Tiny homes are all about downsizing, and in the beginning of the movement that meant getting rid of everything but the bare essentials when it comes to clothes and other material possessions. But with some clever design techniques this is no longer the case. And the newly constructed Juniper house proves that even a very small house can pack a lot of storage.
Juniper house was built by Backcountry Tiny Homes, and they created this home for Alexis and Brian of Living the Tiny Dream. The home measures 290 sq ft (27 sq m) (which includes the lofts) and features an advanced form of framing known as ladder framing, which reduces material costs and weight, as well as limits thermal bridging. It also makes the process of insulating the home easier. Beetle-kill pine was used in the construction process.
The interior of the home features a large multi-purpose unit, so to speak, which was made for IKEA parts and contains a transforming seating area and foldaway table. The seating area also features a hidden coffee table and ottoman, which can be rolled under the sofa when not needed.
The bedroom is located in a loft, which is accessible via a set of stairs with integrated storage space. There is also an elevated platform here for storing shoes, while there is additional storage space hidden in the floor of the loft.
The kitchen is located under the sleeping loft and is fitted with a large sink and refrigerator, as well as an all-in-one washer, and plenty of pantry space. The bathroom features a shower and composting toilet, while the ladder leading up to the second, so-called “reading loft,” is incorporated into its door to save space.
In an effort to save money, Alexis and Brian assisted in the construction of their tiny home, which also meant that they learned a few things along the way. Because of this the total cost of the home was only $53,800, which includes all the furnishings and appliances.
A team of researchers at Cornell University has discovered a process of turning leftover food into energy much faster than already existing methods. It is a two-step process and is very efficient, since it captures virtually all the available energy.
Other methods work on the basis of anaerobic digestion with bacteria slowly chipping away at the organic matter and producing methane, which is then used for fuel. This new method that the researchers discovered works on the basis of the process of hydrothermal liquefaction. Basically, the food leftovers are first pressure-cooked, which results in a sort of bio-oil. This bio-oil is then refined into biofuel, while all that remains of the original food leftovers is just very watery liquid.
The next step is to feed this liquid into an anaerobic digester, which converts it into methane in a couple of days. Two sources of usable energy are produced via this method, one for generating electricity, the other heat, while none of the original food leftovers go to waste. When using just anaerobic digestion, it can take weeks for the food waste to turn into energy.
Also, the liquefied product that is leftover after the hydrothermal processing in this new method is better for the anaerobic digestion part of the process. Combining the two makes the overall process both more efficient as well as quicker. It takes mere minutes to achieve hydrothermal liquefaction and just a few days for the anaerobic digestion.
Current statistics show that about one-third of the world’s food is wasted, while US landfills are primarily filled with food waste. Needless to say, one of the priorities should be to keep food from becoming waste. But it is also important to find efficient ways of recycling food waste into something useful. A process such as this one, which leaves virtually no waste while producing clean energy would greatly reduce our carbon footprint and lessen our dependence on fossil fuels.
Japanese architect Shigeru Ban has unveiled plans for what he is calling the world’s tallest hybrid timber tower. The mixed-use building is called Terrace House and will be built in Vancouver, BC. To construct it, they will use timber, glass, steel and concrete.
The Terrace House will contain 20 homes, with additional retail space on the ground floor, as well as a three floor underground garage. Local developer PortLiving will be in charge of the construction. The designers also made sure that the complex will blend in well with the surrounding structures, especially the adjacent Evergreen Building. In an effort to achieve this, the terraces of the new building will align perfectly with those of the Evergreen Building.
Terrace house will, as the name implies, feature many greenery-covered terraces. The first 12 floors of the building will feature a concrete and steel frame, and the remaining 7 will have a timber exterior, as well as timber floor plates, with a steel and concrete core to meet the local earthquake safety codes. All the timber will be sourced locally in British Columbia.
Judging by the renders, the homes will feature lots of glazing, which means ample amounts of light, but also raises some privacy concerns. Especially since the building is close to, and so well aligned with the adjacent one.
They have not yet announced when construction will begin, but PortLiving will be releasing further details on the project in the next few months. It’s definitely nice to see designers, and city planning commissions, start to incorporate more sustainable materials into the projects that get the green light. Hopefully, this complex will also have other sustainable features, apart from the green façade and the use of wood in construction.
Giving old buildings new life is one of the pillars of sustainable living, so it’s always great to see such renovations take place. A great example is this recently renovated windmill in Suffolk, United Kingdom. The windmill is about 125 years old and was just a ruin for a long time, before the local firm Beech Architects turned it into a cozy guesthouse.
The windmill was unused for several decades, during which time it fell to ruin, yet still retained it’s status as being an important landmark in the area, which is why it was not torn down. The renovation took some out-of-the-box thinking and resulted in a guesthouse with a spacious living/dining area, two bedrooms, and a bathroom, some of which are inside the modern, zinc-clad structure at the top of the windmill.
They first had to make the structure habitable, and they started the process by adding insulation panels to the exterior in an effort to keep the interior walls in the original condition, as well as to protect the building from further decay and take advantage of the thermal mass of the structure.
The newly added pod on top of the structure features a machine-cut Kerto timber rib system that is intended to strengthen it against the wind. The Kerto system, made by MetsaWood of Sweden, is constructed out of laminated veneer lumber (LVL). More precisely, it is made from 3mm thick rotary-peeled softwood veneers which are glued together in order to create a continuous sheet. The end result is a very strong and dimensionally stable material. This framework was covered by more than 200 panels of zinc to create the pod. Due to the round walls of the structure all the interior furniture had to be custom made.
The owners live next door to the structure and have plans to rent it out. While it is fantastic that an old structure was given new life here, I have to agree with some of the critics who are saying that it now looks too “alien”. The resulting structure looks nothing like the windmill it used to be, and all the black and metal cladding make it look like something out of a futuristic movie. But that’s a matter of personal preference and aesthetics, and the renovation is an awesome example of adaptive reuse done right.
In many cities across the globe, the shortage of affordable apartments has led to more and more people living in micro, or shoe-box apartments. London is one of the cities facing the worst of this housing shortage crisis, and the local architecture studio CIAO recently redesigned a tiny apartment into a spacious home, which is now big enough to host guests.
The apartment in question measures just 376 sq ft (35 sq m) and is located in a Victorian-era house in the Islington area. The apartment has high ceilings which is a plus when it comes to micro apartments. They kept the layout of the home open and with the help of clever convertible furniture they were able to transform this place into a comfortable home. The workspace which the client uses during the day can be transformed into a sleeping area for guests when needed with the help of a pull-out trundle bed. The lounge is also in this area, and features a corner sofa.
A half-height bookcase separates the main living area from the bedroom. The bed is placed atop a custom-built platform which hides the roll-out trundle guest bed. The platform is accessible via a couple of stairs which contain storage drawers. Higher up, in the mezzanine area there is another, larger storage space. The home also features a small, but functional bathroom.
The apartment also features a kitchen, which is fitted with lots of metallic COR-TEN steel that gives it an interesting industrial look. This look is nicely balanced by the warmer, natural wood elements elsewhere in the apartment, such as the table and shelving, as well as the brick wall in the living area which was left in it’s original condition.
This is definitely another prime example of how even a micro apartment can be transformed into a comfortable home with a few clever space saving techniques, and some outside the box thinking.