We spend more and more time indoors, glued to our computers and tablets. One solution to this is certainly changing our habits, but another is also living in a home that allows more contact with the world outside it. And that’s exactly what the recently unveiled Breathe house, designed by the NYC firm SO-IL offers. The design of it may be a bit “Haute Couture” but it is still a great idea.
Breathe is being marketed as an active living experience home. It is narrow and three stories high, and instead of traditional walls, the home is wrapped in a breathable, light-permeable skin of “purifying fabric” which lets in and filters light and air.
The home was designed in collaboration with MINI Living and erected on a 538 sq ft (50 sq m) lot. The home has a minimal carbon footprint, and features a modular steel frame that divides the home into six living spaces. There is also a garden on the roof, which is fitted with a rainwater collection system that provides water for the household.
The ground floor features a kitchen that opens into the outdoors. A spiral staircase leads from this level into the lounge and work area, and further up into the sleeping area. Semi-opaque screens separate the different spaces of the home, offering privacy while at the same time letting in light and air.
The skin covering the home is reusable, and made from a translucent PVC mesh, which creates a sort of microclimate inside the home. It filters in light, while also filtering air since it’s coating captures dust and dirt and prevents it from entering the home. At the same time, these walls do not keep the outside out, meaning that inhabitants can still experience everything that goes on around them.
Breathe features a flat pack design, so it is easy to both assemble and disassemble it. It is also easy to transport it to just about anywhere. It is not, however, suitable for all climates and locations. The main aim of the design was to challenge traditional ideas about what housing must be like, and instead offer a solution that could bring us all closer to nature. It is certainly innovative.
Late last year, Tesla unveiled a range of solar panels that were actually roof tiles as well. The price was prohibitive though, since there was no way to install them on an existing roof without some expensive and time-consuming renovations. But this is no longer the case.
The company has now added a new product to their line-up: solar panels that are so sleek and thin that they will make any roof look good.
The new Tesla solar panels are to be made by Gigafactory 2, a Tesla factory located in Buffalo, New York. They will be exclusive to Tesla, and are intended to be integrated with their Powerwall energy storage units to provide an uninterrupted 24-hour a day supply of clean energy.
The mounting hardware of these new 325-watt panels is hidden, while the integrated front skirt allows them to blend with the roof on which they are installed almost seamlessly. According to Tesla, these panels not only meet but also exceed industry standards when it comes to durability and lifespan, though no data was provided to support this. According to Elecktrek, other 325-watt panels that Panasonic currently produces have an efficiency rate of 21.67%. The new Tesla panels probably have a similar efficiency, or perhaps an even slightly better one.
The company will start producing these new panels in the summer of 2017. They will be used exclusively for all future residential solar installations by the company, as well as for replacement of any other existing third party solar panel installations. No word on pricing yet, though those interested can also get a custom quote for their home via the Tesla website.
Often we associate sustainability with downsizing to a smaller home and thereby reducing our carbon footprint, but it doesn’t have to be that way. As MVRDV, a Holland-based firm, proves with their recently completed Casa Kwantes. The latter is a luxury home, which features a brick façade, plenty of glazing, and an array of energy efficient tech. The design of the home itself was inspired by 1930s architecture, but it features a modern twist.
Casa Kwantes measures 5,166 sq ft (480 sq m) and is a two-story family residence. It is located in Rotterdam, Holland, and the architects designed the interior layout based on the owner’s wishes and needs. The living room, dining room, kitchen and library are located on the first floor, as is the two-car garage. The living room features a long, custom made wooden unit which runs along the entire wall and provides ample amounts of storage space. On the second floor, there are two bedrooms, each with an en suite bathroom. The home also features a basement and a guest bathroom.
The back wall of the home has no windows, while the front is comprised of floor to ceiling windows, and curved, which makes for some unusually shaped rooms. The curved glazing wraps around the interior continuously, offering views into all the rooms, while the balcony allows for easy access to all the spaces. Since none of the windows face the street, only the garden, the occupants enjoy lots of privacy, while the windows also let in plenty of natural daylight.
Casa Kwantes is connected to the grid, but it also has a large solar panel array mounted on the roof. According to the designers, the system will most likely provide enough energy for the entire home, but this will be proven during the next year, since the home was only just completed a couple of months ago. The home also features a ground-source heat pump, which together with the heat exchanger provides energy-efficient heating and cooling for the home.
The tiny house firm Escape has just released the so-called Traveler XL Limited, which is an upgraded and expanded version of their 2015 model of the same name. The new model is bigger than the original and can sleep up to 10 people, which is very impressive for a tiny house.
The Traveler XL rests atop a triple-axle trailer an is 30 ft (9.1 m) long. The interior measures 344 sq ft (32 sq m). the home features plenty of large windows, which let in lots of light making it appear even more spacious. Much of the ground floor is taken up by the living area, which includes a sofa bed. Next to this is the kitchenette, which features regular sized appliances, including a fridge and a range cooker. There is also a good amount of counter space and a sink.
The bathroom is located on one end of the tiny house and is big enough to contain a 5 ft (1.5 m)-long tub, which is impressive. It also has a toilet, sink and cabinet, and enough space to install a washer/dryer unit.
The standard configuration of the home has 2 bedrooms. The master is on the ground floor, with enough headroom to stand up in. The second bedroom is in a loft, which is accessible via a ladder. The company offers the option of adding a second loft, which is large enough for several beds. In this case, and with the sofa bed, the house Is big enough for ten people to sleep in. This would get a bit cramped, I imagine, but is still quite a feat to get that much sleeping space out of a tiny home.
They also offer a number of add-ons to take this home off-the-grid. They offer two solar power packages. The first has a 500 W solar panel array, which is connected to a 200 Ah battery storage unit. They also offer a version with a 1 kW solar panel array that is linked to a 400 Ah battery storage unit. The home can also be ordered with a normal RV hookup for electricity, and customers have the choice of installing a composting toilet.
The standard version of the Traveler XL Limited costs $78,500.
While going camping in a tent has its charms, a lot of people prefer the more comfortable alternative of “glamping”. And the Spanish firm In-Tenta has recently designed a gorgeous micro cabin, which is intended to be deployed in some of the most picturesque landscapes, so that residents can enjoy the best of untouched nature in style and comfort.
The so-called Drop Box micro-cabin is actually just one of the firm’s offerings in the area of modular hotel suites, which are available in different sizes and models. They can all be erected easily and virtually anywhere. They don’t require a foundation, and are made from natural materials to further minimize the impact they have on nature.
The modules are made of sustainable materials like wood and are easy to transport. The Drop Box cabin features a bedroom for two, though adding a bunk bed for children is also an option. There is also a bathroom, with a spacious shower. The cabin also features an outdoor deck, while the house itself also has plenty of glazing to offer the best views possible. Even the bathroom, or more specifically the shower, offers panoramic views of the surrounding nature, which is great when glamping in a secluded spot, but you might need some opaque curtains otherwise.
Both ends of the cabin are glazed, which connects the indoor space with the outdoors beautifully, almost like you would get in a tent. There are very little details on how the modules are constructed, what type of insulation was used and what kind of off-the-grid features it has. But as far as design inspiration goes, I’m sure it can provide lots of ideas. There is also no word on price yet.