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.
France has quite a budding tiny house movement going on and the local company La Tiny House has just unveiled yet another great creation. They’re calling it Christine, and it is a modern small home, with plenty of glazing and a warm and cozy interior that is reminiscent of Scandinavian homes.
The interior is clad in unfinished plywood, which covers all the walls, while all the shelves, cabinets and work surfaces are also made out of it. This creates a lovely uniform and clean look. One entire wall is covered in windows, which lets in plenty of light and makes the interior look more spacious.
The Christine features a living area, kitchen, bathroom, and two lofts. The sitting area only features a single armchair that doesn’t look incredibly comfy. The working/eating surface runs the entire length of the home, eliminating clutter and freeing up space. The kitchen is quite spacious for a tiny home, and takes up an entire corner of the living space. It features a stove, fridge, sink, plenty of counter space and storage, and even a washing machine. The bathroom is also quite large and features a shower, sink and a composting toilet.
The bedroom is located in one of the lofts and is accessible via a staircase with shelving built into it. The loft is big enough for a bed but not much else besides, and I would really like to see some sort of a guardrail here. The second loft is used for storage.
Overall, they really made the most of the available space in this build. And the wall of windows makes a huge difference in terms of making this home feel more spacious, which is important when it comes to living in tiny homes. There is no word on how much this home cost to build.
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.
The use of mushrooms in architecture has been proposed before, but now Aleksi Vesaluoma, a student at Brunel University has taken it a step further. He’s developed a fungi-based building material, which is carefully shaped into long tubes and cultivated to form eco-friendly building blocks that can be used for construction quite easily.
Aleksi worked with the London-based frim Astudio on this so-called, Grown Structures project. His technique involves mixing cardboard with mycelium, namely the portion of mushrooms that branches out in thread-like extensions, to create what he refers to as “mushroom sausages.” As the names suggests, these are long, tube-shaped things, which he creates with the help of cotton bandages that are strung over a mold, and left to grow inside a greenhouse for about a month. In this way, the tubes eventually get “glued” together naturally.
The mushrooms that grow this building material can also be eaten. Aleksi envisions these tubes being used to build temporary biodegradable structures, such as festival venues, or even innovative pop-up restaurants, with mushrooms one of the main things on the menu. Further development and experimentation with this material could also one day become the basis for zero-waste construction.
Of course, fungi are a very unconventional building material, and hoping for mainstream adoption of it is probably more a dream than a real possibility. However, many unconventional building materials have already become quite popular, such as insulation made of denim and sheep’s wool, bricks grown from bacteria, sand and urine, to name a few, so maybe fungi don’t have such a long way to go. They are a very eco-friendly and sustainable option, after all.
Aleksi plans to keep working on refining his technique for creating his “mushroom sausages” and has already joined forces with a group of like-minded creatives. They have formed an interdisciplinary design collective called Mandin, which is also working on creating objects out of orange peels and even recycling plastic into skateboard decks.