This newly built tiny home for two in Australia proves that downsizing does not mean you must sacrifice comfort. It’s called Zen Tiny House, and it is quite large for a tiny home, and certainly big enough to accommodate the two owners, Nadia and Kester Marshall and their two Australian shepherd dogs. Nadia designed the home herself, and commissioned the local tiny house builder Sam Commerford to build it.
The home is 24.6 ft (7.5 m) long and 9.8 ft (3 m) wide. It also features a window box that is 1.6 ft (0.5 m) long and is quite a clever extension of the space. The home features a large patio, 8.2 ft (2.5 m) sliding door in the lounge area, which effectively opens up the space and makes the interior appear larger. The sitting area features an interesting custom-made couch which is connected to the stairs leading up to the bedroom. The latter is in a loft, which appears quite spacious, with a good amount of headroom.
The generous width of the home allowed them to make the kitchen more spacious. It is fitted with a full-size stove and fridge, and features lots of counter space. There is also plenty of storage room here. The bathroom is quite spacious as well, and features a shower and a composting toilet. There is also an extra door here for easy access to it after a swim in the sea.
They used Weathertex for external cladding, which is made from 98% recycled Australian hardwood that is mixed with paraffin wax and painted with an ageing stain. The window box and the extruded window were clad in cedar treated with the shou sugi-ban technique. All the cabinetry inside the home is made of plywood that was coated with Rubio monocoat oil. They used whitewash v-join pine for the ceiling, and gyprock (dry wall) for the walls. The flooring is made of vinyl wood-look planks. The outdoor deck is modular, and can be completely removed and packed away in a single day.
The total cost of building the home came to $55,000, which does not include the deck.
There is nothing very sustainable about air travel, but the airport terminals can be, as has now been proven by the architects of Nordic – Office of Architecture who designed and built a new terminal at Norway’s Oslo Airport. The new terminal is equipped with many sustainable and energy-efficient features and was built using recycled materials.
The new extension to the airport is basically a 984 ft (300 m)-long structure and it provides an additional floorspace of 1,237,849 sq ft (115,000 sq m). It was built using primarily recycled and natural materials, such as recycled steel, curved glulam beams, as well as concrete mixed with volcanic ash. The latter is thought to be more sustainable than regular cement, since lower temperatures are needed to mix it, and it is said to have a longer expected lifespan. The cladding and flooring is mostly oak.
The terminal is insulated to Passive House standards, while they also achieved the BREEAM “Excellent” sustainability rating, which is a first for an airport building. They will also be storing the snow collected off the runways in winter and using it to cool the building in the summer. The curved shape of the terminal also maximizes solar heat gain, while the generous glazing lets in ample amounts of natural daylight and eliminates the need for artificial lighting. Oslo only gets about 6 hours of daylight in the winter months, so I suppose artificial lighting will be needed then. As for heating, the terminal utilizes low-carbon technologies like district heating and natural thermal energy.
Overall, this is a great example of large scale sustainable architecture, which needs to become the norm going forward if we wish to preserve the planet.
Living in small apartments or tiny houses calls for some clever solutions to make the most of the available space. This often involves custom-made solutions and hacks, but more and more firms are also starting to offer ready-made furniture elements designed specially for small dwellings. One such was recently developed by the Mexico City-based design firm LC-MX. They created a modular kitchen system, which can be made as big or as small as you need it to be.
They named this kitchen system Latifolia and its minimalist, modern aesthetic makes it suitable for pretty much every home. The system features a self-supporting steel structure, which in turn supports the wooden shelves that can be placed in a whole range of positions taking into account the space requirements as well as the owners needs in terms of storage and the placing of kitchenware, appliances, and so on.
The supporting structure is made out of strong but lightweight powder-coated steel, which is very durable. The shelves and counters can be order in walnut, American oak, or tzalam depending on what the client prefers. There is a timeless aesthetic in combining wood and metal elements, and this modular kitchen system takes maximum advantage of it. The steel supports can also be extended out for increased stability and to support heavier items.
There isn’t much information of how the materials used in this system are sourced (i.e. if the wood is sustainably sourced, and if the steel used is recycled). The price has also not yet been revealed. However, this kitchen system is a great addition to the arsenal of those wishing to downsize to a small apartment or a tiny home without needing to custom design all the pieces of furniture, or get creative with furniture made for bigger spaces.
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.