The so-called Cliff Haven is a home that was built into a cliff in Utah, back in the mid 1980s. Located in the picturesque Montezuma Canyon, it is entirely self-sufficient and can function completely off-the-grid. They are currently selling it in a closed auction, and while they’re promoting it as the perfect place to hide away from the world, it is also a great example of innovative and sustainable architecture.
Cliff Haven has a total floorspace of 2,100 sq ft (195 sq m) and has more than nine rooms. It features three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a lounge, kitchen and dining area, as well as a large outdoor deck. There is also a separate two-car garage, which measures 900-sq ft (83-sq m). The home also features ample glazing throughout, which lets in plenty of natural daylight and aids ventilation. Cliff Haven is being sold together with 12 acres (4.85 hectares) of land on which it stands.
To make it entirely self-sufficient, the home features quite a few innovative solutions. There is a tunnel behind the home that allows water runoff to escape, as well as circulating cool air. The tunnel can also be used as a fire escape. The home also has its own well, as well as a grove of apple, cherry, peach and other trees, which supply all the needed fruits. There is also a vineyard.
Rainwater is collected and stored in two 2,000-gallon (7,570-l) tanks and used by the household, and to irrigate the garden. The home gets its power via a solar power array and battery system, though there is also a diesel generator as backup. The home also has and Internet and phone connections.
There are many ways you can obtain a tiny home if you are looking to downsize. You can either commission a firm for a custom-built one, purchase an already constructed one, or build it yourself, whether from scratch or inside a repurposed shipping container, for example. There have been some awesome school bus and van conversions seen lately too. There are also prefab tiny homes, and a great addition to the already existing lineup is the so-called ARK Shelter, which was designed and built by a Holland-based company.
ARK Shelters actually range in size from tiny to normal sized homes, since the modules out of which they are constructed can be assembled together to form larger dwellings. The modules also come in various sizes, with the largest one measuring 300 sq ft (28 sq m). The exterior is clad in wood and painted black, which gives the home a timeless, classic aesthetic. The interior walls are paneled with cross-laminated timber plates that give the home a cozy, warm feel.
The modules also feature large, floor-to-ceiling windows, which let in plenty of natural daylight, aiding ventilation and making the home appear much more spacious when opting for the smallest module. All the windows also have shutters to provide the needed privacy. The modules feature a well-sized kitchen and bathroom, while different layouts and configurations are also possible.
The ARK shelter is also very well insulated and a circular woodstove is used for heating. There is also the option of having additional electrical heating, which can be powered by wind turbines or a solar panel array. The firm also offers the option of installing a rooftop rainwater collection and filtration system. The modules do not require any sort of foundations, so they can be placed virtually anywhere.
The ARK Shelters come fitted with all the custom-designed furniture, the woodstove and a mattress. Given all the features, one would expect the price to be high, but they are selling the basic model for $59,000, which is comparable to most of the other offerings on the market today.
The tiny house movement has come a long way these last couple of years, which has led to many innovative approaches to constructing these sustainable dwellings. The tiny house firm Extraordinary Structures of Santa Fe, NM is one of those companies that has been pushing the envelope in finding new and innovative ways of building these structures. Their latest offering, the so-called SaltBox was constructed with the help of digital fabrication.
The SaltBox rests atop a 24-foot-long trailer and measures 200 sq ft (18.6 sq m). It was constructed using a rapid-assembly system, which the firm has developed. This method of construction utilizes CNC-cut materials and a panelized system of SIPs which greatly shorten the time it takes to build this tiny home. An envelope made of permeable house wrap and a thermal wrap of mineral wool board makes up the first layer of the home. Next is the metal exoskeleton made out of 22-gauge steel, which serves the purpose of acting as a rain shield. The roofline of the SaltBox is asymmetrical, and this shape was inspired by the traditional New England saltbox-type roof. It was also chosen because it makes it easier to install solar panels.
The interior was kept quite open and minimalist. They left the panels and joints exposed, which gives it a very modern aesthetic. To save space they’ve also installed built-in storage cabinets, and a Murphy bed that can be folded up and thus moved out of the way during the day. When lowered, a couple of ottomans provide support for it.
The kitchen and bathroom share a wall, so that they could reduce the number of plumbing lines that needed to be installed. The kitchen is fitted with a large sink, a two-burner induction cooktop, a fume hood and a small smart drawer refrigerator. The bathroom features a Japanese-style ofuro tub, which was handmade out of cedar. The home also features a composting toilet. Over the bathroom is a small loft, which can either be used as a reading nook, or a guest bedroom. The home is heated using a high-efficiency gasifier woodstove, which takes up very little room.
The fully fitted version of this home sold for $82,500, while the company also offers a stripped down, basic version for $50,000.
The Olive Tree House is a tiny summer cabin that was designed by Greek architect Eva Sopéoglou. It is located in Halkidiki, Greece and operates completely off the grid. As an interesting an unique design feature, it is also clad in metal, which is perforated with decorative shapes that cover the interior walls with dappled sunlight when closed.
The Olive Tree House has a floorspace of just 226 sq ft (21 sq m) and is located in an olive grove that overlooks the sea. It was also built in a way that allows for easy dismantling and reassembly should the need arise. It features a chestnut wood frame and has concrete foundations. The sloping roof is made of corrugated iron. All the metal seems a questionable choice given Greece’s hot climate, but the walls open all the way, providing great ventilation, and even when closed, the perforations still let air inside. The interior layout is also such that it provides a good cross draft.
The perforations and small jutting-out leaf pieces that cover the metal siding were created with a CNC punching machine and by hand, and took quite a long time to complete. But the end result is impressive and really sets this tiny home apart from others.
The entire cabin was prefabricated off-site, while the design also took into consideration the natural path of the sun on site so as to provide ample shading. To create more space, the living room extends to the outside. The house also features a kitchenette, while the bedroom is separated off from the rest of the space by storage closets. The bathroom features a composting toilet, sink and shower.
The Olive Tree House is completely independent of the grid. Electricity is provided via a solar panel array, and water comes from a tank. They have plans to also install a rainwater collection system in the future.
Using earth to build a home has many sustainable advantages, while also keeping costs down. And a rammed earth home can also be very modern. The latter has been proven before, and now again by the Chinese design firm Hypersity. They drew inspiration from traditional cave houses of the Shanxi province and created a gorgeous home with curved walls and a very modern look.
The home was designed for an Internet star who already had a cave house in the area and wanted to renovate it into a more modern version. The so-called “yáodòng” or cave houses have been built in this area for a long time, and they are still getting constructed. They are normally carved out of hillsides or dug from a pit that later acts as a central courtyard, and by some estimates 40 million people still live in them. The firm Hypersity began the renovation by first demolishing a part of the existing home to create space for a bigger courtyard, while also creating a rammed earth perimeter.
The home is made up of several rammed earth volumes, which are connected by five outdoor courtyards that allow for great ventilation and let lots of natural light into the living space. The home features a lining area, dining room, kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, and storage rooms. These are located in the different volumes of the home, while the courtyards that connect them also act as a Chinese garden of sorts, letting more nature into the dwelling.
The interior design of the rooms is very minimalist yet warm and cozy, which is primarily due to the use of natural materials and simple, functional furnishings. The living room, for example, features a barrel-vaulted ceiling, and is screened off from the rest of the home by a wooden partition. They also installed a so-called “light well” in the area between the bedroom and living room, which lets plenty of natural daylight into these rooms.
The firm used locally sourced earth to construct this home, which brought down the costs considerably, but there is no word on how much the renovation costs. This project is a great example of how traditional architecture still has an important place in the modern world, especially one where promoting sustainable living is so important.