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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This treehouse-inspired home in Los Angeles wraps around a cedar tree that grows through the roof

September 3, 2019 by  
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Known for its seemingly endless urban sprawl and noisy traffic, Los Angeles makes finding serenity no easy task. But Los Angeles- and Berlin-based firm Anonymous Architects has managed to create a soothing design that sits perched up high in a forest just a short distance away from the bustling cityscape. To blend the home into its idyllic surroundings, the architects incorporated a number of wooden elements into the design, including reclaimed cedar siding  and a massive tree that grows straight up through the middle of the home. Located in Echo Park, California, the 2,400-square-foot residence is embedded onto a steep hillside. Although the topography was challenging to say the least, the designers managed to use it to their advantage. Related: This off-grid retreat in Ohio was inspired by a treehouse According to the architects, the goal from the outset was to preserve the site’s natural features as much as possible. This meant cantilevering the home over the sloped landscape using a concrete base for support. This strategy enabled the house to sit high up in the air, giving it a treehouse effect. Cantilevering the structure over the landscape also meant that the home would enjoy more green space, both planted and natural. The layout and shape of the home was also marked by the existing vegetation. Set between three large cedars, the frame was angled to fit in between the trees. The fourth tree grows up straight up through one of the bedrooms , soaring up from the forest floor through the roof. The house, which is a rental, was conceived as two separate units that can also serve as a large family home . The main unit is comprised of two bedrooms and is designed for a family of four. From the living space, an outdoor walkway leads to the other unit with an additional bedroom, living area, bath and kitchen. If not in use as part of the main home, it can be used as an office or closed off as a rental space. Throughout the interior, homage is respectfully paid to the natural settings through the use of wood and natural light. Reclaimed chestnut flooring runs through the structure. Wooden doors, bookshelves and cabinets were also custom-made for the house. A covered wooden deck provides the perfect place to take in the forest views. In addition to its reclaimed materials, the home also boasts a number of sustainable features , including a solar water heater. The residence was built with tight insulation to keep the interior at stable temperatures during the year, and optimal natural light reduces the need for electricity during the day. + Anonymous Architects Via Dwell Photography by Steve King via Anonymous Architects

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This treehouse-inspired home in Los Angeles wraps around a cedar tree that grows through the roof

A rustic, surfside home connects a young family to the beach

November 1, 2018 by  
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Surf’s up for a young couple living in the southwestern France surfing mecca of Soorts-Hossegor. Custom-designed by Paris-based firm Java Architecture, ‘Une Maison Pour Surfer’ serves as a home base for the surf-loving couple and their new baby. Keeping within a tight budget and focusing on minimal impact to the environment, the architects created an elongated home using  prefabricated modules . The 1,000-square-foot home was built in collaboration with the homeowners, a young couple who lived in Paris but wanted a vacation home  to relax and spend their time on the coast doing what they love — surfing. Their chosen spot was the idyllic area of Soorts-Hossegor, a popular area for water sports. Related: The Truck Surf Hotel is traveling retreat that hits the best surf spots in Europe and Africa Located on a hilly landscape surrounded by forest, the welcoming family home has a  minimal impact on the natural surroundings. Building on the top of the hill meant that no big trees had to be cut down, and using prefabricated modules allowed the project to have a reduced construction and transportation time, which in return minimized the project’s carbon footprint. Taking on a shed-like appearance, the home is an elongated form with a gabled roof . Clad in thin, dark wood panels, the exterior blends into the surrounding forestscape, virtually camouflaged within the tree canopy. An extra-wide porch serves as the main attraction. Jutting out into the landscape and covered in a corrugated polycarbonate cladding, this space is the most active area for the family. The transparent nature of the structure lets natural light into the home but protects the interior from rain and wind. Although the large porch is the activity center, the interior living space is just as relaxing. Light wooden panels were used to clad the walls and flooring throughout the home. The design scheme uses muted colors and minimal furnishings to create an ultra soothing space that welcomes the family after a long day on the waves. + Java Architecture Via Archdaily Images via Java Architecture

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A dark, timber home rests peacefully among evergreen pine trees

October 30, 2018 by  
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San Francisco- and Oslo-based firm  Mork Ulnes Architects has unveiled a black  timber home tucked into a forestscape in Norden, California. To connect the home with its stunning scenery, the chalet-inspired Troll Hus was clad in pine tar-treated wood and elevated off the landscape with large concrete pillars for minimal site impact. The massive, 3,300-square-foot family home holds court in the middle of a pine forest , just an hour and a half outside of Sacramento. To blend the home into its pristine natural environment, it was clad in dark wood. The black, timber structure sits high up near the tree canopies, giving off a sense of peaceful solitude among the soaring trees. Related: A cypress tree grows through this hillside home in Los Angeles According to the architects, the inspiration for the design was to create a family home where the residents could reconnect with nature, whether inside or outside the home. They explained, “The design is driven both by the extreme environmental conditions found at a 6,800-foot elevation and a California sensibility of generous indoor-outdoor living.” While the elevation of the home certainly affords stunning views, the pillars are also a strategic feature that provides resilience and passive temperature control . The concrete legs were meant to reduce the impact on the environment and protect the home from snow fall, which can reach up to 800 inches during winter. Additionally, putting extra elevation to the home allows for optimal solar exposure in the winter and shading from direct sun in the summer. The orientation of the house also shields the building from strong winds. On the interior, the living space is clad in light wood paneling, creating a soothing vibe. An abundance of large windows brighten the interior with natural light . The open living and dining layout was designed to offer ample room for entertaining or simply enjoying the views in solitude. A large terrace wraps around one side of the home, further enhancing the design’s strong connection to the outdoors. + Mork Ulnes Architects Via Freshome Photography by  Bruce Damonte

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Architects recycle shipping containers into a breezy Dhaka home

October 30, 2018 by  
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In Dhaka, Bangladesh , local architecture firm River & Rain transformed four shipping containers into a light-filled, three-story house spanning 134 square meters. Completed in 2017, the cargotecture dwelling doesn’t hide its shipping container roots yet manages to exude a welcoming and livable atmosphere through strategically cut openings, terraces that emphasize indoor-outdoor living and greenery that grows up, around and through the building. Recycled materials were also used throughout the home, which is named Escape Den after its tranquil setting on the outskirts of the city. Spread out across three floors, the Escape Den organizes the kitchen and dining spaces on an elevated ground floor and places the living room and bedroom areas on the upper levels. Accessed via a side gate off of a dirt road, the property features an entry sequence that begins with a short flight of stairs from the parking pad to a sheltered deck. The deck consists of the dining area and other seating options oriented to face views of the lawn, which takes up approximately two-thirds of the site. The covered deck also connects to a shipping container converted to house a small media room, kitchen and bathroom. The caretaker’s room is located in the back. A flight of stairs traverses the central atrium space — anchored by an almond tree and a veil of green vines that hang from the ceiling — and connects to a glass-enclosed living room. Another flight of stairs leads up to the third floor, where a third shipping container, housing the two bedrooms, is set perpendicular to the bulk of the building in a dramatic cantilever and is topped with a green roof . One of the bedrooms also connects to an outdoor terrace . The green-roofed shipping container can be reached via a spiral staircase. Related: German company converts old shipping containers into gorgeous living spaces “The hefty look of those containers has become dramatically airier with some skillful ensemble of architectural details,” the architects explained. “The floated platforms of the house, intertwining stairs and diverse direction of container placement have made the project more visually eye-catching.” + River & Rain Photography by Maruf Raihan , Hasan Saifuddin Chandan  and Snahasis Saha via River & Rain

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Antony Gibbon’s Flux House is a modern-day moat

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 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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Antony Gibbon’s Flux House is a modern-day moat

This whimsical houseboat in Seattle is straight out of a fairy tale

February 28, 2018 by  
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Floating on Seattle’s East Lake, this fairy-tale houseboat – which is on the market for $850,000 – has more storybook features than you can shake a magic wand at. The shingled roof is topped with a turret, and the interior features playful geometric archways, secret nooks, and stained-glass windows. And even the pickiest of princesses will love bathing in the wooden bathtub carved from a 200-year-old cedar log. The design of the 830-square-foot home is quite unique, but the living space in the floating home is surprisingly comfy and inviting. With multiple skylights, floor-to-ceiling windows and stained glass accents, natural light streams throughout the interior. The wooden paneling that covers the flooring and the walls gives the space a cabin-like feel, enhanced by a beautifully hand-carved banister. Vaulted ceilings and geometric archways open up the space. Related: Two photographers are sailing through Europe in amazing handbuilt houseboats The sweet home is filled with lots of character, including hand-carved wooden railings and doors. The living space on the ground floor opens up through two french doors to a large wooden deck that wraps around the home. Two bedrooms and a bath are on the second floor, which is filled with little nooks and reading spaces. For a little bit of solitude, a cozy sitting area has been nestled into the structure’s fairytale turret. Via Apartment Therapy Images via Windermere

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Lakeside cabin made out of reclaimed wood is as idyllic as it gets

August 29, 2017 by  
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Seattle-based architects, Hoedemaker Pfeiffer  just unveiled a contemporary cabin-style home built on the banks of beautiful Lake Chelan. The architects used planks of reclaimed wood to build the stunning home, which sits overlooking incredibly scenic views. Think they have a guest room for us? The lake house design is a contemporary take on the traditional wooden cabin , with plenty of carefully cultivated rustic charm included throughout. The 3,300- square-foot structure – which is clad in reclaimed lumber and roofed with corrugated galvanized steel – sits on a heavily-wooded lot with front slope of natural stone. The interior is a bright and airy space with wooden flooring and exposed Doug Fir beams in the kitchen and living room. Related: Architect Jim Olson spent 55 years renovating this breathtaking Puget Sound cabin However, it’s clearly the lake view that inspired the beautiful home’s design. Large windows in virtually every room flood the interior with natural light as well as offer breathtaking views of the picturesque surroundings. The heart of the home is the open-air terrace that sits adjacent to the lake’s edge. Covered with a chunky wooden pergola , the outdoor area is complete with a glass-enclosed fire pit and plenty of comfy seating. + Hoedemaker Pfeiffer Photography by Thomas J. Story  

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Lakeside cabin made out of reclaimed wood is as idyllic as it gets

Minimalist Leyda House takes inspiration from local farmer’s huts

May 19, 2017 by  
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When Chilean architect’s Alfredo González Briceño and Ignacio Rojas Hirigoyen were contracted to build a country home in Chile’s Leyda Valley, they were inspired by the fertile nature of the well-known wine-producing region. Using the panoramic views of vineyards as a focus for the home’s layout, the architects designed a timber-clad minimalist structure tucked into the rolling hillside with optimal light to enhance the incredible views of the landscape. Using the area’s agricultural atmosphere as inspiration, the architects based the home’s simplistic design on the “ephemeral shelters” commonly found on the nearby strawberry fields, “We saw on these light constructions a very strong formal guide, with a very impressive visual value, on how this low-cost countryside house could be solved.” The team decided to forgo the typical bells and whistles found in weekend homes, instead choosing to focus on a simple, but strategic design that would showcase the home’s natural setting. Related: Chilean Folding House allows owners to control the temperature to adapt to the season Tucked into the rolling hillside of the valley, the elongated home is clad in dark timber, creating a no-fuss monolithic figure that melds easily into the landscape. The home faces the south, which allows for spectacular views of the vineyard-covered valley that leads to a coastal mountain range in the background. Large windows in different shapes and sizes are found throughout the design, including multiple openings in the roof that allows light to flood the interior – as the architects describe it – with “a gentle sunbath.” On the interior, the two bedrooms, each with its own bath, are located at either end of the home, and separated by the living and dining areas. The interior ceiling and flooring are covered in light wooden planks, further creating a strong connection to nature. + Alfredo Gonzalez Briceño + Ignacio Rojas Hirigoyen Via Dwell Photography by Rodrigo Daza  

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