Spectacular rammed-earth dome home is tucked deep into a Costa Rican jungle

September 19, 2019 by  
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Costa Rica has long been renowned for its commitment to protecting its natural environment, but one home nestled into 2.5 acres of a permaculture farm is really setting an example for green building. Located in the idyllic area of Diamante Valley, the House Without Shoes is an incredible rammed-earth complex made up of three interconnected domes, which are joined by an open-air deck that looks out over the stunning valley and ocean views. Measuring a total of 2,000 square feet, the House Without Shoes is comprised of three domes that were constructed with bags of rammed earth. All of the domes feature custom-made arched windows and wood frames with screens. They also have skylights that allow natural light to flood the interior spaces. Related: Biophilic dome homes produce more energy than they consume The main dome , which is approximately 22-feet high, houses the primary living area as well as the dining room and kitchen. A beautiful spiral staircase leads up to the second floor, which has enough space for a large office as well as an open-air, 600-square-foot deck that provides spectacular views of the valley leading out to the ocean. The two smaller domes, which house the bedrooms, are separated by the main dome by an outdoor platform. The rammed-earth construction of the structures keeps the interior spaces naturally cool in the summer and warm in the winter. In addition to its tight thermal mass, the home operates on a number of passive and active design principles. The home’s water supply comes from multiple springs found in the valley. Gray water from the sinks and shower are funneled into a collection system that is used for irrigation. At the moment, the house runs on the town’s local grid but has its own self-sustaining system set up. The domes are set in a remote area, tucked into the highest point of a 60-acre organic, permaculture farm in the Diamante Valley. Not only is the house surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty and abundant wildlife, but it also enjoys the benefits of organic gardening. The vast site is separated into three garden areas that are planted with everything from yucca and mango to coco palms and perennial greens, not to mention oodles of fresh herbs. + SuperAdobe Dome Home Images via Makenzie Gardner

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Spectacular rammed-earth dome home is tucked deep into a Costa Rican jungle

Railway heat to be repurposed to warm London homes this winter

August 28, 2019 by  
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Besides riding the railway, or ‘tube,’ to go from one end of the U.K. to another, some North Londoners will benefit from excess heat generated by the Northern Line by year’s end with a new initiative to reuse this heat to warm hundreds of houses and businesses in Islington. The plan, which is already underway, uses inexpensive, low-carbon heat or “ waste heat ” produced by the railway to pump into hundreds of Islington homes. Around 700 homes in the city currently use heat created in the Bunhill Energy Centre, which makes electricity. Another 450 homes are expected to use heat from the railway this winter. Related: Britain celebrates first week without coal power since 1882 The Greater London Authority has reported that about 38 percent of heating demands in the city could be met through waste heat. Utilizing alternative options of renewable heat has become increasingly important after the U.K. government’s decision to ban gas-fired boilers from newly built homes by 2025. Tim Rotheray, director of the Association for Decentralized Energy, told The Guardian that heat from the railway as well as other heating plans are gaining steam across the country as low-cost options in fighting climate change . “Almost half the energy used in the U.K. is for heat, and a third of U.K. emissions are from heating,” Rotheray said. “With the government declaring that we must be carbon-neutral within 30 years, we need to find a way to take the carbon out of our heating system. The opportunity that has become clear to the decentralized energy community is the idea of capturing waste heat and putting it to use locally.” Besides the railway, other heat sources are coming from some unusual places throughout the country. For example, take a sugar factory in Wissington, Norfolk that uses extra heat made from cooking syrup and pumps it into a greenhouse used to grow medical cannabis. According to The Guardian, another source of heat being considered in towns and cities is geothermal energy that is trapped in water at the bottom of old mines. In Edinburgh, engineers have created a heat network using pooled water at one mine as a large, underground thermal battery. The city council of Stoke-on-Trent, England estimates its geothermal energy project could reduce carbon emissions by 12,000 tons annually. Via The Guardian Image via Axel Rouvin

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Railway heat to be repurposed to warm London homes this winter

Former restaurateurs convert an ancient bread oven building into a charming Airbnb cottage

July 11, 2019 by  
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Airbnb has any number of unique properties, but this luxurious cottage in an idyllic French village looks scrumptious enough to eat. Perhaps that’s because the luxury tiny home rental, now listed on Airbnb , was once an ancient bread cottage. Owner James Roeves and his wife renovated the old building with the utmost of care, recycling and incorporating reclaimed materials whenever possible to convert the structure into a boutique retreat. Located east of Toulouse, Vallée de Gijou is tucked into the region’s Haut Languedoc Park, an idyllic area comprised of rolling hills and lush forests. The area is perfect for those wanting to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life while enjoying an authentic French agritourism experience . Related: This tiny Victorian cottage on a wildflower meadow belongs in a fairytale Formerly a structure used for its bread oven, the compact cottage has been renovated carefully to update its living space while retaining the structure’s original features. According to the owner, James Roeves, he and his wife renovated the structure, doing most of the work themselves. From the start of the adaptive reuse renovation, the project was focused on reclaiming as many materials from the original structure as possible. In the end, the bed, window sills, sideboards, shutters, bedroom floor tiles, wardrobe and front walls were all part of the original building. However, to bring the cottage into the 21st century, the process also required some modern touches. To keep the interior warm and cozy during the winter months, the structure is tightly insulated , and the windows are double-glazed to reduce heating costs. A bright, modern kitchen has all of the amenities a home chef could need. Beyond the kitchen, a comfortable living room features a sofa and chair along with a flat-screen television. This space also includes a small table that was made out of recovered wood planks . At the heart of the living area is a wood-burning Esse Bakeheart that has its own oven, a cooking plate and a grill that slides into the firebox for char-grilling. Of course, for those guests who prefer to leave their oven mitts at home, the owners are former restaurateurs who are happy to provide full catering prepared with fresh local produce. The rest of the home is just as lovely, with a spiral staircase leading up to a spacious bedroom. A queen-sized bed sits in the middle of the room, which has a spacious vaulted ceiling with exposed wooden beams for an extra dose of charm. + Converted Bread Oven Tiny Home Via Tiny House Talk Images via James Roeves

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Former restaurateurs convert an ancient bread oven building into a charming Airbnb cottage

Rugged Wilderness House optimizes bush views and passive solar principles

March 7, 2019 by  
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Drawing inspiration from the midcentury Case Study houses, Osmington-based Archterra Architects designed the Wilderness House, a contemporary elevated home with treetop canopy views. Located on a secluded bush block in coastal banksia woodland near Australia’s iconic Margaret River, the home was created to take advantage of its rich and remote environment using large windows and a natural materials palette. The client’s desires for long-term durability and low-maintenance also informed the design and construction of the home, which was crafted with energy efficiency in mind. Covering an area of 1,743 square feet, with much of the footprint elevated on the second level, the Wilderness House features a simple rectangular plan that stretches east to west. The second floor interior layout follows the trajectory of the sun: the master suite is located on the east side to allow the homeowners to rise with the sun, while the open-plan living areas are placed on the opposite end to overlook sunset views. Access to the upper floor is reached via a raw galvanized expanded mesh walkway ramp. On the ground level are a single guest bedroom suite and a series of slender galvanized columns that support the insulated upper floor concrete slab. “Raw galvanized steel Juliet balconies in front of sliding glass doors to the bedroom, bathroom and living room enable the entire house to be opened up to the outdoors and the constant summer hum of cicadas and chatter of birds amongst the trees,” the architects explained in a project statement. In addition to floor-to-ceiling sliding glass , the exterior is clad in zero-maintenance and bushfire-resistant Colorbond sheeting, hot dip galvanized steel, raw compressed cement panels and raw spotted gum decking. Related: Solar-powered Bush House exemplifies chic eco-friendly living in the Australian outback For energy efficiency, the architects installed roof overhangs that shield the walls of low-E glass from the hot summer sun, yet still allow the winter sun to penetrate the charcoal-pigmented floor slab. The open floor plan also ensures that natural light and cooling winds can penetrate all parts of the home. + Archterra Architects Via ArchDaily Images by Douglas Mark Black

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Rugged Wilderness House optimizes bush views and passive solar principles

A ceramic facade blends this dome home into the Spanish coastline

March 7, 2019 by  
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Cloud 9 architect Enric Ruiz-Geli has recently unveiled a beautiful home design in the gorgeous Spanish region of Costa Brava. Located on a rustic lot of land overlooking the sea, the dome home is an experimental prototype that combines traditional building techniques with advanced digital and sustainable manufacturing . The Stgilat Aiguablava villa is a domed structure inspired by traditional Mediterranean architecture, normally marked by ceramic cladding, flowing shapes and ample natural light. For the experimental villa, Ruiz-Geli wanted to combine all of these aspects while reinterpreting the local traditional vault system, known as the Volta Catalana. Related: These beautiful desert biodomes will be 100% self-sustaining Using advanced fiberglass engineering , the structure was built with flowing vaulted volumes, adding movement and light to the design. The curvaceous arches, however, did present a challenge for the artisan ceramist Toni Cumella, who was charged with creating a ceramic cover that would allow the home to blend in with the surroundings. Similar to the exterior, the interior of the home is also marked by high arched ceilings. The living space is immersed in  natural light thanks to glazed walls that look out over the landscape to the sea. By using a modern version of the Volta Catalana, the home is energy-efficient. Natural light and air flow throughout the residence in the warm summer months, and a strong thermal envelope insulates the interior in the winter months. Also inside, a specially-designed ceramic piece was installed to to achieve strong, insulative acoustics. An experimental pavilion is separated from the main house by a swimming pool, which uses naturally filtered rainwater. Similar in style to the home, the innovative pavilion was designed in collaboration with the prestigious Art Center College of Design Pasadena. The team built this structure with an inflatable formwork injected with ecological concrete . This building method gives the structure its organic shape, that, according to the architects, was inspired by the existing pine trees that surround the complex. + Enric Ruiz-Geli Images via Cloud 9 Architects

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A ceramic facade blends this dome home into the Spanish coastline

Recycling Mystery: LED Bulbs

February 13, 2019 by  
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With limited sunlight during the winter months, increased lighting is … The post Recycling Mystery: LED Bulbs appeared first on Earth911.com.

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17 easy ways to upcycle worn out sweaters

January 7, 2019 by  
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Wardrobe upcycling is nothing new. After all, when you think about it, clothing is made from cloth. Lots of other things are made from cloth. So when your clothes have served their functional purpose as attire, why not use that material for other things? Sweaters are a great example of apparel that can be given new life in a variety of ways. From leg warmers to satchels, the pieces and parts of your old sweater will serve a new purpose. If you’re onboard with refusing to trash that old sweater but don’t know what to do with it, here are some ideas to get the juices flowing. Let us know what you come up with too! Doll clothing If you have a little person in your home, you’ve likely got baby dolls or Barbies around too. It’s always fun to mix up wardrobes, even for the toys, so drag out the sewing machine and make sweaters for your kid’s pals. Sweater boots Yes, you read that right and you know they sound cozy. Sweater boots are actually just a cover for your shoes. Cut off the sleeves of your less-than-favored sweater and attach them to the sides of your shoe for an existing sole and an entirely new style. Roll over the top and add a button for a trendy appeal. Pet clothing Just because your sweater started out as human attire doesn’t mean Fido will take offense. After all, dogs get cold too. So make a few adjustments and let your discarded sweater bring warmth to the four-legged members of your home. Wine bags and gift wrap Along with brown paper, fabric has long been an ideal choice for gift wrap. It adds depth and character, plus it can be reused endless times. Wrap a square box with fabric and hand sew it together at the seam or add a fabric bow to the top. Use the sleeve or other scrap fabric to make a wine or liquor bag for a unique and cozy look to your gift. Throw pillows The bed and couch can always benefit from a facelift. Considering the amount of time you spend in, on or near both, creating new throw pillows makes perfect sense. Simply recover an old pillow with your sweater material. If you want to design a throw pillow from scratch, lay out the pattern to accentuate hems, necklines, and buttons on your finished product. Related: HOW TO: Recycle a sweater into a cuddly pillow for your couch Throw rug Following the theme of a quilt, put together a patchwork area rug for the pets, the kids’ rooms or the kitchen. Stuffed animals Some of the most adorable stuffed animals are homemade, and old sweater material offers a lovely, cozy and rustic feel. You could create a patchwork design on larger animals or use one solid piece of sweater fabric for the body of your stuffed bear, dog or monkey. Kids pants While you’re decking out the dog and the dolls, you might as well give the kiddos some winter pants too. Imagine the adorableness of tiny legs wrapped in the warmth of sweater sleeves and your design is already half-way done. Gloves, hat and scarf Sweaters represent warmth so why not carry that theme through to its second life. Use the different sections of your sweater to create fingerless gloves that could be long or short. Then make a matching scarf in the traditional long rectangular design, turn it into an infinity scarf, or even braid sweater lengths for a unique spin. A beanie hat made from the same material will pull the entire look together. Drawstring bag When you purchased your sweater many moons ago, it was likely because you liked the pattern. Keep that happiness in your life by turning it into a multi-use drawstring bag. Turn your sweater upside down and create grommets holes throughout the bottom band. This becomes the top of your bag while the rest of the sweater body forms the bag portion. Quilt The tradition of quilting goes back hundreds of years as a way to turn discarded fabric scraps into something useful. Today, sweaters can serve that purpose well. Simply collect squares of sweater fabric and layout the design you want. After sewing all the squares together, add a backing and enjoy the warmth of those old sweaters for many additional years. Hand warmers and satchels Even the smallest scraps can be put to use when upcycling your old sweaters. Sew two squares together and stuff them with lavender and/or essential oils for a lovely drawer satchel. You can make useful hand warmers in a similar way and fill them with rice. These can be heated in the microwave time after useful time. Related: Everlane introduces long-lasting outerwear made from recycled water bottles Coffee, plant or teapot cosy Sweaters are cozy and that’s the reason they make a perfect cosy. You’re probably familiar with the mainstream foam cozies sold to keep your soda cold, but what about keeping things warm? Wrapping your coffee cup in wool is a sure way to keep the heat in longer. Use a sweater sleeve to make a coffee sleeve. Embellish however you please. You can use the same idea to make cozies for your flower pots or even your teapot. Let your imagination soar! Tissue box cover Yes, these are still a thing. After all, who wouldn’t rather look at a sweater print than the mass-printed cardboard boxes that your tissue comes in? Socks or leg warmers Socks from sweaters? Yes! Warm your cold feet this winter with your favorite old sweaters. Once again, recycling sweater sleeves makes it easy to add a button and turn them into leg warmers (they’re back in style you know) or those adorable boot socks that also protect your leggings from the rough top edges of your boots. Hot pads Your kitchen benefits from the color and print, while your hands benefit from the protection. Cut squares and finish the edges or make a handmit. Either way, make sure your fabric is thick enough to protect you from burns. Headband Turn your favorite old sweater into your new favorite headband or hair scrunchy with a little creativity and some elastic. Via Apartment Therapy , Treehugger Images via Shutterstock

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7 eco-friendly insulation alternatives for a green home

January 4, 2019 by  
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Insulation is an important part of any home. Not only does it retain heat during the winter by restricting air flow, but it also reduces the cost of heating and cooling throughout the year. For more than a century, most new homes were built with fiberglass insulation, but this can cause many health issues. If you are building a new house or remodeling in the near future, try one of these green home insulation alternatives to make your home safe and healthy. Sheep’s wool Not only is sheep’s wool fire retardant, but the material can keep your home warm the same way it helps sheep survive frigid temperatures. In recent years, scientists have figured out how to apply the insulating properties of sheep’s wool to home construction. The compressed wool fibers form millions of tiny air pockets, and the outer layer is resistant to water while the inner layer absorbs moisture. This helps it generate heat while preventing condensation, and it keeps your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer. When you use sheep’s wool, you won’t have to adjust your heating and cooling system often, and that will save you energy and money. Cotton/denim Because cotton is a natural and renewable resource, it is one of the most eco-friendly insulation options on the market. Leftover blue jean scraps are shredded and recycled into thick batts that fit into your walls just like fiberglass. To make it safe for humans as well as the environment, companies treat the cotton with a borate solution, so the insulation isn’t flammable. Cotton is also a natural insect repellent, doesn’t contain formaldehyde and doesn’t cause respiratory problems. However, compared to fiberglass, it is incredibly expensive, costing nearly twice as much. Icynene One of the strongest home insulation alternatives, Icynene is a spray foam made out of castor oil that expands about 100 times its volume when you spray it into a wall or ceiling. Not only does it seal leaks and drafts, but it also cancels noise. Related: 10 money-saving tips for a green home During the foaming process, Icynene traps in tiny air bubbles, and when the foam cures, the air remains in place. This is why the insulation works so well. However, the sealing powers of Icynene are so strong, you have to install a ventilation system. Because of the additional requirements, the upfront costs to install Icynene are expensive. However, it will reduce your energy bill so drastically, in the long run, you will save money. Polystyrene At first glance, this might not sound like a green option, but polystyrene is considered to be green because it helps you save an enormous amount of energy. Polystyrene is a plastic that comes in two forms: rigid foam boards that will add structural integrity to your walls and a spray foam. Aerogel This man-made material is 90 percent air, but it is difficult for heat to pass through it, making it excellent for insulation. The legend has it that Samuel Stephens Kistler invented aerogel in 1931 after making a bet with a friend. Kesler bet that he could replace the liquid in a jelly jar without causing the jelly to shrink, and he won by removing the liquid and replacing it with air. This led to aerogel, which is made by removing the liquid from silica under high pressure and temperature. Aerogel is ultra lightweight and comes in sheets or stickers for easy installation. However, it is pricey, costing up to $2 a foot. ThermaCork This option actually has a negative carbon footprint , because the finished product is made from the outer bark of oak trees. It is natural, renewable, recyclable and biodegradable, plus it cancels noise and is free of toxins. Cellulose If you are looking to minimize the toxins in your house, cellulose is a good choice. Made from recycled newsprint and other paper, it is safe to install. Using this kind of insulation means that the paper in your walls didn’t make its way to a landfill to release harmful greenhouse gases . When it comes to insulation, there is no right or wrong choice. But there are many different options out there with various qualities, good and bad. Be sure to weigh the pros and cons of each to find the insulation that works best for you and your home. Images via Icynene , Tony Webster , Jon Collier and Shutterstock

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Off-grid tiny home with beautiful undulating roof was almost entirely built with reclaimed materials

December 25, 2018 by  
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Founded by builder Greg Parham, the team at Rocky Mountain Tiny Houses is already well-known for their tiny home designs. But the Colorado-based company has really outdone themselves with their latest project. The San Juan tiny home on wheels is a gorgeous design with an eye-catching metal roof. More than just aesthetically pleasing, however, the solar-powered tiny home was almost entirely made out of reclaimed wood and built to go off-grid. Of course, the undulating roof made out of corrugated metal, is the first thing that catches the eye about the San Juan home. To line up with the curving roofline, the builders arranged reclaimed barn wood in the shape of a sunray, which also adds to the fluid nature of the exterior. On one end side of the tiny home, leftover cedar shake panels were layered in seven colors of blue with a large circular window in the middle. Related: This charming, solar-powered tiny home is handcrafted from reclaimed wood The entrance to the interior is through a fold-out deck with a set of beautiful French doors, which Parham and his team handmade. On top of the deck is an awning, which is made out of two 360 Watt solar panels . Both the deck and the awning can be easily folded down, flush with the exterior wall when the tiny home is on the road. Parham and his wife, Stephanie, built the tiny home for themselves so the interior space is designed around their needs. The interior is flooded with natural light thanks to an abundance of large windows. White-washed pine panels line the interior walls. The kitchen is fully-equipped and was built with a sliding table top that can be pulled out to create additional dining space. The bathroom is a stellar design, which features a Cerulean blue accent wall and a hand-laid penny floor. Although the tiny home has a loft, the couple wanted to have their bedroom on the first floor. To do so, they custom made an “elevator bed” that runs on a pulley system. This enables the bed to be raised to the ceiling when not in use, creating ample living space below. A wood-burning stove keeps the interior warm and cozy during the winter months. + Rocky Mountain Tiny Houses Via Tiny House Talk Photography via Rocky Mountain Tiny Houses

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Off-grid tiny home with beautiful undulating roof was almost entirely built with reclaimed materials

8 cabins that are perfect for a dreamy winter getaway

December 21, 2018 by  
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Are you ready for a winter getaway to a cabin in the woods? From cozy, off-grid abodes to modern, majestic dwellings that pull out all the stops, there’s a serene cabin waiting for you somewhere. If you are dreaming of a little rest and relaxation during these colder months, here are some cabins that offer a little taste of a true winter wonderland to inspire your next winter vacation. Blacktail Cabin Located on the shore of Flathead Lake in Montana, Blacktail Cabin is a beautiful, spacious vacation home that looks like a ski lodge and is filled with amenities. There is a fully-equipped kitchen, a floor-to-ceiling brick fireplace and a dining room featuring a wood-burning stove. During the winter, the Blacktail Mountain Ski Area is nearby, so guests can enjoy some skiing and snowboarding. Gubrandslie Cabin The solitary Gubrandslie Cabin is made from prefabricated solid wood panels and features views of a snow-covered landscape. It is located near Jotunheimen National Park, and the 1,184-square-foot home can withstand the cold weather and elements while leaving minimal impact on the landscape. The architects researched the local climate and geography and used wind studies to come up with the L-shape design that mimics the slope of the landscape. The roofs are slightly slanted, so the wind and snow can blow over the cabin. It is integrated deep into the terrain to protect the structure from the elements. Shangri-la Cabin The first in a series of mountain cabins in Las Trancas, Chile, Shangri-la Cabin is a geometric cabin covered with timber both inside and out and complete with large windows for picturesque views. With the look and feel of a treehouse , this cabin has a sharply pitched roof to shed snow and has high-performance insulation to keep out the cold. The 485 square feet of space spans three split-levels. Cabins By Koto Prefab housing startup Koto has introduced a series of tiny timber cabins that embrace indoor-outdoor living and a connection with nature. They have a minimalist design inspired by the Nordic concept friluftsliv, which means “free air life.” The modular cabins come in different sizes, and the medium-sized option features a folding king-sized bed, a wood burning stove, a small kitchenette and an outdoor shower. Johnathan and Zoe Little founded Koto earlier this year. Koto is a Finnish word that means “cozy at home,” and the company’s goal is to create nature-based retreats out of eco-friendly materials. Malangen Cabins The Norwegian firm Stinessen Arkitektur has built a cluster of wooden cabins that are the perfect weekend retreat for ultimate relaxation. The private vacation home is located on the Malangen Peninsula overlooking a beautiful fjord, and the individual cabins are connected with “in-between” spaces that have concrete floors and wood-slatted ceilings. There is also a central courtyard that connects the main building and annex. The covered courtyard features an outdoor kitchen and a fireplace, and the architects said that it provides an additional layer to the natural ventilation during the summertime as well as on windy and rainy days. Lushna Cabins Located in the Catskills, the Eastwind Hotel is a 1920s bunkhouse that has been converted into a boutique hotel accompanied by tiny cabins . Designed with outdoor enthusiasts in mind, there are tiny A-frame huts on the property to give guests an off-the-grid experience while enjoying the Windham Mountain area. The Lushna Cabins are 14 feet by 14 feet, and they are insulated to withstand the seasons. Each cabin has a single window, so guests can enjoy the natural light and incredible views. They are equipped with a queen-sized bed that has top-of-the-line linens and a wooden chest for storage. The cabins also provide camping kits and grilling equipment for the fire pits. Into the Wild Into the Wild  from Slovakian architecture studio Ark Shelter is an off-grid cabin that embraces the outdoors thanks to the large walls of glass on all sides. It also offers modern comforts like a kitchen, bathroom and bedroom space with a concealed Jacuzzi. It also has solar panels and a rainwater collection system for off-grid living. Kanin Winter Cabin Made from timber and aluminum, the Kanin Winter Cabin is a modern structure perched on a ledge in the Julian Alps on the remote Mount Kanin with stunning 360-degree views of Slovenia and Italy. But you can only access the cabin by air or climbing. The tiny cabin has three main areas: the entrance, a living area and a resting area with three raised surfaces for sleeping. It can accommodate up to nine mountaineers. Images via  Vacasa , Rasmus Norlander and Ragnar Hartvig / Helen & Hard Architects, Magdalena Besomi and Felipe Camus / DRAA,  Joe Laverty  / Koto, Steve King and Terje Arntsen / Stinessen Arkitectur, Eastwind Hotel & Bar, Jakub Skokan and Martin T?ma / Ark Shelter, Janez Martincic and Ales Gregoric / OFIS Arhitekti

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