Micro Tiny Home is a Minimalist’s Dream

Italian architect and engineer Leonardo Di Chiara recently designed and built a prototype of a micro tiny home, which is seriously small yet still wonderfully functional.  The so-called aVOID tiny house measures just 96 sq ft (9 sq) and is easily towable.  Given its diminutive size, it also presents some unique downsizing solutions.

The home rests atop a double-axle trailer and has a wooden frame, metal cladding, and plenty of glazing. The interior is comprised of a single room and a bathroom. To make the most of the available space, most of the furniture is hidden inside the walls. The home features a Murphy-style single bed, which can be pulled down when needed, and stored away during the day. It can also be turned into a double bed. The dining table also features a pull down design and can easily be stowed away when not needed.  There is also a small, but functional kitchenette, which features a sink, a two-burner induction stove, and some shelving for storage.

The aVOID home also features a rooftop terrace which is accessible via a ladder.  It is great for lounging on sunny days.  The bathroom is tiny and features a shower, composting toilet and some storage space.

Di Chiara is still working on the home, and plans to install solar panels and a greywater system, which will make it independent of the grid. The home is currently on display at Berlin’s Bauhaus Archive Museum of Design, but DiChiara lives in it full time otherwise, with the goal of learning all he can about tiny house living. He says it’s not much different that living at home with his parents, in a small bedroom which must also serve many purposes as one grows up.

Tiny Home Design With a Hidden Bed

The tiny home builder Cubist Engineering, which is based in Greenwich, New York has created a very interesting tiny home, which has no standard bedroom. Instead, the bed is stowed away under the ceiling in the living room and lowered with the press of a button when needed.

The so-called Sturgis is a 21 ft (6.4 m)-long towable home, and despite its very small size it is quite spacious. Most of the space is gained by not having a standard bedroom, but the rest of the layout was also carefully planned with maximizing the available space in mind.

The Sturgis tiny home features a CLT (cross-laminated timber) structure, and has a cypress wood siding, which was treated by the Shou Sugi Ban method to preserve it and deter pests.  The home also features a fiberglass roof. The home has a total floor space of 170 sq ft (15.8 sq m) and much of it is taken up by the living area, which is equipped with a modular sofa, some cabinetry, and a coffee table.

The kitchenette is small but functional. It features a butcher block countertop, and a two-burner induction stove, while there is also enough space for a fridge and freezer. The bathroom is also quite small, but big enough for a shower, toilet and sink.

The Sturgis has no lofts, the queen-sized bed is simply lowered down by the flick of a switch when it is time for bed.  The mattress is supported by a steel frame, which is wrapped in maple.   According to Cubist Engineering, the bearing and railing system used to raise and lower the bed is the same one that is also used to load fuel rods in nuclear plants.

There is also a so-called “bonus space” in this tiny home, which was created by a raised space next to the living room. It can be used as a reading nook, or storage space and is big enough to store a motorcycle. It can also be used as a utility area, storage space, and more. This storage area can also be accessed from the outside via a gull-wing door that is operated by a remote control.

For power the tiny home uses a standard RV-style hookup, though a solar power system is an optional add-on to the basic version.  Other add-ons include a rainwater collection system, an exterior deck, a security package comprised of cameras and motion sensors, as well as a remote management system, which allows for controlling the lighting, etc. using a smartphone app.

The basic version of the Sturgis home without any add-ons costs $99,000. Apart from homes, the firm also offers different versions of this tiny dwelling, which are suitable as retail space, studios and more.

Paris is Getting a Vertical Forest Tower

Towers covered with greenery are not a new idea and the first ones are already getting built around the globe in an effort to fight the alarming pollution present in some cities. Now the Paris suburb of Villiers sur Marne is getting its own such tower. The so-called Forêt Blanche (which translates to White Forest) was designed by the famous architect Stefano Boeri, who is no stranger to proposing such vertical forest buildings. Towers based on his designs are already getting built in Switzerland and Milan, while a whole city of such towers is being planned in southern China.

Forêt Blanche will be made entirely of wood will stand 177 ft (54 m) tall. The exterior will be covered in 2,000 trees, shrubs and plants. It will feature apartment units at the top, while the lower floors will be taken up by offices and retail spaces.

The fours sides of the tower will be covered by a mix of balconies and terraces on which various plants and trees will be planted. According to the architects, this green covered area will be equivalent to one hectare of forest, which is 10 times larger than the actual footprint of the building itself. The project is still very much in the early stages, so a timeline for its construction and completion has not yet been decided upon.

However, it is a great idea, and one which more large cities should start entertaining. We must embrace nature and help it heal if we are to build a more sustainable future for our world. We will follow this project closely as new developments arise and keep you informed. Let’s hope it is just one of many such projects that we will get to report on in the next year.

Light-filled Tiny House Made of Reclaimed Materials

I prefer rustic style tiny homes over the more modern, minimalist ones, and the new creation by tiny house maker Wood & Heart, based in New Hampshire, is a prime example of everything done right. The tiny house is called Legacy and is made of mostly reclaimed materials, which only adds to its rustic charm. This is the first tiny home built by the company and they’ve entered the market in a big way with it, as far as I’m concerned.

The Legacy tiny home is 26 ft (7.9 m) long and appears more spacious than it actually is thanks to the large windows, which flood the interior with natural light. The exterior cladding is cedar and features Shou Sugi Ban-style charred cedar trimming for contrast. The interior walls are also clad in wood, while they used closed-cell spray foam insulation to insulate the home. There is an exterior utility closet where they stored a tankless water heater, a propane tank and the 50-amp electrical panel with an RV outlet.

The counters are made of black walnut and African mahogany, while the flooring is solid hardwood oak. The home also features floating black walnut shelves and dining table. The kitchen is fitted with a four-burner stovetop with a beveled marble splashback and a 24-inch ceramic farmhouse sink. The split system AC unit is also installed here.

The living area is well-spaced for a tiny home, and features a pull-out sofa as well as plenty of storage space. The bedroom is located in a loft. The bathroom features honeycomb-patterned tiling on the floor and an an accent wall made from reclaimed timber. It is also spacious enough to fit a full-size tub and shower.

The ceiling is clad in rough-sawn planks of reclaimed timber and they placed three large skylights here, which together with the 13 Andersen windows elsewhere in the home lets in ample amounts of natural daylight.

The Legacy is set atop a trailer and can be purchased for $85,000. This price includes all the furniture, appliances and decor.

Super-Thin Solar Cell

thincell

Solar energy will very likely be the main source of power as the world continues to strive toward greater sustainability. But it won’t be just the large panels that get the job done. In fact, I’m willing to bet that ultra thin and flexible solar cells that can be attached to virtually any surface will be the future. Which is why breakthroughs in this area are so important. And now a team of South Korea scientists has successfully created a super thin solar cell, which is so flexible it can be wrapped around a pencil without causing damage or too much strain to it.

The solar PV cell that they created is one micrometer thick (which is even thinner than a human hair) and it is this thinness that gives it the extreme flexibility it boasts of. It is made from a semiconductor gallium arsenide, which is stamped onto a flexible metal substrate. No adhesive is used in this process, instead it is fused with the electrode on the substrate with a cold welding process that involves applying pressure at 170 degrees Celsius. And the metal layer also acts as a reflector that directs light back onto the cell.

Testing the limits of the cell’s flexibility they found that it can be bent around an object with a radius of 1.4 millimeters. Despite their thinness, the solar cells have an energy conversion efficiency comparable to thicker ones. They also exhibited only one quarter of the strain from the bending compared to a 3.5 micrometers thick cell.

The real-world application of this type of cell would be far-ranging. It could be used on smartphones, fabric, and smart glasses, while it could also easily be integrated into self-powered devices, such as, for example, environmental sensors located in hard to reach places.

There is no definitive word yet on when and if they plan to bring this cell to market.