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.
It’s always great to see green tech used to better the world. The so-called Dominican Light Project has set out to provide a source of light in the form of solar power lanterns to the poor in the Dominican Republic for only $5 per person.
The area where they intend to launch these lanterns is prone to frequent blackouts, so people are forced to burn harmful kerosene, and inhale candle smoke to be able to see. Even a single solar lantern can light up an entire home, giving children more time to do schoolwork, and extend the time in which adults can perform the necessary domestic tasks. Charging the lamp for 6-8 hours will provide about 12 hours of bright, LED light. The lamp itself also has a very robust design, which means it should last for quite a while.
Candles and kerosene lanterns are the main source of lighting in this area, which leads to a lot of fires, and creates a lot of indoor air pollution. They also cost about 25% of an average working class person’s wage. Which is why the Dominican Light Project was started. They are currently trying to raise funds through crowdfunding campaign, to be able to provide solar lanterns to the community.
They have set quite a high goal, since an estimate $25 million would be needed to light up the entire Dominican Republic with solar lanterns. However, they have set their Indiegogo campaign goal much lower at $10,000, which will cover the costs of providing the lanterns to about 2500 families. There are no perks for backers, except the knowledge that they are doing something good for humanity, so I hope they meet their goal. The donations start at $25, which I think is a bit too high, but they are currently quite close to the goal.
Living in small urban apartments can get very cramped very fast. But a lot of people aren’t willing to forgo living in the city center, and that is where clever multipurpose furniture units come in. We’ve seen a lot of them pop up in the last few years, and this one, created by German designer Nils Holger Moormann is one of the best. He designed and built it in collaboration with B&O Group and the prototype shows that it does have lots of potential to free up living space.
The unit is basically a cube, which functions as a room within a room. The top part of it, accessible via a set of stairs, acts as the bedroom and is large enough for a queen-sized bed. The stairs leading up to it have built-in drawers for storage.
The cube also serves other functions such as providing eating, working and reading space, each of which has one side of the unit dedicated to it. The cube also has space to store dishes, books, and even a bike. It also features fold-down parts, such as the blackboard, which can be used as an extension of the kitchen counter or a dining table. The hollow part inside the cube can be used as a storage area for a variety of items, which goes a long way towards keeping the rest of the apartment clutter free.
The cube is built out of wood and designed in a minimalist way so that it will blend seamlessly with practically any décor. It’s also a great way to create a loft in a studio apartment without actually having to go through complicated construction work.
There’s no word on price yet, since this unit is still in the prototype stage. But so far, it looks like this will be a welcome addition to the lineup of multipurpose furniture units that are already available.
Architect Vincent Callebaut is well-known for his ambitious sustainable architecture project proposals, and this latest one that he’s proposing for the EU city of Brussels is no exception. His plans call for turning the city’s industrial area of Brussels into a sustainable community. They plan to renovate existing buildings, as well as build new high-rises, which would be equipped with a wide array of sustainable features.
Callebaut’s plans call for the building of three high-rises, which would have a total floorspace of 915,000 sq ft (85,000 sq m). These buildings would feature a slide-like shape and rise to a max height of 328 ft (100 m). The roof would be clad in solar panels, while the balconies could be used to grow fruits and vegetables.
The plans also include the renovation of the old Marine Terminal, which measures 538,000 sq ft (50,000 sq m) to serve the communities needs. It would be divided up into different areas, and would feature several geodesic domes that would house restaurants, bars and other structures. There would also be raised pods made from CLTs that would serve as meeting spaces. Retail and office spaces would be housed in another set of CLT structures. It would also be possible to attach small greenhouses to the exterior of the buildings.
Among the green tech planned for this project are the already mentioned large solar power arrays, wind turbines, airtight building envelopes, natural ventilation, and rainwater collection systems. They calculated that the complex would generate 186 percent of its annual electricity requirements, and this surplus would then me used to power the historic buildings in the area, as well as any planned future developments.
We will, however have to wait and see whether this project gets picked up by the city’s planning commission.
The Azores, a group of gorgeous islands just off the coast of Portugal, has seen increased tourism in recent years. However fortunate that maybe, it also presents a problem for the environment, so in a bid to retain the unspoiled state of the landscape, the local Tourism and Agribusiness Development Company of the Azores (TADA) has come up with a way to preserve it. They will be developing eco-resorts across the islands, which will be sustainable and have a minimal footprint.
The resorts will basically be made up of solar powered cabins, which they are calling the Eco Pods. They are currently planning to build six of these eco-resorts and the first is already under construction in the Vila Franca Do Campo Region of São Miguel Island. It’s set to open in the summer of 2017.
The resort will feature an as yet undisclosed number of Eco Pods. The smallest of these will measure 161 sq ft (15 sq m) and will feature a sleeping area and a sitting area, along with a small food preparation space. The pod will be equipped with a fridge, a coffee machine and a TV. The bathroom will be located outside and will be heated by an external wood burner.
There will also be a few 215 sq ft (20 sq m) Eco Pods. These will have all of the above, but the bathroom will be an inside one. The largest of the Eco-Pods making up the resort will measure 322 sq ft (30 sq m) and will feature all of the above as well as a small kitchenette.
All the EcoPods are prefabricated and raised off the ground on stilts that are made from recycled electricity poles. Among the other materials used for the construction are locally-sourced pumice stone, windows made from recycled plastic bottles, and timber that is grown locally. The cabins will be powered by a solar panel array. The Eco-Pods currently have normal toilets with septic tanks installed, though the plan was to equip them with composting toilets, which sadly fell through.
The Eco-Pods are built to withstand high-winds and earthquakes, while TADA also plans to put the designs to use for other purposes, such as disaster relief housing, or garden pavilions.