-sufficient hydrogen boat embarks on 6-year journey around the world

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