Floating Micro Cabin

I don’t know about you, but living in a floating home has always appealed to me. And this floating tiny cabin prototype recently built by the Russian firm BIO Architects would fit the bill perfectly. They are calling it DD16 and it is designed for use in harsh climates, while it also operates off-the-grid.

The DD16 is a prefabricated cabin, which can be installed on water and on land. It is tiny, measuring just 172 sq ft (16 sq m) and includes a deck which measures 75 sq ft (7 sq m). It is designed to sit on pontoons that allow it to float, and can either be craned into position, or helicoptered in. The prototype is currently located on a lake near Moscow, and can be accessed via a rowboat.

The interior of the cabin features a lounge area, with a kitchenette and dining table, while the bedroom and bathroom are set off to the side of this main space. Heating is provided via a wood-burning stove. The frame of DD16 is made of laminated wood with milled ports, which help keep the overall weight down, as well as minimize the cold bridges and gaps. They used polyurethane foam for insulation, which also helped to decrease the weight. Composite aluminum sheets were used for exterior cladding, giving the cabin a seamless exterior surface.

Power is obtained via a solar power array, while water is drawn up from the lake and most likely filtered as well, though this information has not yet been shared. The cabin also features a composting toilet. The cabin has been installed on the lake since November last year, and the fact that it survived a Russian winter says a lot about its durability and its insulation performance.

DD16 is currently being rented out, while they continue to test its performance. There is no word on how much it might cost once it becomes available to the general public, but it does seem like a very good solution for those looking to build a cabin in an isolated area.

Sun-Speckled Off Grid Cabin

The Olive Tree House is a tiny summer cabin that was designed by Greek architect Eva Sopéoglou. It is located in Halkidiki, Greece and operates completely off the grid. As an interesting an unique design feature, it is also clad in metal, which is perforated with decorative shapes that cover the interior walls with dappled sunlight when closed.

The Olive Tree House has a floorspace of just 226 sq ft (21 sq m) and is located in an olive grove that overlooks the sea. It was also built in a way that allows for easy dismantling and reassembly should the need arise. It features a chestnut wood frame and has concrete foundations. The sloping roof is made of corrugated iron. All the metal seems a questionable choice given Greece’s hot climate, but the walls open all the way, providing great ventilation, and even when closed, the perforations still let air inside. The interior layout is also such that it provides a good cross draft.

The perforations and small jutting-out leaf pieces that cover the metal siding were created with a CNC punching machine and by hand, and took quite a long time to complete. But the end result is impressive and really sets this tiny home apart from others.

The entire cabin was prefabricated off-site, while the design also took into consideration the natural path of the sun on site so as to provide ample shading. To create more space, the living room extends to the outside. The house also features a kitchenette, while the bedroom is separated off from the rest of the space by storage closets. The bathroom features a composting toilet, sink and shower.

The Olive Tree House is completely independent of the grid. Electricity is provided via a solar panel array, and water comes from a tank. They have plans to also install a rainwater collection system in the future.

Off-Grid Mountain Lodge Completed in Norway

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About three years ago, Norway’s Tourism Association held a competition for designing the best self-catering mountain lodges, which they could place on hiking trails across the country. The winning lodges were the so-called Skåpet Mountain Lodges designed by Koko Architects. These lodges are made up of a group of off-grid cabins, which require very little maintenance and can house up to 35 hikers. They also operate completely off-the-grid, and provide a secure and comfortably warm shelter even in the harshest conditions, which in Norway can get pretty harsh. The first of these Skåpet Mountain Lodges was recently built on a hiking trail in Rogaland.

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The lodge is comprised of a main building, a sleeping area, and bathroom facilities that also include a wood-fired sauna and a storage room. The total floorspace of the complex measures 3,767 sq ft (350 sq m). The structures are clad in rolled zinc, and this material was chosen because of its durability. According to Koko Architects the cladding will not require any maintenance for decades, even in the harsh weather conditions of the mountainside. The interior is clad in unfinished natural wood, and the structures offer great views of the surrounding area. Furthermore, the separate modules needed to build the cabins were prefabricated, so the assembly was very quick and easy.

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The lodge gets water from a lake located nearby, while they are heated by wood-burning stoves. There are also two gas-powered stoves for preparing food, while a solar power array provides the necessary electricity. The cabin operates on a trust system, meaning that visitors are expected to leave money to cover the costs of them staying there, as well as to clean up after themselves, and make sure there is enough food and firewood left for the next visitors.

Affordable Off-Grid Flat Pack Home

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The firm Big World Homes from Australia have designed a tiny modular home that is shipped flat-packed, and can be assembled by two people in just a couple of days using only a drill and a hammer. It will also be a lot cheaper than the alternatives. The project is still in the design stage, but if it ever sees the light of day, it would certainly be very well-received by those looking to buy their own home.

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These flat-pack homes will also be pretty much self-sufficient, which will be achieved via solar panels for energy production, and a rain catchment system. This means that these homes will not need to be connected to existing infrastructure, so they can be built practically anywhere. The homes will be made out of structural-thermal-waterproof integrated panels, which will be easy to assemble together.

Unfortunately the full details of what the home will look like, or exactly what kind of sustainable features it will offer, have not yet been disclosed. Since they are marketing it as an off-grid home, then they will presumably have an efficient solar panel array and battery system, as well as some type of greywater recycling system in place. Most likely the homes will also have a composting toilet. These are, however, just my own speculations at this point.

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The home is aimed at the target market of young people wishing to own their first home, and I agree with the designers that there is quite a gap in this segment of the market. They hope to bridge this gap with this home, and make it easier for young people to move out on their own.

The home will cost around $50,000 (65,000 AUD) to build, which is quite cheap compared to most other options on the market. They are currently raising funds to build the first prototype home through a crowdfunding campaign on Chuffed. They’ve not yet reached their goal, but do still have a few days left.

Life Pod: A Mobile Tiny Home

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Michael Weekes, an inventor, engineer and author, recently designed and built a unique tiny home. The Life Pod, as he is calling it, can function completely off-the-grid, and is no larger than a trailer used to transport jet-skis. Apart from using it as a getaway cabin, tent alternative, or guesthouse, Weekes also thinks it would make a great homeless shelter or disaster relief housing. It can also easily be towed on the back of a car, and has a very aerodynamic shape.

The Life Pod is made up of two geodesic domes that are basically turned on their side and held together by a 10-sided cylinder. The home features a frame made out of wood, which is covered with TPO foam and Luan skin. The home has two porthole-like windows and a door, and weighs only 1,500 lbs (680 kg).

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The home is 13.25 ft long by 8.25 ft wide (4 x 2.5 m), which is tiny but not overwhelmingly so. However, what truly sets this home apart from the competition is the range of comforts and features it offers. It has a well-sized shower, a sink, and a composting toilet, as well as a hot water tank. There is also a microwave oven in the food preparation area. The home also features two 300 W solar panels and a battery. This set up takes care of most of the electricity needs, though there is also an electrical hookup, which can be used when needed. The main living area features a double mattress.

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After building the Life Pod prototype, Weekes took it on the road for four months to truly test it out. He towed it across 800 miles (1,287 km) then incorporated all he learned into the final design. The Life Pod is now for sale and the basic version costs $19,900. The solar-power add-on costs a further $2,900. All the Life Pods are custom built so the wait time for one is around 12 weeks. Weekes will also start soon selling a build-it-yourself kit with plans and a list of materials for $399.